Paul McCartney's Wonderful, Bizarre McCartney II

Classic Rock Corner

Paul McCartney's set lists are largely built on his Beatles work, making his Minute Maid Park show an historic chance to hear one-half of one of the greatest songwriting duos of all time play some of the most cherished musical works of the past century.

But out of everything The Cute One has touched musically the past 50 or so years, nothing seems to compare to his third proper solo record, 1980's McCartney II. For people who couldn't get down with the earnestness of Wings, or who were waking to New Wave and post-punk around this time, this album was a bright and shining anomaly.

Jerry Gaskill tries to rescue his drums outside his wrecked New Jersey home.
Photo courtesy of Ed Frost
Jerry Gaskill tries to rescue his drums outside his wrecked New Jersey home.

It also makes a great companion piece to other major releases of the time, including the Talking Heads' Remain in Light, David Bowie's Lodger and Roxy Music's Manifesto.

If you ever thought that McCartney was a saccharine grinner and not as innovative or weird as his former bandmates, you should take a look at McCartney II.

"I was fed up with formally playing records. I just wanted to hire a machine," McCartney said in some of the promo material for the album's 2011 reissue.

For one, if you were to play some of this album, unlabeled, for your average uninformed indie-rock listener today, they would probably name a dozen current groups — including Battles, Animal Collective and the Flaming Lips — that could have recorded tracks like "Front Parlour," "Darkroom" or the awkwardly named "Frozen Jap."

Paul McCartney's November 14 concert at Minute Maid Park took place too late for this print edition. See Rocks Off online Thursday, November 15, for a ­review.

Only In Houston

King's X Drummer Jerry Gaskill Loses Home in Hurricane Sandy

Rocks Off readers of a certain age will fondly remember Jerry Gaskill as the drummer from Houston's pioneering proto-grunge/metal band King's X. Perhaps many of you, like us, even had tickets to the trio's show earlier this year at Warehouse Live that was canceled after Gaskill had a heart attack in February. More bad news came after Hurricane Sandy passed through the East Coast.

Gaskill's childhood friend, producer Ed Frost, lives 15 minutes away from Gaskill and the drummer's new wife, Julie, in Highlands, New Jersey. Frost's neighbors still don't have electricity, but many others no longer have homes. The newlyweds are staying with family for now.

"The takeaway is they're not Metallica," says Frost of King's X. "They're working musicians. They have to work or they don't eat."

Frost wanted to do something to help, so he did. He donated some money and started up a Web site, By day four, the amount had reached 58 percent of the $25,000 goal.

"I'm speechless," says Frost. "I'm trying to write thank-you notes as I go, but there's over 180 donors so far."

Frost worries that these giant hurricanes happen more often now that the weather is different than it used to be. A ten-foot storm surge brought more than four feet of water into the Gaskills' house in nearby Seaside Heights. Their whole block is likely to be condemned — in fact, the entire Seaside Heights music scene is washed away. CREG LOVETT

Only In Houston

What Was Your Favorite Concert at the Summit?

Rocks Off would like to thank Jon Harvey of Houston (@oompahead) for alerting us via Twitter to the fact that on November 7, 1975, when the author was a few weeks removed from turning one year old, the sports and entertainment arena then known as the Summit opened in Greenway Plaza.

Besides basketball, hockey, wrestling, bull riding and the stray circus, for almost 30 years the Summit (renamed Compaq Center in 1998) was about the only place in Houston and southeast Texas to see the biggest names in pop, rock, country, R&B, hip-hop and more at shows largely produced by Live Nation forerunner Pace Concerts. According to a 2003 Houston Business Journal article, the arena cost $18 million to build.

The first concert at the new Summit was The Who on November 20, 1975, the opening night of the band's North American tour behind The Who by Numbers ("Squeezebox"); some footage survives in 1994's Thirty Years of Maximum R&B box set. The Summit's archives on concert wiki run to almost 40 pages, including Paul McCartney's "Wings Over America" stop the next year. There you'll also find two nights of the Rolling Stones' "Bridges to Babylon" tour in 1998 and lots more.

Personally, my best (and only) concert at the Summit was U2's "Elevation" tour in April 2001. It was incredible and exhilarating, especially opener PJ Harvey. But about 24 hours after we posted this article, Rocks Off had already received more than 30 reader comments about their favorite shows. We thought we'd share a few. CHRIS GRAY

Dawgnme: "Prince — Purple Rain tour. Six sold-out concerts in January of '85, I think it was, and I was there to witness all 16,000 of the half-naked, camisole-wearing, weed-smoking freaks on the Friday, Sunday and Monday-night shows. Absolutely blew my twelfth-grade mind."

Thenonymous: "The 1991 Benson & Hedges Bluesfest was one of the greatest single days of live music in the history of the city. I think a ticket was less than $40, and it came with all the free cigarette samples you could stuff in your pockets. Best of all, it looked like there were only about 4,000 people there, so you could pretty much sit wherever you wanted to."

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