It makes sense that Paul McCartney would inspire one of the most impressive tribute-album lineups ever assembled. This 42-song blowout has everything from Willie Nelson doing a raggedly loving "Yesterday" to Billy Joel crushing "Maybe I’m Amazed." There are plenty of surprises, too. Did you know you wanted to hear Kiss thunder through Wings' glam spectacle "Venus and Mars/Rockshow"? Turns out you did.
Various Artists The Art of McCartney-A Celebration of the Music of Sir Paul McCartney (Artic Poppy) 3 1/2 out of 5 stars The frustration with many tribute albums is that the artists involved are often so fringe or under-the-radar that most listeners don’t care how they cover any given song. There are no such concerns on this 34 (42 in its deluxe configuration) track sampler of all things Paul McCartney; nearly every participant is a recognizable star. From Billy Joel and Steve Miller to BB King, Heart, Smokey Robinson, Willie Nelson, Kiss and perhaps inevitably Brian Wilson, there is no shortage of spotlight stealing names.
Roughly timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Beatlemania, The Art of McCartney is a lavish celebration of all things Paul. Weighing in at three discs and 42 tracks in its grandest incarnation, the set is 34 tracks at its slimmest. In both cases, that's plenty generous but it nevertheless only skims the surface of a very rich, very deep songbook that's developed over the decades.
Either imitation really isn’t the sincerest form of flattery, or flattery simply isn’t all it's cracked up to be. Either way, the new two-CD tribute to the music of Paul McCartney, “The Art of McCartney,” is a glaring example of a blown opportunity. It must have looked great on paper. Producer Ralph Sall, a longtime fan of the ex-Beatle as well as a big admirer of the long-running touring band that backs McCartney on his concert tours, started with a great idea and then scored the participation of a wealth of rock and pop stars, each offering his or her take on a song from McCartney’s estimable songbook.