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PAUL McCARTNEY AND STEVIE WONDER VS. PAUL McCARTNEY AND MICHAEL JACKSON - BY SCOTT CARR

 

 

 

Just in time for his October 13th concert at Nationwide Arena here in Columbus Ohio, Sir Paul McCartney has released the latest in his ongoing Archive Collection re-issue campaign.

October 2nd brought newly remastered and expanded editions of his third and fourth solo releases, Tug Of War and Pipes of Peace. Over the past few years McCartney has been opening the vaults and giving his fans some rare gems along with remastered versions of some of his best work. The Archive Collection has already seen several titles from McCartney's post- Beatles band Wings including Band of the Run, Venus and Mars, Wings At The Speed of Sound and their classic live album Wings Over America, along with McCartney's 1970 solo debut McCartney and its follow up, 1980's McCartney II, plus Paul & Linda McCartney's Ram. This time around fans are treated to two underrated classics from Macca.

Tug of War originally began as the next Wings release, but a series of events - including the death of McCartney's Beatles band mate John Lennon in December 1980 - led McCartney to continue on as a solo artist. Tug of War is considered one of McCartney's strongest solo sets and has stood the test of time quite well. Tug of War was produced by George Martin and sounds amazing. The album features contributions from former Beatle Ringo Starr as well as Wings guitarist Denny Laine. Carl Perkins duets with McCartney on the track "Get It" and lays down some tasty guitar licks as well. Other guests include 10cc's Eric Stewart and influential jazz bassist Stanley Clarke. The albums highest profile guest is Stevie Wonder, who duets with McCartney on two tracks: "What's That You're Doing" and "Ebony and Ivory." The latter became the album's biggest hit and was a worldwide smash but for me it is definitely the weaker of the two tracks that feature Wonder. "What's That You're Doing" is an upbeat funky tune that McCartney co-wrote with Wonder and is one of many highlights on the record. Some of the album's best tracks are lesser known songs like "Wanderlust," "The Pound Is Sinking" and "Somebody Who Cares." The album's second single "Take It Away" was another big hit and helped push the album to platinum status. "Here Today" is the most poignant moment on the record, as it is a tribute to John Lennon which Paul has described as an imaginary conversation that the two may have had. Paul often performs "Here Today" in concert. If I had my way McCartney would break out "Ballroom Dancing" for his October 13th show in Columbus but I'm not holding my breath.

McCartney with Beatle producer George Martin at work on Tug of War. The two had not worked together since Martin produced the Wings track "Live and Let Die" in 1973.

McCartney with Beatle producer George Martin at work on Tug of War. The two had not worked together since Martin produced the Wings track "Live and Let Die" in 1973.

 

Pipes of Peace follows pretty much the same formula as Tug of War but isn't quite as strong. Many of the songs for Pipes of Peace were recorded at the same time as the previous record and many of the same musicians are featured as well. McCartney brought in Michael Jackson to duet on two of the albums tracks: "Say Say Say" and "The Man," but unfortunately the chemistry that Macca had with Stevie Wonder did not repeat itself with Jackson. "Say Say Say" became a big hit but isn't one of McCartney's finest moments. The second track with Jackson, "The Man" fares a little better. Although Pipes of Peace isn't nearly as solid as Tug of War it does feature some great tracks. The albums title track and "So Bad" are among some of his best from the 80's. I wouldn't mind hearing "Average Person" when McCartney comes to town but again...I'm not holding my breath.

McCartney and Martin working on Pipes of Peace.

McCartney and Martin working on Pipes of Peace.

 

Both of the reissues come with a companion disc of unreleased goodies that are well worth a listen. McCartney completists will nitpick but I guess we can't have it all.

Paul's upcoming performance in Columbus is sold out and will no doubt be a magical evening of McCartney classics spanning his entire career. Earlier this year I attended Stevie Wonders Songs In The Key of Life concert here in Columbus and it was one of the best shows I have ever seen. In a surprising turn of events I got to meet Stevie after the show. It was a brief encounter but pretty cool. Stevie shook my hand and said hello and I told him the show was amazing and that up until that evening Paul McCartney was the best show I had ever seen, Stevie chuckled and said "Yeah, I've taught him a few things over the years." It would be nice if I could share this story with Sir Paul when he rolls into town on Tuesday.........

Scott Carr is a guitarist who plays in the Columbus, OH  bands Radio Tramps and Returning April.  Scott is also an avid collector of vinyl records and works at Lost Weekend Records. So...if you are looking for Scott....you'll either find him in a dimly lit bar playing his guitar or in a record store digging for the holy grail.