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2012 Reissue wish list / Day 2 / Paul McCartney: Tug Of War

Paul McCartney / Tug Of War / 30th Anniversary EditionMuch had changed for Paul McCartney in late 1980, as he set about recording what would be only his third solo album since The Beatles’ split in 1970 (Ram was credited to Paul and Linda).

He had released himself from the formality and confines of a ‘rock band’ when in the summer of 1979 he recorded McCartney II entirely alone. If that was not enough to spell the end of Wings, he had decided to work with Beatles’ producer George Martin for the first time since 1973 (when they worked on Bond theme Live and Let Die). Some have suggested that band members were not enamoured with the light-pop/rock direction much of the material was taking when rehearsed in 1980, and the lack of appetite to work together may have become mutual. Denny Laine is the only Wings member who would eventually contribute a little to what would become Tug of War (he gets a “thanx Denny” in the liner notes for his troubles).

The band officially disbanded in April 1981, and this heralded the beginning of a decade of session musicians playing on McCartney records, as well as Macca himself stepping down from his normal producer role to let others take the reins.

With all these seismic changes, the murder of John Lennon in December 1980 would add to the feeling that a new era beckoned and the death of John inevitably had a massive impact on Paul.

The shock is there for all to see, when, upon leaving an early Tug of War recording session in central London, on the day the news broke, he was caught leaving, by some TV news reporters.

Not wishing to lift the lid on his grief he inadvertently appears to shrug his shoulders at events, with his infamous “it’s a drag” comment.

The loss of his old writing partner would result in one of the most direct, open and honest songs Paul has ever written, Here Today. Echoing Yesterday with the acoustic guitar/string quartet arrangement, this moving tribute featured on Tug Of War and was largely forgotten until Paul added it to his live set for the Back In the US tour in 2002.

Other highlights from the album include singles Take It Away (another autobiographical song dressed up in a third person narrative), Tug of War and superb album tracks such as the piano-led Wanderlust and the whimsical The Pound is Sinking.

Ebony and Ivory is the best known song on the record, left to play us out at the end. A massive selling, transatlantic no.1, it is now hard to find anyone who has a good word to say about this single. The earnest simplicity and cheesy keyboard sounds do put the song at odds with much of Tug of War, but in the craftsman-like melody and the Macca-Stevie Wonder combination there is much to admire.  The sentiment may be rather naïve and simplistic but no more so than, say, Give Peace A Chance.

While Ebony and Ivory was a solo Macca composition, the two men enjoyed working together enough to co-write another Tug Of War track What’s That You’re Doing?

Regarded by many as more Wonder than McCartney, this is nevertheless a rousing and funky track with plenty of gusto. Stevie Wonder in particular does some fantastic scat-like ad lib singing during the extended outro.

With Ram due to be reissued around April 2012, why not schedule Tug Of War for a 30th Anniversary reissue in September or October 2012? The album has a high profile and was certainly a ‘hit’ and regarded by many as a bit of a comeback for Paul, with the professional production and superstar guests (In addition to Stevie Wonder, Ringo plays on some tracks, and Carl Perkins drops in to duet on Get It).

It is worth pointing out that when Paul remastered his back catalogue in 1993 – “The Paul McCartney Collection” – Tug of War was one of the few albums not to receive any bonus tracks. Apart from a (poor) remastering job, nothing new was offered, making a 2012 reissue even more appealing. If we assume Paul continues the deluxe ‘book’ editions seen on all of the Paul McCartney archive reissues thus far, then we could hope for something like this:

CD 1 – Tug Of War remastered

CD 2 – Officially released b-sides and extra tracks. This would include Ebony and Ivory (solo version), I’ll Give You A Ring (Take It Away b-side) and Rainclouds (Ebony and Ivory b-side) – all unreleased on CD. There are no 12″ remixes but Tug Of War single mix has a clean intro (previously issued on Wingspan). This CD could be a little on the light side, but of possible inclusion is The McCartney Interview, an interview album which got an extremely limited vinyl release in 1981. Additionally, 1984 single, We All Stand Together (Rupert and the Frog Song) was recorded during this period so both the a-side and b-side (“Humming Version”) could be included here.

CD 3 – What most McCartney fans would love to hear is the ‘Rude Studio’ demos. These are demos recorded by Paul in his home studio in Scotland. Demos exist for many of the Tug of War tracks along with songs that didn’t make the cut. For example a song called Hear Me Lover was eventually integrated into The Pound Is Sinking. Early versions of No Values (released on Give My Regards to Broad Street, 1984) also exist along with Wings’ rehearsals and alternate versions of some songs. Many tracks that ended up on 1983’s Pipes of Peace were also demo’d during this time, but it is likely that – assuming Paul is willing to release the demos in the first place – he would hold these back for a Pipes of Peace reissue.

DVD – All the promo videos (there’s 2 versions of Ebony and Ivory) plus TV interviews of the time, new documentaries, and any relevant home archive and live footage that Paul may have in his collection!

ALBUM: Tug of War by Paul McCartney
ANNIVERSARY: 30th
WHY REISSUE?: No previous expanded reissue, lots of demos in the archive, b-sides of the period unreleased on CD

Tomorrow> Day 3> INXS: Welcome To Wherever You Are 

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10 responses to 2012 Reissue wish list / Day 2 / Paul McCartney: Tug Of War

  1. Philippe says:

    Another should-be candidate for an expanded “Tug Of War” : the original 1981 mix of “My Old Friend”, recorded by Paul with Carl Perkins. Carl did release a quite remixed version of the song on his 1996 “Go Cat Go” album, while the original mix, with beautiful arrangements by George Martin, exist on bootleg since 1995.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Thanks, good call. “Get It” is quite slight, but I have a real soft spot for it and that laugh which cross-fades over Be What You See is excellent!

  2. Piman says:

    Hi, this is my first comment here.
    Stevie and Paul are both exquisite songwriters, IMO, I love catchy pop song.
    I wish they would collaborate again on new material someday … soon.

  3. Chris says:

    Here’s my view. If and when “Tug of War” is reissued, they oughta reissue “Pipes of Peace” as well (like they did with 1970’s McCARTNEY and 1980’s McCARTNEY II)… since both were recorded right around 1981-82. Unless I’m mistaken, a reissue schedule for Paul’s Archive Collection was posted some time ago on WogBlog (wogew.blogspot.com)… and TOW and POP are both listed as 2CD/DVD releases. So yes, the first CD for each would be the original album. As for the bonus material (Disc 2), here’s my take on it:

    Besides the TUG OF WAR material you mentioned, there’s also “Blackpool” which he recorded in 1981 during sessions for that album. He also recorded an “acoustic reprise” of the title track. Both were considered for inclusion on a boxed set called “Cold Cuts” which was later scrapped (I think). Another unreleased track called “All the Love Is There”, which featured Stewart Copeland of The Police on drums, was also considered for inclusion on “Cold Cuts”. Not sure if this was recorded for or during “Tug of War” or “Pipes of Peace”, though…

    If PIPES OF PEACE was reissued with a bonus CD, then two remixes of “Say Say Say” by Jellybean Benitez (the dance mix and instrumental) would probably bookend it. There’s also “Ode to a Koala Bear” (Say Say Say B-side), which still hasn’t been released on CD. Also, I read on a website detailing Paul’s recording sessions from 1970-present that “The Man” (another track on “Pipes…” featuring Michael Jackson) was planned to be released as a single but cancelled; one of the tracks is an instrumental mix of that song which had recently been spotted on a rare acetate.

    • Of course they will re-issue, remaster and expand the “Pipes of Peace” album, sadly from what I’m feeling now it won’t come out this year or any time really close, I don’t have much hope in a reissue of “Tug of War” coming out soon, but I do see a reissue in the works being planned out that is if Paul/MPL/Hear Music pick up the pace seeing that nothing from the “Paul McCartney Archive Collection” hasn’t been released in Fall 2011 where many where expecting Ram/Venus and Mars coming out around then (I’m seeing them coming out early 2012, maybe after Paul’s new album.)

      I agree with what you wanted Paul to include for unreleased songs/outtakes for a “Tug of War” reissue, I also hope no one from MPL or Hear Music stands by a belief that they should release only a FEW unreleased tracks, not more than five.
      However I think they should include “Ode to a Koala Bear” in the bonus disc for a possible reissue of “Tug of War”, because I don’t think there were overdubs recorded for the song AFTER “Tug of War” being released seeing that it and 90% of the songs from “Pipes..” were from the same sessions for “Tug of War”, from ’80-’82, that and I’m sure people would want more songs included for a really likable album than “Pipes..”

      For a “Pipes of Peace” possible 2-disc reissue (is it deserving of a DVD and a hardbook!?) They should include a bootlegged outtake of “Average Person” from 1982, maybe “Twice in a Lifetime” (heard rumors it was recorded in 1983, that and you need to fill the space), and include “On The Wings Of A Nightingale”, I heard this was REALLY from 1983, I know it was like a demo, but why not?

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  5. Oh God, really, MPL/Hear Music may release Ram until April! What about “Venus and Mars”, a reissue for that album, too! I heard both were supposed to come out this year, but I guess Paul wants to pay close attention to give his fans what they want and I’m sure mastering two albums, bonus material, a possible Mono mixdown of “Ram” and compiling videos for DVDs will of course take time, planning and seeing if certain unreleased audio bits, tracks, and etc. will appeal to fans than “Women Kind” or the McCartney II session tracks or will Paul release other tracks on future reissues in later years.

    I agree that MPL/Hear Music should start planning and compiling what should be included for a special re-release of “Tug of War” in the future soon and that goes for all Paul/Wings albums..

    I don’t expect Paul to release a 4 Disc and a Hardcover Book of “Tug of War”, but I’d expect 3 discs…

    I agree about giving the reissue a bonus disc with “Rainclouds”, a Paul only version of “Ebony and Ivory”, “Give You a Ring”, and etc. I don’t see him including “The McCartney Interview”, but I’d recommend including some audio having to do with the “Tug of War sessions” from ’80-’82. I also hope Paul goes with releasing at least three unreleased outtakes/unreleased songs and release “Ode to a Koala Bear” which while associating with a “Pipes of Peace” track was recorded from the ’80-’82 sessions BEFORE the release of “Tug of War” in Fall 1982.

    I’m not expecting another Audio Disc, I’d expect the other demoes/ session tracks / outtakes to be included in future Paul Anthology Discs which were said to come out in later years, I hope they don’t put too much material for a “Pipes of Peace” 2-disc reissue, going by it getting middling reviews/ratings from most people.

    For a DVD included for a future “Archive Collection Deluxe Version” release of “Tug of War”, I agree include Promos, a Video of Paul synching to “Ebony and Ivory” without Stevie’s parts, a video recording of a studio session of Paul recording “Here Today” and if legal issues are untangled, include Sue Lawley’s interview with Paul from January 1982.

    I hope Paul releases more reissues of his albums and Wings albums in 2012 after his new album coming out, and more for each year than in 2010/2011, but there is always hope, but I do see “Tug of War” and “Pipes of Peace” coming up in 2013 sadly, but I agree that it’d be nice and it was an important album enough to get the same deluxe treatment as “McCartney” and “BOTR”. Great post Paul!
    Paul McCartney really needs to release more jems from the vault, especially releasing a lot for “McCartney II”.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Hi Martin – thanks for your comments. Whenever Paul does get round to reissuing Tug of War and Pipes of Peace he is going to have a major problem because there is so much overlap in terms of what is recorded and when. As someone else suggested, releasing them at the same time would make sense. I wouldn’t totally rule out some kind of Tug Of War/Pipes of Peace special edition that combines both releases together in the usual deluxe book format while keeping them separate for the normal 2CD type releases. We shall see. I would certainly welcome McCartney mixing the eras up a bit with these releases rather than just chugging through the rest of the 1970s.

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