The Good, the Bad and the Pedestrian

Goddess In The Doorway (Virgin)
Mick Jagger
Driving Rain(Capitol)
Paul McCartney

By Jim Conway

OK, so you have nothing career-wise left to prove. You're a member of one of the two most revered rock groups in the universe, you were inducted into the Rock `n' Roll Hall of Fame practically as the bricks for the building were being laid, you've already made more money than the GNP of most developing nations, and oh, did I mention you have nothing left to prove?

Current relevance not withstanding, Jagger's project grooves with a rhythmic foundation that drives all of the cuts to a high degree of danceability. However, this is far from a dance record, as Jagger reveals a more introspective, spiritual and vulnerable side that one could never imagine on a Rolling Stones album. And of course, for a solo artist to have a chance to succeed, he must surround himself with good people.

Contributions by Matchbox 20, Pete Townshend, Lenny Kravitz, Bono and Joe Perry provide a catalyst for Jagger to create an album that, even after 30-plus years of making music, displays artistic growth and is not simply a lame parody of the heavy reputation that proceeds from being Mick Jagger. From the gospel-tinged "Joy," to the dance/reggae of "Hide Away," I was pleasantly surprised that this is a good disc.

McCartney, on the other hand chose a small ensemble of relative unknowns to record at the warp speed (for him) of fifteen days, resulting in a restrained, organic approach, which is fine, but one problem here: The songwriting is pretty much rehashed and forgettable.

Generally anyone who's aware of McCartney's body of work knows the results can be anywhere from otherworldly, to abysmal. The songwriting results on this collection tend to lean more towards the latter, as the listener is forced to listen to what must be his 74th composition with counting: "1-2-3-4-5 lets go for a drive," which is repeated unmercifully several times on the title track.

"She's Given Up Talking" and the Indian-influenced "Riding Into Jaipur," are decent tunes, but when you consider this guy used to knock off great melodies, sometimes several in one song, and sometimes dozens on one LP side, this is downright pedestrian. Let's hope McCartney finds a collaborator like he briefly found with Elvis Costello a decade ago -- and soon.