Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tug of War - Paul McCartney

Considering the 2015 reissue of this and Pipes of Peace, I decided to review this. Though that was months ago, I still think I should do this. I deserve this, and besides why not review this album. Also hopefully I'll finish the Sticky Fingers review too, soon (it also had a deluxe reissue this last summer). Now back to business, this is the third solo album credited to Paul McCartney. I'm talking non-Wings and Post-Beatles (if you include Thrillington) its the 5th but its technically only number 3 (1970-McCartney, 1980-McCartney II, 1982-this). This particular album is actually quite good, and is one of my favorites of his career. Information wise,  I'll try to do this off the top of my head, I wanna see what I remember. This is his first solo album produced by George Martin, though Live and Let Die the track was produced by Martin. This is also from 1982, and was his first Post-Lennon's Murder album. Since I could only remember 7 track (8 if you consider I couldn't remember the name but what it was) I decided to look some stuff up and I need to say it. This album is all star studded with the likes of Steve Gadd, Stanley Clarke and even George Martin plays the old electric piano. The others who played will be listed in their individual tracks. Also for the review I'm using my preferred mix, the 1993 CD version. I will also list, as a special little thing, at the bottom a few tracks from the 2015 reissue I think are worth listening to.
  1. Tug of War: This is very easy to listen to, its very radio friendly. This opens with what sounds like, honestly, audio from the scene in Titanic when they are boarding and you hear the men working. Like in real life though. I know its not that, but it sounds like a factory or an old timey labor force struggling. It works for the title. Then the acoustic guitar and vocals enter with the titular phrase. It's pretty pleasent sounding to be honest. This is followed by strings and some horns and harmony vocals. This is still very nice and I just love this tune. There is a bit of a Yesterday feeling to this. Like a bigger version of the song, maybe with the other members singing on this and playing too. Once the band comes in it sort of looses that Yesterday feeling and have a Wings vibe reminiscent of Mull of Kintytre. This is a nice opening and sort of sets a mood for the record. Also great fade into the next tune. 
  2. Take It Away: This is an instant favorite track. It's super damn catchy. There is the classic Macca hook that is just an earworm. It has this sort of pop reggae vibe to it. Maybe not reggae, but an island vibe. The chorus has some great harmonies and is followed by some solid horns. I love how the tune gets larger and larger with each passing verse. Oh, I have something I'd like to add, Richard Starkey drums on it. I forgot that, Damn me! And George Martin plays Electric Piano.
  3. Somebody Who Cares: Digging this acoustic guitar and woodwind a intro. This is reminiscent of Wings again, but you know I like them. The highlight of the song is the chorus. I enjoy hearing it, even though I never can remember this song. Also that woodwind, not sure if organic or synthesized. The solo on this is pretty nice and that woodwind adds a texture. This is at the very least a 7. This is another song that I wasn't super familiar with, I forgot about it, but you know.... It's pretty damn solid. I really dig this.
  4. What's That Your Doing: Co-written and performed with Steve Wonder. This is one of two tracks that features him. I like this track, but I'm not huge on the title. It's like having two songs, your bandmembers wrote and released on albums, titled Angel. *Cough* Christie *couch*. The intro made me laugh, this is so 80's. I'm seriously waiting for MTV to have a video going on while I listen. The vocals in the beginning can be called if Paul made Temporary Secretary a pop song. This is pretty funky, and I'm pretty sure that's a drum machine. This is a bit dated now, but it's still a nice touch. But again, I don't think this would have been made in any decade besides the 80's. I do like this tune though, and their vocals sound good together. Also it's kind of a good change of pace. Though it might run a bit long, and might quote more Beatle songs lyrics that I would have wanted. 
  5. Here Today: A very touching song that feels right. For the two people reading this Paul & John had a very strong friendship and songwriting partner ship in their Beatles days. Even though they wrote the songs themselves, and would only really on occasion post-1963 write together, they still credited the songs to each other. Now around 1966 when Yoko (she wasn't the complete reason) came into the fold they had already begin to grow as musicians and artists. By the Pepper sessions their relationships were strained. It lead to people quitting, rejoining and so on until September (if I'm remembering correctly, the month) 1969. John officially left, without announcing it. Paul was the first to officially announce his leaving in early 1970. Thought 1970-1972 or 73, they'd take shots at each other in different ways, mostly songs. John retired in 1975 and then came back in 1980, shortly before his passing. It's funny how time heals all wounds, Paul talked to John before he died and they were on good terms. I believe them being on good terms may have helped, but regardless, the situation must have hurt. And this song is a very touching, not to sappy not to bitter, song about a friend who passed and can only be written when you look past all the bullshit and just look at the good times. This might be more deserving of that Yesterday comparison. 
  6. Ballroom Dancing: Lyrically look at this as Paul's take on the idea of Come Dancing. You know, just a song about memories of a ballroom. Both are fun and silly, though CD has some serious parts. You know, for a title like this this sure have a big Rockabilly vibe going one. That's not a complaint, pretty solid track this is, but I just.... I just laugh. I mean I can't really describe this, it's fun and just don't take it that serious. Nice solo, of sorts, or breakdown rather. Also I love that musical breakdown. This tracks pretty cool, and fun and make me wonder if Gilmore made an uncredited appearance :). 
  7. The Pound is Sinking: It took a while to realize what this song is about. Based of the title I couldn't piece it together till I remembered Pounds is currency. So, the Money is Sinking? So this has to be about money in some way, like a political track, be it satire or straight. Now it's been a longb time since I heard this track, but I think it's pretty damn solid. It has these changing sections that reminds me of Uncle Albert, but this could be the masterpiece (in terms of structure) on this record. Most are rather straight, this has changes. That whole part where he talks with an accent, I love it. The guitar here is great, and this song could be a favorite of mine. There song has a personality that for whatever reason, I love in a McCartney song. This is really a great track. All the other songs I could honest review in one listen, I know them so well and they are pretty simple, this would take multiple.
  8. Wanderlust: One of my all time favorites, and still is. This song has such an epic feeling to it. I love how this follows that last track. It's just so comforting, I feel like this could just be an ending but not the end. Like a sort of floating away to go on a trip. Great example, when Rey heads out at the end of Force Awakens... If she doesnt get to her destination in the film and it ends on her just leaving and going and heading out that would be a great thing for this song. I mean, not perfect, but it feels pretty satisfying. I just love this tune, I don't know why, but I just do.
  9. Get It: This track features one Carl Perkins on guitar and vocals. For those unaware The Beatles covered Perkin's on multiple occasions. Before I listen to it for the review I want to note I remember not loving this track, and it being a weaker track. Now let's see if I remembered correctly. This actually sounds like it's fit on that Russian rock and roll covers record, Снова в СССР,  or the 1999 Run Devil Run record. It isn't straight rockabilly, but there is hints and Carl sounds snug as a glove on this duet with Pauly. It's not half bad, though I prefer the other tracks. O
  10. Be What You See (Link): Opening up with a Carl Perkin's laugh, this is actually a nice little link. Ah a Vocooded James Paul that sounds like he's singing Jesu. That's all I honestly have to say, but I think it's a good link. The transitions pretty solid. 
  11. Dress Me Up As A Robber: I haven't heard this song in years and I can still play the titular line in my head. And it makes me wanna dance. From the falsetto to the percussion and Spanish guitar. This is a Spanish song, even if it may sound a bit robotic. This is one of the best songs here and really this is awesome. I love how you pick little things up here and there with each listen. While nothing crazy it's nice. Also the main riff that's very distorted could sound just as nice if played on horns. 
  12. Ebony and Ivory: Closing the album is one of the best sings about togetherness. Featuring Stevie Wonder this song, while still a good song..... It's kinda hilarious. Also the demo is much sadder in nature. I love this song, maybe more for its cheese.... But this is the good shit. I bet in the 80's this was a solid song and the songs just so happy and harmless ..... The only reason you can hate it is if you over heard it on the radio back in the day. But honestly, this is just to damn innocent. Really, there isn't any depth beyond "Ebony" (black) and "Ivory" (white) "live together". Why don't we live together "side by side". Also I'm a sucker for the "living in perfect harmony" pun. 
Overall I have to give this album a 8/10. And early 80s record that holds up, and while not as experimental as the McCartney albums this is still a great release. I'm serious, this is probably the best solo record and maybe the last great record by the guy. That doesn't mean he didn't have anything worth listening to after this, but honestly Pipes of Peace and the following records just kind of...... this is the end of an era where Macca did no wrong (so to say). He'd never reach this high quality again after this, that's probably more accurate. Also don't frett, I have another Memorial review coming out tomorrow. 

Now here are the deluxe edition track to check out: (this is just a bonus and in no way effects the score). Dress Me Up As A Robber/Robber Riff (Demo), You Don't Know Where She Came From (Demo)

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