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Chaos and Creation At Abbey Road

From time to time, McCartney makes a tv-special or a music documentary to promote a new album, like he did in 1973 with ‘James Paul McCartney’ or ‘The World Tonight’ in 1997. The one that in my opinion really stands out is Chaos and Creation At Abbey Road.
We are trying to do a couple of experimental things tonight, pretend to make records and do all sorts of funny things.
Sir Paul is in his element, this summer evening in July 2005 when the show is filmed in Abbey Road Studio 2. We see a narrative McCartney in a relaxed setting, with a small audience of forty, up to fifty friends, relatives and a select group of fans. With this the studio is quite full and almost everywhere are people close to him, almost looking over his shoulder to see what he’s been doing. This, along with a stylish lighting, creates an intimate atmosphere.





McCartney is teaching, telling stories and experimenting. The lessons are, for example, about the history of the mellotron, double-tracking on a four-track machine or working with loops. This he demonstrates live with a clever interpretation of the song How Kind Of You, taken from his last album Chaos and Creation In The Backyard. He is assisted by the producer of that album, Nigel Godrich, who uses an old mixing desk from the sixties. McCartney plays guitar, Godrich takes care of the loops.

Video: How Kind Of You

His stories are a journey over time: McCartney shows how he played Twenty Flight Rock right-handed when he met John Lennon, he tells about the special significance of Studio 2 to him and about the new album. Like how the new track Jenny Wren was based on the song Blackbird.

Video: Jenny Wren




He experiments with an alternative version of the Wings' classic Band on the Run, by showing how double tracking on a four-track machine works, using wineglasses and a harmonium. The alternative version of an old Beatles classic is special as well. McCartney doesn’t do it often, sticking to his philosophy that the audience wants to hear his songs just as they were recorded, but Lady Madonna has got a true, bluesy, makeover. Or as he himself said: An old lady in new clothes.

Video: Lady Madonna

The performances of Heartbreak Hotel on Bill Black's bass, the pre-Beatles song In Spite Of All The Danger and an acoustic version of I've Got A Feeling are notable. Big fun is the grand finale when McCartney records a song on the spot together with 'loopmaster' Nigel. The audience plays percussion and in succession Paul plays drums, piano, his Hofner bass, rythm and lead guitar, while Godrich loops and mixes everything. In order to finish it, he makes up some lyrics.





With everything McCartney does during the show, you can see the joy he has by doing it. And when it's over, it's a bit like you’ve been watching a little child who showed you his favorite toys. A 63 year old kid playing along with his music instruments. Brilliant.

Complete show:

Related Posts:
Chaos and Creation In The Backyard
Chaos and Creation Quiz


André Homan

André Homan is a Dutch writer and journalist.

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