Early in 1999 the “songtrack” was remixed from The Beatles 1968 animated classic, YELLOW SUBMARINE. The production staff was Paul Hicks, Mirek Stiles and Peter Cobbin. It was later released on September 13th, 1999.
On January 22nd, Paul edited the future single from Linda McCartney’s WILD PRAIRIE, “The Light Comes From Within.”
From February 21st thru the 25th the songs for the future album, “WORKING CLASSICAL,“ were recorded. This album would feature 11 songs previously released by Paul recorded.
Armed with a few newly written songs and handfuls of slightly obscure 45’s and b-sides that he had always fancied from his youth, Paul returned to the studio for the first time in a long time to begin work on his next album from March 1st thru the 5th.
Like many times in his past, songs associated from his childhood have given him comfort, and these 5 days of sessions would serve in his healing process.
Paul had called Chris Thomas, the young Beatles engineer who had gone on to build a reputation among the punk revolutionaries of the late seventies before working on that last Wings album, Back To The Egg.
An old friend, an old hand at rock music, he was always eager to spend a few days in the studio with Paul and knew now exactly what spirit Paul needed to get going again. “He wasn’t thinking it was going to be the next big record,” Thomas says. “He was just free to enjoy himself.”
Paul dialed a few musician friends, enough to form a basic rock ‘n’ roll band, and booked time in studio two at Abbey Road, the ancestral homeland of his work as a recording artist. When Paul showed up, carrying his old Höfner bass, the faces were friendly and familiar.
Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour on one guitar, while another Liverpool veteran, Mick Green, held down the other guitar.
Ian Paice from Deep purple sat at the drums some days, Dave Mattacks played on others. Keyboard duties were divided between Pete Wingfield and Geraint Watkins.
As Paul had already told Chris Thomas, the point was for them to just play and have fun. Nothing should be fussed over; no time could be spent on applying spit and polish. They had a week to record as many songs as they felt like playing, and whatever happened was exactly what should happen. “We were just going to do the songs, and that was it,” Thomas says.
“No post production, all very quick.”
Paul had a list of songs he wanted to play. Mostly the titles of the records he had brought home to play during that first rock ‘n’ roll year in 1957. Elvis and Little Richard, Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent. He had a couple of originals he could throw in, too, tunes he’d written with the same three-chords-and-a-howl attitude. So he stepped to the mike and counted down the first song, and they were off.
“These were just incredible performances,” Thomas says. “The wild abandon came back, and his smile came back.”
Paul ‘s fingers were flying up and down the Höfner’s thin neck, the great surging bass runs that not only sustained the rhythm but also created a whole new layer of melody and harmony.
That was great, yet still not as awesome as his singing, which had renewed strength and vitality, plus also an unhinged wildness he hadn’t displayed in decades.
“When I asked him to do that for ‘Oh! Darling’ in 1969, he shrugged and said, ‘Well, I’m too old,’” Thomas says. “But now, thirty years later, he could do it again.”
Yes, he could. And then some.
For once, he held nothing back. Instead, he crafted a map to the headwaters of his musical imagination; a musical description of the link between his most overwhelming emotions and the artistry they fueled.
On March 15th, he was inducted in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame. His daughter Mary was proudly wearing a T shirt that proclaimed, “It’s about fucking time.” Neil Young introduced him. Promised he would be inducted in 1995 by Jann Wenner, Paul said at his acceptance: “She (Linda) really wanted this,” holding up the trophy.
On the same day, Wings BAND ON THE RUN 25th anniversary edition was released which featured a second disc of interviews, stories and demos and live performances, in addition to the 1973 original album being remastered (again)
The Concert for Linda was a benefit tribute to Linda McCartney. It was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 10 April 1999.
The event was organized by two of their friends, Chrissie Hynde and Carla Lane. Comedian Eddie Izzard hosted the concert, with proceeds going to various animal rights charities. Hynde and Linda had worked together supporting various animal rights groups, including PETA.
Tickets to the show, with 5,000 people attending, sold out within an hour after going on sale.
Besides Paul McCartney’s unannounced performance, the show featured more than a dozen artists singing their own versions of Beatles’ material. Among the other groups performing were George Michael, The Pretenders, Elvis Costello, Tom Jones, Sinead O’Connor, Des’ree, Heather Small, guitarist Johnny Marr, Neil Finn, Marianne Faithfull and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
McCartney was not expected to perform, as he had not done any shows since Linda died. However, he attended the event with his four children. After he took to the stage to thank the audience, at the urging of Chrissie Hynde, he sang one of his and Linda’s favorite 1950s songs, Ricky Nelson’s “Lonesome Town.” He was backed by members of the Pretenders, along with Costello. The song was Paul’s first recorded song since Linda died.
He followed that with his 1963 hit, “All My Loving.” Most of the night’s performers joined him on stage to provide the chorus. Costello said that for this particular event, “there was something incredibly poignant” about the song’s opening lyrics: Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you, Tomorrow I’ll miss you, Remember I’ll always be true.
After those songs, Hynde rushed over and gave McCartney an emotional embrace. Everyone then joined in for the closing song, “Let It Be.” ————————————————————————– Paul was at the Dorchester Hotel, during the Pride of Britain Awards event later in April 1999, which McCartney had attended to present an award to an animal rights activist. It was there that he met Heather Mills. She had presented the Outstanding Bravery Award to Helen Smith, also making an appeal on behalf of the Heather Mills Health Trust. McCartney also presented an award dedicated to his late wife, Linda McCartney.
McCartney talked to Mills about donating to her charity – later giving her £150,000.
In the autumn of 1999, Mills and her sister recorded “VO!CE”, a song they wrote to raise funds for Mills’s charity, with McCartney agreeing to sing backing vocals. After recording the song in Greece, where Mills’s sister lived, running the independent label Coda Records, the sisters stayed overnight at McCartney’s estate in Peasmarsh, Sussex, in early November, where McCartney added vocals to the song.
This sure sparked the interest of the tabloids about his appearances with Mills at events.
On October 4th, 1999, RUN DEVIL RUN was released….
Next, new music, old music, new lovers…… the rest of 1999……
Less than three years after it was announced that she was being treated for breast cancer, Linda McCartney, noted photographer, animal rights activist and wife of Beatle Paul for twenty-nine years, passed away on April 17th , 1998 at the young age of 56.
Although her chemotherapy treatments had seemed to have her cancer in check, she took a turn for the worse in March when the disease spread to her liver.
Throughout their twenty-nine year relationship, Linda and husband Paul were inseparable; the pair reportedly only spent ten nights apart, a separation due to Paul’s stint in a Tokyo jail for marijuana possession.
When Paul formed Wings after the dissolution of the Beatles, the couple’s partnership extended to the musical realm. Although Linda’s keyboard playing and backup vocals raised a few critical eyebrows, she did share an Oscar nomination with her husband for their composition “Live and Let Die.”
But it was through a camera lens that she made her biggest impression in rock music. While working as a receptionist at Town and Country magazine in the mid-Sixties, she snagged a press pass to a Rolling Stones promotional yacht party, finagling her way on board through sheer persistence while every other photographer was left standing on the dock.
Her exclusive photos of the band were snatched up by dozens of papers and magazines, and she quickly made a name for herself shooting publicity photos for a number of bands and capturing them on tour by assignment.
On May 11, 1968, she became the first woman photographer to shoot a Rolling Stone cover of Eric Clapton. She appeared on the front of the magazine herself with Paul on January 31, 1974, making her the only person to have shot — and been shot — for the publication’s cover. Eschewing flash for natural light, she captured her subjects in intimate backstage moments that often revealed a private side of performers rarely seen.
Her work has been reprinted in several books and exhibited at more than fifty galleries around the world, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Linda’s reputation quickly established her as insider in celebrity circles, and at one point she dated actor Warren Beatty.
She first met Paul, the object of affection for thousands of girls worldwide, at a launch party for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967. He invited her back to London during the recording of the White Album. A romance ensued, and the couple wed on March 12, 1969. They spent much of their time out of the public eye on their farm in West Sussex, England. She became the inspiration for all of Paul’s post-1968 love songs, including “Maybe I’m Amazed.”
Born Linda Louise Eastman on September 24, 1941, McCartney was the daughter of show business lawyer Lee Eastman and mother Louise (whose family owned the Linder department stores). Her father, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, had changed his name from Epstein, and was not part of the Eastman-Kodak photography legacy as was frequently reported at the time of Linda’s marriage to Paul. Although not an heiress, she did become Lady Linda when her husband was knighted in 1997.
Outside of her photography and famous marriage, McCartney was also widely recognized as a staunch supporter of animal rights and die-hard vegetarian. The latter passion spawned two cookbooks and a successful line of frozen vegetable dinners. The couple were even featured on The Simpsons supporting little Lisa in her decision to give up meat.
In lieu of flowers, Paul has asked that people wishing to honor his wife’s memory contribute to cancer research, animal welfare, “or — best of all — the tribute that Linda herself would like best: Go veggie.”
At the time of her death, Linda, Paul and their children had been vacationing in Arizona, with the couple reportedly horseback riding earlier in the week. In addition to her husband, she is survived by their children Mary, Stella, and James; her daughter Heather from a previous marriage; her sisters Laura and Louise and brother John, McCartney’s business manager and lawyer.
“Linda means beautiful in Spanish, and my Linda was certainly that – inside and out. Anyone who met her, however briefly, was touched by her genuine interest and gentle kindness. I never stop thinking of her as my girlfriend, even though she became my wife, my children’s mother, and my Lady.
The beauty of her spirit never failed to communicate itself to those she encountered, whether they were young or old, male or female, or whatever, they were worthy of respect and so she treated them exactly the same and they invariably felt very comfortable being with her.
Our love of animals was something we discovered, we shared as time went by, and they too enjoyed the same deep respect given to them by her. Her vision of the world was, and is, a simple one.
Love, kindness, respect and thoughtfulness for one another and for our fellow species and a deep distrust of people who neglect these values.
I am blessed to have shared thirty loving years with this uniquely special woman, a fact which I will remain eternally grateful for. This, of course, makes our loss that much more painful to bear, but the kids and I know that she would want us to be happy, even though at this moment it isn’t an easy thing to do.
Her spirit will live forever in those of us who believe in the magic she stood for.”-Paul
RUSHES by “The Fireman” was released on September 21st of 1998.
After Linda passed Paul and James finished up mixing and editing all the songs Linda had recorded and on October 26th, 1998 WILD PRAIRIE was released.
Paul worked as hard as he could (like when he worked with his brother Mike on McGEAR) to make her only solo release as good as possible. While it does have some very nice moments, it remains at best a fair album, but an important emotional project that Paul had to accomplish as a tribute to her, and the huge strides she took from a musical novice back in 1969.
RUSHES by “The Fireman” was released on September 21st of 1998.
Other things Paul did in 1998 were lending his vocals to “Little Children Part 2” with the Peter Kirtley Band. It was issued as a charity CD single for Jubilee Action in aid of Brazilian street children.
Paul also helped out Ringo on his 1998 album, VERTICAL MAN. He played bass and helped vocally on “What in the World” and sang backup vocals on “I Was Walkin’” as well as bass and vocal help on “La De Da.”
Otherwise he chose to grieve and remain out of the spotlight.
1998 began quietly for Paul, as he was reunited with Youth in February at his Hog Hill Studio, and together they recorded their second album together. They co-wrote each of the eight tracks. The album would be released on September 21st of 1998, again under The Fireman. The album was to be called, RUSHES. While it was similar in vain to their previous release, STRAWBERRIES OCEANS SHIPS FOREST, it was a progression in that each track was a stand alone, and not variations of the same track.
We will review all of The Fireman releases after we have caught up with Paul in 2021.
Right after these sessions in March, Linda gathered up all of her strength and will power and together with Paul, decided to finish up some songs she had written or co-written with Paul.
They worked on three songs with the serious intent to gather all of the songs Linda had been responsible for since those 1973 early sessions.
In April, Linda’s condition quickly began to worsen. Despite every medical treatment given in New York and in Arizona, the cancer began to reek its final havoc.
Joined by Paul and family, they went to their Arizona home. Linda’s was born there and this was always her “go to” home which she favored the most. Paul, again knew how bad her condition had become but kept the FULL EXTENT of her health from her. In these last days they enjoyed the sun, and togetherness. Even with a few days left of her life, she again rode with Paul on some of their prized Appaloosa’s.
Suddenly, she slipped into a coma, and with her family at her side she passed away on April 17th, 1998.
The family issued a statement:
This is a total heartbreak for my family and I. Linda was, and still is, the love of my life, and the past two years we spent battling her disease have been a nightmare.
She never complained and always hoped to be able to conquer it. It was not to be.
Our beautiful children – Heather, Mary, Stella and James – have been an incredible strength during this time, and she lives on in all of them.
The courage she showed to fight for her causes of vegetarianism and animal welfare was unbelievable. How many women can you think of who would single handedly take on opponents like the meat and livestock commission, risk being laughed at, and yet succeed?
People who didn’t know her well, because she was a very private person, only ever saw the tip of the iceberg. She was the kindest woman I have ever met; the most innocent. All animals to her were like Disney characters and worthy of love and respect. She was the toughest woman who didn’t give a damn what other people thought. She found it hard to be impressed by the fact that she was Lady McCartney. When asked whether people called her Lady McCartney, she said, “Somebody once did once, I think.”
I am privileged to have been her lover for 30 years, and in all that time, except for one enforced absence, we never spent a single night apart. When people asked why, we would say – “What for?” As a photographer, there are few to rival her. Her photographs show an intense honesty, a rare eye for beauty.
As a mother, she was the best. We always said that all we wanted for the kids was that they would grow up to have good hearts; and they have.
Our family is so close that her passing has left a huge hole in our lives. We will never get over it, but I think we will come to accept it.
The tribute she would have liked best would be for people to go vegetarian, which, with the vast variety of foods available these days, is much easier than many people think. She got into the food business for one reason only, to save animals from the cruel treatment our society and traditions force upon them.
Anyone less likely to be a businesswoman I can’t think of, yet she worked tirelessly for the rights of animals, and became a food tycoon. When told a rival firm had copied one of her products, all she would say was, “Great, now I can retire.” She wasn’t in it for the money. In the end, she went quickly with very little discomfort, and surrounded by her loved ones.
The kids and I were there when she crossed over. They each were able to tell her how much they loved her. Finally, I said to her: “You’re up on your beautiful Appaloosa stallion. It’s a fine spring day. We’re riding through the woods. The bluebells are all out, and the sky is clear blue.”
I had barely got to the end of the sentence, when she closed her eyes, and gently slipped away. She was unique and the world is a better place for having known her. Her message of love will live on in our hearts forever. I love you, Linda. Paul
On August 29th, Paul, on acoustic guitar, recorded a version of “Kansas City” intended for a Leiber & Stoller tribute album which was never released). As such, this version remains officially unreleased.
On September 29th, at McCartney’s The Mill studio, McCartney, Starr, Hudson, Emerick and Paul Wright worked on the track “La De Da“, which McCartney contributed bass and backing vocals on. This session was filmed, and excerpts were later featured in the music video for the song. Also recorded was a new bass track for “What in the… World“— replacing the placeholder bass track from a July session. Upon hearing a playback of the track, McCartney remarked “Whoo … Rich! Sounds kinda Beatle-ish!” to which Starr replied “I know! That’s what I said to Mark months ago“. McCartney, now looking at Starr, told him “You are a fucking Beatle!”
The same day Paul’s STANDING STONE was released. Based on an extended poem written by Paul himself – it was Paul’s second full-length release of original classical music and was given its world premiere performance at The Royal Albert Hall in October 1997. As Paul explained, “I don’t divide my tastes into liking rock music or classical music. I just like good music.”
He later explained part of the work: “Above all, I wanted Standing Stone to end with a celebratory passage. Besides the original sketches that I made for the work, I also had a tune that I wrote years ago but I never found a use for. My children had grown up with it, my father in-law liked it, and I always felt it was part of the family. I want everyone to leave happy after a performance of Standing Stone since I write for people.”
That song, “Celebration,” was released as a single in EMI Classics.
To accompany the release of Disney’s movie, “Hercules,” the animated short of Paul’s “Tropic Island Hum” was added as a trailer before the main feature. It was released as a single (#21 in the U.K.) in 2004, and was recorded in 1995.
The film tells the story of Wirral the Squirrel, who was almost killed by soldiers. Froggo helped him and took him to another place he would go. He couldn’t go back there again! But then, he finds a tropical island.
Bison is the chief of that island, and Wirral’s new love crush is Wilhelmina. Then, all 3 of them (except Wilhelmina) get cleaned up and that night, they perform the theme song to the island. Bison sings the first part of the song. A parrot gets banged on the bass drum and is dizzy. Later, an alligator sings. Right after that, Wirral blushes at his new love crush Wilhelmina. Then a bad thing appears, the mask-animals try to ruin the party, but then, a school appears, and at the end Wirral & Wilhelmina kiss.
The music video of Linda’s “Wide Prairie” was also released around the same time. It was recorded in 1974, and would come out on the album of the same name in 1999.
On September 15th, Paul joined an all-star lineup for the Music for Montserrat concert, in which some of the greatest forces in rock and roll gathered to play their legends out, only to find themselves effortlessly topped by one flex of a pick on ‘The End’ chords.
On November 20th, Paul appeared on The Oprah Television show, performing (with videos of himself) all of the singles from FLAMING PIE.
On December 12th recorded “A Room With A View” for an album, “Twentieth Century Blues: The Songs Of Noel Coward.” In a hint of what would he would attempt on KISSES ON THE BOTTOM, but unlike that 2012 album Paul is in incredible voice of this track.
Finally, The “Standing Stone” concert, held on October 14th at the Royal Albert Hall, was broadcast on Christmas Day and the documentary “The Making of Standing Stone” was broadcast the day after, on “Boxing Day”, at 12:10pm on the BBC.
“There’s no way round it, Anthology’s been good to us. I mean, shit! It’s thirty years later and we’re more successful than ever! And it means I can get back to just recording, playing without any pressure.” -Paul ————————————————- On February 4th, 1997 Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono were among the 20 rock artists who contributed to Milestones, a London exhibition and auction being staged this month by the charity War Child.
The charity, which runs a music therapy center for children in Bosnia, was also responsible for the Come Together project in 1995, in which Paul also took part.
Milestones consisted of artworks by famous rock stars, each dedicated to musicians who have inspired their own work. Paul prepared a tribute to Buddy Holly, while unsurprisingly, Yoko Ono’s piece reflects the inspiration of John Lennon.
On February 14th, Valentines Day, George Martin was called in to add orchestration overdubs for the song, “Beautiful Night.” The album to be was then put to bed.
On February 26th The Beatles received “three” Grammy awards. For Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, for “Free As A Bird.” Best Music Video, Short Form for “Free as a Bird” and Best Music Video, Long Form – for The Beatles Anthology.
He returned to working on demo recordings for STANDING STONE on March 3rd and 4th, and the actual recording sessions for this next full classical release from April 30th thru May 2nd.
On March 11th Paul was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. The 54-year-old lad from Liverpool became Sir Paul in a centuries-old ceremony of pomp and solemnity at Buckingham Palace in central London. Fans waited outside in a scene reminiscent of Beatlemania of the 1960s. Crowds screamed as McCartney swept through the gates in his chauffeur-driven limousine and he answered with a thumbs-up.
Linda, who was fighting breast cancer, did not accompany him, but three of their four children were at the palace. “I would have loved the whole family to be here, but when we heard there were only three tickets, we had to draw straws,” McCartney said. McCartney admitted he was very nervous before the ceremony but said it had been a great experience.
“Proud to be British, wonderful day and it’s a long way from a little terrace (street) in Liverpool,” he told reporters. Aides said he won’t be calling himself “Sir Paul,” the title conferred when the queen tapped him on each shoulder with a naked sword as he knelt on the investiture stool. McCartney’s knighthood was considered long overdue even by the conservative standards used in Britain, which sees most such honors going to judges, scientists and politicians.
Just prior to this the first single from his upcoming new album was released on April 28th. It was called “Young Boy.” It was released as two different colored CD singles, with bonus tracks on each. The single was taken from the album that would be called, FLAMING PIE.
“We had some funny moments during the making of the Anthology, when we remembered things differently. The biggest was “who thought of the name Beatles?”. George and I both remember it the same way: John and Stu had come out of their flat in Gambier Terrace, Liverpool, and we were walking towards the Dingle, chatting, when they told us of their new name for the band. But, what with one thing and another, we didn’t exactly say this in the TV and video series.” -Paul
From an article in Mersey Beat July 6th, 1961, written by John Lennon.
Many people ask what are Beatles? Why Beatles? Ugh, Beatles, how did the name arrive? So we will tell you. It came in a vision – a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them ‘From this day on you are Beatles with an A’. Thank you, Mister Man, they said, thanking him.”
So Paul’s new album was released on May 5th, 1987 in the UK and on May 20th in the US (why the two week difference?).
I was so whipped up, after the documentary and the Beatles three double Anthology albums. I was also happy he had been working with Jeff Lynne (much like I was with Eric Stewart and Elvis Costello, But we know how quickly those working relationships ended). I bought the disc on the day it was released.
The cover is from a 1996 picture of Paul and then cropped to have only his head and run thru a filter that gave it a nostalgic sepia quality. The original photo was taken by Linda.
Inspired by his working on old and new Beatles music and with plenty of time to write and record with the outstanding Jeff Lynne producing and helping turn Pauls visualization into reality (albeit with his slightly heavy handed production style a-la ELO) I fully expected FLAMING PIE to be excellent.
He got tons of TV press via MTV. And TV had “The McCartney WEEK” on VH1 from May 12-17th. Included that week was the premiere of the documentary, “In The World Tonight.” His daughter Mary’s husband produced the music videos for the singles, “Young Boy” and “The World Tonight,” which got heavy airplay.
He launched a website for the album on April 2nd and soon followed with his official website. He even was one of the first people to do an online webcast (May 17th) and chat online with lucky questioning fans.
Fathers’ Day” was a comedy film directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Nastassja Kinski. Two tracks of the “Flaming Pie” album were included in the soundtrack. As the movie was released in theaters in the US on May 9, 1997, the US public discovered those tracks – “Young Boy” and “The World Tonight” – ahead of the official release of the album. Specific 5.1 mixes of the songs were built for the movie.
I placed the disc into my player and sat back and listened.
Unless noted on each track: *Paul McCartney: Co-Producer, Acoustic and 12 String Acoustic Guitar, Bass Guitar, Double Bass, Electric Guitar, Spanish Guitar, Hammond Organ, Fender Rhodes, Mellotron, Harpsichord, Harmonium, Lead and Harmony Vocals, Drums, Piano, Percussion. *Jeff Lynne: Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Harmony Vocals, Keyboard.
“The Song We Were Singing” “I was remembering the Sixties, sitting around late at night, dosing, smoking pipes, drinking wine…jawing, talking about the cosmic solution. It was what we were all doing…all that “What about…wow!” It’s that time in your life when you got a chance for all that. The song represents for me good memories of the Sixties. I think it works as an opening track – it creeps you into the album and sets it up nicely. I played Bill Black’s stand-up bass on the recording; it’s the wrong way around for me, being left-handed, but I have a go.” -Paul Rating -8.5
“The World Tonight” The second song from Paul’s initial session (there were four in all) with Jeff Lynne took what had been an acoustic, folk-tinged demo and imbued it with a progressively heavier treatment. ‘The World Tonight’ was written while on vacation in America in 1995 – of the 14 songs on Flaming Pie only the title track, ‘Somedays’ and ‘Great Day’ were composed in England, for the muse tends to strike Paul most often while he’s on holiday.
The lyrics were just gathering thoughts. Like ‘I go back so far, I’m in front of me’- I don’t know where that came from, but if I’d been writing with John he would have gone ‘OK, leave that one in; we don’t know what it means but we do know what it means’.- Paul
“The World Tonight” was one of those songs you just start with no particular inspiration. I didn’t have a title. I just had an idea for the opening verse, which just said “I saw you sitting at the center of the circle”. It’s just a stream-of-consciousness thing.” – Paul Rating -9
“If You Wanna” Features Steve Miller on Acoustic and Electric Guitar and Harmony Vocal.
“I wanted to write something that would reflect America, for when you’re driving across the desert on that big road with the flat horizon. I’ll take you for a ride in my Cadillac…I’ll take you to The Coast for a holiday…When they say The Coast, the don’t mean Blackpool. We had a day off in Minneapolis when we were on tour. Linda was going off to do something and I stayed behind in the room and wrote a song on guitar. Recording wise, I used the same process as the other songs I did with Steve Miller: me on drums, Steve on guitar, both playing acoustic guitars, I did the vocals and produced Steve’s guitar stuff. This is the kind of song you might hear when you’re driving across the desert in America, Easy Rider country.”-Paul Rating -8
“Somedays” Paul plays all instruments with George Martin scoring the Orchestration. “I’d driven Linda to a photo session for one of her cookery assignments. Knowing she’d be about two hours, I set myself a deadline to write a song in that time – so that when she’d finished and would say ‘Did you get bored? What did you do?’, I could say ‘Oh, I wrote this song. Wanna hear it?” -Paul
At first, one session was all it took to commit ‘Somedays’ on to tape, but Paul felt that it could be enhanced by an arrangement. At this time he was occasionally meeting with George Martin at Abbey Road, sifting through unissued archive Beatles recordings for the Anthology albums (and still nervous, 30 years on, that he would not be the cause of any musical breakdowns…), and Paul asked George if he would listen to ‘Somedays’ and consider scoring it for an orchestra. “I see you haven’t lost your touch!” was the considered response; a 14-piece ensemble overdubbed their contribution on 10 June, 1996. Rating -8
“Young Boy” Steve Miller on Electric and Rhythm guitar and Backing Vocals.
“This was another song written when I’d set myself an arbitrary deadline. We were in Long Island and Linda was cooking with Pierre Franey for a New York Times article. I had taken my guitar, and was sitting around in a nearby room when a song came up. It wrote itself: I was thinking about all the young people I know, and remembering my own early days. There’s a funny side story to this: I left the room after I finished writing the song and when I went back in there a few minutes later I got a shock because a girl was lying on the couch. She’d been there all the time, and I hadn’t seen her. It was great to renew my Sixties friendship with Steve Miller; working with Steve again was like falling back into the old habit.” -Paul Rating -8
“Calico Skies” Paul solo with production by George Martin. Recorded on September 3rd, 1992.
While it wreaked havoc in the north-east US, the category-three storm Hurricane Bob that made landfall in August 1991 prompted Paul (then staying in Long Island) to sit with an acoustic guitar and write what he describes as “a gentle love song that becomes a sixties protest song”. Paul invited George Martin to co-produce the piece, which-owing to it’s instrumental simplicity-was started, finished and mixed within a single session. The earliest recording on Flaming Pie.
(“Winedark Open Sea“, released on the 1993 “Off The Ground” album, was written during the same August 1991 holidays)
“Bob, the hurricane, knocked out all the power; it was all candle-light, cooking on a wood fire. Very primitive, but we like that enforced simplicity. I couldn’t play records, so I made up little acoustic pieces. This was one of them-it’s primitive little power cut memory.” -Paul Rating -8.5
“Flaming Pie” The “pie” lyric that had arrived unto Paul on horseback fitted perfectly with some funky riffs he and Jeff Lynne had evolved days earlier while waiting to overdub on to ‘Souvenir’. With lyric and music suddenly fashioned, “Flaming Pie” was recorded quickly. Paul suggested that the song be taped with the speed that the Beatles often worked, cutting three songs in a day. Setting themselves a four hour deadline, Paul singing live to his own piano accompaniment with Jeff on guitar before adding drums and bass, and then, guitars and harmony vocals.
“I was riding with my missus, thinking of lyrics, searching for a rhyme with ‘sky’… ‘bye’… ‘pie’. The story came back and I thought ‘Ooo, ‘flaming pie’.”-Paul Rating -8
“Heaven On A Sunday” Features Linda McCartney on Backing Vocals and James McCartney on Electric guitar solo. Paul was sailing his boat in America in August 1996 when ‘Heaven On A Sunday’ – the most recent composition on Flaming Pie – materialized. Enjoying the notion of the celestial city being busy in the week but peaceful on a Sunday, he developed the tune from there, its relaxed ambience reflecting his holiday mood.
The song was recorded on the McCartneys’ return to England, and the middle section was endowed with a bluesy feel on the spur of the moment. The guitar solos are shared by Paul and his 19 year old son James, making his first disc appearance with the instrument.
“I played the simpler stuff and left the Young Turk to play the hot electric stuff,” says Paul. James McCartney’s talent on the guitar is the result of some ten years’ practice and home-development while listening to the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, rather than formal lessons. When his father suggested these, James’s response, “Well you didn’t, Dad”, echoed down the decades from 1950s Liverpool. Like father, like son, indeed. Or, as Paul puts it, “The saga continues…”
“I was out sailing in a small boat; just me, the sail, the wind. Peaceful, like Heaven On A Sunday. That opening line led me through the song, I thought it’d be nice to play with James, so we traded phrases. Lovely to do.” -Paul Rating -8.5
“Used To Be Bad” Co written with Steve Miller. Miller is also on Electric Guitar and co-Lead Vocal. Having enjoyed ‘Young Boy’ Miller was keen to extend the collaboration, wanting to get Paul singing some “Texas blues.”
As a consequence, he arrived at their second set of session with dozens of guitar riffs; this prompted Paul to climb behind the drum kit and the pair played away for some time, kicking around ideas, until Miller began adding words to the jam, utilizing blues lines line, “I used to be bad but I don’t have to be bad no more”. Once the piece had gelled Paul overdubbed bass and Steve added some solos before the traded vocal lines.
“This was just a jam, really. Steve whacked out these blues riffs, I got on the drums and we just went for it – a duet, sung on one mike. We did the vocal in one take.” -Paul Rating -7
“Souvenir” Written during a relaxing holiday in Jamaica in January 1995, the later studio recording of ‘Souvenir’ saw Paul anxious to replicate the easy atmosphere of his original demo, which carried the additional sounds of a ringing telephone and tropical downpour. So the demo was laid into the multi-track tape as a guide for the studio recording and each element of the original was carefully listened to and replicated. The 78-rpm-like coda was added after Jeff and Paul saw co-engineer Jon Jacobs carrying a key-fob with a built-in sound sampler. The end vocal effect was added using this as the medium.
“I had a sort of Wilson Pickett, R&B number in mind with this. I could imagine some guy really getting to grips with it. It’s a favorite of mine and I’m looking forward, hopefully to some R&B singer doing it.”-Paul Rating -8.5
“Little Willow” “Little Willow” was written early 1995 as a tribute to Maureen Cox, the first wife of Ringo Starr, who passed away in December 1994. He created the song not only as an immediate personal response to the sadness but, hopefully, as a salve for his late friend’s children. The studio recording, begun ten months later (on the day the The Beatles Anthology 1, with “Free As A Bird” was released), is an eloquent combination of voice and instrumentation, Paul’s work being augmented by Jeff Lynne.
“I wanted to somehow convey how much I thought of her. For her and her kids. It certainly is heartfelt, and I hope it will help a bit. A good friend of mine died, someone we all loved, so I wrote a song that conveyed my mood. It’s heartfelt – instead of writing her kids a letter I wrote a song. It was a very sad day for all of us, and Jeff Lynne and I gave it our all in the studio.” Rating -8
“Really Love You” Co-written by Ringo (also on drums). The day after Ringo Starr had joined Paul to record ‘Beautiful Night’ the pair returned to the studio, where the instruments remained set up as before, and began a good old-fashioned jam session, Paul plucking his Hofner Violin bass, Ringo beating the drums and Jeff Lynne playing guitar. Three separate pieces evolved inside half an hour, one being ‘Looking For You‘ (issued on the B-side of first UK single ‘Young Boy’ and first US single ‘The World Tonight’), another ‘Really Love You’.
This latter track best charted the desired R&B groove, with Paul adding a live vocal. Forced to invent the lyric on the spot, he duly grabbed the words out of “left-field”. “There’s one verse that doesn’t make any sense,” Paul admits, “which goes ‘I need your heart hopping on a plate’. I remember thinking, ‘ What did I just say?’ But I just had to keep going.” -Paul Credited to McCartney/Starkey – even after all this time this is still a first-ever credit for a released tune – the jam was completed by some guitar overdubs and mixed after Ringo had returned home. Played to him over the telephone by Paul, his response – “It’s relentless!” – remains the best description of the finished result. Rating -7
“Beautiful Night” Features Ringo on percussion, drums and backing vocals. Linda McCartney is also on backing vocals. Working on the Anthology prompted Paul to suggest that he and Ringo renew a collaboration not experienced for ten years. “Beautiful Night” was a decade old itself, and a recording made in New York had been on the shelf, unused, since 1986. With Paul at the piano and Ringo on drums (playing, incidentally, a replica arrangement of his own kit, which Paul had bought and modeled on Ringo’s set up after the “Real Love” session) the song came together comfortably. Wanting to play some guitar on the end, Paul also introduced a new element to his composition, the uptempo finale. Finally, the recording was enhanced by an orchestral arrangement scored by George Martin and overdubbed at Abbey Road on St. Valentine’s Day 1997.
“I unearthed this old song for when Ringo was coming, changed a few lyrics and it was really like the old days, I realized that we hadn’t done this for so long, but it was very comfortable. And it was still there.” Rating -7.5
“Great Day” Recorded on September 3rd, 1992. George Martin Produced, Linda on backing vocals. Paul also contributed legs slaps. Also recorded on this day was “When Winter Comes,” finally released in 2020.
“I didn’t want to end the album on a big note. It was a trick similar to what we did on the end of Abbey Road with Her Majesty, a surprise to deflate any pomposity.” -Paul But ‘Great Day’ has even older roots. Seeking a short, simple song to close Flaming Pie, Paul McCartney has searched back 25 years to find “Great Day”, an acoustic number that he and Linda used to perform ‘sitting around the kitchen or when the children were dancing’.
The candlelit evenings in Long Island, enforced by Hurricane Bob in August 1991, not only led Paul to write “Calico Skies” but also found him plucking this one from the memory vault. So, a year later, in the same session that he recorded his new number with George Martin, Paul also committed “Great Day” to tape for the first time (despite it’s years), not changing a hair of the arrangement or lyric.
“It’s just a little upbeat song of hope to the point and in the spirit of the whole album.”- Paul Rating -7.5
Overall FLAMING PIE grades out as 8/10, an excellent score placing it #3 as of now…..
Next…Lots of things still to happen in 1997 after FLAMING PIE comes out of the oven.
1996 was a year of behind the scenes recording and helping Linda deal with her chemotherapy and illness.
In February he got back together with Jeff Lynne at his Hog Hill Mill studio to continue on work for what would be his next album.
In mid April he reunited with his old friend Carl Perkins to record the song Carl wrote about them called “My Old Friend.” It would appear on Carl’s album GO CAT GO. The video they made of them recording this shows a clearly emotional Paul. The song brought back feelings he has always had for John Lennon.
After they recorded it, Linda hugged and thanked Carl for allowing Paul to process these long pent up feelings.
May again brought Jeff Lynne back to Paul’s home studio to continue working on the next album.
Besides a one off session in June for overdubbing, work continued in September for the fourth recording session with Lynne.
On March 18th of 1996, the second volume of The Beatles Anthology was released, along with the second single, “Real Love.”
It features rarities, outtakes and live performances from the 1965 sessions for Help! to the sessions just prior to their trip to India in February 1968.
It is the second in a trilogy of albums with Anthology 1 and Anthology 3, all of which tie in with the televised special The Beatles Anthology.
The opening track is “Real Love“, the second of the two recordings that reunited the Beatles for the first time since the band’s break-up. Like its predecessor, the album topped the Billboard 200 album chart and has been certified 4× Platinum by the RIAA.
On October 28th, the third and final installment of the Anthology albums was released, clearing 1997 for all new things by the ex-Beatles to be released.
The album includes rarities and alternative tracks from the final three years of the band’s career, ranging from the initial sessions for The Beatles (better known as “the White Album”) to the last sessions for Let It Be and Abbey Road in 1969 and early 1970.
It is the last in a trilogy of albums with Anthology 1 and Anthology 2, all of which tie in with the televised special The Beatles Anthology.
The album was certified 3x Platinum by the RIAA and was the group’s third double album in a row to reach number one on the US charts, equaling a record set by Donna Summer in the 1970s.
The remains 1996 events were L.I.P.A opened on January 8th, with a Royal opening in June.
The release on July 15th of the E.P. THE BALLAD OF THE SKELETONS, which was the fruit of the work he did with Philip Glass, Lenny Kaye and vocals by Allen Ginsberg.
Linda’s book, “Roadworks: Photographs and Words” was published on November 7th.
Paul and Linda received a lifetime achievement award from PTA on December 14th.
And last, but to least, it was announced on December 31st that Paul was going to be Knighted the following year…. Paul said…. “It is a fantastic honor, and I am very gratefully receiving it on behalf of all the people of Liverpool and the other Beatles – without whom it would not have been possible. So I hope I can be worthy of it. I would also like to thank my wife and kids and wish everyone a Happy New Year.”
Next…..1997. New music, inspired by his Beatles work of the last three years and the developing situation at home with Linda.
1995 was a busy and productive year for Paul, filled incredible highs and lows, most of all of it behind the scenes.
Since the three ex-Beatles were holding back any solo work from coming out until the release of all of the Anthology music and video, Paul was free to create with no deadlines or timetable or pressure to have anything solo released this year.
It is estimated that he wrote 28 songs this year, 8 of which would be released in this and the next few years. The rest are unreleased, but I’m sure Paul has held onto the demos.
He recorded four of these demos at home in early January, all of which would come out in 1997.
On January 25th, he got together with Linda, his children Heather, James, Mary and Stella. They were joined by Yoko Ono and her son, Sean.
They recorded a song, written by Yoko, called “Hiroshima Sky is Always Blue.” Sean remembers…. “The recordings were not planned. It was more the result of our reconciliation after twenty years of bitterness and feuding bullshit. It was incredible working with Paul. Here were these people who had never played together actually making music.”
In August of 1995 word came out about this recording… Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono have officially buried the hatchet they’ve collaborated on a song to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima.
“Hiroshima Sky Is Always Blue” will be broadcast on Japanese television tomorrow on the 50th anniversary of the atomic bomb explosion. The song ends a three-decade feud between the ex-Beatle and John Lennon’s Japanese-born widow, who has been blamed for breaking up the most famous pop group ever. Adding to the spirit of reconciliation, the song was recorded with both Lennon and McCartney’s children.
Though McCartney is one of the world’s most famous songwriters, “Hiroshima Sky” was written by Ono. The song was taped in a secret Jan. 28 recording session when Ono and Sean Lennon her son with John spent a weekend at McCartney’s house outside London.
McCartney showed them around his private studio and suggested recording a song together. Ono told him about a song she had written from her memories of World War II Japan, when she saw newspaper photos of bomb victims suffering from burns and leukemia. Ono sang and Sean played the harpsichord his father used on the song “Julia” on the Beatles’ “White Album.
McCartney’s wife, Linda, played the organ, their son James played guitar and their daughters did the percussion. McCartney played bass, not the sort everyone remembers from the Beatles, but an upright model used by one of Elvis Presley’s bassists.
On February 6th The Beatles reunited again, the first since June of 1994, and began work on “Real Love.”
“There was a buzz all the way through the cassette. We just shoved that all onto Jeff. Once he’d got the buzz off, it showed up all the clicks that were on it, so he had to get them off as well.” – Paul
“The problem I had with Real Love was that not only was there a 60 cycles mains hum going on, there was also a terrible amount of hiss, because it had been recorded at a low level. I don’t know how many generations down this copy was, but it sounded like at least a couple. Then there were clicks all the way through it. There must have been about a hundred of them. We’d spend a day on it, then listen back and still find loads more things wrong. We would magnify them, grab them and wipe them out.
It didn’t have any affect on John’s voice because we were just dealing with the air surrounding him in between phrases. That took about a week to clean up before it was even usable and transferable to a master.
Putting fresh music to it was the easy part! The Real Love demo needed to be almost totally re-arranged to make a coherent song. The piano introduction was not solidly played, but when the introductory figure was repeated after the first chorus, it was done much better, so the intro that finally appeared on the final product was actually the second appearance of the figure, copied and pasted onto the beginning of the song. Also, John never sang a proper ending for Real Love, so Marc Mann took every other phrase of John singing “real love” from the interior choruses and created a fadeout coda.
Timing was as problem. Lennon recorded without a click track, requiring a bit of time compression and expansion to lock down the tempos. Lynne thought it was important to have a “good, steady pulse to record to,” so time edits were done, but, recalls Mann, “subtly enough to not lose the original feel of John’s phrasing. We’re talking about within, maybe, plus or minus three or four percent.”
Other processing jobs included the removal of unwanted instruments.
“I don’t quite like it as much as Free As A Bird because I think Free As A Bird is more powerful. But it’s catchier. There was one real nice moment when were doing Real Love and I was trying to learn the piano bit, and Ringo sat down on the drums, jamming along. It was like none of us had ever been away.” – Paul
“Real Love is more of a poppy song. It was more difficult, actually, to turn it into a real Beatles track.” – Ringo The Beatles sped up John’s demo recording, so that their new version is a semi-tone higher than the original, and decided to use as little state of the art equipment as possible to give a timeless Beatles feel to the track.
The introduction to the song is played by Paul on a celeste (the very same instrument which John played on the Abbey Road track Because and which is now in Paul’s collection). Paul also plays harmonium and again uses the very instrument which John played on We Can Work It Out (also from in Paul’s collection).
“Paul used his double bass (originally owned by Elvis Presley bassist Bill Black) and we tracked it with a Fender Jazz. Paul went direct to the desk but also used his Mega Boogie amp and we took a mixture of the two signals. George used a couple of Strats, a modern Clapton style one and his psychedelic Strat that’s jacked up for the bottleneck stuff on Free As A Bird. They also played six string acoustics and Ringo played his Ludwig kit. Almost all the piano heard on the completed Real Love is John’s original. Paul also doubled John’s solo vocals, in parts where the original was “thin”. – Lynne
The Real Love promo video did indeed feature a lot of footage from this session (judging by the clothing changes, more than one session was filmed); apart from showing Paul, Ringo and George arriving together at the studio, it also showed McCartney not only filming Harrison as he laid down some of his harmony vocals, but also giving him an awkward hug towards the end.
During this session, work on the second day continued briefly on the troublesome piano based Lennon demo of Now And Then/I Don’t Want To Lose You.
Despite having attempted some earlier work during the abandoned 22nd of June 1994 session, work on this day fared no better. When the Beatles left the studio late on Tuesday, both Real Love and Now And Then/I Don’t Want To Lose You were still unfinished.
Real Love would be completed in May, while the group would have one final bash at Now And Then again during the March 20th and 21st Sessions. —————————————————
In mid February of 1995 Paul flew out with Linda, and engineers Geoff Emerick and John Hammel to Steve Miller’s home studio in Sun Valley, Idaho.
“We started listening to the new stuff – it sounded great. I pulled out all the Martin guitars, we sat down, he showed me the songs and the next thing I knew I was sitting there strumming rhythm guitar and singing with Paul on a Paul McCartney tune.
That was a really special thing, because he’s such a great writer. I got in a perfectionist mode. “No, let me do that again, I can do it better” – and he was going, “Nah, we’re done, that’s great”. Paul is about getting right to it and doing it. When your Paul McCartney and you sound that good and everything, I can see how you can do that. For me, I had to go, “If you like it, that’s good enough”. – Steve
In these short sessions they recorded one song and started another. ————————————————- On April 21st, the Paul written classical single, “A Leaf”, was released. It featured Anya Alexeyev on piano.
————————————————- In Mid-May Steve returned the favor by recording at Paul’s home studio for a week. The worked on six songs and four would eventually be released. They even co-wrote two new songs together, “(Sweet Home) Country Girl” and “Soul Boy.” Both songs remain unreleased as of today.
With the imminent release of Free As A Bird and Real Love now public knowledge after an Apple press release, Paul, George and Ringo reconvened at The Mill where they completed the final parts on Real Love, planned as the second “comeback” single on May15th and 16th.
Having abandoned both “Now And Then” and “Grow Old With Me”, the group tackled a new song for the third single. There is still little inkling as to the nature of this track, although rumor has it that the song wasn’t one of the John Lennon demo tapes handed over by Yoko, but was, in fact, a brand new song written by George and Paul called All For Love (only their second ever collaboration, after the 1958 composition In Spite Of All The Danger). Confusion and mystery still surrounds this track. Neither Paul, George, Ringo, Yoko nor Jeff Lynne seem to have so much as mentioned the existence of any such song.
Without a contribution from John Lennon it’s difficult to imagine how All For Love could have been presented as a Beatles recording, which begs the question as to whether it was, in fact, a John Lennon song and not a new composition at all (after all, Yoko is rumored to have supplied two demo cassettes comprised of three songs each, and only four titles – Free As A Bird, Real Love, Grow Old With Me and Now And Then – have surfaced so far). A third possibility is that, as there was confusion over the actual title for the Now And Then demo, that it somehow ended up being called All For Love, possibly due to extra lyrics being written by McCartney and Harrison.
In March 1996 Beatles Monthly reported that recording of All For Love was completed during these sessions. However, in his excellent book, The Beatles After The Breakup, author Keith Badman notes that these recordings “…turned into a disaster and the sessions are aborted early. The group then decides to shelve plans for any further Beatles recording sessions, with George the chief instigator behind this…“
Despite the sessions, Paul apparently remained optimistic that something could be done with the All For Love recording. George, however, later becomes even more determined to call it a day after the poor reception given to the release of Real Love. Whatever the reasons, this mysterious track has, so far, been firmly locked away in the vaults along with Now And Then.
They edited the Anthology tracks for the three album releases throughout 1995 and 1996.
On May 18th Paul worked with Dave Stewart on a song they co-wrote, called “Whole Life.” It would be re-recorded in 2003 and come out on the Nelson Mandela charity album ONE YEAR ON 46664.
In September, Paul did another song for the charity album, THE HELP ALBUM. He worked with the Smokin’ Mojo Filters, and they did a remake of “Come Together.”
In October he worked with Allen Ginsberg and Phillip Glass on a track that Ginsberg talked/sang called, “The Ballad of The Skeletons.” The single was accomplished by sending tapes back and forth and each performing adding their parts.
Since work was done recording with The Beatles, Paul began serious work finishing songs for what would become his next solo album. Except for a short break to work again on “Whole Life” with Dave Stewart, Paul worked from November 1st to December 5th, with Jeff Lynne behind the glass. Lynne had produced George and Ringo and Paul had a great time working on The Beatles material with Lynne. ————————————————
Late in 1995, Linda began feeling ill, and after discovering a lump on her breasts she went to her physician to have it checked. After a series of tests Paul was told that Linda indeed had breast cancer, and that sadly, it had already spread through her body into her liver. The doctor told her that at best she would have 18 months to live.
From this point on, Paul’s recording took on a new reality and his tone and lyrics took on a new meaning. While sharing the news of the breast cancer with Linda, he chose not to tell her the true extent of her illness.
She began to receive chemotherapy and suffered all of the side effects that accompany this very difficult treatment. All of the video work to be done that was associated with the new material for the new album shows her, helping Paul as much as possible, but clearly the beginning of her slow decline.
After the first mix of “Whole Life” on December 1st, he and his family took the year off.
One final word on 1995… As the TV broadcast of the anthology premiered and Paul and Linda and family received the terrible news on her health, Apple records released The first of three compilations that mirrored the documentary. It also included the first new original Beatles single in 25 years. Anthology 1 is a compilation album by the Beatles, released on 20 November 1995 by Apple Records as part of The Beatles Anthology series. It features rarities, outtakes and live performances from the period 1958–1964, including songs with original bass player Stuart Sutcliffe and drummer Pete Best.
It is the first in a trilogy of albums with Anthology 2 and Anthology 3, all of which tie in with the televised special The Beatles Anthology. It contains “Free as a Bird“, billed as the first new Beatles song in 25 years. The album topped the Billboard 200 album chart and was certified 8x Platinum by the RIAA.The Anthology albums were remastered and made available digitally on the iTunes Store on 14 June 2011, individually and as part of the Anthology Box Set.
“To me, the Unplugged set was the nearest thing I’ve done to a pub gig for a long time. And in my particular case, as I’m not a black blues singer from the ’50s, my stuff tends to have more humor when it gets like that. But I feel more comfortable not being serious. The breakdown at the front of ‘We Can Work It Out’ was hilarious. It’s like something from a blooper tape. The album has that element to it, and I’m really glad we did it.” – Paul
Unplugged (The Official Bootleg) is a live (recorded January 25th, 1991 in Wembley, UK) unplugged performance by Paul McCartney, recorded and released on May 20th, 1991 (June 4th in the US). Following the vastness of his world tour recently captured on Tripping the Live Fantastic, McCartney relished the opportunity to strip back his songs and appear on the newly launched acoustic-only show MTV Unplugged.
Consequently, McCartney was the first in a long line of artists to release an unplugged album.
Unlike other artists who appeared on the acclaimed show with acoustic instruments plugged into amplifiers (producing the sound heard), McCartney’s instruments were 100% unplugged. Microphones were carefully placed close to guitars, pianos, etc. to pick up the sound (this can be seen on the album cover, where a large rectangular microphone is pictured in front of McCartney’s acoustic guitar).
Using the same line-up that had recently backed him (except for Blair Cunningham who had replaced Chris Whitten on drums), McCartney used the opportunity to dust off some of his rarer tracks, including three from his 1970 debut album McCartney, alongside several covers and amid a helping of familiar Beatles hits.
This recording was one of the first in the famed MTV Unplugged series.
Numbers rehearsed by the band but not performed at all include: “Mother Nature’s Son“, “Figure of Eight“, “Cut Across Shorty“, “Heartbreak Hotel“, “Heart of the Country“, “She’s My Baby“, and “Mrs Vanderbilt”. “Things We Said Today” and “Midnight Special”
With McCartney in a loose and carefree context, critical response to Unplugged (The Official Bootleg) was very warm.
Initially released in a limited edition, individually numbered run in 1991, Unplugged (The Official Bootleg)—with artwork that recalls Снова в СССР‘s—was reissued in a more permanent fashion in the late 1990s. Upon its original issue, it reached number 7 in the UK and became McCartney’s highest-peaking US album in almost ten years, reaching number 14.
“I like any excuse to loosen up, and one of the attractions of Unplugged was that it was so loose. A lot of people liked the very informal, intimate atmosphere. I did – in fact, I was a bit surprised at how intimate and how informal it was. It was fairly nerve-wracking, though, not plugging into amps after all those years, using mikes for the guitars. It’s a completely different discipline – if you turn around to look at the drummer, the guitar sound goes.
We may well put some acoustic stuff into the next tour. A lot of people said that their favorite bit of the 1976 Wings tour was when we all sat down for the acoustic set.
For Unplugged we stood up, because we had sat down in 1976. Next time, we’ll be hovering above the audience.
The Album Unless noted, each track features Paul McCartney-Acoustic guitar, producer and lead vocals Linda McCartney-Percussion, backing vocals Robbie McIntosh-Acoustic guitar Hamish Stuart-Acoustic bass, backing vocals Paul “Wix” Wickens-Piano Blair Cunningham-Drums ———————————————————- “Be-Bop-A-Lula” An early rock and roll hit for Gene Vincent, and also The Everly Brothers, and a big favorite of Lennon and McCartney. Lennon even did his version on his 1975 album, ROCK AND ROLL. The band slows the pace making it a smoky charmer. A great little number to start off the album and the set. Macca really sexy’s it up, vocally. Rating – 8.5
“I Lost My Little Girl” The very first song Paul ever wrote, at age 14. He wrote “When I’m 64” at age 15, but this is his first. Basically a Buddy Holly rip-off, style and vocally, and only two short verses and a chorus. Paul added a verse about it being his first written song to lengthen it to 1:46. Wix moves over to shaker. Rating – 7
“Here, There and Everywhere” The classic from REVOLVER, recorded in 1966 by The Beatles. Linda adds on harmonium, and Wix on accordion gives it so much atmosphere. Hamish helps with vocal blending. Rating – 8.5
“Blue Moon of Kentucky” Written by and made famous by Bill Monroe and Elvis. Robbie adds tasty slide acoustic. Wix stays on accordion. It starts slow for the first half, then kicks in full speed till the finish, with Paul doing his best Elvis. Paul encourages more woo-hooing from the crowd! Rating – 8
“We Can Work It Out” The Beatles huge double A sided single (with “Day Tripper) from 1965, this one gets rolling after the hilarious false start as Paul gets the lyrics wrong twice (he uses a teleprompter today as this became more common as he aged). He still messes up on the third try but keeps going. During the first pause more woo-hooing is encouraged. Hamish and Paul’s blend in the John written middle eight is spot on. Wix again takes up the accordion. Rating – 8.5
“San Francisco Bay Blues” Written by Jesse Fuller and made popular by folk singer Ramblin’ Jack Elliot in the very early 1960’s. Done by Dylan, The Blues Band, Paul Jones, Jim Croce, The Weavers, Sammy Walker, The Brothers Four, Paul Clayton, Richie Havens, Eric Clapton, The Flatlanders, Hot Tuna, Janis Joplin, John Lennon, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Mungo Jerry, Glenn Yarbrough, George Ellias, Phoebe Snow, The Wave Pictures, The Halifax III and Eva Cassidy. Robbie plays amazing acoustic slide on this toe-tapper. Rating – 8
“I’ve Just Seen a Face” Another classic Beatles 1965 RUBBER SOUL track that gets cowboy’d up for this set, much in the way it was for the 1976 acoustic set of Wings world tour. Wix is back on shakers. Rating – 7.5
“Every Night” From Pauls debut solo album, 1970’s, McCARTNEY 1. Much slower and passionate, almost a gospel feel as Hamish and Robbie notch up the vocal harmonies big time. Paul again messes up the lyrics but doesn’t restart the song. Rating – 8
“She’s a Woman” Interesting tempo change on this 1965 track from The Beatles HELP album, as they turn a blues rocker into a country stomp. Damn, Hamish can harmonize. Rating – 8
“Hi-Heel Sneakers” Written and released by Tommy Tucker in 1963. Over 1000 artists have recorded this including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Ronnie Milsap, the Faces, Sting, Led Zeppelin, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Brothers, Chuck Berry, Stevie Wonder, the Searchers, Sammy Davis Jr., Janis Joplin, Jose Feliciano, Buddy Guy & Junior Wells, Tom Jones, John Lee Hooker, Cleo Laine, The Grateful Dead, Phish, Ramsey Lewis, Laura Nyro and George Thorogood. Four on the floor fun. Rating – 8.5
“And I Love Her” The 1964 Beatles song from A HARD DAYS NIGHT is slowed from the original into an EXTRA gentle ballad. Hamish (Paul comically calls him “Hamlish” before the start) adds vocal flourishes (and a bit of lead vocals) throughout. Rating – 8.5
“That Would Be Something” Another from 1970’s McCARTNEY, this time the band turns this into a haunting swampy New Orleans blues number. Hamish again adds wonderful vocal flourishes. Rating – 8
“Blackbird” Another classic moment from the show. Paul notices that the production assistant has called the song “Blackboard” during rehearsal and he gives her some good nature ribbing. As he is doing this she walks off with his bottled water much to Paul’s dismay. “Look, that’s her, and now she’s nicking (stolen) my water. Now she’s stealing my papers!” The audience loves this intimacy from Paul. Rating – 7
“Ain’t No Sunshine” The Bill Withers hit from the early 1970’s. Interesting instrument changes abound as Paul goes behind the drum kit for this one and Hamish takes lead vocal and acoustic guitar. Wix plays the acoustic bass, Blair adds percussion and Robbie plays piano. Strong playing troughout. Rating – 7.5
“Good Rockin’ Tonight” Everyone is back in their proper place on this Roy Brown written classic (made famous by Elvis Presley). Linda is back on shaker. Hamish adds his wonderful vocal flourishes one more time. Rating – 7.5
“Singing the Blues” They finish up the broadcast set and album with this one a spirited version of Melvin Endsley’s song. The song was a huge hit in 1956 for Guy Mitchell. Marty Robbins was the first person to record it with minor success. Tommy Steele also had a hit in England with his version. Linda’s on shaker, Hamish flourishes and Wix plays the hell out of that piano. Rating – 8
“Junk” (instrumental) Plays out to the closing credits and the band is not shown. Linda is on harmonium. Another from Paul’s 1970 McCARTNEY I. Rating – 7.5
This LIVE album grades out as 7.91 /10. We will review EVERY other live album at the end, as we will all of the classical as well as all of the Fireman releases.
THE UNPLUGGED SECRET SHOW MINI TOUR
Paul McCartney has always been keen on doing secret shows. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, rock tours would cover most of Britain, showing up in the country’s smaller cities to entertain fans.
More recently, with a dearth of major arena venues in the UK, big tours tend only to visit the bigger cities – a typical national tour, for example, will play London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Liverpool.
In 1991, Paul played a series of surprise shows, including a show in Barcelona and a set at the Mean Fiddler in Harlesden, London. The latter was the smallest venue Paul McCartney had played at since taking a final bow at The Cavern club in 1963 (he would then return to that venue in 1999).
He also played shows in Cornwall after his team realized that Paul had never played there, not with Wings, not even with the much-travelled Beatles. The shows were a way for Paul to connect with his audience in a more direct way than he would in a giant stadium.
These were impromptu concerts at mostly smaller clubs, inspired by the “MTV Unplugged” TV concert and subsequent album. A further concert at Paris L’Olympia was planned, but not announced. It was cancelled when Linda McCartney’s father, Lee Eastman, passed away during the tour. Paul felt that he owed l’Olympia a concert and eventually returned to play there in 2007 on that “other” Secret Gigs Tour.
At Cliff’s Pavillion, Paul and his band backed guest poet Adrian Mitchell on the recital of his poems “Song In Space,” “I Like That Stuff,” “Maybe May Time,” and “Hot Pursuit“. They also added “I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside” to their set list
There they were, tucked away from blustery May winds in the barn with Paul and the band in rehearsal, checking out material and loosening limbs for a return to the road, of sorts, last left in Soldier Field, Chicago more than nine months before.
You might think that after 102 gigs, rehearsals would not be necessary, that chords and notes would be so deeply embedded that they would drop neatly into place at the twitch of a plectrum or stroke of a keyboard. Not so.
Number by number, though, in the barn, the sound of an exciting, tight 24-song set came together, with the odd jam thrown in for good measure just to underline that spirits were high and wavelengths tuned together. Thirteen acoustics and eleven electrics suggested themselves, a varied blend of styles and tempos. Then discussion about riffs and roles, song balance and sound balance.
Taking time out after rehearsals, Paul explained why the secret gig plan was finally being brought to fruition. “It’s really to keep the band active. Blair [Cunningham] played with us when we did Wogan [to plug ‘All My Trials’] and in the dressing-room after the show I thought we’d better invite him to join us, make it official. And Wix was funny, he said, ‘Yeah, welcome to the group, Blair, and a year off, because they knew I was going to do the Oratorio. And Blair was saying, ‘I love playing, I love playing’ so I thought, ‘I can’t get him in the group and then have nothing for him until October…’“
Paul reveals that Blair Cunningham’s joining was another good reason for playing on the MTV Unplugged show. “It kept the band’s hand in, gave us a little bit of a challenge and, yes, it introduced Blair. And now it’s an album, so suddenly he’s on an album, which settles him further, and now we must play. I can’t just be rehearsing the Oratorio all the time.”
After “Free As A Bird” was recorded, the three Beatles continued to work on the documentary. They were all interviewed throughout the next two years, so when you see the entire broadcast, they have many looks, hair and facial changes..
MPL released the book, “Paintings,” which featured images of all of Paul’s paintings he had created from 1988-92.
They started work on June 22nd on the second John Lennon demo cassette track, “Now And Then.” The three Beatles recorded at Paul’s Mill Studio. This was their first get together in the studio since February, the delay being put down to George’s business negotiations for the sale of Handmade Films.
Jeff Lynne claimed the song (which has a chorus but is lacking in verses) was technically still without a formal title, but should it ever be completed, it would probably end up as either “Now And Then” or “Miss You“.
Yoko Ono has confirmed it was she who chose the recording, selecting unreleased Lennon songs “very carefully“. She chose “Now And Then” (later copyrighted as “I Don’t Want To Lose You“) for almost therapeutic reasons.
“Because these songs were to come from the Beatles. The Beatles will be singing to the world again. The implication of that was tremendous. I thought this was a song which would release people from their sorrow of losing John.
By listening to the song, they will eventually be able to release their sorrow and arrive at an understanding that, actually, John is not lost to them. Paul, George and Ringo lost a great friend as well. If they sang this song from their hearts it would have helped many people around the world who felt the same.” – Yoko Ono
Jeff Lynne had again been assisted in cleaning up the original “Now And Then/I Don’t Want To Lose You” tape by musician Marc Mann. Mann recalls that the demo they worked with had been recorded on a four-track (John’s voice was doubled) and he’d used a tambourine. Lynne didn’t want the tambourine, so they frequency notched around it so the filter would not affect John’s vocals substantially. Unfortunately, the “Now And Then” recordings the Beatles attempted on this day did not go well and the session was aborted early.
“We had a go at it but there were a lot of words that hadn’t been completed on it. The playing on it was fine. It was just that the words weren’t finished, and quite a lot of them weren’t finished. It was a decision to do something that was already complete, so we could actually get it down on tape.
It was one day – one afternoon, really – messing with it. The song had a chorus but is almost totally lacking in verses. We did the backing track, a rough go that we really didn’t finish. It was sort of a bluesy sort of ballad, I suppose, in A minor. It was a very sweet song; I liked it a lot, and I wished we could have finished it.
It didn’t have a very good title, it needed a bit of reworking. It had a beautiful verse and it had John singing on it. But George didn’t want to do it. The best thing about it all was to work with John again. Hearing him in the headphones, it was like he was in the next room. It’s like an impossible dream.” – Jeff Lynne
George apparently suggested the group continue the next day, this time at his Friar Park Studios in his Henley-on-Thames mansion.
George, Paul and Ringo convened (accompanied by their respective wives) at George’s studio at his Friar Park mansion, apparently to perform a symbolic version of “Let It Be” to be filmed for the conclusion of the Anthology TV series.
John’s absence was apparently so overwhelming that, after a long private discussion between the three out in the garden (unconfirmed rumors suggest George was particularly unhappy with the plan and that the ‘discussion’ lasted three hours), the idea was abandoned and the Fab Three turned their hands instead to re-working rock and roll classics much favored from their Quarry Men and pre-Beatlemania days.
“It was just two acoustic guitars and me on brushes. It was just like a time-warp kind of thing. We played some old rock-and-roll stuff, a couple of Chuck Berry’s, even I Saw Her Standing There.” – Ringo
The jam was filmed for possible inclusion in the Anthology videos but, initially, only a minute long segment of the threesome performing Blue Moon Of Kentucky was screened publicly (on the television program ‘Good Morning America‘ on December 6th, 1996).
The original video release of the series featured Ringo drumming along (or so it appears) to Love Me Do, an extremely brief run-through of the White Album track I Will and a longer performance of the unreleased Harrison song Dera Dhune (both performed out in the garden rather than the studio).
Bob Smeaton, Anthology TV series director, was quite enthusiastic about the Friar Park recordings: “The more we include of the three guys together, the more we realize that John isn’t there. In years to come people might get the chance to see that footage of the three of them playing together at George’s place.
Knowing the way Apple works, it’ll come out eventually, in some shape or form. There’s a whole load of that stuff, we were there for a full day and the Beatles started playing songs like Thinking Of Linking and Ain’t She Sweet. A little bit of this film was used when George sang Dehra Dune. They did a whole load of rock’n’roll songs.
And we shot a load of stuff at Abbey Road, with the three guys and George Martin, which was fantastic. For the Beatles fan, it’s priceless, I’m sure that somewhere down the line, that stuff will come out.”
1994 ended with Paul still working out writing for the STANDING STONE classical work, songs for future albums and behind the scenes for the Anthology project.
Next: 1991’s UNPLUGGED album, television show and mini tour, the onto 1995.
After the 1993 New World Tour and the Recording and releasing of all of the OFF THE GROUND material, that makes the end of Paul’s working relationship with THAT band.
He would never work with Robbie McIntosh, Hamish Stuart or Blair Cunningham again.
But he continues to work with Wix to this day. Also this would be the last tour for Linda McCartney.
She would help Paul a bit more on his next set of recordings, as well as his number one supporter.
After the success of the tour (not the same as the 1989-90 tour) and only moderate success of the album, Paul’s future seemed up in the air….
In January of 1994 Paul contributed to
The “Awareness Message Project, Volume 3- Give Up The Keys!
“Drive My Car” Paul McCartney contributed to a re-recording of The Beatles’ “Drive My Car“, in association with R.A.D.D. (Rockers Against Drunk Driving).
Paul made a cameo appearance in the promo video for the RADD single “Drive My Car” which was issued to promote a new anti-drunk driving campaign. Also seen in the video are Ringo, Harry Nilsson and Julian Lennon. The video was premiered during the telecast of “The American Music Awards” in early February.
Clips from the video were shown on numerous entertainment shows like “E!”” and “Entertainment Tonight”.
After the Beatles split, and after Apple records ceased to be after 1973, Apple corp remained a viable organization. It was now run by longtime Beatles employee, Neil Aspinall.
After the success of various early 1980’s VHS tapes (The Compleat Beatles and Their First U.S Visit etc..) which both documented the history of The Beatles, Aspinall as president of Apple began buying the rights of every bit of footage that was in seemingly in existence for the former Beatles with the intent of having Apple corp someday produce the definitive Beatles story.
Design went into and assembling the acquired footage and a demo reel was shown to those in the inner sanctum in what they were calling, “The Long And Winding Road.”
Nothing went further than making a first demo of the project. John was murdered and the project was seemingly shelved.
George Harrison had an amazing comeback in the mid-1980’s after falling off the grid for nearly a decade. He mortgaged his home to help Monty Python finance “The Holy Grail” and “Life Of Brian” and so he formed Hand Made films, which had major success right out of the gate. But soon the films produced all were failures, topped by Madonna and Sean Penn box office disaster “Shanghai Surprise”. By 1991 the company folded and the rights sold in 1994.
His longtime business manager Denis O’Brien was sued by Harrison (early in 1995), realizing he had been deprived of 16 million pounds over a 12 year period.
So as 1994 began George was now in bad shape financially (compared to Ringo/John and the wealthy Paul) and now the idea of the forgotten Beatles project became a possibility for the least receptive to such an idea.
George only insisted that it not be called “The Long And Winding Road” as it then would be too associated with Paul’s song. George would really never see eye to eye with Paul after the band breakup until the very end of his life.
So, in January 1994 work began on reassembling the old footage and newly bought footage and this time they would have it enhanced with the words and input of the three living ex-Beatles.
John would be represented in all of the archival footage and recorded audio sounds he left for us in his lifetime.
They decided to accompany the documentary with music also from the hours and hours of unheard (a chance to take a bite out of the many bootlegs of this material that filled the world markets) takes and alternate versions of their classics.
And also the three ex-Beatles decided they would record new instrumental and incidental music to accompany the project.
But then… in a amazing display of generosity and equal business sense, (she would be in store for 25% of all generated profits) Yoko turned the seedling of an idea into a blooming tree…
In January 1994, when Paul came over to New York to induct John into the Rock Hall Of Fame, Yoko apparently gave Paul tapes of at least four John Lennon compositions (the exchange definitely involved more than three songs).
Aspinall claims he believes the transaction consisted of “two cassettes” of John’s songs (“Free As A Bird,” “Real Love” and “Grow Old With Me”), “It might have been five or six tracks.” It’s possible at this stage that a fourth Lennon demo, entitled “Now And Then”, which had not been heard before, was handed over by Yoko.
“It was all settled before then, I just used that occasion to hand over the tapes personally to Paul. I did not break up the Beatles, but I was there at the time, you know?
Now I’m in a position where I could bring them back together and I would not want to hinder that. It was kind of a situation given to me by fate.” -Yoko Ono Lennon
“So I took the tapes back, got copies made for the guys and they liked it.”-Paul.
“And that’s how it came about. It was just a natural thing which gradually evolved. It actually took about three years for all this to happen.” – Ringo
“I played these songs to the other guys, warning Ringo to have his hanky ready. I fell in love with “Free As A Bird“. I thought I would have loved to work with John on that. I liked the melody, it’s got strong chords and it really appealed to me.
Ringo was very up for it, George was very up for it, I was very up for it. I actually originally heard it as a big, orchestral, forties Gershwin thing, but it didn’t turn out like that.
Often your first vibe isn’t always the one. You go through a few ideas and someone goes ‘bloody hell’ and it gets knocked out fairly quickly. In the end, we decided to do it very simply.”- Paul
The first recording sessions with Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr since the break-up of the Beatles then started on February 11th, 1994.
The work on “Free As A Bird” was quite fruitful – they completed the work on this track during those February sessions which lasted till the end of the month. But time and effort were also spent on the three other songs.
George Martin, who had produced most of the Beatles’ 1960s recordings, turned down an invitation to produce “Free as a Bird” due to hearing problems (though he subsequently managed to produce and direct the Anthology series).
Harrison, in turn, suggested Jeff Lynne as producer, and work commenced at McCartney’s studio in February 1994.
Geoff Emerick and Jon Jacobs were chosen to engineer the new tracks.
The original tape of Lennon singing the song was recorded on a mono cassette, with vocals and piano on the same track. They were impossible to separate, so Lynne had to produce the track with voice and piano together, but commented that it was good for the integrity of the project, as Lennon was not only singing occasional lines, but also playing on the song.
Although Lennon had died in 1980, Starr said that the three remaining Beatles agreed they would pretend that Lennon had “gone for lunch“, or had gone for a “cup of tea“.
They recorded a track around Lennon’s basic song idea, but which had gaps they had to fill in musically. Some chords were changed, and the arrangement was expanded to include breaks for McCartney and Harrison to sing extra lines. Harrison played slide guitar in the solo.
The Beatles’ overdubs and production were recorded between February and March 1994 in Sussex, England, at McCartney’s home studio. It ends with a slight coda including a strummed ukulele by Harrison (an instrument he was known to have played often) and the voice of John Lennon played backwards.
The message, when played in reverse, is “Turned out nice again“, which was the catchphrase of ukulele entertainer George Formby (John was a big fan).
The final result sounds like “made by John Lennon“, which, according to McCartney, was unintentional and was only discovered after the surviving Beatles reviewed the final mix.
When Starr heard McCartney and Harrison singing the harmonies, and later the finished song, he said that it sounded just like them [The Beatles].
He explained his comment by saying that he looked at the project as “an outsider“.
Lynne fully expected the finished track to sound like The Beatles, as that was his premise for the project, but George added: “It’s gonna sound like them [The Beatles] if it is them… It sounds like them now”.
In 1994 Paul began writing music for his next major classical work, STANDING STONE, which would be finished and recorded and performed in 1997.
He also began writing songs for what would be his next album, which also would not be released until 1997.
Every ex-Beatles future musical releases would be put on hold as all aspects of what would be now called “The Beatles Anthology” was being assembled, recorded and the individuals involved being filmed.
Finally in 1994, all of the old performances by The Beatles from the early 1960’s on BBC radio were remastered and released on November 30th, called LIVE AT THE BBC. This was a glimmer into what the Anthology was to give us and it was awesome to hear. They even released “Baby, It’s You” as a single.
Next, 1995. A year of much work behind the scenes and the horrible day his world changed forever.