Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Flashback: 1961 at the Aldershot Club

The Beatles 1961 Aldershot paulmccartney.filminspector.com
1961, Somewhere in England (Dick Matthews).

The disco ball is riding high and the Beatles are on the stage. You thought the Beatles missed the disco era? Think again!

The Beatles 1961 Aldershot paulmccartney.filminspector.com
You are invited to see this new act, The Beatles, direct from their German tour.

It's fun to do a flashback shot now and then and not go into a whole song and dance (sorry) about it. Just let the picture speak for itself.

The Beatles 1961 Aldershot paulmccartney.filminspector.com
Aldershot Club (Dick Matthews)

The Beatles 1961 Aldershot paulmccartney.filminspector.com
Aldershot Club (Dick Matthews).

The Beatles 1961 Aldershot paulmccartney.filminspector.com
Aldershot Club (Dick Matthews).

The Beatles 1961 Aldershot paulmccartney.filminspector.com
Aldershot Club (Dick Matthews).

The Beatles 1961 Aldershot paulmccartney.filminspector.com
Aldershot Club (Dick Matthews).

Here we have a glimpse into the past of one James Paul McCartney. You can't really see him in this shot - which says a lot right there about the time period - but this is part of his past. And just imagine how many gigs there were like this where they did not take any pictures - why this one is taken, and by whom, would be interesting to know. Perhaps their manager? Or the hotel for promotional purposes? It looks perfectly framed, the mark of professionalism. The disco ball knows all.

The Beatles 1961 Aldershot paulmccartney.filminspector.com
The same performance. Paul doesn't quite have the mop-top look down yet. Aside from the leather jacket, a vestige of Hamburg, he looks downright suburban, corduroy pants and all - which he was. What do you imagine that he is singing? 'Love Me Do'? Aldershot Club (Dick Matthews)

It is the Aldershot Club. 9 December 1961. The Beatles are playing. They are playing for all of 18 people, and happy to have them. Within 2 years, they would be a world sensation. But here, they are a lounge band playing for whoever wanders in. To their credit, several of the folks appear to be enjoying the music. Middle-aged folks, wearing pearls, a few toughs along the left wall looking for opportunity. A wallflower or two on the right. Maybe, spurred on by the music, they hooked up? A typical day in the life of the early Beatles.

A long-ago time of wonder.

Beatles portraits paulmccartney.filminspector.com
Studio portraits during the same era.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Flashback 1981: Paul at Ringo's Wedding

Paul McCartney Ringo Starr paulmccartney.filminspector.com
Paul, Linda, and Ringo.

This is a flashback to Paul McCartney 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.

Paul McCartney Ringo Starr paulmccartney.filminspector.com

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 paulmccartney.filminspector.com
Earlier that day...

Taken another step back. Take 3: Paul could have just shown up, perhaps spent a quick five at the reception for appearance's 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 ways 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 the 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 paulmccartney.filminspector.com


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Flashback: 22 August 1969

The Final Days

paulmccartney.filminspector.com 22 August 1969
August 22, 1969.

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

paulmccartney.filminspector.com 22 August 1969
This is the iconic shot from the photoshoot.

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

paulmccartney.filminspector.com 22 August 1969
A different angle on that iconic shot.

The groupings in this shot foreshadow what was just around the corner: three groups that went their own way.

paulmccartney.filminspector.com 22 August 1969

After being outside, the Fab Four went inside to a conference room.

paulmccartney.filminspector.com 22 August 1969
The last shot. The End.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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

Paul McCartney Linda McCartney Give My Regards to Broad Street paulmccartney.filminspector.com
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 paulmccartney.filminspector.com

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 paulmccartney.filminspector.com

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 paulmccartney.filminspector.com
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 paulmccartney.filminspector.com

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.

Oh, what do you know - here's the version I'm thinking of.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Lost Wings Commercial for "Venus and Mars"

Venus and Mars Wings paulmccartney.filminspector.com

"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 paulmccartney.filminspector.com

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 paulmccartney.filminspector.com


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Alice Cooper cover of "Eleanor Rigby"

Alice Cooper Eleanor Rigby paulmccartey.filminspector.com

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 extraordinary effect in the "Yellow Submarine" animated feature film.

Eleanor Rigby paulmccartey.filminspector.com

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 paulmccartey.filminspector.com

This cover is 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 makeup and wild antics.

Eleanor Rigby paulmccartey.filminspector.com

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

Eleanor Rigby paulmccartey.filminspector.com

 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 paulmccartey.filminspector.com

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," truth be told, tells an actual story in under 3 minutes. You try to do that sometime 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 sickly 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."


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 paulmccartey.filminspector.com
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.

Eleanor Rigby paulmccartey.filminspector.com
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 paulmccartey.filminspector.com

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 paulmccartey.filminspector.com
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

paulmccartney.filminspector.com Beatles California Bel Air
The Beatles at the Reginald Owen residence in Bel Air, Calif., on Aug. 23, 1964.

"This Boy" is a "John Lennon" song. While Paul McCartney assumed a more prominent role later in the Beatles' history, here John really shines. Paul does, however, make an impact on the harmonies.

paulmccartney.filminspector.com Beatles Toronto 1964
The Beatles during a press conference at Toronto's Maple Leaf Center in September 1964. 

This particular performance of "This Boy" 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.

paulmccartney.filminspector.com 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.

paulmccartney.filminspector.com 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.

paulmccartney.filminspector.com 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.

paulmccartney.filminspector.com 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"

paulmccartney.filminspector.com Beatles lunchbox
This Beatles Aladdin lunchbox and thermos from 1965

paulmccartney.filminspector.com Beatles performing 1964
The Beatles performing in 1964

paulmccartney.filminspector.com 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

paulmccartney.filminspector.com 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.

paulmccartney.filminspector.com 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.

paulmccartney.filminspector.com 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.

paulmccartney.filminspector.com Lennon McCartney
Paul McCartney and John Lennon rehearse backstage before an August 1964 show in Detroit, Michigan