McCartney II and Tug of War

Discussions of various topics about Paul not covered in the forums below.

Moderator: Mike

Re: McCartney II and Tug of War

Postby Mattal1958 » Thu Feb 06, 2014 7:53 am

I like reading reviews, but I've learned a long time ago not to take any one review seriously enough to ruin the listening experience of the album being reviewed.

A consensus of reviews, that I take more seriously. Even then, if I like something, I like it. If I don't, I don't.

When RAM first came out (and McCartney II, for that matter, and Wild Life, and Venus & Mars, etc), ROLLING STONE savaged them.

Now, 30-40 years later, they LIKE them.

Did TIME change this? Or just the views of the particular reviewer?

Back in the early 70's, rock reviewers (and to some extent, even today) felt they were reviewing Earth Shaking Works Of Art, and that their words on the subject were to be taken SERIOUSLY. Thankfully, a lot of them have dropped dead (Lester Bangs, Timothy White, and a few others). If that sounds callous, so be it. It's no more callous than some of the things these "writers" wrote about the subjects they reviewed. Both SAVAGED McCartney's music. And took personal shots at Paul. Particularly Bangs.

Having said all that, I tend to agree with much of what these reviewers wrote about the MUSIC (not their personal shots at the guy, or their mis-informed, lazy analysis of particular songs or genres). I don't think Paul was at the top of his game thru a lot of the 70's, and thru most of the 80's, either. There were exceptions, of coure, both in entire albums (BOTR, RAM, TOW) and songs on albums, and singles. But, overall...mehhh.

That didn't stop me from buying it all (now for the second and third and fourth times, with all the various changes from vinyl to CD to downloading, to remastered, to getting a free toaster, etc.) at the time, and continuing to.

For me, Paul's best, most consistent work has FOLLOWED the Beatles Anthology. Period. The End. I'll take his last 7 studio albums (including RUN DEVIL RUN and KOTB) over 90% of everything before. The only albums worthy of being in the discussion are RAM, BOTR, TOW (and the Russian Album).

Which doesn't mean I won't buy the remastered, extended, elongated, three dimensional, blinking, flying re-releases of said older albums...if they ever see the light of day. Seems like the re-release of the old albums has come to a grinding halt. I hope I'm wrong!
in years to come/they may discover/what the air we breathe and the life we lead are all about/but it won't be soon enough for me
Mattal1958
Bronze member
Bronze member
 
Posts: 599
Joined: Tue May 08, 2007 6:23 pm

Re: McCartney II and Tug of War

Postby ringo7165 » Thu Feb 06, 2014 6:18 pm

I think "Tug Of War" is sonically coherent, and brimming with pop charm.

Like "London Town", it is slickly produced, but not over-produced, in my view. Lots of quality harmonies, and
a great non-Wings approach first effort since 1971 ( apart from Macca 2)

"Ballroom Dancing" "Big BD" always kind of annoyed me, maybe it's the Big BD that turn me off ( the swan is gliding)...uhhhh...."Somebody Who Cares" is nice, but sappy. Overall, the album, although a tad over-rated for sure, falls into the top ten.

" Here Today", "Dress Me Up", "The Pound Is Sinking" "Get It" are great tracks, full of whimsy and confidence. I do think he could have make a killer album if he had combined this one with POP. Open with Tug Of War, end it with "Pipes of Peace". Add stuff like "Rainclouds" and the best tracks off of pipes, and you've got a pop gem, that would get top rating, for its sheer scope. He should have not listened to the "record company"...and put out all of the work from that period on one stellar album. Either way, TOW gets a solid 4 stars, at least. I too think that the track "Tug of War" has something to do with John, as does Take it Away ( sole survivior, carrying the load"??/) who knows ? :ymapplause:
ringo7165
New Member
New Member
 
Posts: 55
Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2012 2:02 pm

Re: McCartney II and Tug of War

Postby efghijiloveyou » Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:06 pm

I suppose one could view the song "Tug of War" as some kind of statement regarding his relationship with John and maybe it started out that way, but seeing it only about that would be to ignore the bigger statement Paul is trying to make. The song contends that life is a struggle and conflict is inevitable and indeed necessary ("pushing and pulling"). Paul recognizes that if one were to "let go" in this tug of war that the opposing side would "take a tumble" and "the whole thing's gonna crumble". He talks of triumphing ("in another world" and "In a time to come") over this endless struggle with hope that we might one day find a better way ("dancing to the beat of a different drum"). This is one of Paul's greatest songs not only as a solo artist but as a Beatle as well, if you ask me. I've thought long and hard about this one for many years and it never ceases to blow my mind what a great song it is. Considering how good it is and how little known it is outside of Beatles/McCartney "fandom", I'd say it's probably his most underappreciated song (not here, of course!).
Last edited by efghijiloveyou on Fri Feb 07, 2014 2:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
efghijiloveyou
Bronze member
Bronze member
 
Posts: 891
Joined: Sat Aug 13, 2011 7:50 pm

Re: McCartney II and Tug of War

Postby Mattal1958 » Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:35 pm

nice thoughts, Ringo7165.

I've been reading a lot of old ROLLING STONE reviews of the solo catalogues of all four ex-Beatles, particularly Paul's. Here's the one they wrote for TUG OF WAR. It's one I agree with almost 100%. The only qualms I have are with "Ebony & Ivory" (not one of my faves), and "Dress Me Up As A Robber," another one I can take or leave. Otherwise, this is pretty on the mark:


>>>TUG OF WAR

(FIVE STARS: *****)

By Stephen Holden
May 27, 1982

Tug of War is the masterpiece everyone has always known Paul McCartney could make. In style and format, the album isn't all that different from his earlier work, but the songs are far more substantial than the eccentric doodlings of recent albums. Instead of another homemade effort, McCartney has teamed up with producer George Martin to create a record with a sumptuous aural scope that recalls Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road.

Together, McCartney and Martin have compiled a veritable encyclopedia of contemporary studio pop in the deluxe, high-tech tradition of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, Michael Jackson's Off the Wall and Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life. Every cut offers a stylistic montage of one sort or another, creating an actual tug of war between different pop notions — between British pop parochialism and Afro-American progressiveness, escapist fantasy and sage observation, world-weariness and utopian sentiments. But McCartney doesn't just present these oppositions, he unites them. Harmonious, peaceful coexistence is both the ethic and the aesthetic of the album.

Conceptually, Tug of War is organized around two Paul McCartney-Stevie Wonder duets. Though it wasn't obvious until now, both musicians share a love of childlike melodies and playful asides, and McCartney's "Ebony and Ivory" is the ultimate display of this kinship. The tune's phonetic simplicity and its image of black and white piano keys as a metaphor for race relations combine to make a global children's song as ingenuous as "Happy Birthday," Wonder's tribute to Martin Luther King. McCartney's little tune is the ivory half of a matched pair. The ebony counterpart, "What's That You're Doing," is a red-hot pop-funk feast that's served up on Stevie Wonder's roiling and squiggling synthesizer.

These companion pieces are simply the most obvious of many such juxtapositions. In the sweepingly majestic title song, McCartney observes that man's nobler aspirations and warlike impulses originate from the same human urge for more, and he underscores that statement with marching drums and lofty symphonic orchestration. The song could easily be McCartney's "Imagine," for it makes a similar leap of hope: "In years to come they may discover/What the air we breathe and the life we lead/Are all about/But it won't be soon enough ... for me." And like "Imagine," the song also acknowledges the worst side of humanity: "But with one thing and another/We were trying to outdo each other/In a tug of war."

This solemnity gives way to pure exultation in "Take It Away," a multistyle rock & roll tour de force celebrating the joys of music making. Ethereal vocal harmonies inspired by Fleetwood Mac and 10cc, rollicking New Orleans-style horns and quotes from "She Loves You" all comfortably coincide on a cut that sounds like a raunchier, calypso-inflected update of "Silly Love Songs." "Ballroom Dancing," an audacious novelty in the "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" vein, allows McCartney to resolve the tensions between his nostalgic yearnings and his rock & roll passion by embracing both at once. This galloping fox trot, with its jolly music-hall melody, is tricked out with funky horns, and the lyrics, which intersperse bits of nonsense with fleeting images of England in the Fifties, manage to sound cute and hip at the same time. "Get It," a duet with Carl Perkins, is another clever hybrid — an acoustic rockabilly strut.

Yet the most powerful stylistic juxtaposition — classical string quartet meets acoustic folk — occurs on McCartney's eulogy to John Lennon, "Here Today." The lyrics — in which McCartney remembers meeting, loving and eventually breaking down in tears with Lennon, while all the time never really understanding him — evoke the depth and complexity of their friendship with an astounding tenderness. And George Martin's string arrangement is, if anything, even more graceful than the one he did for "Eleanor Rigby."

"Here Today" brings up the album's most personal and painful aspect. Lennon and McCartney, after all, were icons of goodness in the Sixties, but even the Beatles' utopia wasn't immune to a tug of war that destroyed their collaboration and even, for a time, their friendship. There's a sense in which the whole album is a meditation on two deaths—the Beatles' and John Lennon's.

In this emotionally wide-open atmosphere, even McCartney's more whimsical tunes assume bittersweet overtones. His fairy-tale love songs to Linda McCartney suggest that there is no war between them—perhaps because, for McCartney, the difference between marriage and friendship is the difference between cozy retreat and mortal risk taking. In the elaborate, gorgeously arranged "Dress Me Up as a Robber" and the staid, hymnlike "Wanderlust," McCartney compares sexual independence to foolish military adventuring. It's in these seemingly lighter moments that George Martin's studio touches illuminate McCartney's wistful hominess with exquisite musical details: a brass ensemble in "Wanderlust," pan pipes in the affably shuffling "Somebody Who Cares" and Beatlesque inner voices in the madcap "The Pound Is Sinking."

Instrumentally, McCartney doesn't try to be a one-man band. Though he plays as many as six instruments on some cuts, Denny Laine takes over most of the electric-guitar chores, and Linda McCartney and Eric Stewart assist Paul with the backup singing. McCartney's vocals run the usual gamut—from the adrenalin hollering of "Ballroom Dancing" to the intimate, elegiac crooning of "Here Today," perhaps his finest ballad performance since "Yesterday."

Of the many albums McCartney has churned out in his twelve-year solo career, only Band on the Run comes close to touching Tug of War in the richness of its style and the consistency of its songs. By striking a balance among Wings' streamlined pop-rock, the musicbox miniaturism of his solo projects and the Beatles' baroque expansiveness, Paul McCartney has left the rest of his solo career behind in the dust.<<<
in years to come/they may discover/what the air we breathe and the life we lead are all about/but it won't be soon enough for me
Mattal1958
Bronze member
Bronze member
 
Posts: 599
Joined: Tue May 08, 2007 6:23 pm

Re: McCartney II and Tug of War

Postby efghijiloveyou » Fri Feb 07, 2014 2:18 am

Thanks for that, Mattal. Good read. The fellow that wrote that review gets it (or at least got it) the way I do. Interesting that he notes all the differing styles on the album create an actual tug of war between different pop notions and that McCartney doesn't just present these oppositions but unites them. So there is somewhat of a unifying theme. Something to think about. I never considered before that "Ebony and Ivory", for all it's good-naturedness, is also a tug of war of sorts; black vs. white. And to go further with the theme, "What's That You're Doing?", with all of it's funk, is Wonder's counterpart to Paul's "Ivory". It's a marvelous review that speaks to my own feelings about the album, in a way I've never really quantified. So much time has passed since it's release, it's easy to forget what a great album it is. Nice to hear a few words from the past to put it into perspective. By the way,Mattal, I like both "Ebony and Ivory" and "Dress Me Up As A Robber". :-?? :-D
User avatar
efghijiloveyou
Bronze member
Bronze member
 
Posts: 891
Joined: Sat Aug 13, 2011 7:50 pm

Re: McCartney II and Tug of War

Postby Mattal1958 » Fri Feb 07, 2014 7:46 am

efghij, I WISH I could like "Ebony..." and "Dress Me Up..." It's not that I don't think "Ebony & Ivory" is a BAD song, just like I don't think "Silly Love Songs" is a bad song. Both are very well crafted pop tunes. Very well crafted. They just aren't my cup of tea.

Yes, that review really nails it on a lot of levels.

And I still think TOW, the song, is about his relationship with Lennon...but also, the bigger, world at each other's throats picture, too. It can be both. In fact, that's what makes it such a brilliant song-- that it can have a double meaning. Seeing that it is Paul's first "statement" since Lennon had been killed, I know that was the first thing that came to my mind when hearing it and reading the lyrics sheet. I still feel that way. The Lennon/McCartney dynamic was a personal one, but it was also a very BIG one in the grand scheme of popular music, and pop culture. They both knew how influential the Beatles were, and both were quite aware of the dynamic of anything that said Lennon/McCartney. It's why, even in later years, when it was obvious one person wrote the song, the other still got credit for it as "Lennon/McCartney."

It's the more non-personal song about the two of them, addressing the dynamics of two very strong egos pushing and pulling against each other. "Here Today" addresses the personal relationship end.

Just my opinion, but that's the way I see it.
in years to come/they may discover/what the air we breathe and the life we lead are all about/but it won't be soon enough for me
Mattal1958
Bronze member
Bronze member
 
Posts: 599
Joined: Tue May 08, 2007 6:23 pm

Re: McCartney II and Tug of War

Postby EddieV » Fri Feb 07, 2014 2:27 pm

Mattal1958 wrote:efghij, I WISH I could like "Ebony..." and "Dress Me Up..." It's not that I don't think "Ebony & Ivory" is a BAD song, just like I don't think "Silly Love Songs" is a bad song. Both are very well crafted pop tunes. Very well crafted. They just aren't my cup of tea.

Yes, that review really nails it on a lot of levels.

And I still think TOW, the song, is about his relationship with Lennon...but also, the bigger, world at each other's throats picture, too. It can be both. In fact, that's what makes it such a brilliant song-- that it can have a double meaning. Seeing that it is Paul's first "statement" since Lennon had been killed, I know that was the first thing that came to my mind when hearing it and reading the lyrics sheet. I still feel that way. The Lennon/McCartney dynamic was a personal one, but it was also a very BIG one in the grand scheme of popular music, and pop culture. They both knew how influential the Beatles were, and both were quite aware of the dynamic of anything that said Lennon/McCartney. It's why, even in later years, when it was obvious one person wrote the song, the other still got credit for it as "Lennon/McCartney."

It's the more non-personal song about the two of them, addressing the dynamics of two very strong egos pushing and pulling against each other. "Here Today" addresses the personal relationship end.

Just my opinion, but that's the way I see it.


I agree on Ebony and Dress me up, but Silly Love Songs is a great song, great bassline and hookline
Now junior behave yourself
User avatar
EddieV
Supporter
Supporter
 
Posts: 7036
Joined: Wed Sep 15, 2004 3:13 am
Location: Svendborg, Denmark

Re: McCartney II and Tug of War

Postby Mattal1958 » Sat Feb 08, 2014 3:37 pm

Let me put it this way re: "Silly Love Songs," and "Let 'Em In," and "With A Little Luck" and some of the other very commercial, very pop, very (shall I say) bland/MOR singles Paul released at this time: it was NOT, as an 18 year old, what I was hoping for. He had come off BAND ON THE RUN, with songs like the title song, "Jet," and "Helen Wheels" as singles. All rocking to various degrees. Then, he put out "Junior's Farm." Another hard driving power pop song.

I didn't mind "Listen To What The Man Said," because it is so infectious and perfectly crafted, it is literally hallucinogenic in how it flows in your ears, and thru your brain. It's almost other-worldly...it has a beat, but it floats above it. I don't know how else to describe it. It's probably the most perfect "pop" hit he's ever written as a solo.

But, he followed this stuff up with the three songs I mention above. All fluff, in my opinion. From an artist capable of so much more than fluff. "Silly Love Songs," I will grant you, is one very well constructed, very well crafted piece of music. With a killer bass line, and arrangement. And catchy, too. But, it did nothing to negate the mounting criticism that Paul was becoming very lightweight.

The '76 tour shattered the lightweight image...for awhile, anyway. Anyone who saw that tour knows what I'm talking about. The man dusted off his rock and roll persona and kicked butt on that tour. Wish there were a couple more Beatles songs, but I guess we were lucky to get the 4-5 we DID get, because all of them at that time were trying to distance themselves from the Fab Period.

Soon after, though, Paul fell back into the easy, and I dare say lazy trap of knocking off pleasant, inconsequential pop. It bothered me because he was BETTER than that. And, when pushed to prove it, he always came up with the goods.

So, that's enough on "Silly Love Songs," I guess. Good song. Just not my cup of tea. Here's an analogy: I appreciate the fact opera is a demanding art form, with very talented people in it. Not a fan, though.
in years to come/they may discover/what the air we breathe and the life we lead are all about/but it won't be soon enough for me
Mattal1958
Bronze member
Bronze member
 
Posts: 599
Joined: Tue May 08, 2007 6:23 pm

Re: McCartney II and Tug of War

Postby mr h atom » Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:22 am

went back and reread all this, especially the intial posting & review...must say i quite liked all of it...the dude, while not %100, was pretty spot on...

TOW is nearly (honestly) as weak as he claims..for pretty much all those reasons...though i think i come away from it liking it quite a bit more: it's quite a charmer

if i accept even half of the well-thought-out criticisms the OP brought to the table...it might explain why i find FITD, a similarly themed album, to be far superior...

good stuff, james...thanks for letting us take a peek

as to printing a different, more 'in like' review of TOW...my first thought was, instantaneoulsy, that i seem to remember a quite nice/glowing review of PTP printed around here recently...

so, then...does one good review a great album make ??

if so...we've seen two glowing reviews of M2 and PTP recently...guess that about sums up how great they are...and how good my top 5 album selection is :wink: -
lift up your head...and remember what your life is !
User avatar
mr h atom
Gold member :)
Gold member :)
 
Posts: 3152
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2007 2:07 am

Previous

Return to MACCA - all discussions

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron