Chris Willman
October 11, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Run Devil Run

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Paul McCartney

We gave it an A-

Never the most self-analytical of rockers, Paul McCartney opts for complete autobiographical avoidance on Run Devil Run, a high-spirited collection consisting mostly of covers of such ’50s rave-ups as ”Honey Hush.” His approach to getting past an obviously painful period in his life is to indulge in a second childhood, party like it’s 1959, and blast the cobwebs out.

It may be denial, but it’s sweet denial: It’s hard to imagine any serious Beatles fan not cherishing this lark. Unlike John Lennon’s ”Rock ‘N’ Roll,” which offered sober versions of rock classics, McCartney’s homage to his youth opts for less-heard oldies by the likes of Gene Vincent and Carl Perkins, many performed with a furiously fun gumption that suggests a sonically updated ”I’m Down.”

Amid the 12 covers, he throws in three self-penned ringers, one of which, ”Try Not to Cry,” comes within a mid-album suite of lonesomeness, which may just be his tribute to Linda. But ”Devil” is, in its details, simply a shamelessly wonderful party album in which you hear one of the great voices of rock act his shoe size. It’s a testament to its terrific fun that I immediately wanted to hear McCartney cover every song from Rhino’s four-disc ’50s anthology, ”Fast, Loose & Out of Control.” Well, a nearly middle-aged boy can dream, can’t he?

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