Posts Tagged ‘Wings’

Belmont Rocks Chicago.

Wednesday, December 7th, 2022

Summer of 1985 at Chicago’s Belmont Rocks by Doug Ischar from his out-of-print book “Marginal Waters“.

“Since even before the early days of modern gay movement, the Belmont Rocks were a place to call our own. The lakefront stretch of stone and grass from Belmont to Diversey harbors was a public space Chicago’s LGBTQ community claimed from the 1960s through the 1990s. This unwelcoming stretch was more than a frequented waterfront area. The Rocks were a political statement tied to our liberation. The Belmont Rocks were a symbol of our right to be here, our right to exist, and our right to gather outside and in the sunlight at a time when our bars still had blackened windows.” — Owen Keehnen

What a collection of beautiful, empowering, and heart wrenching photographs.































Paul McCartney and Wings in Australia 1975.

Sunday, November 20th, 2022


Ever since I can remember, even before I had hair I could sit on, I used to wander around record fairs and shops with my ‘Wants list’. A sheet of paper where I had listed in order of desirability, all the things I most wanted to enhance, or complete my Beatle collection.

At Number Two was film footage from the Double Fantasy recording sessions, which, a few years ago I finally got a copy of. Sitting at Number One on my list was a poster from Wings 1975 tour of Australia.

Being ten years old at the time I never got to see this tour. I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s too funny not to relive.

I have a vivid memory of sitting in my brothers bedroom, pleading with him to get me a ticket and take me. He declined. In an act ‘VERY’ out of character for me, I became dramatic and borderline hysterical. I told my brother if he didn’t take me, I would suffocate myself with a pillow, THEN tell mum and dad it was HIS fault.

His response was a firm ‘I don’t think so’, so I grabbed a pillow, and in front of him held it up to my face.

After about thirty seconds I thought, ‘Ewww, this is very hot and uncomfortable’.

Pulling the pillow away slowly for an even more dramatic effect, so my brother could see I was serious, what I heard was the front door closing as he left to go to soccer. ?

Fast forward forty six years, and thanks to Greg and especially Richard, I now have the poster, and it came back from the frame shop yesterday. It looks amazing.

The moral of the story is, ‘Patience (if not pillows) is a virtue’.
?? ??

Tug of war. 40Th Anniversary.

Wednesday, April 27th, 2022


Today marks the fortieth anniversary of the release of Paul McCartney’s Tug of war album.

The album is filled with nostalgia for me, I was seventeen, and on my first tropical holiday
when I purchased it at Tolmies record store in Burleigh Heads.

As with any music discussion, it’s enjoyment, understanding and appreciation is all subjective.

One mans ‘Hey Jude’ is another mans ‘Hey Hey’ (I’d actually like to see both those guys in the same
room, at the same time).

Paul hadn’t released a studio album in just under two years at that point, a timeframe mostly unheard of for
Paul and most artists of the time.

Like every Paul album I played it repeatedly. It was lush, it was beautifully produced, and it had a hit.

So, what are my thoughts now with forty years of hindsight?

It’s kind of of more Tug, than War, if you know what I mean.

The two albums previously, Back to the egg, and McCartney II delivered mixed, if not challenging
results and levels of success.

By the time Wings came to record Back to the egg, the constraints and novelty of being in a band
for Paul had set in, and definitely a sense of ‘Been there, done that’ must have been clouding him.

Tho a fan favorite, to these ears, a level of tiredness had set
in. Band members were wearing clogs on stage, some were almost vulnerable to a jacket with
elbow patches. This version of Wings (and there were many) appeared more roll than rock, granted, Back to the egg
had an edge missing from the folksy and overly long ‘London town’ album, but I’ve never bought into the adage that this
incarnation of Wings were the most rocking. Have a listen to Soily on Wings over America, then we can talk. Personally, I
had the feeling Pauls heart just wasn’t in it anymore, and that he was starting to feel a little lost.

The pre album single ‘Goodnight tonight’ was a reasonable success, but the singles that followed from the album
were moderate successes at best. A tour followed, again, a fan favorite due to the somewhat quirky set list,
to me, in hindsight, it kind of fell short compared to what was going on in concerts by other artists at the time.

Paul had set the standard with Rockshow in 1976, now in 1979 he was reduced to kicking a toy robot on stage for a laugh.
The setlist was was vastly shorter than the last time Paul had played British theatres, and nothing rocked and smoked
like the last tour, the closest they got was Spin it on, even that didn’t sound totally convincing in a live setting.

Paul wasn’t happy with the final show of the 1979 tour, or others during the run of shows, he knew they were under rehearsed
for the upcoming Japanese tour (which was going to add Another day, Live and let die and Let em in to the set list). We all know what happened in
Japan. It must have been a nightmare for Paul, but in hindsight, it was probably fortuitous. Try as I might I can’t really
imagine Wings limping along any further. A tour of Japan, then what, back to America? Nope, historically, I’m glad Paul got the
jolt. He needed to think about where he was going, what he was doing, and with whom. Wings continued on through 1980, but only on
minor projects, and overdubs on things like Kold Kuts. Tapes of rehearsals from late that year show they were a spent force.

Paul threw a curve ball in May 1980 when he released ‘McCartney II’, his second all solo album. This album featured the
monster hit ‘Coming up’, even earning a thumbs aloft from John Lennon. This single built up Paul’s stocks again, but, as the casual record
buying public found, after the first single, and then Waterfalls, the rest of the album proved to be a little quirky and challenging.
Tho a hit album on the back of Coming up and Paul’s loyal fan base, this album quickly became one of Paul less popular and

In time, this albums fortunes and standing would shift dramatically (Humble brag, I adored ‘Check my machine’ from the
first time I heard it).

1980 wasn’t finished with us yet. Nothing further needs to be written about the horror, emotional chaos and questioning
that enveloped not only the Beatle fan world, but suddenly, after December, the whole world was focusing on, and judging the former Beatles
(tho, were they ever, are they ever, really ‘former’?).

1981 was a pretty quiet year for Paul. News had filtered out that he was working with George Martin. Personally I was happy to hear this,
because even with a small period of time passing, I knew the reception that had greeted Paul’s two previous albums needed to change
for his next album, he was losing traction, and I knew it, and I’m betting Paul did as well. I sensed, and hoped, that George would get Paul into a studio that wasn’t a barn
or a castle, that the arrangements would be well thought out, and all those marvelous, what I call ‘little brush strokes’ would be back,
embellishing those always incredible melodies.

When Tug of war was released in April 1982, it was welcomed with open arms. Hit singles, beautifully recorded, lush, complex backing vocals that
wrapped their arms around the songs, and either comforted or exhilarated all who heard them. Paul has a habit of doing a One, Two, Three punch to open
many of his albums, Band on the run, Jet and Bluebird for example. Then you hold your breath to see if track four can continue the quality. In cases of
albums like Ram, Band on the run and Chaos and creation in the backyard, those punches continue to the very last note.

I need to switch tack now and look back with forty years of hindsight. In 1982 people were just SO happy to have ‘A’ Beatle release a solo album
that critical evaluation was difficult, especially from fans such as myself. I’d hazard a guess the high praise from the Rolling Stone reviewer may have
been tinged with relief and gratitude that we at least still had Paul here, and also, the fact that Tug of war really did shine sonically and arrangement wise
when compared to Pauls two previous album releases.

Side one.

The opening track ‘Tug of war’ is a masterpiece, played, sung and arranged beautifully. The sentiment and lyrics are pure McCartney, and the purest McCartney is
always perfection.

In years to come they may discover
What the air we breathe and the life we lead
Are all about
But it won’t be soon enough
Soon enough for me
No it won’t be soon enough
Soon enough for me.

Track two is ‘Take it away’. A slice of perfect Macca pop. Slathered with glorious 10cc-esque backing vocals with Eric Stewart stepping into the role
of backing vocalist after Denny Laines departure. Eric slotted in perfectly, and his vocal blend with Paul, and especially Linda, was a highlight and would
feature on all Pauls albums up to, and including, Press to play (that album won’t be afforded such a wordy review, in fact, I could get it down to
five succinct words).

Track three ‘Somebody who cares’. The punches keep coming. Top shelf Macca, this song highlights the fidelity of this album. The recording of Pauls
acoustic guitar solo brings out even more emotion on top of Pauls vocals.

Track four ‘What’s that you’re doing’. What indeed Paul. Just because you record a jam with Stevie Wonder, isn’t a guarantee that it’s a good idea
to release it. Strangely, the remix/mash of this song on Pauls side project ‘Twin freaks’ in 2005, is one of the highlights of that album, and deserves
to be sought out.

Track five ‘Here today’. No words.

Side two.

Track one ‘Ballroom dancing’. A fun look back to old times, all the essential elements are there, production, arrangement, vocal arrangement . . but.

Track two ‘The pound is sinking’. Paul doing his old trick of making a song by adding sections of different songs he’s written, and putting them together.
Works a treat, this song is SO Paul.

Track three ‘Wanderlust’. The most ‘Wings’ sounding song on the album for me. Only Paul could write a song about the threat of being busted for
drugs sound so lovely, so regal.

Track four ‘Get it’. It’s at this point what I call a ‘Macca malaise’ starts to creep in. It happens on many of his albums, on side two, he starts to run
out of steam. It happens on Pipes of peace, the album after this (which could have been repaired easily, with spectacular results, stay tuned), it happens on Flowers
in the dirt as well. Here we have a fun little song, a duet with the incredible Carl Perkins. Like I said, it’s fun. End of.

Track five ‘Be what you see (Link)’ A link track to the next. Basically vocals with a vocoder. I think any album with vocoder vocals on them should be crushed with
an industrial pulverizer, but hey, that’s just me. Did I mention I find this album runs out of steam on side two?

Track six ‘Dress me up as a robber’. Inoffensive yacht rock, but yacht rock none the less. Tho, it does have all the essential ingredients present that stops me from
ever being close to disliking a Macca song.

Track seven ‘Ebony and ivory’. I have never understood the dislike of this song. Perhaps overfamiliarity fatigue from hearing it endlessly on the radio, but
it’s a great song, wonderful, simplistic but perfect sentiment, well recorded, full of hooks. Like ‘Through our love’ on Pipes of peace, Ebony and Ivory
redeems the ending of this album (alas, the same can’t be said for ‘Motor of love’ on Flowers in the dirt).

Before Tug of war, Paul was fast running out of ‘Fab Free Pass Credits’ and laurels to rest on. Tug of war gave him a shot in the arm, his fan base now had hopes for good time coming (sorry, not sorry), the critics were brought to heel . .

. . and then, Paul decided to make a movie.

In a short period of time, Paul lost a lot of those gains and good will. He was absent from the concert stage (I don’t blame him) and the general public had moved on from vanity projects. In 1984-88 Paul would find out just how depleted those stocks of goodwill were. A whacky thumbs aloft just wasn’t going to cut it.

When Paul gets cornered, and suffers a critical, and especially commercial smack down, that’s when he comes out fighting, and that’s when he delivers some of his best work.

Happy birthday Tug of war, you’re fantastic, you’re still better than most anything ever written and recorded by anyone (as is most everything Paul has released), but, don’t get too big for your britches. You’re the first born of what I call the ‘Paul Era’, which is post Wings, but unbeknownst to us, better, much better was to come.