Paul McCartney Spins New Album For Fans

Ex-Beatle takes questions after playing rock-covers disc Run Devil Run.

NEW YORK — Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney unveiled Run Devil

Run, his upcoming tribute to early rock 'n' roll, for fans, contest

winners and VIPs Wednesday night.

"Did you enjoy it?" the 57-year-old rocker yelled from the stage of the

Hammerstein Ballroom after the last notes of the 15-track romp through

the music of his youth came through the public-address system. The crowd

screamed.

"It certainly beats sitting around with a bunch of suits in an office,"

said McCartney, who was wearing a perfectly tailored black suit himself.

He then held an impromptu question-and-answer session with fans, during

which he sang (actually, he rapped) the praises of grandfatherhood,

politely declined to invite a 16-year-old drummer backstage and said he

may have stumbled into a new line of work.

"This is definitely a new career move," he said of the Q&A session. "I

may be appearing in Cleveland tomorrow night."

Run Devil Run (Oct. 5), is a collection of 12 early rock covers,

recorded live in the studio, along with three new McCartney songs in the

same style.

The new songs include the title cut, "Try Not to Cry" and "What It Is."

The latter is a tribute to McCartney's late wife, according to album

liner notes that flashed on a giant screen above the stage. Linda McCartney

died of breast cancer in 1998. Run Devil Run will be the first

album McCartney has released since then.

Jane Gaudi, a 48-year-old resident of Owens Mills, Md., guessed that the

recording was cathartic for the ex-Beatle.

"When you go through something like that, a lot of people become so

absorbed in their work," she said. "So it probably came from that."

Roy Abrams, 39, of Long Island, N.Y., said Linda McCartney's death may

have prompted Paul to revisit his early days.

Even the original title track was written to emulate rock forefather

Chuck Berry, according to McCartney's later notes.

The result is "amazing," according to Abrams, who said he has been

listening to McCartney's music "from the crib." "The man can still sing

his ass off."

Before playing the album Wednesday, McCartney told the crowd it was

recorded live in the studio, in the style of the early Beatles albums

— two three-hour sessions a day, four songs a day.

"It was always cool to work that way," he said.

Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, another rock icon, plays guitar on the new

album, and helped create a sound that is technically proficient and

primal at the same time. "All Shook Up," the Elvis Presley hit, rocks

out with viciously intertwining rhythm guitars on top of the mix.

McCartney nods to a good deal of rock's first generation on Run Devil

Run. Berry is faithfully resurrected on "Brown-Eyed Handsome Man,"

as well as on the title song. Carl Perkins' countryish rock is saluted

on "Movie Magg." Little Richard is in the fold, too, on "Shake a Hand,"

a ballad that builds to a near-reckless climax.

Big Joe Turner, Larry Williams (whose "Dizzy Miss Lizzy," "Bad Boy" and

"Slow Down" were all covered by the Beatles), Fats Domino, the Vipers

and Gene Vincent and Ricky Nelson ("Lonesome Town") also are represented

on the album.

Though he has been known more for pop songs such as "Ebony and Ivory"

(RealAudio

excerpt) than for all-out rock songs since the Beatles disbanded,

McCartney has covered similar territory before. His album CHOBA B

CCCP (Back in the U.S.S.R.), released in the Soviet Union in

1988 and the rest of the world three years later, comprised rock classics

from the same period, including Wilbert Harrison's "Kansas City"

(RealAudio

excerpt of McCartney version), which the Beatles also covered.

Several hundred fans, many of them radio-station contest winners, danced,

bounced and, for the most familiar songs, sang as Run Devil Run

blasted overhead.

When McCartney, with his seemingly indestructible full head of brown hair

(with a touch of white on the sides) asked for questions, fans raised

their hands, jumped up and down and shrieked. No stranger to worship,

McCartney calmly answered their questions and joked with them.

Megan Harvey, 16, of Long Valley, N.J., asked her idol if she could play

drums for him backstage and if he would sign her drumsticks. Though

McCartney declined, saying the exercise was more appropriate for his

ex-bandmate Ringo Starr, Harvey didn't seem to care.

"I really like hearing real rock 'n' roll," said Harvey, who said she

has photos of McCartney on her bedroom walls. "It fills me with joy."

When another fan asked how his grandson was doing, McCartney replied, in

hip-hop cadence, "Su-per-cal-i-frag-i-lis-tic-ex-pi-al-i-docious."

McCartney's most recent rock album was 1997's Flaming Pie, which

included "Somedays" (RealAudio

excerpt).