The Top 10 Surprisingly Hip Paul McCartney Projects of the Last 10 Years

via livenation.com

​Paul McCartney's appearance this Saturday at the Sun Life Stadium marks the last of just four North American shows in his current, cheekily named "Up and Coming" tour. And while fans should, of course, expect him to perform any number of megahits by the Beatles and even Wings, hardcore Macca followers know that's not all that will be on offer. McCartney has, refreshingly, never settled into an old-timers' nostalgia routine, continuing to work on new, even avant-garde artistic projects with some surprising collaborators. Saturday's set list should include a healthy sampling of it all. Here's a list of the top 10 hippest, most unexpected McCartney offerings of the past decade. 

Paul McCartney. 8 p.m. Saturday, April 3. Sun Life Stadium, 2267 Dan Marino Blvd., Miami Gardens. Remaining tickets cost around $249. Livenation.com

10. The Animation Collection, 2004 DVD

The Beatles together always played around with the marriage of music and animation (Yellow Submarine, anyone?). In the '00s, McCartney revisited the concept again on his own, composing and voicing a trio of three short animated films by Geoff Dunbar. Singing frogs seem to be a surreally repeating motif here, as seen in this clip of "Rupert and the Frog Song."

9.  "My Soul," 2008 collaboration with Nitin Sawhney

Fans of drum'n'bass, trip-hop, and ambient may recognize the name of Nitin Sawhney, an experimental Indian-British composer whose work marries timeless Asian sounds with new beats. For Sawhney's eight studio album, London Undersound, he tapped Macca for a collabo. The result was "My Soul," a psychedelic, strummy piece of downtempo that was a stylistic departure for both artists.


8. "Rain Came Down," 2009 collaboration with Matt Berry

Comedy geeks may recognize Brit funny guy Matt Berry from his appearances on shows like The Mighty Boosh, or even stateside shows like the Sarah Silverman Program. Either way, when he's not mocking musicals or writing new sketches, Berry actually plays in his own experimental four-piece, the Jonas 3. His 2009 album, Witchazel, existed somewhere between proper seriousness and a joke, but he still managed to snag McCartney to contribute backing vocals on "Rain Came Down." 

7. Amoeba's Secret 2007 EP

What do hipsters love more than a secret show that the general public can't get into? Macca duly tipped his hat to this semi-frustrating practice in 2007, when he played a secret show inside Amoeba Music's Hollywood location. Scoring even more hipster points, he first released it on limited-edition vinyl, complete with album art meant to make it look like a bootleg. Here's a clip of him playing "Blackbird" at that show.

6. "I'm Partial to Your Abracadabra" on Brand New Boots and Panties, a 2001 tribute album to Ian Dury

No, in the '70s and '80s, the Beatles did not just shut themselves off to outside influences. Apparently, McCartney was quietly digesting punk and New Wave. Thus, when Ian Dury, a major figure in that scene, passed away in 2000, McCartney showed his appreciation. The following year, on this tribute album, he performed a cover of Dury's song, "I'm Partial To Your Abracadabra," with Dury's band, the Blockheads.

5. Appearance on the Super Furry Animals' "Receptable for the Respectable," 2001

Leave it to the Welsh to come up with something as strange and psychedelic as the criminally underrated act the Super Furry Animals, led by the loveably weird Gruff Rhys. On the band's 2001 album Rings Around the World, Rhys tapped McCartney for the song "Receptacle for the Respectable" -- but not to sing. No, if you listen closely, you can hear Macca chomping celery on the track.

4. Liverpool Sound Collage, 2000 album

By 2000, it had already been a few years since Macca had buddied up with the aforementioned Rhys, as well as a fellow called Youth, a producer and original bassist of the amazing Killing Joke. They all collided for this '00 remix album, which began as a request from the artist Peter Blake. It features a track with the tongue-twisting title ""Real Gone Dub Made In Manifest In The Vortex Of The Eternal Now." Here's a clip featuring the more simply named, but no less out-there, track "Plastic Beetle."

3. "Dance Tonight," 2007 video

There's no better way to get points from the cool kids than to get a music video directed by Michel Gondry, as McCartney did so for his 2007 offering "Dance Tonight." Extra points come from the appearance of the ultimate indie-guy object of desire, and fellow animal product-eschewer, Natalie Portman. She appears here as some kind of flapper ghost haunting McCartney's quaint kitchen.

2. Twin Freaks, 2005 album with the Freelance Hellraiser

Back in '05, everyone was about mash-ups, and even Sir Paul got in on the game. Rather than try to beat the copyright skirters, here he joined them, teaming with UK bootleg king the Freelance Hellraiser. Even better for the collector set, this appeared as a double vinyl set. Here's their percussion-heavy rework of "Live and Let Die."

1. Electric Arguments 2008 album, plus all output as "The Fireman"

McCartney teamed up with ex Killing-Joke guy Youth back in the early '90s, pushing technology and genre boundaries to create cut-and-paste electronic outings. The latest full-length offering was Electric Arguments in 2008, which actually climbed as high as number 67 on the U.S. charts. Even better: The disc was released on the U.K. indie One Little Indian, known best for other wonky, electronic projects like the Sneaker Pimps and the Shamen. Here's a video for their 2008 single "Sing the Changes."

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