Paul and Elvis
As described in a previous post, Paul and Elvis started work in 1988 on these songs. They worked at Paul’s house, and like the old days with John it was two guitars or a guitar and piano and they would knock out a song, then rush upstairs to record a quick demo of it while it was fresh and raw in their minds. Elvis thinks these were the purest versions of the songs that were eventually released by each. Elvis had wanted to make a complete album with he and Paul, but Paul backed off after these demos for reasons only they know. Paul then got together a new touring and recording band and remade most of the demos that were to be released by he, and then they were “properly” recorded with the aid of various producers in their final form as we know it.
Here I am reviewing both batches of demos, which legally saw the light of day on the archive edition of FLOWERS IN THE DIRT, which was released in 2015.
“Don’t Be Careless Love” A slower version that featured co-lead vocals. Acoustic guitars only. The same intensity on the verse, with Elvis handling the counter melody. Nice and sweet, though
“Veronica” Acoustic guitars only on the verse. Co-lead vocals on the verse, Piano on the chorus and middle eight (Elvis vocals only). Roughly the same tempo as the album version.
“Tommy’s Coming Home” Never released at all. Interesting song, that is quite good, except for one odd line (“and it’s/when it’s almost April fools day”) that doesn’t seem to fit. Excellent dual lead vocals.
“My Brave Face” Very lighthearted recording. Two acoustics with Elvis and Paul really over-belting out the counter melody at times. Co-lead vocals. Some slight changes in the key on some verses, but faithful to the final version.
“Twenty Five Fingers”. Another un-released version. What a shame, as their vocal arrangement is fantastic, almost manic at times other times slow and gentle, and finishes with a beautiful call and response. Paul’s counter vocals are amazing.
“Playboy To A Man” Released by Elvis on his album, MIGHTY LIKE A ROSE.
One guitar and one piano. Co-lead vocals sound excellent. Great little song that Elvis released with no Paul help in 1991.
“You Want Her Too” Acoustic guitar version, co-lead vocals (with Elvis and Paul both on the response vocal). No break on the middle eight. A quicker tempo then the final version. No circus into or outro.
“The Lovers That Never Were” Paul sings the lead with Elvis on backing vocals. Paul really lets loose vocally at points. One acoustic and one piano. Slower in points than the finished version.
“That Day Is Done” Piano based with gentle acoustic backing. Elvis handles the lead with Paul backing vocals. Slower and with different emphasis on certain phrases than on Paul’s final version.
“Step Inside Love” – Elvis solo on the McCartney 1966 penned single for Cilla Black. Paul played this all by himself during the filming of Let It Be.
A full fledged demo or un-released version. Nice version of this song, but slightly underwhelmed with Elvis’s vocals.
“You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”
Elvis solo of John Lennon’s 1965 Beatles song featured on the album and movie HELP. Multi tracked so not sure what the purpose of this was.
“One After 909” (live- See photos) Not part of the released demos, but accurate Beatles recreation with Elvis taking Johns part. Paul takes one lead verse on the middle eight. Acoustic guitars, so no electric solo…
“So Like Candy”. Co lead vocal (with Elvis more pronounced in the mix) and recorded on two acoustics that is the same tempo and feel like Elvis’s version from SPIKE.
“Shallow Grave” (Live) Elvis and his band tear through this Paul/Elvis co-written song, which eventually saw the light of day on Elvis’s ALL THIS USELESS BEAUTY album in 1994. Sounds a lot like “Pads, Paws and Claws.” No a head turner compared to others they worked on, but I am a completest.
Paul and The Band (the demos)
Paul re-recorded demos of the following songs with his new band, coming closer to the style and sound that would appear on the album. I guess he didn’t want the band to go after the he/Elvis sound they had done earlier in that year. Maybe this was also a way for them to learn the songs.
“The Lovers That Never Were” Very close in spirit without the frills. A much looser vocal given here with Paul straining at times he would not on the final version.
“Tommy’s Coming Home”. Paul attempts this song with his band and again rejected it in the end. Hamish handles the Elvis vocals. A slower version with a drum machine sounding percussion and Wix making strange sounds at the start and throughout. Still sounds good, even with the April fools lyrics. I think Wix even plays the accordion on this, which he has done with Paul live and in the studio.
“Twenty Five Fingers” Another attempt of a rejected song, like “Tommy’s” with Hamish handling Elvis’s parts. Interesting song that was given up on…. shame.
“So Like Candy” Paul does his version of the song that Elvis would release. Solo vocal except on the middle eight. Very good version with the light guitar work by Robbie and Hamish and drumming by Chris Whitten the highlight. A more rocking version than Elvis’s. Would have loved this version flushed out on FLOWERS but I guess Paul couldn’t get them all….. I wonder if they talked it out on who would get this one, who would get that one….?
“You Want Her Too” Very close to the final version with the final Elvis vocals left in as they would appear. A different Paul vocal being the only difference. Glad he re-recorded it, as this isn’t as strong. The lead guitar and drum tracks are different as well on this demo. Includes the circus intro and circus outro but no big band at the end. The bass line is mixed way up in this mix.
“That Day Is Done” Another fairly faithful stripped version to the final one, with Hamish again doing backups instead of Elvis.
“Don’t Be Careless Love” Again, another fairly close to the final version, just stripped down of the effects of the final. More of a reggae beat on the chorus, rather than the gospel feel of the final (only on the chorus). Paul enunciates at the same spots on the demo that he does on FLOWERS.
“My Brave Face” Elvis’s voice is heard on this version, a more flushed out version, getting much closer to the final. Organ is mixed way up and Elvis’s overdoes it on the demo, that was faded out in the final. A slightly different tempo and feel to it.
“Playboy To A Man” Paul really rocks taking the lead on this one, but again, Elvis had to get some of these songs. Would rather have had this than say “How Many People” on the final album. Magnificent version, thought Elvis does a very good job on his…. Just not as good.
“Mistress And Maid” Slow and plodding, unlike the final version on FLOWERS. Elvis handles co-vocals and they phrase it differently at a few points. Not the best version, like the one that would appear on Paul’s next studio album in 1993. This should have been lumped in with Paul/Elvis demos, but has Wix on Keys and Chris Whitten on drums so that is why Paul must have placed it with his bands versions.
“Distractions” Paul must have laid this down after he had written this. Feature him alone (double tracked vocals) on electric piano, drum machine and bass. No strings here either but some trippy sounds added at the end…groovy. But stripped down, still a fantastic song it is…..
Up next…. We’re going back in time to 1974’s McGear, the album Paul wrote, produced and wrote almost all for his brother, Michael. Wings played all of the instruments, albeit with a drummer who didn’t last past this album….