|Paul McCartney was a busy man in the mid-to-late 80's, working on much in the way of
quantity but producing little of quality. This collection features Macca trying to
find his way in the music marketplace that existed during the period between 1984's Give
My Regards To Broad Street and 1989's Flowers In The Dirt. On January
21, 1988, a compilation tape of many unfinished sessions from the last four years was
assembled by Paul to give to prospective producers. That tape is the basis of Pizza
and Fairy Tales. In addition, we've included several other tracks from the
period, including the alternate Press To Play material (heard here in its finest
quality to date), to give a fully-rounded view of a career in flux.
The earliest songs
here fall between the Give My Regards To Broad Street and Press To Play
sessions. Paul got together with MOR producer David Foster and recorded the basic
tracks for three songs. Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, who had recently added a
wonderful lead guitar to "No More Lonely Nights", also sat in. "I
Love This House" is a decent little rocker, and was
overdubbed further during the Press To Play sessions. However, it remained
unheard until a section of it was used in episode four of 1995's Oobu Joobu radio
series, and a slightly shorter mix than the one heard here was issued on the US "The
World Tonight" CD single in 1997. "Lindiana" has a strong
chorus melody and little else (the lyrics being especially horrid), and Paul has yet to
release it in any form. "We Got Married", the clear
winner of the three, made it onto Flowers In The Dirt after more overdubs were
recorded in the summer of 1988. The version heard here is lacking the Robbie
Macintosh and Hamish Stuart contributions as well as Guy Barker's trumpet.
Paul spent 1985 and early 1986 recording Press To Play with co-producer Hugh
Padgham, the veteran of several albums by the likes of The Police and XTC. It was a
left-turn for Paul, very different than anything he had recorded before, and its lack of
commercial success upon its release in August of 1986 has soured him on the record in
retrospect. However, it was a brave move, and while not completely
successful as an artistic venture, it still had much to recommend it. Many early and
alternate mixes of the tracks on the LP are included here. All are at an earlier
stage of the recording process, with different vocals and instrumentation (in some cases)
than the released versions. Highlights include "Good Times Coming /
Feel The Sun", which is much longer than the releases version due to the
bridge having an additional verse with a different melody, and a much tighter production
on "Move Over Busker". This was possibly due to its being
considered as a single at one point; when issued as a 45, "Pretty Little Head"
underwent similar production slimming. It's very interesting to hear these tracks
with less production; for example, "Press" is heard here with
much less instrumentation (some guitar / synth overdubs are missing), so one can examine
Paul's bass playing in greater detail, since it is not as audible in the released versions
of the tracks. "Yvonne" was a completely unissued song
co-written with Eric Stewart; it did show up ten years later on European copies on 10cc's Mirror
Mirror album. Disc one concludes with Paul's presentation of "Only
Love Remains" from his return engagement (23 years down the line) at the
Royal Variety Show, thus the "clever" opening remarks he makes prior to the
performance. It closely mirrors the 45 mix of the track, which added a synth
introduction to what was originally a cold vocal intro.
Disc two begins with work done with another esteemed producer. While promoting
the release of Press To Play in New York City in August 1986, Paul hooked up with
Billy Joel's producer Phil Ramone (who first worked with Paul the previous year on the
"Spies Like Us" 45). Billy's band plays on the next two songs, "Beautiful
Night" and "Loveliest Thing". These songs
were reportedly worked on further during sessions with Ramone held the next June.
This is the first release of the full early version of "Beautiful Night";
a re-make with George Martin's orchestration and rave-up coda was of course released on
Flaming Pie in 1997. "Loveliest Thing" was later heard on
one of the many UK "Figure Of Eight" CD singles in 1989.
The next three songs were probably recorded by Paul alone (note the presence of a drum
machine) at his home studio in late 1986 or early 1987. "Squid"
is an instrumental, and "Big Day" might as well be, with only
the monotonous title refrain serving as a "vocal track". Luckily, from
this period we also have a lovely demo for "This One" with
unfinished lyrics and a different arrangement (starting with the middle eight). The
song would be revisited a couple of years down the road for Flowers In The Dirt,
becoming the second single from that LP.
Paul was evidently impressed enough with Ramone's work to invite him to produce several
sessions at Paul's home studio in Sussex during the spring of 1987. "Love
Come Tumbling Down", "Atlantic Ocean", and "Love
Mix" are all unimpressive dance-type compositions, and Ramone can hardly be
faulted for the weak material. Nonetheless, waited until 1995 and Oobu Joobu
before airing any of these in public. "Christian Pop" is
a bit more interesting, as it evolved into a motif heard in his 1991 Liverpool
Oratorio. A Linda track, the lengthy, mostly instrumental "Peacocks"
is also included.
The month of June was spent trying to complete enough material for a 12" single to
be released in September to promote the forthcoming All The Best compilation.
Among the songs Paul and Phil completed were "Once Upon A Long Ago"
and "Back On My Feet" (both eventually issued as part of the forthcoming single;
the former is included here in its single version), "P.S. Love Me Do"
(a horrid dance coupling of the two songs on the first Beatles single, thankfully not
issued in the U.S., but issued in Japan as part of a special Flowers In The Dirt
2-CD tour package in 1990), and "Return To Pepperland".
The latter, a bit of nostalgia inspired by the 20th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper,
hasn't been released in any form.
On August 21, 1987, Paul copyrighted "Beautiful Night",
"Once Upon A Long Ago", "Return To Pepperland",
and "Love Come Tumbling Down". The latter two titles were
considered for the 12" single, but in the end Paul went with "Long Ago"
and "Back On My Feet" and wisely supplemented them with two oldies from his July
CHOBA B CCCP oldies sessions.
Clearly in a creative slump, Paul fortuitously began a songwriting collaboration with
Elvis Costello that summer and fall of 1987, and together they whipped up eight fantastic
songs (which can be heard on The McCartney / MacManus Collaboration). Paul
dismissed most of the work from the previous years and forged ahead with what would become
Flowers In The Dirt album. Still searching for a producer, he turned to
Tevor Horn and Steve Lipson, the teamwho had recent success with Frankie Goes To
The initial Flowers In The Dirt sessions were held in the winter of 1987-88, and
produced four finished songs: "Rough Ride", "Figure
Of Eight", "How Many People" and "Ou Est Le Soleil".
Rough unfinished mixes of the first two titles are included here. "Figure
Of Eight" is especially interesting, having an extra repeat of the final
verse and chorus ultimately edited from the final mix.
While the material found on Pizza And Fairly Tales may not rank among his
absolute best solo work, it is still an invaluable look into a personal period when Paul
was unsure of himself as a performer, write, and producer. He would rediscover his
music and his drive to perform live in the next decade, but this collection displays the
road Paul traversed to get to the much-friendlier 1990's.