Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Allow Me To Get This Out Of My System

This is in no way a post about some revelation regarding Paul McCartney's mostly crappy album "Pipes Of Peace." Though since it's original release in 1983, I just assumed I hated it all these years because I hated it so much then. I realized after giving it spin last week that I don't.

Here's why-

Check out "The Other Me," posted above. Horrible lyrics. Cheesy production. Rife with every pop cliche in the book. But, it is also chock full of hooks and patented Macca tricks. (Pay attention to the subtle vocal inflections right in front of every chorus.) Point is, I'm hooked on this track. But am I hooked because, like a train wreck, I can't look away? Or, am I hooked because even at his worst, McCartney still has the ability to write a pop song better than most at their best?

This is how feel about the entire record.

In the context of great music and great albums, "Pipes Of Peace" isn't even a speck of lint on a dickey. But yet, when I listen to the "amazing records" and 5-star reviews of so many current bands and artists, I can recognize some good, but I rarely hear anything great. There are some, of course, that achieve greatness. But this is more about songs and song structure and the ability to create something memorable. Music doesn't always have to be so demanding.

Paul McCartney's solo career has arguably had more lemons than gems, and convincing the toughest of critics to reevaluate "Pipes Of Peace" is a hard sell.  But if you can just step back for a minute and pull the tunes from this album at random, you should notice that there is something here that is missing from a lot of what is currently passed off as great. Even "Say Say Say," the hit duet with Michael Jackson that used to send me screaming in the opposite direction of whatever box it was playing on, has aged well and has tremendous pop appeal.

Okay, maybe this is a post about some revelation regarding Paul McCartney's mostly crappy album "Pipes Of Peace."


buzzbabyjesus said...

43 seconds was all I could stand of the first one. The second sounds more promising and I might listen to the whole thing.
Still, Macca has my respsect.

wardo said...

Considering that the Pipes of Peace album coincided with the filming of Give My Regards to Broad Street, Paulie was actually busy recording two crappy albums. If you took the "new" tracks from the soundtrack and added a couple of the PoP tracks, you might have an average album.

allen vella said...

More like a revelation how we listen, or hear music. There are artists, songs, albums...that I loved , meant the world to me...but not feeling that now. Conversely, there are artists, songs, albums...that I passed by, or disliked that I now find appealing. Sometimes it's context, sometimes mood, sometime who the fuck knows. But...this I do know...if I am willing to listen, and keep an open mind, I will always be rewarded with the wonders and pleasures of music.
and thank you for helping me realize that..

Jerry Lee said...

The Other Me sounds like he had an argument with Linda and wrote a quick make-up song. Good hooks & production on both, weak lyrics- "I acted like a dustbin lid" - not Paul's best.

ASH On The Beat said...

I think Sal knows my opinion of Macca and how dreadful his output has been through largely four decades.

The question I always ask of McCartney, is if he had not been a Beatle, would anyone buy it?

Having said that, I've just done a piece for a magazine about the ten best singles of the Seventies and Jet was in my ten.

Shriner said...

IMO, the main problem with Pipes of Peace (at the time) is that it was not Tug of War Part 2.

It's not a terrible album, but it pales in comparison to it's predecessor (and may not have invited those comparisions with a title change...). And the bonus tracks on the reissue are all pretty bleah so that sours it more.

Tug of War is probably his last *fully great* album from start-to-finish. I find it holds up better than Flowers in the Dirt (also a very, very good album).

Sal Nunziato said...

"how dreadful his output has been through largely four decades."

ASH, I just don't get that. It's unreasonable.

Also, I suggest reading All Music's very interesting review of Pipes Of Peace. It kinda nails it, me thinks.

Peter Ames Carlin said...

I think 'dustbin lid' may be Cockney slang for 'little kid.' Or maybe just 'kid' or something like that. But Paul does dig his cockney, and tosses it in every so often to sound arty, but most often ends up sounding kinda silly.

The early-mid '80s have to be the nadir of his career, artistically speaking. Between 'Tug of War' and the Russian lp' virtually everything he did was either half-baked, overdone, ill-considered and sometimes poorly executed. He sounds distracted, dispirited and, just beneath the cheery veneer, depressed.

A few bright spots here and there, for sure. "Feel the Sun" on 'Press to Play' is electrifying, but of course he wasn't focused enough to finish it, so it's tossed into a medley with a more ordinary tune. I sorta liked "No More Lonely Nights" back then, but mostly for Dave Gilmour's guitar solo. And then there's the one-song turnaround that revealed how bright the spark still shone: "Back On My Feet Again," the first of the Elvis Costello collaborations to be released (as a b-side in '87). Ooh.

Stu said...

"The Other Me" sounds like McCartney imitating Squeeze imitating McCartney.

Anonymous said...

I listened to the album from start to finish. There are some strong melodies, and stabs at ambitiousness, but it's a herculean task to hear past the dated production.
I would love to hear the demos for these songs. I bet those would make a killer record.
I listened to the CD with a bonus track from Rupert The Bear. I liked that track the best. Better production.
I have a bootleg of songs he wrote for a bunch of animated films. I love that disc. There are some real gems on there.


vanwoert said...

I second the opinions of Mr. Carlin, and Ash,"Jet" wouldn't make my list of top ten singles from the 70's. However, "Uncle Albert/ Admiral Halsey" would.

A walk in the woods said...

I have no problem with this at all. In fact, I once read a review of "Press To Play" where this writer said it was his favorite album ever or something. I had to research that mother ASAP! He's right - it's pretty darn good.

Pipes of Peace - I like the songs you posted, Sal. Does that record also have "So Bad" on it? Man, I love that tune.

ASH - what was the rest of your 70s Top 10?

Agree with hpunch.

Shriner, I think "Driving Rain" (nobody ever talks about that one) is an absolute gem of a record (2/3 of it anyway) and I am very fond of "Memory Almost Full" and parts of the third Fireman album. And if you think Tug of War was the last great Macca album, you soitanly are forgetting to mention Flaming Pie, right? GREAT record.