Paul McCartney: Tug Of War

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Time for reappraisal!

This album actually got quite good reviews upon its release, but a lot of people seem to have decided afterwards that it just isn't great.

So time to check it out again then. Because it is truly great stuff all over. Several of McCartney's best songs in there, and the only McCartney album containing absolutely no filler (sure, "Ebony & Ivory" is far from my fave track on the album, but it still is a quite nice song, and not even remotely as bad as some people claim).

"Tug Of War" was kind of a departure in one particular way. Earlier on McCartney had a very "do it yourself" approach to sonic quality and production, which made most of his albums sound like they were recorded in his kitchen while cooking (which was more or less the case with the 1980 album "McCartney II" anyway). Instead "Tug Of War" has the kind of crystal clear, picture perfect, sound that Beatles followers such as 10cc, Supertramp, ELO and Alan Parsons had been doing for most of the 70s. Abandoning the low-fi effort may have pissed off some of the most typical rock fans, but this isn't a rock album, it is a pop one. And a bloody good one at that.

"Here Today", "Somebody Who Cares", "Wanderlust" and the title track are all up there with his best songs ever (and I am even included his Beatles efforts here). And as for the rest, they are all great too.

Sure, followup "Pipes Of Peace" was a disaster, with great sound quality but hardly any good songs, and it took 7 years until 1989's "Flowers In The Dirt" to come up with an album that was almost as good. But only almost. "Tug Of War" remains his best solo work. And not only so:

"Tug Of War" is the best ever solo effort by an ex-member of The Beatles. Ever. Period.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Thursday, 4 March 2004 01:23 (twenty years ago) link

Fecking hell. Well that last statement is so absurd i'm going to have to check it out.

pete s, Thursday, 4 March 2004 01:31 (twenty years ago) link

Let us know if you come back alive.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 4 March 2004 01:32 (twenty years ago) link

It's not that absurd, considering the competition. I mean, something's got to be it.

Tico Tico (Tico Tico), Thursday, 4 March 2004 01:37 (twenty years ago) link

Better than All Things Must Pass? Come on!

Jim Reckling (Jim Reckling), Thursday, 4 March 2004 01:39 (twenty years ago) link

Does it have anything which rocks on it, Geir? Cos you know i like a good MCartney rocker.

pete s, Thursday, 4 March 2004 01:42 (twenty years ago) link

'Take It Away'. Rocking.

(Jon L), Thursday, 4 March 2004 01:44 (twenty years ago) link

pain

(Jon L), Thursday, 4 March 2004 01:44 (twenty years ago) link

I haven't heard this one, but topping All Things Must Pass would seem nigh impossible to me. And I have a lot of Beatles solo albums.

Shakey Mo Collier, Thursday, 4 March 2004 01:45 (twenty years ago) link

george is most definitely my favorite beatle, but i'd take plastic ono band or imagine over all things must pass any day of the week. and i'd take ringo's ringo over tug of war -- which i don't entirely mean as a knock on tug of war.

fact checking cuz (fcc), Thursday, 4 March 2004 01:49 (twenty years ago) link

i have to say i like the *underproduced* 70s sound of Wings; i only know "Ebony and Ivory" off this album, but Geir's description makes it sound horrible, to be honest.

robin carmody (robin carmody), Thursday, 4 March 2004 01:50 (twenty years ago) link

and, come on, "Ebony and Ivory" is a sad travesty.

robin carmody (robin carmody), Thursday, 4 March 2004 01:51 (twenty years ago) link

george's dark horse albums just rereleased; anyone bothered?

pete s, Thursday, 4 March 2004 01:53 (twenty years ago) link

That tiny segment on there near the end "the one you wanted to be is not the one you see" is so creepy.

I like this album.

dog latin (dog latin), Thursday, 4 March 2004 01:54 (twenty years ago) link

and, come on, "Ebony and Ivory" is a sad travesty.

a travesty that's based on an utterly false conceit. as has been pointed out before, ebony and ivory do not in fact stand side by side on my piano keyboard in perfect harmony. quite the opposite. adjacent black and white notes on the keyboard make a most dissonant sound.

fact checking cuz (fcc), Thursday, 4 March 2004 01:56 (twenty years ago) link

What about the conceit of singing "piano" as if it consists of two syllables? PYAH-NO

Broheems (diamond), Thursday, 4 March 2004 01:59 (twenty years ago) link

Steve Gadd on drums....'nuff said.

bahtology, Thursday, 4 March 2004 03:21 (twenty years ago) link

"All Things Must Pass" is great. However, the best solo album by an ex-Beatles member not called Paul McCartney is "Cloud Nine".

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Thursday, 4 March 2004 03:23 (twenty years ago) link

If only Paul had put "Just Another Day" on the first McCartney...

jim wentworth (wench), Thursday, 4 March 2004 03:29 (twenty years ago) link

Would have helped. "Maybe I'm Amazed" and "Junk" plus lots of filler just doesn't hold up.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Thursday, 4 March 2004 03:31 (twenty years ago) link

do you like "Every Night", Geir? lightweight it may be, but i love that song. "Another Day" is a great single, though.

robin carmody (robin carmody), Thursday, 4 March 2004 03:33 (twenty years ago) link

I like a lot of his "lightweight" stuff from the 60s. As for early McCartney solo, he was terribly patchy, and "Ram" I see as the only consistent album. "Band On The Run" is of course great, but even that album wears a bit thin towards the end.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Thursday, 4 March 2004 03:35 (twenty years ago) link

but do you like "Every Night", the song on the first solo album, Geir?

robin carmody (robin carmody), Thursday, 4 March 2004 03:37 (twenty years ago) link

Not really. Can't see I recall it as anything special (haven't listened much to "McCartney" at all, apart from "Junk" and "Maybe I'm Amazed")

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Thursday, 4 March 2004 03:40 (twenty years ago) link

ah well. few songs are more evocative of 1970 for me (or rather, an eternally imagined 1970)

robin carmody (robin carmody), Thursday, 4 March 2004 03:41 (twenty years ago) link

But tonight I just want to stay in
And be with you.

One of the reasons I don't listen to oldies stations is they never play songs like this.

jim wentworth (wench), Thursday, 4 March 2004 04:00 (twenty years ago) link

i've been listening to here today a lot lately. that song is brilliant.

MerkinMuffley (MerkinMuffley), Thursday, 4 March 2004 04:07 (twenty years ago) link

I've always thought Tug of War was a lot of veneer and not much else. It sounds great, or at least the George Martin tracks do. The title track sounds like Billy Joel doing a Paul McCartney impersonation. "Here Today" sounds good, but you'd think that he could come up with something better than a 2-minute rote Beatlesque piece of chamber pop as a tribute to Lennon.

dleone (dleone), Thursday, 4 March 2004 04:21 (twenty years ago) link

i don't own this album anymore, but i remember liking "wanderlust" a lot, and thinking that if he'd written it in 1969, it'd probably be considered a classic.

i kinda like the debut (and yeah, "every night") but ram is one of the worst albums i've ever heard: it's like fucking "maxwell's silver hammer" stretched out to 40 minutes!

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Thursday, 4 March 2004 06:52 (twenty years ago) link

wanderlust, the pound is sinking, take it away, tug of war, here today: these are all excellent songs. It's not my favourite mccartney solo album but it's up there. I just rediscovered RAM and the first one (McCartney) and it's really doesn't measure up to them, for me (I've had "Back Seat of My Car" in my head for over a week), but I still think of it as his last great album (uh, because Pipes of Peace largely sucked, and I didn't buy any of the subsequent ones).

anthony kyle monday (akmonday), Thursday, 4 March 2004 07:34 (twenty years ago) link

(sure, "Ebony & Ivory" is far from my fave track on the album, but it still is a quite nice song, and not even remotely as bad as some people claim)

E&I is one of those songs so detestable on first hearing that it needs to buried away like nucear waste and is not eligible for reappraisal until 202004.

Bob Six (bobbysix), Thursday, 4 March 2004 08:01 (twenty years ago) link

Despite Ebony and Ivory it is one of his best post Beatles records, in the top 3 or 4 I would have thought.

I love Ram and it would probably be my favourite of his. It's a big old mess of a record with some silly songs, some great songs and though it was recorded in studios in the US still maintains that home made feel that saves 'McCartney' from being a terrible record. It only works because it has the charm of being recorded at home though Maybe I'm Amazed, Junk, Every Night and possibly That Would Be Something are all great.

mms (mms), Thursday, 4 March 2004 09:46 (twenty years ago) link

"Tug Of War" is the best ever solo effort by an ex-member of The Beatles. Ever. Period.

I can think of one other ILX regular who might well agree with this. I expect him to appear within the next ten posts.

Michael Jones (MichaelJ), Thursday, 4 March 2004 09:50 (twenty years ago) link

"Tug of War" is a pretty good album, but marred by inconsistency. That one with Billy Preston called "Get It" is pretty poor, as are 1 or 2 others. But generally, it's excellent; and especially the likes of "Wanderlust", "Take It Away", "Here Today" and the title track - beautiful. "Ballroom Dancing" is a reasonable rocker and "The Pound is Sinking" is an odd sort of song in a good way. Probably worth a strong 7 or a low 8 overall, is this album. It's not for me the masterwork of his solo output, which is "McCartney II" - "Summer's Day Song" and "Waterfalls" are clearly two of his finest ever songs. "Ram", "Band on the Run" and "Venus and Mars" are not too far off the pace too... "McCartney" is really not as affecting for me as its sequel, save "Junk", "Every Night" and the instrumental "Hot As Sun". "Red Rose Speedway" is underrated, though I myself am still in a few minds about it.

"Pipes of Peace" btw, is too often wrote off... there's little of the greatness perhaps, of the main 4 above that I note, but there are few outright failures. All at least is enjoyable in a lightweight way. And the title track is *great*. And "We All Stand Together" is a bonus track on the re-issued CD! Need I add more to that...?

Tom May (Tom May), Thursday, 4 March 2004 14:10 (twenty years ago) link

I have said before that I think 'Tug of War' has the best melody of the 1980s. I said then that I did not really mean it. Yet I was obviously trying to say - something.

The LP I like. Others, including May and J.D., have already noted some of its highlights. As a wee lad I loved 'Ballroom Dancing', 'Wanderlust' and perhaps more. Probably 'The Pound Is Sinking' scared me. And 'Here Today' stunned me with its poignancy, 3 summers ago.

I do not know that the LP is the best post-Beatles solo record. I think Macca's best solo record is probably Wings' Venus & Mars - does that count as solo? If so, it's my bid: better even than All Things Must Pass, better even than... Tug of War.

the pinefox, Thursday, 4 March 2004 14:24 (twenty years ago) link

"The Pound Is Sinking" is the closest Paul McCartney has ever come to sounding like 10cc. And a lot more so than the entire album Eric Stewart collaboration that was "Press To Play"

As for other McCartney albums, again, "Flowers In The Dirt" is absolutely excellent. I find it a bit more inconsistent than "Tug Of War", but the highlights are just as strong, with "My Brave Face", "How Many People", "Figure Of Eight", "This One", "You Want Her Too" and "Distractions" all among his best solo work ever.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Thursday, 4 March 2004 14:38 (twenty years ago) link

As for "Pipes Of Peace", not a lot of highlights on that one, but "Keep Under Cover" is great, and his "The Man" duet with Michael Jackson is sooooo much better than "Say Say Say".

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Thursday, 4 March 2004 14:45 (twenty years ago) link

I've been listening to a lot of solo Macca just lately, especially the mid-70's stuff, when he goes strangely GLAM in musicaly attitude, but PASTORAL in his lyrics - some of the actual WORDS to his songs around then are beautiful, really simple and heartfelt about nature and living in it. It's lovely.

The fact that he usually follows up the most sweet beautiful Idea Songs with a SCREAMING GLAM BONANZA that careers headlong into a music-hall FANCY about taking tea with the queen is only TESTAMENT to his mighty genius at the time. Macca only got rubbish around about "Pipes Of Peace" when he stopped doing EXACTLY what he felt like doing and started trying to get back into the charts again. When he was writing songs like "Single Pigeon" or "Dragonfly" or indeed "Magneto & Titanium Man" he was untouchable.

MJ Hibbett, Thursday, 4 March 2004 16:11 (twenty years ago) link

The chorus of "Take It Away" is one of McCartney's best rock moments since "Jet." The verses, however, are utterly forgettable. But there are a lot of Macca songs like that, aren't there?

mike a, Thursday, 4 March 2004 16:12 (twenty years ago) link

Also good on Tug of War: "Get It." A decent rockabilly number, and maybe the first time I heard Carl Perkins first-hand rather than through Beatles and Elvis covers.

mike a, Thursday, 4 March 2004 16:14 (twenty years ago) link

and, come on, "Ebony and Ivory" is a sad travesty.

i have an entirely irrational love of this song.

move along, nothing to see here...

stevie (stevie), Thursday, 4 March 2004 16:19 (twenty years ago) link

"Tug of War" loses me with the power chords on the middle 8.

The thing that makes "Get It" particularly great is the vocoder dealy that comes right after. Go cat, go!

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Thursday, 4 March 2004 16:23 (twenty years ago) link

The chorus of "Take It Away" is one of McCartney's best rock moments since "Jet." The verses, however, are utterly forgettable. But there are a lot of Macca songs like that, aren't there?

mike a otm about Macca moments and forgettable filler. He is ill-served by not having a good editor.

Bob Six (bobbysix), Thursday, 4 March 2004 17:48 (twenty years ago) link

The thing that makes "Get It" particularly great is the vocoder dealy that comes right after. Go cat, go!

I mentioned this bit upthread I think. I had it going rou and round my head during a French A-Level exam. CReepy.

dog latin (dog latin), Thursday, 4 March 2004 17:58 (twenty years ago) link

So you did, dog latin. Sorry. Though it's the juxtaposition that's particularly striking, I think...

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Thursday, 4 March 2004 18:02 (twenty years ago) link

OMG I'm agreeing with Geir again

Begs2Differ (Begs2Differ), Thursday, 4 March 2004 18:13 (twenty years ago) link

"The Pound Is Sinking" is the closest Paul McCartney has ever come to sounding like 10cc. And a lot more so than the entire album Eric Stewart collaboration that was "Press To Play"

True, but Press To Play is easily his most underrated record. Much more experimental (and consistent, even) than TOW, it's also got tunes like "However Absurd," "Stranglehold," and "Footprints," which have to rank among his career highlights.

And as enthused as I was to hear his work with Horn/Lipson, I've always felt Flowers In the Dirt was a bit of a letdown by comparison — just a lot more hit n' miss and tossed off (and not in a good way).

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Thursday, 4 March 2004 18:31 (twenty years ago) link

"Press To Play" certainly doesn't sound like McCartney. "One Love Remains" is one of his best ever ballads, "Press" was a nice leadoff single. And that's it. The rest is rubbish. I rank "Press To Play" as one of his worst albums. Worse than "Pipes Of Peace", but not quite as bad as "Wild Life" and "Wings At The Speed Of Sound".

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Thursday, 4 March 2004 19:50 (twenty years ago) link

"george's dark horse albums just rereleased; anyone bothered?"

I recently acquired most of George's 70s solo albums via my fiancee's mom dumping off four crates of records on us. They're pretty spotty in general, but there are definitely some diamonds in the rough. The Ravi Shankar and Friends album in particular is a pretty fascinating document. "Living in the Material World" is probably the best of the lot - it's my favorite because it contains this absolutely *gorgeous* bit of Spector-pop "Don't Let Me Wait Too Long". "The Lord Loves the One Who Loves the Lord" is also a pretty track. The next one "Dark Horse" made a bit less of an impression on me. And then by 1979 and his self-titled, LA strings infested s/t album things are pretty uninteresting. Apart from realizing how many songs George wrote about the Beatles and their legal troubles - it's odd that George comes across as the most bitter about it all, and makes very obvious lyrical statements to that effect. I could forgive it if the tunes themselves were strong, but "Sue You Sue Me Blues" et al get tired pretty quick. All that being said, George is still my favorite Beatle. Also search: "Cheer Down" from some 80s sdtk, now that was a great single.

Shakey Mo Collier, Thursday, 4 March 2004 20:10 (twenty years ago) link

"Press To Play" certainly doesn't sound like McCartney. "One Love Remains" is one of his best ever ballads, "Press" was a nice leadoff single. And that's it. The rest is rubbish. I rank "Press To Play" as one of his worst albums. Worse than "Pipes Of Peace", but not quite as bad as "Wild Life" and "Wings At The Speed Of Sound".

No way is it worse than Pipes of Peace, Geir, sorry. No way. "However Absurd" is rubbish? The production is totally space-age and the bridge is unquestionably glorious!

That and, as of now, Press To Play is the last time he seemingly had a bug up his ass to experiment in the studio.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Thursday, 4 March 2004 21:10 (twenty years ago) link

Paul McCartney shouldn't experiment in the studio.

Whatever. Without Macca experimenting in the studio, there's no McCartney, no "Back Seat of My Car," or "Little Lamb Dragonfly." There's no vocal tag to "Venus and Mars (Reprise)," or aping of Eno in "Summer Day's Song." There's no progged-out coda to "Getting Closer" or steely horn riff on "Arrow Through Me."

I only wish there was no "Flaming Poo."

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Friday, 5 March 2004 03:21 (twenty years ago) link

What's Run Devil Run like, his "roots" album?

mike a, Friday, 5 March 2004 15:02 (twenty years ago) link

two years pass...
I came across a copy of Wild Life at a record shop recently. I ended up buying it 'cos I dug the cover. I listened to it, and really dug it. I had a look in The Mojo Collection and it was actually listed. They dug it too!

Makrugaik (makrugaik), Saturday, 27 May 2006 18:43 (eighteen years ago) link

"Wild Life" is a disaster. However, it contains a couple of ace bonus tracks. "Give Ireland Back To The Irish" in particular, but I also have a strange liking for "Mary Had a Little Lamb" - wonderfully twee, and one of my fave guilty pleasures, I guess.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Saturday, 27 May 2006 19:38 (eighteen years ago) link

Besides, in late 2005, McCartney came very close to releasing an album that was even better than "Tug Of War".

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Saturday, 27 May 2006 19:39 (eighteen years ago) link

I've said it before, but I think Paul was just in some kind of aesthetic netherworld with this record, Pipes of Peace, and possibly Press to Play. McCartney as pastoral rocker in the early seventies and glam-rocker-unto-new wave guy in the mid-to-late seventies was fresh. Here, he becomes more like a dinosaur just making hi-tech pop records (like a lot of other dinosaurs) because he doesn't know what else to do. Chaos and Creation in the Backyard feels to me like first really fresh record since McCartney II (though I don't know Flowers in the Dirt and Off the Ground - not that my understanding of those albums gives me any indication to think that they represented some kind of genuinely fresh vision).

That said, there is some really good material on this record and "The Pound Is Sinking" is stunning.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Saturday, 27 May 2006 20:17 (eighteen years ago) link

If the material had all been as creative as "The Pound Is Sinking" (as is the case with, say, Ram) then the production style wouldn't have been a problem. Or, if he had really wanted to make a modern baroque pop record, he could have gone a little more over the top, aiming for something more extraordinary. The title track of Pipes of Peace is a good example of that.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Saturday, 27 May 2006 20:31 (eighteen years ago) link

I don't require something to be "creative" to be good. On "Tug Of War", McCartney does basically the same thing Crowded House did a few years later. And both did it excellently. Good pop songs is perfect in itself, and doesn't need to be "creative" in addition.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Saturday, 27 May 2006 20:40 (eighteen years ago) link

I'm not saying it should have been that way; just pointing out that if the material had, in fact, been as creative on the whole as the material on Ram, then it could have worked.

I certainly agree that a pop album doesn't have to be that way, however. But this album still feels a lot like dinosaur music to me, whereas maybe something like Bowie's Let's Dance feels fresher.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Saturday, 27 May 2006 20:50 (eighteen years ago) link

And I feel similarly about George Harrison. The records he recorded at home (33 1/3 through Gone Troppo) are really cool. (Somewhere in England is the weakest of these, though the record company was giving him trouble and it probably would have been better in its original form.) But when these guys are going to involve themselves with producers and the pop scene/music industry writ larger, there has to be some purpose and vision. What was the purpose of working with George Martin again IF NOT to make an over-the-top, surrealistic, baroque pop record like the Beatles used to make? Tug of War is not that. What was the point of George working with Jeff Lynne other than going for an ELO aesthetic ten years too late? With Nigel Godrich, there was a clearer and more inspired purpose - to really make an interesting contemporary pop record.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Saturday, 27 May 2006 21:13 (eighteen years ago) link

Fussing over Tug of War, Pipes of Peace or Press to Play strikes me as a clear example of splitting hairs. All are decidedly uneven, all have great songs marred by the half-assed ambition of what Tim rightly calls a dinosaur "just making hi-tech pop records because he doesn't know what else to do." There was no compelling reason to make these albums. They could exist, or not; it doesn't make any difference.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Saturday, 27 May 2006 21:15 (eighteen years ago) link

In the case of George Harrison-Jeff Lynne, Tim: this pairing worked, in part because George has ALWAYS needed a collaborator who could suitably pseudo-Beatle-esque when asked; otherwise he's just a smart hack good for two songs per album and some great guitar work.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Saturday, 27 May 2006 21:16 (eighteen years ago) link

*who could SOUND suitably

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Saturday, 27 May 2006 21:17 (eighteen years ago) link

In case anyone wants to hear it, I'm sharing Thrillington on slsk. My username is "helter_skelter".

musically (musically), Saturday, 27 May 2006 21:20 (eighteen years ago) link

The White Album and All Things Must Pass immediately throw your "good for two songs per album" equation out the window for me, Alfred! And, of course, I find 33 1/3, the '79 self-titled album, and Gone Troppo to be charming (and occasionally stunningly gorgeous) all the way though.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Saturday, 27 May 2006 21:49 (eighteen years ago) link

"all the way through"

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Saturday, 27 May 2006 21:52 (eighteen years ago) link

The White Album doesn't count: George still gets one song per side, and it's a double album.

Look, I'll defend Cloud Nine and a handful of his solo singles, but that's as far as I'll go.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Saturday, 27 May 2006 21:58 (eighteen years ago) link

"Wake Up My Love" is stunningly gorgeous?

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Saturday, 27 May 2006 21:59 (eighteen years ago) link

No (though it's nice), but "Dream Away" is!

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Saturday, 27 May 2006 22:01 (eighteen years ago) link

Looking at Cloud Nine now, I see that it was recorded at Friar Park, too. Cloud Nine is essentially just like any of the other Dark Horse records except with Eric Clapton and Jeff Lynne instead of funky players like Willie Weeks and Billy Preston. And with an eighties LOUD SNARE. And with less experimentation with synthesizers. And with possibly his least inspired collection of songs.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Saturday, 27 May 2006 22:56 (eighteen years ago) link

Speaking about George Harrison, "Brainwashed" is more or less up there with "All Things Must Pass" and "Cloud Nine". May well be the best posthumous album ever.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Saturday, 27 May 2006 23:20 (eighteen years ago) link

Putting All Things Must Pass and Cloud Nine together is preposterous.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Saturday, 27 May 2006 23:31 (eighteen years ago) link

robin c was right about "every night": it's a wonderful song.

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Sunday, 28 May 2006 05:36 (eighteen years ago) link

funny thing, even though i haven't listened to any george harrison solo stuff in like 6 years (apart from hearing "what is life" on the radio a bunch of times) and don't really feel inclined to dig any of those records out, i can still remember every single song that's mentioned on this thread. especially "cheer down," i used to love that one. whereas i can hardly remember anything on "tug of war" besides the title song and "ebony and ivory." so george had something, at least.

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Sunday, 28 May 2006 05:42 (eighteen years ago) link

I love Tim Ellison's posts above, and I'm a devoted McCartney fan. Part of appreciating Paul, for me, is recognizing these sojourns into "aesthetic netherworlds" (marvelous phrase!) and appreciating what he comes up with while he's in them. Is Tug Of War essential? No. Did it need to be made? No. But...it is a shockingly listenable record, whose delicate, very clear, "you're in the room!" production is not far at all from the much-lauded Chaos and Creation (though certainly TOW has many more flourishes and overdubs - I'm just speaking about clarity of sound, compare to the general dumpiness of Speed of Sound or the dully clattering racket of Press to Play).. and moreover, a fun record, one displaying considerably more verve and energy than albums that sound like this have any right to.

And really, when you have "Tug of War," "Take It Away," "The Pound Is Sinking," "Wanderlust," "Ballroom Dancing," and "Dress Me Up As A Robber," surely you can accept the far less adventurous exercises like "Somebody Who Cares" and "Get It." (The main problem I have with Pipes of Peace is that it's composed so overwhelmingly of the latter.) With Paul, you veryrarely get clear "I have a vision, and I am going to make an album!" gestures, and many of them verge on being high-concept blunders. His most rewarding albums are the ones where the "guess it's time to make a record again" impulse coincides, happily, with a period of particularly lucrative whimsy and noodling. This is what seems to separate "Tug of War" from "Pipes of Peace"; "Red Rose Speedway" from "Wild Life"...

Paul will never bowl you over with his experimental daring (even when he's trying specifically to do so) but he can delight you with the little touches during fertile periods. Tug of War is a great example - if he were really just an aimless dinosaur knocking out pretty tunes by the numbers and trying desperately to stay hip, Tug of War would play a lot more like the LPs that immediately follow it. (I'll wait for a dedicated Press To Play thread to give it a more charitable treatment..let it suffice for now to say that "Pretty Little Head" is almost, but not quite enough, to justify owning this otherwise obnoxious and irritating album.)

Doctor Casino (Doctor Casino), Sunday, 28 May 2006 06:26 (eighteen years ago) link

I'll wait for a dedicated Press To Play thread to give it a more charitable treatment..

I'm pretty sure there IS a thread; and I may have started it (or Matthew, or Tim)

let it suffice for now to say that "Pretty Little Head" is almost, but not quite enough, to justify owning this otherwise obnoxious and irritating album.)

"Stranglehold" and "Press" have that effect on me.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Sunday, 28 May 2006 13:09 (eighteen years ago) link

Hey, there sure is! I posted to it too, though I'm not entirely sure what I said yet.

Doctor Casino (Doctor Casino), Sunday, 28 May 2006 15:50 (eighteen years ago) link

Really, this is George's best post-All Things Must Pass album:

http://home.att.net/~rarebird9/ghst.jpg

Material is great all the way through and "Blow Away" and "Faster" are both ... uh ... stunningly gorgeous - you bet. It was interesting seeing the "Blow Away" video on youtube and seeing him with a Les Paul. I've wondered for a LONG TIME how he got that guitar sound during those years. Must have been the Les Paul, after all! One of the few players to use a Les Paul for a "light," "chiming," "spindly" sound. Listen to his slide playing on that record or the rhythm guitar on "Your Love Is Forever," for examples. Gorgeous guitar sound.

Speaking of George on youtube, there's an intersting clip of him and band playing "Dark Horse" in '74. Not very good quality, but surely this was the best song on that record. Band includes Willie Weeks and two flautists. Who knows where it's from - they're playing live, but it's not footage from the 1974 tour. Here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VEWfVHqK5U&search=george%20harrison%20dark%20horse

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Sunday, 28 May 2006 19:41 (eighteen years ago) link

three years pass...

I like that Harrson LP a lot too - it was part of my childhood.

Hongro wasn't that way off about Tug of War, in my view. In the Macca stakes I think it's ahead of highlights McCartney II, Flaming Pie and Flowers In The Dirt, but maybe still in the #2 slot behind Venus & Mars - probably my favourite post-Beatles Macca.

How to compare any of them with All Things Must Pass (which I like, though it goes on a bit) I'm not sure.

the pinefox, Friday, 17 July 2009 11:35 (fourteen years ago) link

HarrIson LP. George deserves to be spelled properly!

the pinefox, Friday, 17 July 2009 11:38 (fourteen years ago) link

I now see that I posted to this thread 5 years ago, and I haven't really changed my view, except that I know more solo McCartney now than I did then, or a fortnight ago.

the pinefox, Friday, 17 July 2009 11:39 (fourteen years ago) link

Hongro wasn't that way off about Tug of War, in my view. In the Macca stakes I think it's ahead of highlights McCartney II, Flaming Pie and Flowers In The Dirt, but maybe still in the #2 slot behind Venus & Mars - probably my favourite post-Beatles Macca.

How do you rate "Chaos & Creation In The Backyard"? For me it is up there with his very, very, best work. Although I like "Ram", "Band On The Run" and "Venus And Mars" a lot, I find myself getting more excited by his work from the 80s onwards, when that "do it yourself" approach was less evident.

Compared to what I wrote 5 years ago, "Press To Play" has grown on me, somewhat. Still not considering it among his best, but some of those "weird" tracks are OK too. "Pretty Little Head" is not though.

Geir Hongro, Friday, 17 July 2009 23:04 (fourteen years ago) link

http://mlaudio.ornith.cornell.edu/audio/122552/122552.mp3

Milton Parker, Friday, 17 July 2009 23:14 (fourteen years ago) link

Macca only got rubbish around about "Pipes Of Peace" when he stopped doing EXACTLY what he felt like doing

But wasn't "We All Stand Together" a perfect example of this?

Geir Hongro, Friday, 17 July 2009 23:36 (fourteen years ago) link

I don't think I really like Band On The Run, though I don't own it.

I've just been discovering Ram - it does have some OK material including 'Back Seat Of My Car' which N loves so much.

Chaos & Creation I think must be the best since Flowers In The Dirt. It seems strong to me, for late McCartney. But then I think Memory Almost Full may be underrated! That song 'at the end of the end' is quite moving!

the pinefox, Friday, 17 July 2009 23:56 (fourteen years ago) link

"Memory Almost Full" is not a bad album, but it suffers from way too much compression. Typical 00s problem.

Geir Hongro, Friday, 17 July 2009 23:56 (fourteen years ago) link

How is everybody ignoring the shocking, beautiful, intense, and unique "Plastic Ono Band" album if you're going to talk about the best post-Beatles' solo album? For that matter, how can you call "Tug of War" better than "Venus and Mars," "Band On The Run," or "Ram?" Or yes, as others have noted, "All Things Must Pass?" I agree completely with the compression problem on "Memory Almost Full," it wrecks the enjoyment that one could derive from the album which must be played at very low volume to be tolerated. This is the wrong thread, but it appears that there is actually a remastered version of "A Bigger Bang" out now! I wonder if its even more compressed that the original release from 2000tenminutesago.

The Heart 'Bad Animals Tour' Goes On Forever In My Mind (Dr. Joseph A. Ofalt), Saturday, 18 July 2009 02:52 (fourteen years ago) link

The world's waited for it.

My name is Kenny! (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 18 July 2009 03:03 (fourteen years ago) link

one year passes...

God, this is a well-produced record. I called it "shockingly listenable" upthread and I think it takes me by surprise every time I put it on just how lovely the sounds coming out of the speaker are. Very strong songwriting, too; the lyrics are iffy in places but the melodies are some of his best ever. "Wanderlust"!

This was probably among the very first few CDs I ever bought. Still holds up really well. And can I say that I love the cover? The saturation, the red and the blue, on a mint condition sleeve it just glows.

Doctor Casino, Thursday, 23 September 2010 02:19 (thirteen years ago) link

OK, "Get It" is maybe a little hokey but that's sort of inevitable yeah? Carl Perkins has a nice voice though and I like the line "A life of Cadillac and ultra for sure."

Doctor Casino, Thursday, 23 September 2010 02:21 (thirteen years ago) link

helter skelter is the most hilariously unrocking while trying to be rocking song i've ever heard

mittens reduxeo, Thursday, 23 September 2010 02:32 (thirteen years ago) link

Love "Take It Away."

raging hetero lifechill (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 23 September 2010 02:36 (thirteen years ago) link

thirteen years pass...

Well I feel my dear that it's eminently clear
That you can't see the trees for the forest
Your father was an extraordinary man!

the last visible dot (Doctor Casino), Wednesday, 10 July 2024 14:00 (two days ago) link

That bit gets stuck in my head all. The. Time.

TheNuNuNu, Wednesday, 10 July 2024 14:23 (two days ago) link

Yeah so good.

And the album is so good too. Up there with McCartney II and Ram

Shadow of the Del Amitri (dog latin), Wednesday, 10 July 2024 17:19 (two days ago) link

I love the little Be What You See link. Wish a longer version had been made, I'd slip it into all sorts of mixes and playlists

Shadow of the Del Amitri (dog latin), Wednesday, 10 July 2024 17:20 (two days ago) link

I checked out the super deluxe edition from a library and it's really beautifully done. Not just the design and the photographs but creating the context to really appreciate this album. No one can forget that it came in the wake of Lennon's death, not when there's a song like "Here Today," but when I read the detailed liner notes, it really sank in how much losing Lennon probably weighed on him, and how even a guest star like Carl Perkins reflected that. (The book has a wonderful anecdote where Perkins plays the McCartneys a song, not realizing it would bring them to tears.) I always liked that number even though I understood how a lot of people thought it was a minor track, but if you look at the album as part of McCartney's way of coping with his grief, it doesn't feel disposable or an unimportant - it's like when a friend or close relative dies and you find company with mutual friends or someone you all had a connection to.

birdistheword, Wednesday, 10 July 2024 19:04 (two days ago) link

well put

It goes double for the Stevie Wonder tracks.

the talented mr pimply (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 10 July 2024 20:14 (two days ago) link

I really like the line

"Like someone has taken the wheels off your car
When you've got some place to go
Well it's annoying
Just knowing you won't get very far
I know
I know how you feel"

No Paul, you wouldn't know how I'd feel if that happened to me. I'd be a lot more than simply "annoyed".

Corny, likely tactless, I still like the flow and the rhyme scheme

Sade of the Del Amitri (dog latin), Thursday, 11 July 2024 00:14 (yesterday) link

*actually it's "somebody", not "someone". It just flows nicely, even though it's typical Macca throwaway silliness

Sade of the Del Amitri (dog latin), Thursday, 11 July 2024 00:15 (yesterday) link


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