Monday, October 27, 2014

Flashback 1981: Paul at Ringo's Wedding

Paul McCartney Ringo Starr

This is a flashback to Paul appearing at Ringo's wedding in April 1981 to Barbara Bach, the actress whom Ringo had met the previous year whilst filming "Caveman."

Now, you could look at this photo in any of several different ways. First, just about anyone on earth would be thrilled to have Paul McCartney at their wedding. Certainly Ringo would have been happy to have him there, good old pals that they were (and still working together a great deal in those days). Just having Paul there makes it an event.

Take 2: But then, it was Ringo's wedding day. And you would think that an ex-Beatle on his wedding day naturally would be the sole center of attention. However, as the photo shows - not necessarily.

Paul McCartney Ringo Starr
Earlier that day....

Taken another step back. Take 3: Paul could have just shown up, perhaps spent a quick five at the reception for appearances sake, and then split. Like, why not? Believe me, many people would do that, no matter how long they had known their friend who was getting married. But instead, Paul is a sport and makes an event out of it.

So, yes, plenty of different way to look at this depending upon how friendly or hostile you inherently are to all concerned. And there are people on all sides of that particular ledger.

Just to point a couple of things out: this is one of those rare shots where we see Linda smoking, cigaret in hand. It's terrific that whoever took this shot got all three in frame. Barbara, though, is noticeably absent. All those kids milling about now are grown up and wondering to themselves, "Was I really there when Paul McCartney was playing the piano at Ringo's wedding when I was five years old?"

Oh, and Ringo and Barbara are still going strong over 30 years later. So, maybe Paul was a good luck charm.

Paul McCartney Ringo Starr

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Flashback: 22 August 1969

The Final Days 22 August 1969

The Fab Four with Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney at Tittenhurst Park. 22 August 1969. Final photoshoot of the Beatles.

In attendance: John Lennon; Yoko Ono; George Harrison; Ringo Starr; Paul McCartney; Linda McCartney.

The groupings in this shot foreshadow what was just around the corner.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

'Silly Love Songs' Music Video from 'Broad Street'

Paul McCartney Linda McCartney Give My Regards to Broad Street
Lovely Linda, meet-uh maid

I don't have much on this site about "Give My Regards to Broad Street."

As far as I'm concerned, that's pretty appropriate.

However, this site is "Everything Paul McCartney," and, well, you can't have everything that is Paul McCartney without 'Broad Street.'

Paul McCartney Linda McCartney Give My Regards to Broad Street

So here is a touch of Paul from 'Broad Street.' Just a touch of background to flesh this out. In the early '80s, Paul somehow got it into his head to do a film. Perhaps he was just too flush with success, having broken loose from Wings and found his music hotter than ever. Maybe it was a contractual obligation thing. Whatever. Naturally he would write the film himself. Naturally.

So, Paul collaborated with David Gilmour — who had helped the former Beatles star to a Grammy on the ‘Rockestra Theme‘ — and so much other talent that is positively mind-boggling. Led Zeppelin‘s John Paul Jones, Dave Edmunds, members of Toto and Eric Stewart of 10cc were there, and this is when these guys were at their peaks. We are talking 'Greatest Hits of the '70s' here. Throw in a compilation of McCartney's greatest compositions, bringing back both George Martin and Ringo Starr, and, well, that's too much talent for any one room.

Paul McCartney Linda McCartney Give My Regards to Broad Street

It didn't work, of course, not by a long shot. Oh, it was inoffensive enough. It just wasn't worth sitting through. I still remember the newspaper advertisements for it (haven't seen them since), which made Paul look about 60 when he was still only 40, shots taken under some of the most god-awful lighting imaginable and him wearing a Hawaiian shirt for some unknown reason in a film that had absolutely no regards for the Pacific.

The cover - is it a cover if McCartney as a solo act records a Wings tune? - of 'Silly Love Songs' just encapsulates everything that was wrong with "Broad Street." You have Toto’s Steve Lukather and Jeff Porcaro participating on ‘Silly Love Songs,’ and indeed they do a great job. However, it is almost a muzak version of a song that just needs to rip in order not to put you to sleep. This version does not rip. It is so tuned down it is almost inverted. And everything is so precise, so meticulous, so un-random that you can imagine this playing out of one of those melitrons or whatever they were called from the '60s, where the machine provides a synthetic background for you to croon to.

Paul McCartney Linda McCartney Give My Regards to Broad Street
There he goes!

When the Michael Jackson impersonator comes out, that's about the end of that. Just having to use the phrase "Michael Jackson impersonator," well, that sort of grades itself in terms of a review.

And no, I still haven't figured out why they rise out of the basement, pop out of boxes, and act stiffly like frozen robots (which was quite the fashion for street mimes of the time, but, like, on street corners in the park, not in music videos with full bands). Yes, it still makes me scratch my noggin. Was Paul making some kind of point about global warming thirty years in advance? (Actually, the theory then was global cooling, which makes more sense.) Was he trying to emphasize the emotion of this most emotional of his hits by being as emotionless as possible? He's clever that way. Diabolical. Insanely clever. Too clever.

'You know you have too much money when you....'

Paul McCartney Linda McCartney Give My Regards to Broad Street

Perhaps it is all meant as a dialectic. We interpose the extreme emotions of love against the coldness of eternal winter in order to draw the contrast necessary to highlight the profundity of the theme. This extreme juxtaposition of human warmth against a sterile background of endless frigidity only amplifies the fragility and the rawness of the human spirit, creating splendor where otherwise there would be nothingness.

I could go on. I have no idea about any of it. Ice gods? Nordic princesses? Michael Jackson? Eh?

Ok, now for the positives. Porcaro (I think that is Porcaro under all that make-up, I could be wrong) is truly outstanding with his guitar solo. Paul is in good voice (undoubtedly lip-synching, but still...) The Michael Jackson impersonator, well, he isn't 'So Bad' (all right, I apologize for that).

And, best of all, Linda McCartney really is showcased nicely with her backup vocals. She is a total asset here despite the fact that all she does is recite her backups by rote and twist her head occasionally. She was the perfect unthreatening woman ever, and manages to give the band a bit of a sexual edge against all the odds.

But the most exciting part is when Paul does break down and gives a little 'aw, shucks' look at Linda (I think it was directed at Linda, not sure about that, it could have been directed toward the Michael Jackson impersonator for all I could tell). Oh, and Paul taps his feet at one point. Like, Oh My God. Then he looks kind of wistful when they go back down to the basement. Like... why?

I will be honest with you here and admit that 'Silly Love Songs' happens to be one of my favorite Wings tunes - just not this version. Linda is used to perfection, providing a perfect counterpoint that was so sorely missing in 'My Love.' The song truly encapsulates Linda's value to the band despite all the detractors, and I think this video exemplifies that. However, hunt down a 'Wings Over America' version if you can.

Paul McCartney Linda McCartney Give My Regards to Broad Street

Oh, what do you know - here's the version.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Lost Wings Commercial for "Venus and Mars"

Venus and Mars Wings

"Venus and Mars," Wings' 1975 release, scored mixed reviews from the critics, but its songs hold up surprisingly well from a time when standout singles from other acts were songs like "Disco Duck" and "The Streak." Suddenly MPL is "finding" old promotional material that some folks may half-remember and most will never have seen. This ad is one of those finds.

Paul is in the middle of re-releasing his early catalog. On November 4, 2014, "Venus and Mars" is receiving a deluxe reissue, with the original recordings (remastered under McCartney's supervision) supplemented by a disc of demos and unreleased tracks. A three-disc edition will also include a book of unpublished photographs, new interviews with the singer and a DVD containing footage from the time of the release. There is tons of material from the recording sessions that did not make it onto the albums.

Venus and Mars Wings

In terms of this commercial, by June 26th, 1975, Wings' fourth album, Venus and Mars, had been out for a month, and its lead single, "Listen to What the Man Says," was continuing its climb to the top of the U.S. and U.K. pop charts. It was a huge album for the band because it was designed to set up their massive world tour of 1975-1976. To give the record some additional push, the label debuted a television commercial shot by Saturday Night and Sunday Morning director Karel Reisz that featured the band engaged in a loose game of snooker.

In the commercial, Paul McCartney plays a foppish pool shark, dancing around the table. Let me just say that I remember the lacy-shirt style which Seinfeld made such fun of 20 years later, and I am not a fan. In fact, the entire commercial is pretty stupid, but it does sort of capture the band's randomness during the era, when Wings' sort of trademark or brand or whatever you want to call it was acting stupid in cool settings like this. It was considered the height of coolness then in certain circles to be a bit of a renegade, the type that hung out in bars and "violated convention," and if you were a pool shark who wore a brim and the right threads and maybe dealt some illicit substances on the side you were close to god-like.

Just for the heck of it, and completely unrelated to "Venus and Mars," here is Wings from a year later during the "Wings Over America" tour, the high point of the band's existence. I believe this was at the Seattle Superdome.

Ok, back to the advert. When "Listen to What the Man Says" kicks in during the commercial, Paul begins throwing – and even blowing – the balls into the pockets. "You Gave Me the Answer," "Treat Her Gently" and the title track, "Venus and Mars," also appear in this 60-second medley of songs from the album. We get to see all the band personnel from the era, including Linda, Denny Laine and Jimmy McCullogh. There's even a snippet from Denny's "Medicine Jar," which isn't one of Wings' more high-profile songs.

The album was a big hit, of course, and many consider it to be Wings' finest, though it has a lot of competition for that honor.

Venus and Mars Wings


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Alice Cooper cover of "Eleanor Rigby"

Alice Cooper Eleanor Rigby

I am going to annoy some of you with this review. Oh, well.

US rocker Alice Cooper and Indie band The Cure give their version of "Eleanor Rigby," a beloved song from The Beatles' "Revolver" that was used with extraordinay effect in the "Yellow Submarine" animated feature film. In this reviewer's opinion, it was the best thing about that classic film and, as a stand-alone music video, is one of the best ever made, before or since. The song is Paul McCartney's best composition.

Eleanor Rigby

This cover a tough one to review in any way, shape or form. The problem is that Cooper, who has been around since the early '70s, has changed over the years. He used to be this big counter-culture figure who was seen as rebelling, with his heavy make-up and wild antics.

More recently, however, he is more known for hitting the golf links and hosting a classic rock show on the radio.

Yes, Alice Cooper is a seminal figure in rock and roll. Nobody is ever going to take away his classic tunes. "School's Out for the Summer" is something schoolkids still love to hear, especially as May approaches. That alone merits his inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Eleanor Rigby

All right, as a prep for our conclusion, here's the deal on this song: "Eleanor Rigby" is regarded by many of us as Paul McCartney's best pure composition. "Yesterday" is all well and good, but "Rigby" tells an actual story in under 3 minutes. You try to do that some time and see how easy it is. It isn't. But that doesn't mean that we aren't open to new versions and interpretations. They have to be good, though.

Paul's version was magnificent. George Martin sent it over the top with lush strings that were perfect for the song's sad, wistful air, but stopped short of getting mopey by maintaining a fast pace which emphasized that this is a story of the fast-paced here-and-now times and not some ode on a Grecian urn. It was a startling decision at a time when classical music was considered something exclusively for old fogies, but it worked - gloriously. It was thinking so far outside the box that the box itself disappeared. John Lennon would make caustic remarks about Paul's "Granny music," but he couldn't deny the quality of "Eleanor Rigby."
Ok, not every egg that Paul lays is golden

Even during times in the '70s and '80s when Paul was thought by the "cool crowd" to be writing drivel (he wasn't, but that was indeed the perception), the fatal flaw in their argument was always that "Eleanor Rigby" and a handful of other Paul compositions were undeniably better than anything they could ever hope to do. And they knew it, which sent them scurrying for reasons why Paul had "lost it" or "sold out" rather than never had "it" in the first place. Because he did.

And now, after that long-winded intro, the bottom line on this cover: we are not impressed.

Cooper adds absolutely nothing to the original. The strings are identical, and Cooper simply recites the words. There is no added emphasis anywhere, there is no modulation of emotion... nothing. He even goes so far in his slavish robotic copy as to add a clear British accent to some of the words. You must be kidding me.

Eleanor Rigby
They build statues to this song

I will confidently assert that Macca's original version from 1966 is not just better from a "well, it was the original and we must honor that" perspective - it is simply better. Period. Paul releases real emotion into his vocal that is so subtle that you barely hear it - but it is there. You can hear the hint of sadness. Cooper, on the other hand, just shouts his way through it, and it sounds as if he is simply trying to copy the original. It is not bad in a local-theater tribute band kind of way.

Truth be told, Cooper was in a no-win situation. If he altered anything, that would be "destroying a classic." However, the point of  a cover is to bring something new out of the song, as Elton John did with "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" or Joe Cocker did with "With a Little Help from My Friends." It can be done well - but not by rote.

There are some good aspects to the cover: the strings are magnificent (again); Cooper enunciates well; he gets all the words right; he copies the intonations pretty well (just a couple of hiccups here and there; he is understandable and does not mangle anything.

Fine. But add in some original backing vocals, maybe vary the tempo, give us a sense of urgency that this woman is living a life of quiet desperation that is part of all of our lives.


Cooper can sit back and grandly say "Well, I'm a big rock star and you're not." Perfectly true. But that does not make this a good cover. It is perfectly acceptable as a homage, a re-recitation, a throw-away copy, and that is it. Worth buying? No.

Eleanor Rigby

This was released to promote "The Art of McCartney," which features artists such as Brian Wilson, Roger Daltrey, Chrissie Hynde, Jeff Lynne and Barry Gibb who have all re-recorded classic numbers by the Beatles legend.

They are all supported by Paul's current band, which quite simply is the best Beatles Tribute band in existence, even if they aren't known as that.

Eleanor Rigby
James McCartney on "Hello Goodbye"

The first artist to record a song was Beach Boys great Brian Wilson with Wanderlust, while The Cure sang the first song on the album - a cover of Hello Goodbye, featuring James McCartney on keyboards (below).

In addition, Willie Nelson contributed a version of Yesterday, while Bob Dylan recorded Things We Said Today.

The Art of McCartney is available for pre-order online.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

"This Boy" live on Ed Sullivan, Plus 1964 Pictures Beatles California Bel Air
The Beatles at the Reginald Owen residence in Bel Air, Calif., on Aug. 23, 1964.


This performance video includes some backstage footage and does not include the entire performance, which can be found elsewhere, but does have some interest on its own anyway. Beatles Toronto 1964
The Beatles during a press conference at Toronto's Maple Leaf Center in September 1964. 

This performance was in the ballroom of the Deauville Hotel in Miami Beach on Feb. 16, 1964. Ed Sullivan broadcast it across the country, with spectacular ratings for the second week in a row. Paul Ringo airplane
Paul and Ringo very interested in something in the paper, 1964. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr on a plane en route to a performance at San Francisco's Cow Palace on Aug. 30, 1964. Imagine being some ordinary bloke in the seat behind them! 

I'm also including all these other random photographs and artifacts from that general period because, if you're interested in the Ed Sullivan show performances, you'll probably find some of these other items of interest as well. Meet the Beatles flyer
Yes! This original early Beatles handbill promotes their show at the Aintree Institute in Liverpool in August 1961, and includes the pre-Ringo Beatles when Pete Best was the group's drummer. And here we see where hey got the name of that famous album from. Beatles autographs
Dallas hotel stationery signed by the four Beatles and their manager, Brian Epstein, for the Dallas Fan Club president, on September 18, 1964. Beatles drum kit Ludgwig
The original drum head used during the Beatles' entire first American visit in February 1964. The drum head appeared in all three "Ed Sullivan" shows, the Washington Coliseum concert and the Carnegie Hall concerts. It also was featured in the opening shot of "Let It Be" Beatles lunchbox
This Beatles Aladdin lunchbox and thermos from 1965 Beatles performing 1964
The Beatles performing in 1964 McCartney handwritten setlist Washington DC
The original stage-used setlist from the Beatles' first American concert at Washington Coliseum in Washington, D.C., on February 11, 1964. Handwritten by John Lennon on stationery from the Shoreham Hotel McCartney song lyrics What You're Doing
Paul McCartney's handwritten song lyrics for his composition, "What You're Doing," which he wrote while on tour in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in August 1964. Atlanta contract Beatles
Original performance contract for the Beatles' Atlanta concert on Aug. 18, 1965. Signed on behalf of the Beatles by manager Brian Epstein. McCartney tour jacket
Paul McCartney's 1965 tour jacket worn at the Shea Stadium concert on August 15, 1965, along with other stops along the tour, including the Hollywood Bowl. Lennon McCartney
Paul McCartney and John Lennon rehearse backstage before an August 1964 show in Detroit, Michigan

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sir Paul Helping to Save Blitz Church

St. Lukes Liverpool
St. Luke's Church in Liverpool

Sir Paul, of course, was born during World War II. That is turning out to not be his only connection with it.

St. Luke's Church in Liverpool, England is the famous "bombed out church." Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, a Liverpool native, is keen on helping to preserve it.

The church, on Leece Street in Liverpool, was built 1811-32, and was designed by John Foster Snr and John Foster Jnr, as a parish church, for Corporation ceremonial worship and a concert hall. It was burned out in the 1941 Liverpool Blitz and remains a roofless shell.

St. Lukes Liverpool
St. Lukes after the bombing in 1941

The church is still used, however, roofless derelict or not, as a public arts venue. There are outdoor film screenings, exhibitions and the like. However, funding is always a problem. It is owned by Liverpool council.

Dance music promoters Club Freeze contacted Sir Paul about helping out. Campaigners are setting up two separate, interlinked companies which would be overseen by Liverpool council, but says it is struggling to afford the cost of maintaining it.

One will work with English Heritage to conserve the Grade-II* listed church whilst the other will be a community interest company organising arts events in the landmark space.

St. Lukes Liverpool
It is a beautiful setting and almost looks normal from the outside.

Sir Paul issued a letter of support: “St Luke’s Church - better known as ‘The Bombed-Out Church’ to the people of Liverpool - is a place that encourages people to express themselves.

“The people of Liverpool should do everything possible to keep this venue open for the use of the people and run by the people.

“It is a place that is regularly staffed by students from LIPA (a nearby magnet school) and everyday people of all ages, religions and backgrounds. It would be a terrible shame if we lost this cultural icon.”

St. Lukes Liverpool
The church interior in 1931

Following the success of the Bombed Out Church’s online Crowdfunder campaign, more than £20,000 was raised towards keeping open the much-loved venue near the top of Bold Street.

There are rumors that Sir Paul personally contributed a boatload of money himself, perhaps as much as £2,000,000. That may be underestimating his involvement or a complete fabrication, but either way, his involvement helped keep a key World World War II memorial alive. And Sir Paul has a long history of helping out with public spaces in Liverpool.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Flashback: Wings Over the World Tour

Here Comes Wings!

Wings! Would you mistake this group as the greatest band in the world?

Here is a classic shot of Wings en route to rehearsals at Elstree Studios by Barry Morgan. Roadie Trevor Jones is in the background carrying the bags with the bellcap, waiting patiently as the band gets in a nice promo shot.

We have Linda and Paul, Thaddeus Richard, Steve Howard, Jimmy McCulloch, and Tony Dorsey outside the Holiday Inn, London. Not sure who is cut off there on the right. Notice that Jimmy is holding a newspaper with the headline "Banned." Joe English and Howie Casey are not in the shot, though they were around somewhere.

Not sure about the exact day (though it's no secret, I'm sure it is on file somewhere and perhaps you reading this know it). The lineup is from the Wings Over the World tour, which lasted from autumn 1975 through autumn 1976. It was the high point of Wings.

Since these are rehearsals, we shall take a guess and say this is September 1975. They all have jackets on, so we shall go a step further and say the middle/latter part of month. It appears they may be checking out. That they are all together suggests a bit of togetherness of the group - perhaps they all just had breakfast downstairs or something. Or, maybe Paul had a bus to take them to the studio so nobody, you know, got lost along the way.

The horn section for the tour was: Tony Dorsey, Howie Casey, Thaddeus Richard, and Steve Howard on saxes, brass, and percussion. Howard got in those great trumpet licks.

One gets an idea of the importance of Linda in this very masculine crowd. She is often degraded for her lack of musical skills, which is undeniable, but her presence was quite important, especially to Paul. Look at the shot - who has the pretty woman on his arm? Also, note that, as a photographer herself, Linda instinctively realized that to make the shot work requires just an ounce of creativity - thus the leap into Paul's arms. That did not happen by accident, and it helps make Paul stand out even further as The Man while the others sort of stand around like doofuses. That is what makes this a classic shot - it is all Linda.

It's the little things that matter.

Jones is an interesting character in Beatles lore. He was Wings' original roadie and was with Paul all through the 70s and 80s. He somehow accumulated a collection of tapes that went up for auction after he died in 1998.

The tapes are demos, outtakes, band rehearsals, etc. Apparently, the band would go through various versions of songs and only really cared about the final cuts. Jones kept whatever he could grab rather than see it go in the bin. He wound up with 45 cassettes of material, which is an awful lot of top-quality music.

The Jones estate has been dribbling the material out as bootlegs. Three CDs were leaked to the auction house in 2010, causing MPL to accelerate Paul's own archive releases in order to head them off (what they were waiting for otherwise is difficult to fathom).

Paul himself didn't bid on that tape material (CDs) when they were up for auction because he supposedly did not know about them. Even if he did, his attitude likely would have been, "Well, we didn't care enough about them then to keep them, why should I pay through the nose for them now?"

Naturally, there is a conspiracy theory because this is, after all, the 21st Century. There's idle speculation that someone from MPL leaked them since they were irritated at how long the archive release project was taking. The prospect of bootleg material undercutting Paul's own project was sure to light a fire under the accountants at MPL, and it did, so it's a clever thought. Of course, if someone at MPL had the tapes or some kind of control over them, then technically Paul would have owned them, and that's not the case.

There also is a 4CD/2DVD set called 'Trevor Jones Classified Part II,' and for all I know there may be other Jones material out there.

Here's what they might have played after they got to the studio. Not bad for a throw-away rehearsal. "Junior's Farm" always has been on my "underappreciated Macca" tunes list.