1983 started with Paul continuing as he had done in 81 and 82. He began finishing songs that they had laid down in both of those years, plus new songs he had wrote since then. All were intended for the next album, which came out October 31st of this year.
In addition, in late 1982 Paul had dreamed up and started work on a new and massive project…..
A Hard Days Night
Let It Be
All are films which Paul had appeared in, and whose music was featured. He also wrote music which was featured in films, such as Live and Let Die, Same Time Next Year, The World According To Garp, Once Upon A Time In America, Twice In A Lifetime, Vanilla Sky, The Royal Tenenbaums, The In-Laws, Funny People and Maybe Baby.
He, along with The Beatles made numerous promotional films over a decade before MTV was even an idea. And he continued to make numerous short musical films, and release concert films, and start unfinished films. Seeing Elvis on the big screen was a “that’s what I want to do” moment for him….
So quietly (I knew of no such work in progress at the time) he began jotting down ideas on a potential movie plot…. And then deciding at some point in 1983, screw it…. I’ll write the screenplay.
Starting in February thru March 1983 he went back into the studio to work on music for said film project.
In June he went back to work on the next album, starting to come up with the final mixes, combined with starting a few new recordings. After the August 31st mixing of a song that would become the b-side of his next single, he put the music side of the next album to bed. But obviously there was album art design, music video work to be done as well as planning out the entire promotional campaign.
Filming and recording more music for the film began in November 1983, just after the new album would be released, and continued until July of 1984. The proposed film was slated for a fall of 1984 release…..
On October 3rd, the first single pulled from the album was released, combined with an amazing music video that was dominating play on the red-hot new MTV channel. Both featured the hottest property on the planet, Jackson.
On October 31st the new album was released. It was called, PIPES OF PEACE, the other side of TUG OF WAR’s coin. George Martin had envisioned TUG as a more funky album, but PEACE ended up with the funkier songs and feel.
By this time in music, Funk/Pop/Dace music was dominating the charts, with artists such as Prince, Wham, Madonna and Michael Jackson combining all three styles with much success. I brought the album and scurried home to listen to it…. Excited as a kid on Christmas Day.
The front cover shows a single chair, with five pipes of various size, shape and use (smoking vs music) with a single hand holding one.
Opening the gate-fold sleeve on the rear cover shows Paul body as the hand hand reaches around to the the front cover. On an opened tripod a large tribal smoking pipe (identical to the one leaning on the chair) is mounted on top, like a camera or a telescope.
My first thought is that Paul looks slightly older and a bit stoned in his extremely casual dress.
My emotional go to before even listening was back to Paul’s love of weed…. Was Paul saying, that with music (the musical pipes) and smoking pipes (the tribal peace pipe maybe filled with something medicinal) that peace could be the alternative to war? I may have been seeking my own inner peace before placing the needle on the turntable….
“Pipes Of Peace” A song which produced the second best music video of Paul’s career, when he plays multiple roles as an English and German soldier who interact during a cease fire holiday break in war torn WWI. The two soldiers exchange photos of each others wives, while the soldiers from both sides play soccer, laugh and drink and stop the war…. Until a random shell hits nearby and both sides quickly retreat to their respective bunkers and trenches. Upon their arrival both soldiers now realize that that have accidentally kept the photo of the other mans wife, but still find comfort in having it on hand, and both settle back into the war scene in with each photo clutched to his heart.
Tender, well directed and staged and Paul’s best acting performance of his career. He must have thought, Hey making these videos is fun….. I would love to do more and bigger ones….
About the song…. Sounds of war begin and suddenly a voice breaks in. A gentle piano ballad that kicks in and a nice little toe tapper. Played mostly by Paul, with pan flute and tabla players brought in. Linda and Eric Stewart backing vocals with Paul have a children’s choir like quality. The opening verse is repeated and it ends in a bed of lush orchestration. Rating -8
“Say Say Say” The demo was cut by Jackson and Paul added his bass, and they worked out the lyrics and arrangement together. Jackson insisted that Linda sing backup vocals, and again with Eric Stewart joining in. Another amazing video, a silly romp with Paul and Linda and Jackson as a turn of the century hustlers going from town to town selling their “goods” and performing.
It is a lovely production as well, with both men looking as good as they ever will, especially Jackson. He should have stopped the surgeries at this point. He looked amazing. LaToya plays his love interest. It is fun, visually beautiful and it got played a hell of a lot on MTV. It allowed the song to stay at number one in the charts into 1984.
About the song…. Okay, at first I was like yes, Paul has grabbed the comet, but Jackson was quite taken by Macca and his past as well. Look at every photo I post of them during these times and they dress alike, and make the same facial gestures. Michael was like a son of Paul during this time period, and the song continued Jackson’s domination of the charts and airwaves, as his THRILLER continued to sell like mad, over a year and a half after its release.
“Say Say Say” is an awesome pop song, with both performers knocking it out of the park. The mix is perfect, the sound is solid and still sounds amazing today. If it weren’t for the events that followed by Jackson regarding Paul, and the deterioration of Jackson late in his life, this would be a highlight for them both to remember. It still shines like a bright star in the sky, but one we don’t really ever look at anymore.
Paul remixed this song on his deluxe archive release and switched the alternating vocals in the opposite way. Verses that Jackson sung, we now had Paul singing etc…. Dance remixes of this still get the bones a bounding on the dance floor. Rating – 9
“The Other Me” The song brings us back to reality. Not a bad little disco-like melody, but one of the worst line of lyrics of Paul’s. (“I acted like a dust bin lid”). Paul plays everything and features a nice double tracked vocal at the end. I still found myself tapping my foot…. Rating – 6.5
“Keep Under Cover” An odd song… it opens slow and soft then kicks into a Beatles like march. Started in 1980…. With heavy strings added. Eric, Linda and Stanley Clarke on bass. Rating – 6.5
“So Bad” Paul brings his “Girlfriend” falsetto back, with Ringo on drums, Eric (he was kind of the new Denny) on vocals and electric guitar and Linda on vocals. Very Wings like, it also was a single and a music video was made with Paul, Ringo and Eric playing and Linda snapping away wit the camera. A nice song, but a bit too lush for my taste. Rating – 7
“The Man” The third and final Macca/Jacko collaboration. This one doesn’t really get enough footing. Paul plays everything again with Linda and Eric singing backing vocals as usual. They try hard, it sounds good, but it is missing something. Tasty guitar work by Paul on the break and the play-out. Rating – 6.5
“Sweetest Little Show” Another Paul only song. A oldies like fell that has a wonderful acoustic break that breaks into applause and then a quick return to the verse before ending on a off note…. I like it…. Rating – 8
“Average Person” Starts as “Show” fades, with heavy Linda backing vocals, joined by Denny Laine and Eric Stewart. Ringo drumming is functional at best. Outstanding production by Martin, with all sorts of noises and sounds within the mix. Silly lyrics about the average people described had me head scratching. Rating – 6.5
“Hey Hey” Paul plays nearly all gets funky with bass player Stanley Clarke, who co-wrote this one. Basically an instrumental except for shouting “Hey Hey.” A tempo change gives a Clarke to stretch out the bass for a short time, a nice touch. They shout out “That’s all” as the song fades. Rating – 7
“Tug Of Peace” It takes the intro to “Tug Of War” and melody of the same and brings it into funky town with the counter melody and lyrics of “Pipes Of Peace.” One of the first mashups ever done, I would say. Interesting that it is done on the album where one of the songs is on. Right? They all shout out…”Hey, new ending” Rating – 8.5
“Through Our Love” The first time I heard the kind of ballad Paul would write the next 10-15 years, usually as a closer to his albums. Heavy orchestration by Martin. It isn’t terrible, but it never moves me. It is a clear of example of 1980’s over-production. Rating – 6
The entire album “sounds” slicker then an oil spill in the head phones, but overall the album is lacking something that all of Paul’s best albums have…. Making me want to listen again and again with those magical ear-worms missing for the most part. The highlights are great, the title track, “Say Say Say,” The acoustic break on “Sweetest Little Show” and of course the the three music videos are all great in retrospect.
The grades are in and PIPES OF PEACE gets 7.14/10, a bit better than I expected….
Next, songs left off PEACE and what started in 1984…..