"I'll be the first to admit it: I'm a Maccamaniac. I have McCartney, Ram, all the Wings albums, Tug of War, Flowers in the Dirt, Flaming Pie, Driving Rain, two live double-albums, and assorted classical and instrumental projects. I've got more Paul than I do John, George, and Ringo combined and doubled. So when I made my latest purchase, 1993's Off the Ground, I figured I had reached the lower echelon of the man's catalogue and was simply rounding out my collection. Suffice to say I was pleasantly surprised.
Flowers in the Dirt from 1989 and the monstrously successful world tour that accompanied it were viewed as a comeback for Paul after his mid-80s slump. Off the Ground might be considered "Flowers in the Dirt, Part II". Again collaborating with Elvis Costello on a handful of tracks and playing with his touring band, the albums have a similar feel to them; and yet not so similar. For one thing this disc is less produced than its predecessor, while still maintaining a crisp, clean sound comparable to Steely Dan - a few cuts even sound a bit like the Dan (Peace in the Neighbourhood, for instance). It has fewer highs (and lows) as well, but it compensates in overall consistency.
Off the Ground may be Paul's most socially conscious outing to date. Several songs are pleas for peace and animal rights, including the epic closer C'mon People/Cosmically Conscious (orchestrated by the one and only George Martin, no less). Two more McCartney-Costello collaborations grace the record, - Mistress & Maid and The Lovers that Never Were - both of which would have felt quite at home on Flowers in the Dirt. Toss in a few love ballads and one of Paul's punchiest rockers (Get Out of My Way) and you get more than the usual McCartney fare - you get one of Paul's most impressive, balanced offerings. The only downer is Biker like an Icon, a bland bit of the character-sketching Paul is usually so good at, and Winedark Open Sea may be just a minute too long. But apart from that, it's great.
For being such a fine album Off the Ground sold pretty miserably - it is, to the best of my knowledge, Paul's least successful outing commercially at any rate. It deserves better. After being woefully overlooked for years I'd say it earns the dubious distinction of "Most Underrated McCartney Record", and if that means anything to you Off the Ground is well worth a listen."
Most Underrated Macca Album
Blah blah blah | New York, USA | 10/21/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's true that this 1993 album came at what could be considered McCartney's commercial nadir: I remember reading somewhere that '97's Flaming Pie sold more than his previous three or four albums combined (take this stat with a grain of salt). Plus, much has been made out of Paul's "rejuvination" after the Beatles Anthology project. All of this may be true, but OTG is miles above many of Paul's other albums in terms of melody, inspiration and pure listenability. The centerpiece is "Hope of Deliverance," one my all-time favorite Macca tunes. Most of the songs qualify, at worst, as pleasantly catchy. As with any album, there are other assorted peaks ("Mistress & Maid" and "Peace in the Neighborhood"), valleys (mainly lyrical: the words to "Biker Like an Icon" and "Golden Earth Girl"), and all points in between. In retrospect, this album represents Paul at his most relaxed and domesticated, focusing mainly on ecological issues and the benefits of love and family. It's worthy to note that two of the best songs on "Flaming Pie" (the acoustic "Great Day" and "Calico Skies") were actually recorded during the OTG period but deemed to "solo"-ish for a band-based album. They both exude peace and optimism and would have fit in perfectly!"
Give it a chance
Blah blah blah | 01/08/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The biggest problem occuring with reviews of McCartney's solo material is that it inevitably gets compared to the Beatles. Off the Ground is an underrated album because of this. People say, Why doesn't he write "Hey Jude" again? (For an example of formulaic rock, one need only look at the Rolling Stones.) Off The Ground is a feel good album, it is music existing for the sake of music. Nothing subliminal here, and the content is varied; from rockers like "Biker" and "Looking For Changes" to ballads like "Winedark Open Sea" , and downright mystical songs like "Owe it all to you" and "Golden Earth girl". If you want the Beatles, go buy Sgt. Pepper. If you want a fine Paul McCartney album, give Off The Ground a shot. You may be pleasantly surprised."
Macca does it again
A. Q. Napolitano | Ridgewood NJ | 06/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When you hear the name Paul McCartney, the most common connection is The Beatles. McCartney has done his best during his solo career to make you think of great music when you hear his name, and he proves his point on Off The Ground. The album's opening and title track is that of a relaxing nature. It calms the listener and prepares you for the melodic festivity that is yet to come. As you just about settle in, calm and waiting for melodic ecstasy, "Looking For Changes" smacks you in the head with it's distorted guitar and animal activist statement, driven by McCartney's scratchy vocal which gives the song that extra edge. It's this juxtaposition of melodies that delights the listener for the remainder of the album. There are many acoustic gems in "Hope Of Deliverance", "I owe It All To You" and "Winedark Open Sea". And to all those people who say this artist has lost his rockout ability, check out "Biker Like An Icon" and "Get Out Of My Way". If it's witty and poignant lyrics you look for, "Mistress and Maid" and Peace in The Neighborhood" are classic, "maid" telling the story of a fed up wife, and "Peace" showing us a vision of a harmonious planet. But as usual, it's the piano driven tracks that make up the album's best tracks. The hushed "Golden Earth Girl", the hard "The Lovers that never were" opens with loud, brash piano chords, and never lets go. And most of all, a cry for help "C'mon People" is possibly the best track. It starts out with Just Mr. McCartney and a piano and slowly builds from there to a triumphant statement for peace. The album is not yet done, as the playful "and remember to be......Cosmically Conscious" soon follows "C'mon People" after a few minutes of silence. To all those of you out there who say that the Paul McCartney of the 1990s is no match for the McCartney of the 60's 70's and 80's, Take another look at "Off The Ground""
A Lost Early 90's Gem
Frank | 04/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I heard this album in high school and brushed it off as older McCartney fluff, preferring The Beatles and his 70's stuff. But now having just heard it again it has aged quite well, almost like a fine wine. I remember seeing the "OFF THE GROUND" video and that song was and still is the best one. But there are very few fillers here. "Mistess & Maid" and "The Lover's That Never Were"are two other highlights. "Flaming Pie" still is his better 90's album but this is a worthy predecessor. So put this album in your cd mix with "Flaming Pie", "Driving Rain", and "Chaos And Creation In The Backyard" and have a Good Time."