Friday, 13 November 2009
With the media's continued obsession with The Beatles & (to a lesser extent) Elvis Presley & The Rolling Stones, people tend to overlook other artists from the 50s & 60's. I love those acts too (hence my blog posts on them), but my main purpose of starting this blog was to profile other equally great acts that are all too often ignored. I've already posted lenthy articles on Jerry Lee Lewis, Cliff Richard & The Dave Clark Five, & another of my very favourites are The Hollies.
My own interest in The Hollies started at a very young age. I was born in 1963, & when I was a toddler my parents had a reel-to-reel tape recorder on which they'd tape songs from the radio. The Hollies' 'We're Through' was amongst these, & I can still recall thinking how cool the song was even at that age. Gradually over the years I got to know all of their big hits, thanks both to radio & a "hits" collection which I managed to persuade my mum to give me in the late 70s.
In the early 80s I saw a copy of their 1967 'Evolution' album at a record fair, & as it was cheap (& I liked the cover) I decided to buy it. When I got home I couldn't believe it; why wasn't this album as well-known & highly-praised as The Beatles' 'Revolver' or The Rolling Stones' 'Aftermath'?! Soon afterwards I bought their 1966 album 'For Certain Because', followed over the next year or two by the reissues of all their Graham Nash-era 60s albums, being constantly surprised & thrilled along the way.
I've divided this feature into four sections: The U.K. Singles; The U.K. Albums; Other Recordings; & The Hollies on Film & Video.
Part One - The U.K. Singles:
Please note that none of the U.K. singles from this period originally came in picture sleeves, but to make things more interesting I've used overseas sleeves (for singles, EPs, etc) to illustrate each release (& my apologies for the poor quality of some of these!). I've given singles (both sides) as well as albums my usual marks out of 5.
(Aint That) Just Like Me / Hey What's Wrong With Me (Parlophone R5030, May 1963) # 25
Their first single (& one of only two to feature original drummer Don Rathbone), (Ain't That) Just Like Me is an enthusiastic cover of a song originally recorded by The Coasters & also covered by The Searchers. The uptempo B side is particularly notable for the speedy guitar picking by Tony Hicks & the strong bass playing by Eric Haydock. A very good debut. 4 / 4
Searchin' / Whole World Over (Parlophone R5052, August 1963) # 12
For their second single they chose another (superior) song by The Coasters, though good as it is, it can't compare to the great original. The gentler B side is notable for some fine harmonica from Allan. 4 / 4
Alternate versions: Searchin' was recorded at two sessions prior to the single take, but these weren't deemed sufficiently good enough for release at the time. An alternate version was inadvertently released on 1988 budget CD 'The Hollies' (the first CD I ever owned) though I don't know whether or not this is from any of the earlier sessions.
Stay / Now's The Time (Parlophone R5077, November 1963) # 8
Now with Bobby Elliott on drums (though the B side is from an earlier session & features Don Rathbone), this is a speeded up version of the Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs classic. Again I prefer the more laid-back original (the fast tempo doesn't really suit this song) though this was strong enough to earn the band their first top 10 U.K. hit. The B side was written by Allan Clarke & Graham Nash & was the first band composition to be released, & was also mimed to in a movie called 'It's All Over Town' (this must've been filmed before the single's release as it features Don on drums, one of only two known surviving clips to feature him). 4 / 4
Just One Look / Keep Off Of That Friend Of Mine (Parlophone R5104, February 1964) # 2
Originally recorded (& co-written) by American R&B singer Doris Troy, this was the record that propelled The Hollies into the big league, up there with the most successful other beat groups. The faster B side was (unusually) written by Tony Hicks & Bobby Elliott. 5 / 4
Here I Go Again / Baby That's All (Parlophone R5137, May 1964) # 4
With a similar style & tempo to the previous single, the A side is another memorable & commercial song with great three-part harmonies, as is the gentler B side. This time both songs were written by outside writers. 5 / 4
We're Through / Come On Back (Parlophone R5178, September 1964) # 7
A change of style this time, with a bluesy acoustic guitar riff & a superb moody vocal sung mostly without harmonies by Allan. The B side has a melody that would be recycled to better effect as Stop! Stop! Stop! a couple of years later. Both songs were written by Clarke-Hicks-Nash under the pseudonym "L. Ransford" as it was easier to fit on record labels! It wouldn't be until late 1966 that they actually started listing Clarke-Hicks-Nash as composers. 5 / 4
Alternate versions: A week before recording the single take, the band cut a more restrained "unplugged bossa nova" version of We're Through. Equally as good as the single though perhaps not as commercial, this was finally issued on the 1997 'The Hollies At Abbey Road, 1963-1966' CD. They also cut a French language version of the song in 1966 but this remains unreleased.
Yes I Will / Nobody (Parlophone R5232, January 1965) # 9
Because We're Through was (albeit slightly) less successful than the previous two singles they reverted back to outside writers again for all A sides until late 1966 (with self composed material on B sides), though as it happens Yes I Will was even less successful. A nice enough song, but it just doesn't have the same immediate impact as most of their other '60's singles & perhaps wasn't the best choice for an A side. The tougher B side is a "L. Ransford" composition. Incidentally those pre-fab four The Monkees recorded Yes I Will as "I'll Be True To You" for their first album in 1966. 4 / 4
Alternate versions: A quite different earlier version of Yes I Will was accidentally released in 1968 on the stereo (only) 'The Hollies' Greatest' LP.
I'm Alive / You Know He Did (Parlophone R5287, May 1965) # 1
A far better song than the previous single & with excellent tremolo guitar from Tony, this was The Hollies' only U.K. number one apart from the 1988 re-issue of He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother, knocking Elvis Presley's 'Crying In The Chapel' from the top spot. You Know He Did is another group compostion & is reminiscent of The Kingsmen's 'Louie Louie'. 5 / 4
Alternate versions: A French language version of You Know He Did was cut in early 1966, but this remains unreleased.
Look Through Any Window / So Lonely (Parlophone R5322, August 1965) # 4
Co-written by professional songwriter (& future 10cc man) Graham Gouldman & with a memorable jangling guitar riff, this was another well-deserved big hit. The self-composed flip side is at least equally good, far too good to be hidden away on a B side! 5 / 5
Alternate versions: A French language version of Look Through Any Window was recorded in 1966 & (unlike their other French recordings) this was released on the 'Rarities' album in 1988. A less polished demo version of So Lonely was released on 'The Long Road Home' box-set in 2003.
If I Needed Someone / I've Got A Way Of My Own (Parlophone R5392, December 1965) # 20
By late 1965 pretty much all the first wave of Liverpool & Manchester groups (with one obvious exception) were struggling chartwise, & with this release The Hollies must've thought that their chart career was over too! Their producer Ron Richards apparantly played them a demo of George Harrison's If I Needed Someone & they were assured that The Beatles weren't going to release it. Unfortunately 'Rubber Soul' (containing this song) was released on the same day as The Hollies' single, & with George publicly very critical, it effectively killed it. That said, it's not a bad recording, & they probably did the best they could with what in all honesty isn't a great song (imagine what they could've done with 'Taxman' in 1966 or even 'Don't Bother Me' in 1963!). Far superior is I've Got A Way Of My Own with it's Dylan-ish harmonica & really soaring harmonies. 4 / 5
I Can't Let Go / Running Through The Night (Parlophone R5409, February 1966) # 2
The final single to feature original bassist Eric Haydock, this superb Chip Taylor song (almost) restored the group back to the top of the charts, with everyone involved no doubt breathing a huge sigh of relief! It was even publicly praised by a Beatle this time with Paul McCartney comparing Graham's high harmony to a trumpet (at least I think it was praise!). The B side can best be described as uptempo country, with some of their best ever harmonies. 5 / 4
Bus Stop / Don't Run And Hide (Parlophone R5469, June 1966) # 5
Also recorded by Herman's Hermits, this is another fine Graham Gouldman song, & became The Hollies' first top ten U.S. hit as well as a smash hit in many other countries around the world. The B side is by "L. Ransford", though after this all group compositions would be credited under their real names. 5 / 4
This was the first single to feature new bassist (& pianist) Bernie Calvert, though John Paul Jones played on the B side.
After The Fox / The Fox-Trot (Not by The Hollies) (U. Artists UP1152, September 1966) Did NOT Chart
From the movie of the same name, this Burt Bacharach & Hal David composition features The Hollies with Peter Sellers. Whilst entertaining enough, I can't imagine the group were too concerned when it failed to chart. 3
Jack Bruce played bass on this single.
Stop! Stop! Stop! / It's You (Parlophone R5508, October 1966) # 2
Apparantly inspired by a real-life incident involving Tony, this very commercial number with electric banjo accompaniment was another deserved big hit, & has remained a concert favourite ever since. The B side is just as good, & both songs are Clarke-Hicks-Nash compositions (as would be all U.K. Hollies singles for the next 18 months or so) & both are featured on 'For Certain Because'. 5 / 5
Alternate versions: A version of Stop! Stop! Stop! with a longer instrumental break was released on 'The Long Road Home' box-set in 2003.
On A Carousel / All The World Is Love (Parlophone R5562, February 1967) # 4
Graham Nash had sung lead vocals on several album tracks prior to this, but On A Carousel featured his first solo lead vocal on an A side, albeit just for the opening bars. The B side is their first psychedelic pop song (though there'd be many more over the coming year), & new boy Bernie really makes his presence felt on this one with his imaginative bass lines. Incidentally all of The Hollies' singles are readily available in stereo mixes (many mixed in stereo for the first time during the '90s), but the stereo All The World Is Love seems to be harder to locate than all the others & is apparantly only available on a scarce German release. 5 / 5
Carrie-Anne / Signs That Will Never Change (Parlophone R5602, May 1967) # 3
Their most adventurous single to date, yet Carrie-Anne with it's steel drums (& Allan, Graham & Tony all taking turns singing verses) still remains intantly commercial & memorable. Although there's no record of an earlier recording by The Hollies, Signs That Will Never Change was recorded several months earlier (along with seven other Hollies compositions) by The Everly Brothers for their 'Two Yanks In England' album. 5 / 4
King Midas In Reverse / Everything Is Sunshine (Parlophone R5637, September 1967) # 18
Their first relative failure in quite some time, it was clearly an error of judgment releasing this as an A side despite it's obvious quality (a bit like The Beatles releasing A Day In The Life as an A side). There were certainly more instantly commercial songs on Butterfly that they could've used instead, such as Dear Eloise, released as a single in many other countries. Everything Is Sunshine is a rather twee Graham Nash song, typical of his compositions at the time. 5 / 4
Jennifer Eccles / Open Up Your Eyes (Parlophone R5680, March 1968) # 7
After the relative failure of the previous single the band played it safe & went for a simple & overtly commercial bubblegum pop sound. It's not that bad really, & they weren't the only act to simplify things during this period (The Beatles did the same with Lady Madonna), but Graham Nash was appalled, & no doubt this was a contributory factor to him deciding to leave the group later in the year. Again (as with Carrie-Anne) all three singers take turns singing lead vocals on the superior B side which combines The Hollies' twin obsessions of schoolgirls & banjos! 4 / 5
Listen To Me / Do The Best You Can (Parlophone R5733, September 1968) # 11
Their first A side to be written by outside composers (with the exception of After The Fox) in three years, this lacked the sense of adventure of their best recordings. As with their previous single the B side is better, & was indeed an A side in it's own right in many territories (which is probably why the foreign sleeve above for Listen To Me features an alternative B side!). 4 / 5
Part Two - The U.K. Albums:
Stay With The Hollies (Parlophone PMC 1220 / PCS 3054, January 1964) # 2
Talking 'Bout You / Mr Moonlight / You Better Move On / Lucille / Baby Don't Cry / Memphis /Stay / Rockin' Robin / Whatcha Gonna Do 'Bout It / Do You Love Me / It's Only Make-Believe / What Kind Of Girl Are You / Little Lover / Candy Man
The Hollies' first album is pretty typical of the era: stage favourites very quickly recorded (largely over two sessions) & based around a hit single. While it compares unfavourably to The Beatles' first album Please Please Me, it's certainly no worse than early albums by Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Searchers & Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas. The biggest problem is that many of the songs are over-familier, with several being covered in greater style by others such as Arthur Alexander's You Better Move On (The Rolling Stones), Dr Feelgood & The Interns' Mr Moonlight (The Beatles), The Contours' Do You Love Me (The Dave Clark Five & Brian Poole & The Tremeloes) & Chuck Berry's Memphis (everyone!). Having said that there are some very fine performances, including Bobby Day's Rockin' Robin (later revived by Michael Jackson), The Everly Brothers' What Kind Of Girl Are You, Roy Orbison's Candy Man (also covered by Brian Poole & The Tremeloes) & the only group original on the album Little Lover (actually a lefover from the earlier sessions with Don Rathbone on drums). Apart from "hits" compilations, this was the biggest hit album of the group's career. 3 out of 5
Alternate versions: An earlier alternate version of Talking 'Bout You was supposedly recorded several months earlier & released on their second EP 'Just One Look', but as far as I can tell the only difference is that Graham's rather shrill harmony vocal is mixed louder.
In The Hollies Style (Parlophone PMC 1235, November 1964) Did NOT Chart
Nitty Gritty - Something's Got A Hold On Me (Medley) / Don't You Know / To You My Love / It's In Her Kiss / Time For Love / What Kind Of Boy / Too Much Monkey Business / I Thought Of You Last Night / Please Don't Feel Too Bad / Come On Home / You'll Be Mine / Set Me Free
With no less than seven "L. Ransford" songs this is a tremendous leap forward since last time, & while none of the originals are quite up to the standard of their singles they're certainly all more than acceptable, particularly Time For Love, Please Don't Feel So Bad, You'll Be Mine & the frantic rhythm 'n' blues of Set Me Free. Of the covers, the powerful medley of Shirley Ellis' Nitty Gritty / Etta James' Something's Got A Hold On Me & Betty Everett's It's In Her Kiss (later revived by Cher under it's original title The Shoop Shoop Song [It's In His Kiss]) are obvious highlights, though the worse track on the album is I Thought Of You Last Night with it's painfully out of tune acoustic guitar(s). Mysteriously this album apparantly failed to chart! 4 out of 5
The Hollies (Parlophone PMC 1261, September 1965) # 8
Very Last Day / You Must Believe Me / Put Yourself In My Place / Down The Line / That's My Desire / Too Many People / Lawdy Miss Clawdy / When I Come Home To You / Fortune Teller /So Lonely / I've Been Wrong / Mickey's Monkey
Despite having less group compositions than the previous album (only 5 this time), every one of them is a big leap forward & far superior to what most of the fast-fading Merseybeat groups were churning out. In particular Put Yourself In My Place, Too Many People & So Lonely are as good as anything anyone else was releasing at the time (& that includes The Beatles!). The stand out covers include Peter, Paul & Mary's Very Last Day (The Hollies' version was a giant hit in Sweden & other countries), The Impressions' You Must Believe Me (also covered by The Spencer Davis Group), & The Miracles' Mickey's Monkey with some great drumming by Bobby. I nearly gave this album 5 out of 5, though a couple of unneccesary (but still competent) covers such as Lloyd Price's Lawdy Miss Clawdy & Jerry Lee Lewis' Down The Line slightly let things down. 4 out of 5
Alternate versions: Fortune Teller was first recorded with Don Rathbone on drums in 1963, but this remains unreleased, as does a version of You Must Believe Me that was cut a few months prior to the released take. See also Look Through Any Window / So Lonely single!
Would You Believe (Parlophone PMC 7008 / PCS 7008, June 1966) # 16
I Take What I Want / Hard, Hard Year / That's How Strong My Love Is / Sweet Little Sixteen / Oriental Sadness / I Am A Rock / Take Your Time / Don't You Even Care / Fifi The Flea / Stewball / I've Got A Way Of My Own / I Can't Let Go
There were only 4 group compositions this time, but Hard, Hard Year (with a distorted guitar solo that's been compared to The Jesus & Mary Chain!), Oriental Sadness, Fifi The Flea & I've Got A Way Of My Own are all absolutely top notch. Some of the stand-out covers this time include Sam & Dave's I Take What I Want, Simon & Garfunkel's I Am A Rock, Buddy Holly's Take Your Time & Peter, Paul & Mary's Stewball. Even Chuck Berry's Sweet Little Sixteen is an inspired performance (check out the guitar & drumming during the solo!). Their first truly great (as opposed to very good) album. 5 out of 5
Alternate versions: A French language version of Stewball was also recorded but remains unreleased, while Take Your Time was re-recorded in far inferior style for the 1980 'Buddy Holly' album.
For Certain Because (Parlophone PMC 7011 / PCS 7011, October 1966) # 23
What's Wrong With The Way I Live / Pay You Back With Interest / Tell Me To My Face / Clown / Suspicious Look In Your Eyes / It's You / High Classed / Peculiar Situation / What Went Wrong / Crusader / Don't Even Think About Changing / Stop! Stop! Stop!
Comprised entirely of Clarke-Hicks-Nash songs, this album is every match for Rubber Soul (much as I think that The Beatles are over-praised there's no doubting that they were usually at least 6 months ahead of everyone else!). Notable songs include Pay You Back With Interest (with it's reverberating piano), Tell Me To My Face (also a small hit for Keith & later revived by Dan Fogelberg), the sad (in the old sense of the word) Clown, the mature lyrics of Peculiar Situation, the smash hit Stop! Stop! Stop! & the orchestrated High Classed. If I've any criticism it's that there's no real rockers this time, but otherwise this is almost flawless throughout. 5 out of 5
Alternate versions: See Stop! Stop! Stop! / It's You single!
Evolution (Parlophone PMC 7022 / PCS 7022, June 1967) # 13
Then The Heartaches Begin / Stop Right There / Water On The Brain / Lullaby To Tim / Have You Ever Loved Somebody / You Need Love / Rain On The Window / Heading For A Fall / Ye Olde Toffee Shoppe / When Your Light's Turned On / Leave Me / The Games We Play
Generally much tougher than the previous album but at the same time even further away from the beat music of 1963-1964, this is very much The Hollies' Revolver. Undoubtedly my favourite album by The Hollies & one of my favourite albums by anybody, it's difficult to choose just a few highlights but here goes; Then The Heartaches Begin (with stinging guitar licks from Tony), Water On The Brain (is that a tabla?), Have You Ever Loved Somebody (a small hit for both The Searchers & Paul & Barry Ryan), Heading For A Fall (with instrumentation that includes both harpsichord & sitar), the quasi-Elizabethan Ye Olde Toffee Shoppe & the instantly commercial The Games We Play (which would've made a great single). The one track that many people don't like is Lullaby For Tim with it's strange "wobbly" vocal sound from Graham but even that somehow fits perfectly on this great, great album. Incidentally Bobby was seriously ill during most of the sessions for this album so most of the songs feature drumming by Mitch Mitchell, Clem Cattini & Dougie Wright. 5 out of 5
Alternate versions: The group recorded Have You Ever Loved Somebody at no less than three previous sessions during 1966, but all of these versions remain unreleased.
Butterfly (Parlophone PMC 7039 / PCS 7039, October 1967) Did NOT Chart
Dear Eloise / Away Away Away / Maker / Pegasus / Would You Believe / Wishyouawish / Postcard / Charlie And Fred / Try It / Elevated Observations? / Step Inside / Butterfly
If the previous two albums were The Hollies' equivalents of The Beatles' Rubber Soul & Revolver then this is very much their...Magical Mystery Tour! Such is the occasional hit-and-miss nature of the material. There are some wonderful tracks though, particularly Dear Eloise (a hit single in several countries), Try It (a successful combination of trademark soaring Hollies harmonies with way-out psychedelic effects), Step Inside (probably the most commercial song on the album) & Butterfly (a beautiful orchestrated ballad with typically daft 1967 summer of love lyrics). The problem with a couple of the other songs is that they're over-reliant on droning riffs & weird effects (with even weirder lyrics). Fine for The Pink Floyd, but songs like Maker & Elevated Observations aren't really suited to The Hollies (& the less said about Tony's Pegasus the better). The public tended to agree too, with both the album & King Midas In Reverse selling relatively poorly. 4 out of 5
Alternate versions: An early version of Charlie And Fred was attempted during the 'Evolution' sessions but remains unreleased. Allan Clarke re-recorded an epic version of Would You Believe for his 1973 solo album 'Headroom', released under the title 'Would You Believe (Revisited)'.
Part Three - Other Recordings (Released & Unreleased):
In addition to the many alternate versions mentioned above, a number of recordings from this period weren't originally issued in the U.K. on singles or albums. Below is an attempt to list all these, though I have not mentioned the many mono & stereo mixes that are sometimes very different from each other (perhaps someone else can let me know the more significant of these?).
The early sessions featuring Don Rathbone included an additional two songs that aren't mentioned elsewhere in this blog post: a fine rockin' version of Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah (which I personally prefer to both of their first two A-sides) was first released on 85 budget compilation 'The Hollies', while the less impressive uptempo waltz I Understand was released on the '30th Anniversary Collection' in 1993.
In addition to Stay, Bobby Elliott's debut session with the group produced an excellent version of The Coasters' Poison Ivy, & I suspect that the only reason they decided not to release it at the time is because they'd already recorded & released two songs by The Coasters as A sides. Whatever, it was first released in 1978 on the Australian only 'The Hollies' LP, & an alternate take was released on 'The Hollies At Abbey Road, 1963-1966' in 1997.
The late 1963 sessions for 'Stay With The Hollies' produced just one outtake in Cry Me A River, but this remains unreleased.
During 1964-1966 The Hollies released seven EPs in the U.K., & the first of these (simply titled 'The Hollies') featured two exclusive & excellent beat songs in When I'm Not There & What Kind Of Love.
The summer sessions for 'In The Hollies Style' also produced Party Line & It's Raining Teardrops, both of which remain unreleased.
The first session for 'The Hollies' in November included Larry Williams' R&B standard She Said Yeah which was released for the first time on 'The Long Road Home' box-set in 2003, & Cry Now which remains in the can.
The superb bluesy Honey And Wine was released for the first time on the groups sixth EP 'I'm Alive', though an earlier recording remains unreleased.
During April the group cut a three-song demo session in New York's Bell Studios (their first recordings outside of EMI's Abbey Road studios). The tapes are lost but fortunately Bobby kept acetates, & from these they were released on 'The Long Road Home' box-set in 2003. Listen Here To Me & Bring Back Your Love To Me are both excellent & would've made superb album tracks at the time (the 3rd song from the session was an early attempt at So Lonely & is mentioned elsewhere).
Bobby Day's Little Bitty Pretty One (also recorded by The Dave Clark Five) is a fine outtake from the session that produced Look Through Any Window, & was first released on the 1985 'The Hollies' compilation. They really should've released two albums instead of just one in 1965 (as they did in 1964, 1966, 1967 & 1969), such was the wealth of great material they were recording at the time.
She Gives Me Everything I Want was recorded at the same September session as Stewball & features both Allen & Graham taking turns on lead vocals, an experiment that works surprisingly well. This was first released on the '30th Anniversary Collection' in 1993.
In late September they cut another three song demo session in New York, this time at the Roulette Records studio. Now That You're Gone & Stay Away remain unreleased, but I Can't Get Nowhere With You is absolutely superb, possibly my favourite Hollies outtake! Why this very commercial sounding song wasn't released is beyond me (it would certainly have made a far better A side than If I Needed Someone). Again this was first released on the '30th Anniversary Collection' in 1993.
Finally from 1965 is the haunting You In My Arms featuring a typically great moody vocal from Allan on the verses & a contrasting upbeat vocal from Graham on the middle-eight (or perhaps the 'release' rather than middle-eight is a better description). Recorded at the same session as I've Got A Way Of My Own, yet again this was released on 1993's '30th Anniversary Collection'.
As with most U.K. groups of the 60s (The Beatles & The Rolling Stones included), The Hollies' albums were often recompiled & renamed for the U.S. market. The 1966 'Beat Group' album was one of these, & included one song not released in the U.K. at the time, an unusual uptempo arrangement (based on Herb Albert's version) of A Taste Of Honey. From the same session is an early version of Like Every Time Before. This remains unreleased, but they gave the song to The Everly Brothers in late 1966, & also re-recorded (& released) the song themselves in 1968.
In early 1967 The Hollies appeared at the prestigious San Remo Song Festival, & Non Prego Per Me / Devi Aver Fiducia In Me was the Italian-only single for the event.
Sadly for a group who had such a good reputation as a 'live' band (comfirmed by surviving footage), only four concert recordings from this era have been officially released, & three of them come from an early 1967 Swedish radio broadcast: The Four Tops' Reach Out I'll Be There, Too Much Monkey Business & Stop! Stop! Stop! were all released on 'The Long Road Home' box-set in 2003. I've an audio with several more songs (including a version of Sam & Dave's You Don't Know Like I Know), & while the mix could be better this is still a fascinating glimpse of their live prowess at the time.
Two early outtakes from the 'Evolution' sessions are Green Eyes & You Know Me Babe but these remain unreleased. The very next day Bobby was too ill to make the session (Mitch Mitchell from The Jimi Hendrix Experience played on it instead), so perhaps these were aborted as Bobby was feeling under the weather?
An 'Evolution' outtake that was eventually released is Graham Gouldman's Schoolgirl. Remarkably this wasn't finished at the time, so Tony Hicks overdubbed a lead guitar part on it for the 1998 release 'The Hollies At Abbey Road, 1967-1970'.
We're Alive & Kill Me Quick were featured on the soundtrack for an obscure Italian movie called 'Fai in Fretta ad Uccidermi... Ho Freddo!', & released as a single in that country. Fine though they are, they sound like typical 1965 Hollies songs, quite different to the other more experimental songs they were recording at the time.
The only 'Butterfly' outtake is Ashes To Ashes but this remains unreleased.
The Hollies sadly released no album of new material in 1968, but several fascinating songs were recorded for an aborted project. One song that was released at the time is the beautiful Wings. This was first released in late 1969 on the various artists charity LP 'No One's Gonna Change Our World' (most famous for the first release of The Beatles' Across The Universe). Wings was re-recorded with Terry Sylvester in 1970, but that version remains unreleased. Relax & Tomorrow When It Comes continue the psychedelic pop sound of the 'Butterfly' album, with the former having a phasing effect on Graham's lead vocal. Both remained unreleased until the 1988 'Rarities' collection.
You Were A Pretty Little Girl remains unreleased, as does Marrakesh Express, one of the key songs that Graham took with him to the U.S.A. when he formed Crosby, Stills & Nash a few months later, though apparantly this is little more than a rough backing track with no vocals & is deemed unworthy of release.
In May of 1968 EMI finally taped The Hollies live in concert, at the Lewisham Odeon in London. The results weren't released at the time, & only The Times They Are A-Changin' has been released since, on the 1988 'Rarities' album. The song was re-recorded in the studio (without Graham) a few months later, but that version can't compare with the brilliance of the 'live' cut, & it's a travesty that the full concert is still in the can.
Like Every Time Before is a song The Hollies previously recorded in 1966. That version remains unreleased, but the 1968 cut was released as the German B side to Do The Best You Can.
Another Hollies song that Graham recorded with Crosby, Stills & Nash is the superb Man With No Expression, a song that looks forward to the more 'mature' style that both bands would pursue a little later on. This was first released on the '30th Anniversary Collection' in 1993. CS&N's version (with the alternate title Horses Through A Rainstorm) was recorded in 1969 but also remained unreleased for many years, finally being issued on a 1991 box-set. Fine though this is, it pales in comparison to The Hollies' recording.
Survival Of The Fittest was re-recorded in 1970 & released on the 'Confessions Of The Mind' album, but the 1968 Nash version remains unreleased.
The persistent myth over the years is that Graham left The Hollies because he didn't want to record Bob Dylan songs. The truth is a little more complicated than that though, & certainly he had no problem with recording Blowin' In The Wind, nor performing this & other Dylan songs both on TV & in concert at the time. The song was overdubbed with Terry Sylvester's harmony vocal for the 1969 'Hollies Sing Dylan' album, but the original Nash version was released as a single in some European countries while he was still with the band in 1968.
The band recorded & released (in the U.S.A. only) a version of A Taste Of Honey in 1966; the 1968 re-recording has an identical arrangement except this time it is accompanied by a large orchestra. It remained in the can until the 2003 'The Long Road Home' box-set.
Click here for my The Hollies DVD list!
When I bought 'For Certain Because' in the early '80s, I also came home with their 1975 'Another Night' album: this put me off from further investigating any post-Nash material for many years, as I was so disappointed with it. It's grown on me slightly since & I've gone onto discover some very great later Hollies music (particularly during the 1969-1974 era), as well as some bad & lots of mediocre stuff. But all of this will be covered here in greater detail at a future date!
Monday, 12 October 2009
It's difficult to think of another major artist whose work has been as inconsistent as the post-Beatles career of Paul McCartney, someone whose music has varied from the awe-inspiring to the downright embarrassing to the truly forgettable. But, unlike The Beatles, the many gems that are from his solo career (both with & without his Wings) tend not to be widely heard. So here is a review of every U.K. single release to date, both solo, with Wings, & with various duet partners.
Note: Most of the picture sleeves featured here from 1979 onwards are from the U.K. editions (though very occasionally I've substituted them for foreign editions or I've shown the rear of the sleeves), but prior to that many singles in this country came without picture sleeves or they were rather uninspiring, so I've mostly used artwork from other countries. I've also given my usual marks out of 5 for each song, as well as listed their peak UK chart positions...
Another Day / Oh Woman Oh Why (February 1971) UK # 2
Perhaps surprisingly Paul didn't release any singles from his 1970 solo debut album 'McCartney' (despite at least two very strong songs in 'Maybe I'm Amazed' & 'Every Night'), but waited until early 1971 to release this non-album single instead. The A-side is a catchy enough song though I prefer the tough bluesy B-side which would've fit perfectly on The Beatles' 'White Album' or 'Let It Be' & features one of Macca's greatest ever vocal performances. It is hidden gems like this that make collecting Paul's post-Beatles material more than worthwhile! Incidentally the single was kept from reaching the top of the charts by Mungo Jerry's 'Baby Jump'. 4 / 5
Back Seat Of My Car / Heart Of The Country (August 1971) UK # 39
One of the best songs from perhaps Paul's most intriguing album 'Ram', this deserved to do much better chart-wise (maybe everyone bought the album instead?). The acoustic B-side is another memorable song. 5 / 4
Give Ireland Back To The Irish / Give Ireland Back To The Irish ("Version") (February 1972) UK # 16
Paul & Linda had by now formed the first incarnation of Wings, & their debut single as a group was due to be 'Love Is Strange' b/w 'I Am Your Singer' (both from the mostly weak 'Wild Life' album), but Paul was so incensed by the "Bloody Sunday" massacre in Ireland that he quickly wrote, recorded & released this instead. Banned by the BBC, this remains Paul's one & only truly political single. The B-side was an instrumental version of the same song. 4 / 3
Mary Had A Little Lamb / Little Woman Love (May 1972) UK # 9
Perhaps as a reaction to the BBC banning his previous single, this time he released what was virtually a nursery rhyme! While not without it's charm, the New Orleans inspired B-side is better. 3 / 4
Hi Hi Hi / C Moon (December 1972) UK # 5
Another banned A-side, this time because of the sex-inspired lyrics...or were they about drugs? Whatever, it's an excellent rocker with superb slide guitar. Because of the ban many DJ's played the white reggae B-side instead, which while remaining popular with fans I've always found a bit daft myself. 5 / 3
My Love / The Mess (March 1973) UK # 9
The undoubted highlight of the 'Red Rose Speedway' album, this beautiful ballad remains one of his most enduring. The more rockin' B-side was recorded live in Holland during their 1973 European Tour, & remains the only officially released recording of the song. 5 / 4
Live And Let Die / I Lie Around (June 1973) UK # 9
Recorded for the James Bond movie of the same name, this superb song saw Paul back with George Martin for the first time since the break-up of The Beatles, & it has remained a live concert favourite ever since. The B-side features Denny Laine singing lead vocals (for the first & last time on a Wings single) & is far less memorable. 5 / 3
Helen Wheels / Country Dreamer (October 1973) UK # 12
A slightly silly but commercial rocker (about his jeep!) this appeared on the U.S.-only edition of the superb 'Band On The Run' album. The B-side is a more gentle acoustic number & one of his better non-album B-sides. 4 / 4
Jet / Let Me Roll It (February 1974) UK # 7
Although I've never quite understood what the song is actually about, 'Jet' is a great song from a very fine album. The B-side has guitar that is reminiscent of John Lennon's work with The Plastic Ono Band & is another top-notch number. 5 / 5
Band On The Run / Zoo Gang (June 1974) UK # 3
After the success of the previous single Paul gave in & released the title track of the album, rightly regarded as one of his greatest ever compositions. The B-side is an instrumental theme tune for a kid's TV series at the time. 5 / 3
Walking In The Park With Eloise / Bridge On The River Suite (October 1974) Did NOT Chart
Not officially a Paul McCartney (or Wings) single, this was recorded by Paul & the band in Nashville with the assistance of Chet Atkins & Floyd Cramer & released under the name 'The Country Hams'. Both songs are instrumentals, with the A-side being a 20s-style swing number written by Paul's dad & the B-side a slower & bluesier song. 4 / 3
Juniors Farm / Sally G (October 1974) UK # 16
A superb mid-tempo song in the same vein as 'Get Back', this was recorded in Nashville, as was the country B-side. The A-side was promoted by a performance on 'Top Of The Pops' though Paul wouldn't perform on the show again until 1987. 5 / 4
Listen To What The Man Said / Love In Song (May 1975) UK # 6
Recorded in New Orleans & from Wings' latest album 'Venus And Mars', this is yet another very strong single. The B-side is a haunting ballad & is also from the album. 5 / 3
Letting Go / You Gave Me The Answer (September 1975) UK # 41
The A-side while a tough mid-tempo song perhaps wasn't commercial enough for a single, hence the low chart placing, while the B-side is a Fred Astaire tribute / parody, sort of a 'Honey Pie' part two. 4 / 4
Venus And Mars/Rock Show / Magneto and Titanium Man (November 1975) Did NOT Chart
The A-side features a drastically-edited version of a medley from 'Venus And Mars' (& the opening song during the concerts on their 1975-1976 World Tour), though perhaps the B-side (about two comic strip characters) would've been a better choice. Sadly this was Paul's first U.K. single to fail to chart. 4 / 4
Silly Love Songs / Cook Of The House (April 1976) UK # 2
Back with a new (nearly) chart-topping single & a new album (the very patchy 'Wings At The Speed Of Sound'), this was criticised at the time for being "disco" but despite or because of this it's a great catchy dance tune. The B-side was the only released Wings song to feature Linda McCartney on lead vocals...thankfully! 5 / 2
Let 'em In / Beware My Love (July 1976) UK # 2
Again from 'Wings At The Speed Of Sound', this very catchy piano-led song (also successfully covered by U.S. soul singer Billy Paul) is another very classy single, as is the passionately-sung B-side (though the live version is even better!). 5 / 5
Maybe I'm Amazed / Soily (February 1977) UK # 28
Finally released as a single, though this is a 1976 live recording from the epic 'Wings At The Speed Of Sound' 3 LP set rather than the 1970 studio cut, as is the superb 'Soily', used as the final encore during shows on their 1975-1976 World Tour. 5 / 5
Mull Of Kintyre / Girls School (November 1977) UK # 1
A sing-a-long acoustic waltz with bagpipes, this hardly deserved to become the best-selling U.K. single of all time within weeks of it's release, but that's exactly what happened (the single would hold this record until 'Band Aid' with 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' in 1984). I suspect that it's not so fondly loved by Paul himself though judging by how few live performances he's done of the song, or perhaps it's just hard to recreate the song live without bagpipes? This single was actually a double A-side, with the rocker 'Girls School' being the preferred side in the USA. 4 / 4
With A Little Luck / Backwards Traveller/Cuff Link (April 1978) UK # 5
The current album at the time 'London Town' had few really good songs though this relaxed pop number is one of the better ones, unlike the forgettable B-sides. 4 / 3 / 3
I've Had Enough / Deliver Your Children (June 1978) UK # 42
A very mediocre rocker on the A-side though with a superior mid-tempo acoustic song (with very good harmonies) on the B-side. 3 / 4
London Town / I'm Carrying (August 1978) UK # 60
Although not the greatest song he's ever written, I've always had a bit of a soft spot for the A-side. The flip is another very mediocre & forgettable song. 4 / 3
Goodnight Tonight / Daytime Nightime Suffering (March 1979) UK # 5
At last a top-notch A-side again, this is a return to the disco-funk sound of 'Silly Love Songs' though it's a great song in it's own right. Linda often referred to the B-side as one of her favourite Paul McCartney songs & although I wouldn't go quite that far it still deserves to be more widely known. This was also released as Paul's first 12" single, with the A-side being an extended remix. 5 / 4
Old Siam Sir / Spin It On (June 1979) UK # 35
Paul has often criticised (or at least dismissed) the final Wings album 'Back To The Egg' from which these songs are taken, though to my ears it was his strongest album since 'Band On The Run'. Several songs seem to have a post-punk feel to them, especially these two (check out the storming B-side!). An underserved relative flop. 5 / 5
Getting Closer / Baby's Request (August 1979) UK # 60
Two more songs from 'Back To The Egg', the A-side isn't the strongest of songs on the album (though it's OK), far better is the 20s-styled B-side. This was the final single to feature Wings on an A-side. 4 / 5
Wonderful Christmastime / Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reggae (November 1979) UK # 6
One of Paul's more annoying songs, & one which we have to put up with every year! The B-side is a reggae instrumental of the popular Christmas song. Incidentally although Wings appear in the promotional video, the song is actually credited to Paul McCartney & doesn't feature any other Wings members. 3 / 3
Coming Up / Coming Up (Live)/Lunchbox/Odd Sox (April 1980) (UK # 2)
Although Wings hadn't officially disbanded yet, in 1980 Paul released 'McCartney II', his first true solo album in ten years, & this catchy funk-pop number was the obvious choice for a single. The live version on the B-side actually features Wings & was recorded live in Glasgow on their final tour in December 1979, while 'Lunchbox / Odd Sox' (actually one song) is an interesting instrumental outtake from the 'Venus And Mars' sessions & features the Wings line-up of that era. 5 / 4 / 4
Waterfalls / Check My Machine (June 1980) UK # 9
Another song later dismissed by Paul, this beautiful ballad remains one of his very finest. Which is more than can be said for the off-the-wall B-side! 5 / 2
Temporary Secretary / Secret Friend (September 1980) Did NOT Chart
Only released as a limited edition 12" single (hence the reason it didn't chart) this is actually a very commercial-sounding song with "modern" (at the time!) electronic effects. The non-album B-side has similar effects but the end result is sub-Gary Numan & far less successful. 4 / 2
Ebony And Ivory / Rainclouds (12" also includes Ebony And Ivory [Solo Version]) (March 1982) UK # 1
Although only 18 months seperated 'McCartney II' & 'Tug Of War', two major things happened during that time, namely the official disbanding of Wings & the death of John Lennon. No doubt prompted by both of these, Paul took far more care with the recording of his next album 'Tug Of War', bringing back George Martin to produce. He was actually so prolific at the time that he cut over half of the follow-up album 'Pipes Of Peace' at the same sessions. For better or worse though many of these had a typical 80's polish to them, lacking spontaniety & "soul" for the sake of "perfection", & 'Ebony And Ivory' (both with & without Stevie Wonder) is typical of this. The non-album 'Rainclouds' was co-written by Denny Laine so is probably an older song, & it's not bad either. 4 / 4
Take It Away / I'll Give You A Ring (12" also includes Dress Me Up As A Robber) (June 1982) UK # 15
The A-side while an OK semi-rocker lacks the drive of old, & far better is 'I'll Give You A Ring', a song which dates back to the early 70s but hadn't been released (or recorded?) until now. 'Dress Me Up As A Robber' is the sort of bland & souless song Michael Jackson was recording at the time. 4 / 5 / 3
Tug Of War / Get It (September 1982) UK # 53
Although still with that typical 80s lush production, 'Tug Of War' is a strong enough song & performance to overcome this, & is one of the highlights of the album of the same name, while the B-side is a fun duet with rockabilly legend Carl Perkins. 5 / 4
The Girl Is Mine / Can't Get Out Of The Rain (B-side does not feature Paul McCartney) (October 1982) UK # 8
A very mediocre duet with Michael Jackson that is taken from Michael's highly successful 'Thriller' album. 3
Say Say Say / Ode To A Koala Bear (12" also includes Say Say Say [Intrumental]) (October 1983) UK # 2
Although more sprightly & catchy than the previous single, this first single from the 'Pipes Of Peace' album is another very bland duet with Michael Jackson that certainly didn't deserve it's high chart placing. The extended & instrumental versions on the 12" are more of the same, & the best thing about the non-album 'Ode To A Koala Bear' is it's title. 3 / 3
Pipes Of Peace / So Bad (December 1983) UK # 1
Although perhaps more memorable for the promotional video (like many 80s records!), this is pretty good in a slick 80's kinda way, as is the falsetto sung B-side. A third single from the album 'The Man' b/w 'Blackpool' was planned & given a catalogue number but was never released. 4 / 4
No More Lonely Nights (Ballad) / No More Lonely Nights (Playout Version) (12" includes Extended version, Ballad version and Silly Love Songs) (September 1984) UK # 2
From the album & movie 'Give My Regards To Broad Street', this very classy ballad (with a great Dave Gilmour guitar solo) is one of his better singles of the '80's. The 'playout version' is a very different uptempo dance arrangement, & 'Silly Love Songs' is a re-recording with '80's production. Many different remixes of 'No More Lonely Nights' are also available on various releases. The movie re-cuts of 'Ballroom Dancing' b/w 'Wanderlust' were planned as a follow-up single but the release was scrapped when the movie didn't do as well as expected. 5 / 4 / 4
We All Stand Together / We All Stand Together (Humming Version) (November 1984) UK # 3
While fine in the context of the animated short movie that these are taken from, releasing them as a single did Macca's diminishing street-cred no good at all (the U.S.A. was lucky enough to be spared this single). 3 / 3
Spies Like Us / My Carnival (12" includes four different mixes) (November 1985) UK # 13
Written & recorded specially for the (flop) movie of the same name, Paul at last uses his raw rock 'n' roll voice again for the first time since 1979 though unfortunately the song isn't up to much. More interesting is the B-side 'My Carnival', actually a Wings 'Venus And Mars' outtake (I first bought this song on a muffled bootleg circa 1981 so this release was very much welcomed by me at the time!). 3 / 4
Press / It's Not True (12" includes Press [Dub] and Hanglide, 10" includes Press [Bevans/Forward mix]) (July 1986) UK # 25
For the 'Press To Play' album Paul collaborated with Ten C.C.'s Eric Stewart who co-wrote several of the songs, but to my ears the results were mostly less than inspiring & with a horrible brittle '80's production. 'Press' was the first single & one of the better songs from the album but that's not saying much, though the B-sides were worse. 3 / 2 / 2
Pretty Little Head / Write Away (12" includes Angry) (October 1986) Did NOT Chart
Paul's worse ever A-side? Could well be, & it was a deserved flop, as were the B-sides. 2 / 2 / 2
Only Love Remains / Tough On A Tightrope (12" includes Talk More Talk) (December 1986) UK # 34
Not a bad song, though again it was a relative flop despite Paul performing it at the time on both 'The Tube' & 'The Royal Variety Show'. Again the B-sides aren't up to much. 4 / 3 / 2
Once Upon A Long Ago / Back On My Feet (12" (version a) includes Midnight Special and Don't Get Around Much Anymore, 12" (version b) includes Lawdy Miss Clawdy and Kansas City) (November 1987) UK # 10
Another very mediocre combination, though at least it just about restored Paul to the top 10. Much better are the rock 'n' roll covers on the 12" singles, from the album 'Choba B CCCP' which was initially only released in the U.S.S.R.. 3 /3 /4 /4 /4 /4
My Brave Face / Flying To My Home (12" includes I'm Gonna Be A Wheel Someday and Ain't That A Shame) May 1989 UK # 18
After the relatively poor selling (& critically slammed) 'Press To Play' Paul evidently needed to make a few changes, so he wrote some songs with Elvis Costello, formed a "proper" band & went on tour for the first time in 10 years. The resulting album 'Flowers In The Dirt' is one of his better ones, a combination of modern recording techniques & traditional pop songs that mostly works well. The A-side of the first single from the album 'My Brave Face' has Beatle-esque harmonies & jangly 12-string guitar though at the same time sounds modern, & certainly deserved to do better in the charts. 'Flying To My Home' is one of the weaker songs from the album, though the two rock 'n' roll covers (both Fats Domino songs & again both from the 'Choba B CCCP' album) are excellent, in particular his inspired version of 'Ain't That A Shame'. 5 / 3 / 4 / 5
This One / The First Stone (12" includes I Wanna Cry and I'm In Love Again) (July 1989) UK # 18
Another Beatle-esque song that deserved to do better, I personally think this has the edge over 'My Brave Face'. While 'The First Stone' is nothing special, 'I Wanna Cry' is a superb slow blues song that deserves to be more widely known & 'I'm In Love Again' is another fine Fats Domino revival from the 'Choba B CCCP' album. 5 / 3 / 5 / 4
Figure Of Eight / Ou Est Le Soleil? (November 1989) UK # 42
Although perhaps not as instantly commercial & catchy as the previous two singles, 'Figure Of Eight' is still a memorable song & it made a great show opener during the 1989-1990 World Tour. But not everything Paul touched turned to gold during this period, as the B-side is undoubtedly the worse song he's ever "wrote" (I'd barely even call it a song)...& beware of several remixes of the song released as bonus tracks! 4 / 1
Put It There / Mama's Little Girl (12" includes Same Time Next Year) (February 1990) UK # 32
The fourth & final single from 'Flowers In The Dirt', this simple but effective acoustic song deserved to do much better. Nearly as good is the similarly-styled 'Mama's Little Girl', a Wings outtake probably dating from as far back as the 1972 'Red Rose Speedway' sessions, though 'Same Time Next Year' is less memorable. 5 / 4 / 3
Birthday / Good Day Sunshine (12" includes P.S. Love Me Do and Let 'Em In) (October 1990) UK # 29
These were all recorded at various location on Paul's 1989-1990 World Tour: 'Birthday' rocks as hard as The Beatles version though is marred slightly by hoarse vocals; 'Good Day Sunshine' sounds as good as ever; 'P.S. Love Me Do' is an updated medley of 'Love Me Do' & 'P.S. I Love You' which doesn't really work for me; & 'Let 'Em In' while very good doesn't quite match the Wings versions. 4 / 5 / 3 / 4
All My Trials / C Moon (12" includes Mull of Kintyre and Put It There, CD single includes Lennon Medley) (December 1990) UK # 35
Again all recorded live during the recent World Tour, 'All My Trials' is a new (to Paul) song & a passionate version of an old folk-blues standard; 'C Moon' sounds as good or as bad as it ever did depending on your point of view; 'Mull Of Kintyre' is one of the few live performances of the song (& the only one during this tour); 'Put It There' adds a snippet of 'Hello Goodbye' to the studio arrangement; & 'Lennon Medley' is a glorious & heartfelt medley of 'Strawberry Fields Forever', 'Help!' & 'Give Peace A Chance' that was recorded live in Liverpool. 4 / 3 / 5 / 5
Hope Of Deliverance / Long Leather Coat (CD includes Big Boys Bickering and Kicked Around No More, 12" includes remixes of Deliverance only) (December 1992) UK # 18
1993's 'Off The Ground' album pretty much repeated the same formula as 'Flowers In The Dirt', with almost the same band (only the drummer had changed), some similar Beatle-esque songs & another World Tour. The simple but catchy 'Hope Of Deliverance' was the first single from the album, though none of the B-sides / extra tracks appeared on it. The rockin' 'Long Leather Coat' & the more laid-back 'Big Boys Bickering' are both quite memorable, though 'Kicked Around No More' is less so & the 'Deliverance' dance remixes only include brief excerpts of 'Hope Of Deliverance' & don't appeal to me at all. 4 / 4 / 4 / 3 / 2
C'mon People / I Can't Imagine (1st CD single includes Deliverance mixes, 2nd CD single includes Keep Coming Back To Love and Down To The River) (February 1993) UK # 41
The majestic 'C'mon People' (the 2nd single from 'Off The Ground') deserved to become one of Macca's big anthems but did surprisingly badly in the charts despite a 'Top Of The Pops' appearance & a superb promotional video directed by Kevin Godley. All of the other songs listed here didn't originally appear on the album, & most of them are forgettable (& thoses dreaded 'Deliverance' remixes surface again), but the exception is the mid tempo countryish 'Down To The River' which has a John Fogerty feel about it. 5 / 3 / 2 / 3 / 4
Young Boy / Looking For You (CD single includes Broomstick) (April 1997) UK # 19
There was a four year gap between the release of 'Off The Ground' & 'Flaming Pie' (from which this is the first single). In some ways it was back to the 1980-1987 era in that Paul didn't have a regular band & didn't go on tour to promote the album, but generally the material is far better than during those years, thanks to some of his most Beatle-esque music to date, & a general relaxed "organic" feel. Perhaps not the strongest of songs, 'Young Boy' is still pleasant enough. Equally as impressive are the non-album extra tracks, both being blues-based. Also included on the CD singles were excerpts from Paul's U.S.-only 'Oobu Joobu' radio series. 4 / 4 / 4
The World Tonight / Used To Be Bad (CD single includes Really Love You) (July 1997) UK # 23
Even better than the previous single, this double-tracked "Paul duet" deserved to do much better in the charts. Again the additional songs are blues-based, with 'Used To Be Bad' being a tough 12-bar duet with Steve Miller. The CD single also includes more 'Oobu Joobu'. 5 / 4 / 4
Beautiful Night / Love Come Tumbling Down (CD single includes Same Love) (December 1997) UK # 25
The third & final single from 'Flaming Pie', 'Beautiful Night' was first recorded in 1986 but that version remains unreleased, & instead this is a brand new recording featuring Ringo Starr on drums (& backing vocals) & assistance from George Martin. The song is slightly reminiscent of 'Only Love Remains' from 1986 (perhaps that's why it wasn't released at the time?) though is a stronger song. The extra tracks are a little weaker this time though & have a slick production similar to his early '80s work. Yet again more of 'Oobu Joobu' was also released on the CD single. 5 / 3 / 3
Fluid (The Fireman) (September 1998) Did NOT Chart
As well as his regular albums, Paul has so far released three albums (in 1993, 1998 & 2008) of mostly ambient instrumental music as 'The Fireman', though this is the only single release so far apart from another later single featuring a remix of the same song. Personally I find this type of music rather boring though I guess it is pleasant enough. Far more appealing to me is the artwork! The name of the woman featured is Julie Lewis, & the photo was taken by photographer & former model Bunny Yeager some time in the 70s or possibly the late 60s. Go to my Naked In Thanet blog to see an uncensored version of this photo plus an outtake from the same session! The photo deserves 5, but as it's the music I'm judging... 3
No Other Baby / Fabulous (CD single also includes Brown-Eyed Handsome Man) (November 1999) UK # 42
Following the sad death of his wife Linda McCartney, Paul returned to the studio to cut his 2nd album of rock 'n' roll covers. Backed by such musicians as Mick Green, Dave Gilmour, Pete Wingfield, Geraint Watkins & Ian Paice, the results were even better than 1987's 'Choba B CCCP', with Paul's vocals & playing full of passion & drive. 'No Other Baby' is the most obscure song on the album (Paul learnt it via The Vipers Skiffle Group), more well known are Charlie Gracie's 'Fabulous' & Chuck Berry's 'Brown-Eyed Handsome Man' (here given a cajun feel with accordian). 5 / 5 / 4
From A Lover To A Friend / Riding Into Jaipur (October 2001) UK # 45
Freedom / From A Lover To A Friend (November 2001) Did NOT Chart
The only releases from his poor selling (at least in this country) 'Driving Rain' album, these were issued in quick succession. 'From A Lover To A Friend' b/w 'Riding Into Jaipur' was issued on 29th October 2001, & then just a week later on 5th November 2001 'Freedom' b/w 'From A Lover To A Friend' was rush released with all profits going to the families of the New York fireman & police lost in the 9 /11 terrorist attacks. 'From A Lover To A Friend' is a rather nondescript piano-based ballad that could easily have been recorded in the early 80s (though Paul's vocals show their age here), & 'Riding Into Jaipur' has an interesting Eastern feel though it's not much of a song. As for 'Freedom'... I really have mixed feelings over this one, as there's no doubt that this is a very sincere reaction to 9 /11, but at the same time it's a long way from The Beatles' usual "Love & Peace" message (the song was cruelly dubbed "Give War A Chance" by some fans!). Paul pretty much disowns the 'Driving Rain' album these days as many of the songs were inspired by his time with Heather Mills, later Mrs McCartney... 3 / 3 / 3
Tropic Island Hum / We All Stand Together (September 2004) UK # 21
20 years after the release of 'We All Stand Together' Paul released 'Tropic Island Hum', also the title of his latest animated feature. The song & the feature are actually good fun in the traditional Walt Disney mode. 4 / 3
Fine Line / Growing Up Falling Down (CD single features Comfort Of Love) (August 2005) UK # 20
The first single from 'Chaos And Creation In The Backyard', this mid-tempo song has an early Wings feel about it, though the droning acoustic B-side is nothing special. The CD single featured a different 2nd track 'Comfort Of Love', which again reminds me of Wings. 4 / 3 / 4
Jenny Wren / Summer of '59 (CD single features I Want You To Fly) (November 2005) UK # 22
The 2nd single from the album, the beautiful acoustic 'Jenny Wren' is almost a 'Blackbird' part two though in my opinion it's an even better song, proof that Macca can still come up with the goods when he wants to. 'Summer Of '59' sounds like a rough demo (an uptempo rocker with electric guitar but no drums) though has it's charms, as does the interesting extra track on the CD single 'I Want You To Fly'. 5 /4 /4
Dance Tonight / Nod Your Head (Sly Dunbar Remix) (June 2007) UK # 26
Just 21 months after the back-to-form 'Chaos And Creation In The Backyard' Paul released another strong album, 'Memory Almost Full', & this is the first single from that album. 'Dance Tonight' is a catchy song with mandolin (or is it a ukelele?), & was actually featured on both sides of the limited edition 7" single, with 'Nod Your Head' only being the 2nd track on the CD single. The version on the album is an inspired rocker (though marred by daft lyrics), but the version featured here is an awful remix, hence the low rating... 4 / 2
Ever Present Past / House Of Wax [live] (CD Single features Only Mama Knows [live] and Dance Tonight [live]) (November 2007) UK # 85
A mediocre rocker with laid-back vocals, far better are the live versions of other songs from 'Memory Almost Full' that are featured on the B-side & on the CD single. 3 / 4 / 4 / 4
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