1) Driving Rain/RAM - I wore these both out when I got them. Took several listens to fully get into either, though. In both cases, there was TREMENDOUS payoff for doing so.
2) Memory Almost Full - Bellamy is a masterpiece. I love when he allows himself to get a little "weird"! It has great rock bits (Mama), and the touching, poignant parts didn't come off as forced, like I thought they would. When his voice strains in places, that even works...because it suits the material perfectly.
3) Flaming Pie - He was on creative fire again thanks to the Anthology project. I feel this awakened him.
4) Tug of War - Too many weak songs to be ranked higher. But another creative peak, imo, touched off by John's death.
5) Chaos and Creation - Quite good, but in my opinion, overproduced by Nigel Godfrey. The collection of songs could possibly be tops on the list, but I really feel they had too much soul stripped from them. Left me feeling a little "meh" after repeated listenings. I'm so Glad Paul trusted his gut and didn't follow the critical acclaim this album had, or we would never have "Memory Almost Full" the way he wanted it.
All in all, it's been a creative re-emergence for Paul in the last 15 years or so. I'm happy for him because I had completely written him off by then. My criteria for choosing my Top 5 was a) which had the most impact when I first got it, b) which has held up the most upon repeated listenings, and c) which has MERITED the most random listenings. Ie, which of his solo material am I more likely to just find myself popping in for a long drive.
Glad to see Driving Rain getting some love in here. It's fascinating to me how big of a schism there is between Macca fans regarding his newish material. "Flowers in the Dirt" also left me underwhelmed and totally hasn't aged well, imo. Which is weird because I really like Costello too. My thinking was maybe Elvis tried a little too hard to be the "John Lennon" to Paul, instead of just being himself. But it must be terribly hard to be a Beatle fan and NOT do that!