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PRESS TO PLAY (1986)

This was the first McCartney album in which I bought a CD first (that had more tracks included than the vinyl), also the vinyl, and I don’t think I bought any cassette or CD-single.

The album is titled, PRESS TO PLAY, like the instructions you got before listening to music in 1986.With walk-mans the thing, and now the CD had been introduced and older catalogs of artists were slowly coming out. The vinyl section gave up some room.

This was still baby steps. The McCartney catalog that would come out on CD and then in 1993 the entire catalog was remastered again, with altered bonus tracks. And then again on they are all remastered again with the newest digital and physical archive releases today, some costing up to $400 for the super deluxe box sets.

This album has not had that treatment. Paul released four singles from this album, only one had mild success.

He scrapped Eric Stewart without so much as a “where they do” and brought in the HOT producer, Hugh Padgham. One of the last things they worked on together was a lovely mid-tempo acoustic ballad they wrote together called, “Yvonne.”

Paul recorded an amazing version of it and it belonged being on PRESS somewhere?Eric, in one of the last 10 cc albums and a shell of the original four in 1973, released it in a much different arrangement and lyric. Rating – (Paul) 8.5 10cc – 4.5

Hugh Padham had just produced The Police and Phil Collins to MONSTER records in 1984-86, so naturally Paul wanted to sound as contemporary and radio friendly as they had… But he had about 10 songs which Eric Stewart had recorded, but not finished, and so they used those as launching pads and re-recorded and re-mixed all the tracks.

Stewart is credited throughout but they removed his soul in the final edit. I open it up still thinking he and Paul were working closely.

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The cover’s photograph was taken by George Hurrell, using the same box camera that he used in Hollywood in the 1930s and the 1940s. Hurrell was renowned for his photographs of movie stars of the 1930s and 1940s like Clark Gable and Greta Garbo, to which the album’s cover was meant to pay homage.

Paul and Linda look lovely but I was hoping for something different in a cover from Paul in 1986.

I would listen to the CD as best I could in my car (shaking player plug in and while jogging it was impossible), but would love it when I was tanning just around the corner from where I lived.

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“Stranglehold” Stewart co-write, started March 85. Nice opener, but the 80’s sax comes in, which wasn’t in the original mix. A good little track, the real horns sounds great. The drums by Jerry Morotta work fine, with minimal tinkering by Padgham. A single pulled from the album did poorly. Rating – 8

“Good Times Coming”/“Feel The Sun” An upbeat chant leads to the reggae up-beat first half of the track into the rocking second half. This time the basic drumming moves the stiff feeling flowing…. The slow change flowing into “Sun” was a very Beatle change. Stewart’s guitar is finally featured…. Could he have written two songs?, yes. He actually did. “Feel The Sun” exists in a much longer stand-alone version with more verses. On this version Linda sounds nice. Rating – 7.5

“Talk, More Talk” Paul tries to get trippy here with the voice adjustments added to family quotes before getting to the rocker. A bit of difference in the rocking Paul voice was noticed here…. It has become what it is….but I heard the first inkling here. It tries with a few spiritual sounding changes, before the voices carry us out….Grey Flannel Trousers Indeed!!! Rating – 6

“Footprints” The hidden GEM of The album. “it’s beautiful outside sparked this gem. Slightly off kilter sound give it edge. The acoustics and percussion are amazing. A tad long. Nice subtle enhancements throughout. Rating – 8

“Only Love Remains” This single finishes side one. Now this one should have been the piano based album closer he was popping out like marshmallow peeps. This one works better than nearly all of the others. They now mix his vocals slightly in the back with a bit of echo. Odd. A slow mover that Linda brings into a strong middle eight. Rating – 8

Side two.

He wants us to push “Press.” The music video has a relaxed (very) sporting a changing hair color in the tunes as a every man Singing with the locals. He raps a bit. They do this to run him into MC McCartney……sigh..

It doesn’t sound bad, he’s just trying too hard to sound young and vital. Lots of Linda on the play-out. He has never sang one of this albums songs in concert since returning to the stage in 1989.

And BACK TO THE EGG. That album also hasn’t come out with archive editions…. Hmmm. Rating. – 6.75

“Pretty Little Head” Various mixes of this song exist. It’s kind of a consensus that the single mix is the best and this album version and the extended mix (on the now obligatory 12” single with each 45 and CD single release) is not. Rating – (this mix) 5.25

“Move Over Busker” Another Paul rocker, with free thought lyrics about nothing that made since. A nice toe-tapper. Linda and Eric help out. The last verse features some adventurous bass. Paul’s vocal mix is buried. Nice but harmless. Rating – 6.5

“Angry” Helped by Pete Townshend and Phil Collins, Paul’s screams at us in this new wavy song of his anger. I don’t feel it…. Rating – 6.5

“However Absurd” Paul tries his best to capture that Beatles feel on this track which ends the vinyl release. It also features silly lyrics which I heard in my head as he was singing them. Big “Ringo” sound by Jerry Marotta on drums sound really nice. Paul affected vocals didn’t affect me. A terrible middle eight doom this heavyweight dud. Rating – 5

“Write Away” A CD only track and on one of the singles. An odd drum track and bass and that 80’s guitar by Carlos Alomar. Not enough there for me…. Rating. – 6.5

“It’s Not True” A defense of someone…..Linda, maybe? A slow starter that soon becomes too layered in all that production. The sad 80’s sax solo.. Rating – 5

“Tough On A Tightrope” It had a chance to be very good and the layers of bad production wash it away. Not a bad middle eight and guitar break by Stewart. Rating – 7

In the inside gate-fold Paul draws what he wants each song sound to look like in a visual drawing. It is quite interesting and accurate.

Over all PRESS gathered a rating of 6.62/10.

I think this rating captures it’s inability to latch on to the public and Paul again searched elsewhere for hits…

1986…. Another return to Cold Cuts! Phil Ramone, and a new concept that again doesn’t get released.

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