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Paul McCartney allowed to trot out same old stories for BBC Mastertapes

mccartney_mastertapes

BBC Radio music programme Mastertapes normally focuses on one album in an artists’ career, but fawningly threw its format out the window for a recent special episode with Sir Paul McCartney that offered close to nothing in the way of real insight and instead – appropriately enough with Pure McCartney around the corner – ended up being a rambling and unfocussed ‘greatest hits’ of Macca stories, quotes and ‘revelations’.

Not sticking to the format was a disaster, since everything was skimmed over with a glossy lack of detail. Of the nine albums Paul issued in the 1970s only two were even mentioned by Paul, McCartney from 1970 and Band on the Run from 1973. For the latter, all the usual stories came up which Paul has talked about regularly (band members quit before leaving for Lagos, studio not ready, being mugged etc). To be fair, host John Wilson did try to bring Paul around to RAM, but nothing came of it.

Wilson did talk briefly about McCartney II and in particular Coming Up from 1980. He couldn’t resist bringing up the oft-quoted line about how it stirred John Lennon into action with Double Fantasy. Here Today from Tug of War was referenced, but no other albums issued in the 31 years between 1982 and 2013 were even considered worthy of a mention!

Paul was allowed to cruise through the interview on automatic pilot, talking about how he ‘dreamt’ the melody to Yesterday, the ‘heavy’ Beatles break-up, heading up to Scotland with Linda, playing to Universities with Wings, going to Lagos to record Band on the Run, and making up with John in the late 1970s by discussing things like baking bread, etc. There was no turbulence at all for Mr McCartney. Anyone with half an interest in the ex-Beatle’s career would have heard these stories so many times before.

Paul Weller, one of the many celebrity guests (why do celebrities need to be in the audience?) actually asked the most interesting question of the session when he queried whether Paul resented always having to play Beatles hits in place of newer material. McCartney batted it away with a rather bland answer about how when he goes to concerts, all he wants to hear is the hits, too! This rather misses the point that McCartney doesn’t play his own ‘hits’ either. Say Say Say and No More Lonely Nights have never been played live, for example.

Paul’s collaboration with Kanye West was brought up which was probably the only uncomfortable moment of the interview. Not because John Wilson put Paul under any pressure but rather because McCartney seemed oblivious to the fact that, for many, West is a talentless fool who shouldn’t have got within a mile of a songwriter of Paul’s calibre.

The event reached its nadir when friend-of-the-family Noel Gallagher was allowed to ask Paul a question, and wasted it with the oh-so-hilarious inquiry about which of his daughters, Mary or Stella, Paul liked the best. Seriously. Remember, there were probably disappointed fans in the audience, who wanted to ask an intelligent question and didn’t get the opportunity.

Mastertapes could have picked an interesting McCartney album to analyse forensically such as Wings’ Wild Life, or Back to the Egg. Neither of those works have been discussed to death and both would have surely proved a worthy area of discussion. But inexplicably Mastertapes simply allowed Paul to ramble on in very familiar territory about his life, with nothing contentious ever brought up, such his split with Denny Laine in the early eighties, his ‘wilderness’ years in the second half of that decade, or Paul’s commercial decline (he hasn’t had a UK top 10 single for close to 30 years).

The BBC and John Wilson appeared rather star struck and the whole thing seemed designed to appeal to the widest audience possible and to look good, visually on iPlayer, with all those famous faces in the audience. As a journalistic endeavour to deliver new insight into McCartney’s approach to recording albums, it was a total failure and to be frank, a complete waste of licence fee.

You can watch/listen to Mastertapes here (geographical restrictions will apply)

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93 responses to Paul McCartney allowed to trot out same old stories for BBC Mastertapes

  1. Bill says:

    The world in general is going downhill and pandering to low attention span buffoons with utterly shallow nonsense.

    • Mark Carroll says:

      How very true indeed…

    • Tim-meh says:

      Indeed. I had the misfortune to look at the NME website the other day for a particular bit of ‘music’ news. Oh dear. Sadly, I remember the days when quality and respected journalist used to work for the paper. It’s laughable now.

  2. baward says:

    Some nice insight there, Paul. Unfortunately, it seems that the BBC is becoming a bland, neutered version of its former self (and a possible excuse that culture secretary John Whittingdale will use to start flogging off the BBC to the highest bidder.)

  3. lloyd says:

    Sadly we will never get a decent interview with Paul, for the simple reason he ain’t gonna do it! For donkeys years he has only done any media work when he something to flog. So either the Beeb takes him on those terms or not at all.

  4. Catweazle says:

    I heard a phone interview with Paul on a german radio station earlier today (he’s coming to Düsseldorf on Saturday) and he was asked about his knowledge of the german language. And, what a surprise, he cited the “poem” ‘Jakob der Rabe’ (only the first line really) which he has been doing at probably each and every german concert or interview for close to thirty years.

  5. gb says:

    possibly my fave SDE heading ever ;)
    (allowed to trot out same old stories)
    wow. No More Lonely Nights has NEVER been played live.
    that’s my fave PM song.
    more artists should be like Bowie ‘Outside live period.
    playing what they want, not what is expected

  6. Andrew ricci says:

    Always torn between my admiration of Mccartneys musicianship and work rate versus his “mr entertainer ” persona . Compare him with someone like Keith Richards who hasn’t turned out anything of worth for over 20years yet is so cool and interesting to listen to. Ref journalism and music in general the great days are gone everything is surface nothing of any depth gets written or made. The end of culture? As we of a certain age know it?

    • Greg says:

      I would slightly disagree with the Keith Richards comment, I personally really enjoyed last years Crosseyed Heart solo album and the “new” track he sung on 40 Licks, Losing My Touch was pretty good too! But that’s just my opinion!

      Peace & Love!!

  7. Joe Wiz says:

    I’d never heard the ‘something will happen’ story. Thought it was going to be the laying on top of each story!
    I quite enjoyed this, but I agree with Macca that Kanye is a ‘monster’ – a genuine creative one off and a much needed refresher from the blandness of James Bay and the like. But that’s just me.
    Of course it’s frustrating for people like us when we watch these things, but do the general populace or even just people who are ‘into music’ want to hear about the creative process behind ‘Spies like Us’ or how he approached Nigel Kennedy to play on ‘Once Upon a Long Ago’? Maybe they do.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      But Mastertapes is supposed to be about an close examination of one album. Does the ‘general populace’ want to know lots of detail about the Manic’s recording of ‘The Holy Bible’ – probably not – but Mastertapes devoted a programme to that.

  8. Tyrone Tudor says:

    Thanks for the heads up regarding BBC Mastertapes.
    McCartney has unfortunately turned into a parody of himself.

  9. richie says:

    That`s a damning verdict Paul and totally merited. McCartney is very good at papering over the cracks and we will never know the real facts about The Beatles breakup never mind Denny Laine leaving Wings.

    Will we ever see the `Let It Be` film? Probably not, it will mean McCartney having to talk about what really happened. `Carnival Of Light` and other unreleased tracks? Not a chance.

    More releases of The Beatles back catalog, oh yes, we can have as many copies of `Revolver` as we like. Actually I`d love a 5:1 version on Bluray.

    • Andrew R says:

      I thought (and I may be wrong) that Macca was up for Carnival of Light being released but George Harrison (and presumably now his estate) wasn’t…

    • lloyd says:

      I suspect we will have to wait for Paul and Ringo to pass on for Let It Be but I always thought that it was George who stopped Carnival of Light being released (didn’t he say it was ‘just noise’?)

  10. Tim says:

    A fantastic critique….your bullseye appraisal of ‘…for many, West is a talentless fool who shouldn’t have got within a mile of a songwriter of Paul’s calibre’…is perfect!

  11. William says:

    Well, if nothing else I learned that there is a programme called Mastertapes and it is specifically about one album. I will look back for older episodes on iplayer and pick the ones of interest.
    Not such a waste of the licensing fee then ;-)

  12. Chris Squires says:

    Although I love and cherish the BBC, it seems to be losing sight of what it is for. Part of it’s charm is that it was a narrow brush to ITVs broad strokes. It seems only BBC4 holds this remit now. It was wonderful that they would make a programme that really only initially spoke to a couple of thousand people at the very most. In that way they can bring more people to enjoy and care for niche interests. A programme about baking cakes in a tent anyone? No?

    If Macca is only interested in pushing his new album to as wide an audience as possible then that should be left to ITV’s morning couch.

    As Lloyd says above “So either the Beeb takes him on those terms or not at all.” – the answer should be “Not at all” but the current BBC is staffed by Pygmies who are scared of making a decision.

    Mastertapes (like Classic Albums) has a remit. It did not follow this remit. Poor show chaps. I do want to know about the microcosm surrounding a moment in time. Watching albums like So / Rumours / Tubular Bells being taken to pieces and hearing why decisions were made is wonderful.

  13. JWL says:

    No surprise, the guy does the same speeches in between songs at every concert he ever plays. If you’ve seen one concert in the last 15 years, you’ve seen them all.

  14. Martin says:

    McCartney in bland non descript interview shocker!!! Why give anything away when he has new bio to flog

  15. Joe says:

    I hadn’t heard the ‘something’ll happen’ van/snow story, nor the one about Linda and Paul both forgetting the keyboard intro to Wild Life. I enjoyed the Picasso/two-chord anecdote too, and was interested to hear how Kanye turned it into something wholly different.

    I agree that most of this was familiar, but it’s very, very rare nowadays for any McCartney interview to contain more than 5% of original thought. Perhaps my expectations were low enough for it not to matter. It feels a little po-faced to dismiss the whole thing as “a complete waste of licence fee” – he’s promoting a new career retrospective, so it’s not surprising the BBC acquiesced and went with a general interview. It’s better than no interview at all.

    That said, it probably would have been better as an edition of Front Row. Mastertapes is by definition something of a niche exploration, and I wish they’d spent time focusing on, say, Flowers In The Dirt, which McCartney will be promoting at some point in the near future. Perhaps they taped more material which they’re keeping in the can for now.

    Oh, and a small correction. You say that “no other albums issued in the 31 years between 1982 and 2013 were even considered worthy of a mention!” – there were a discussion of Say Say Say from 1983.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I know he mentioned Say Say Say but that was specifically in response to an audience question about Michael Jackson. John Wilson asked no questions about Pipes of Peace.

  16. JasonC says:

    You hit the nail on the head there, Paul (Sinclair, not McCartney!). I’m fed up of Macca giving the same interview over and over, however I have come to the conclusion that it is all he can do. I think it’s part of the protective process of how he remains sane in the face of being so famous for so long. I remember growing up in the 80s, Macca interviews could be quite surly and defensive. In the past 20 years he’s passed over in to “national treasure” status and these charming, auto-pilot interviews have become the norm. It’s only been on Saturday Night Live that I’ve seen him do something a little more “out there”.

    The other part of this is that Macca is not as interested in his past work as much as we are. So he has nothing to say. Look at the video he put out yesterday explaining how he made Coming Up. It’s such a great song, but all Paul can say about it was “I added some drums… Then some bass… And then we made a video…” In some respect, Paul just does the work, and I believe that a lot of the time he does not know how he does it. It’s just what he does. We can demand more information about the process but it’s not on-tap for him.

    Finally, can I say that the best thing I’ve seen in recent years about Macca’s creative process is his bit in the Dave Grohl Sound City documentary where he summons up a song from thin air with the rest of Nirvana. Realising that they’re getting something good on tape, Dave Grohl says “I wish it was always this easy” to which Paul responds “It is!”

  17. Daltronica says:

    Having purchased a few of his Super Deluxe box sets, this doesn’t surprise me at all. He doesn’t really seem to enjoy the act of dissecting his music in analytical terms (who does really). I’d love it if someone really challenged him in this regard. It can’t really be that he has so little to add to such a body of work. It always seems like he’s embarrassed to talk about his work on a deeper level, “ya know”.

  18. scotty_G says:

    Hi have to agree with all the above. Bland, for sure but not surprising, McCartney is a carefully packaged marketing campaign and has been since the Beatles started. While he comes across as Mr Nice Guy and I’m sure he is, there’s never been a lot of true grit insight to his persona. Unlike his mate John, who whether we liked it or no,t we got the warts and all. That’s what is/was so endearing about John because people related. Keith Richards similar vein as someone commented above.
    I’d love to hear about the making of Wild Life ( I’ve developed a strong affection for this record over the years) or Back To The Egg (a missing gem, but a grab bag at anything!) and lets not forget the making of Let It Be. Put it there Paul, your old enough now to not really give a shit about what people think of you and actually you might just gain a broader fan base, reinvigorate interest in the archive series and sell a few more disks to boot!
    You don’t want John’s “the only thing you done was yesterday” to ring true as your final statement.

  19. MiG says:

    On going to the BBC site to look at this, it tells me that I may also like “Songs Of Praise …Sings Prince.” Now THAT I want to see.

  20. David M says:

    Mastertapes can be a great show, although I find Harris a bit irritating at times. Thanks to you giving this particular one a good kicking I won’t bother listening. Yes, there should have been one specific episode about Ram when the super deluxe came out (with Macca singing stuff off it), but that was never going to happen.

    Instead the press are going with the amazing revelations that Paul ‘loved John” and he was “depressed and drank” when The Beatles ended. Stuff that has been well known for at least 30 years.

  21. Bruce Nicholson says:

    It was a poor effort of a show. The fact that McCartney again said he was depressed when the Beatles broke up [to be fair in his shoes, I would be too] was hardly headline news that the BBC had on their website. The BBC do seem to self advertise their own shows to a point where the advertising gets in the way of good programmes – or to put it another way when they find a ‘headline’ the headline is just repeated without any useful analysis. Though did he actually say he was depressed? The BBC headline suggested he suffered from depression, but I think it as just advertising its own programme by a mis-leading headline.

    A much better show yesterday afternoon was on BBC Radio Five Live which had Bruce Foxton on, talking about his new album and also about his reconciliation with Paul Weller. Problem with that show – even though it was miles better than the McCartney one – was they played a clip of McCartney talking about the post-Beatles break up and his ‘depression’ and tried to bring it into the Jam equation. It was more than a bit forced.

  22. DaveM says:

    Wow, this article has sparked a great debate on SDE and some of the best comments I have seen on here, most of which I agree with, especially those from Bill and Tim-meh. I too have found most of the interviews with Macca bland over the last few decades. Its almost like hearing an expert PR person who will not veer from the same messages over and over again. The one I thought was better was the Dermot Oleary one last year which did concentrate more on the TOW and POP eras so peaked my interest a bit more.

  23. Chris Squires says:

    With regards to the two comments above, that all makes sense. It’s like an explanation of magic that Jonathan Creek made to Maddy. You really don’t want to know the answer because it is so banal. Being talentless (me) like so many others I am sometimes capable of loading brilliance of thought onto others that I do not have myself. What might seem brilliant to me was literally what JasonC says above “I just added some drums”.

    Although I worship her tiny little feet, this lack of information is what elevates people like Kate Bush to almost deity level. An autobiography that says “I couldn’t think what to do with Night of the Swallow so I whacked some pipes on to see how that sounded” would be a crushing blow.

    Maybe Paul ought to do what Kate does and rather than give boring interviews, give no interviews at all, we will fill in the gaps anyway. Less is more still seems to work rather than the current fad of putting every little squeak of thought onto twitface. Needs integrity and bravery I guess.

  24. Chris Squires says:

    I meant the posts by JasonC and Daltronica, other posts have been made since and so “The two posts” above doesn’t make sense anymore….

  25. Craig Hedges says:

    Did he mention the frog song?

  26. RJSWinchester says:

    The BBC are doing what they do best and giving already successful artists a free advertising platform when they have something new to promote. About three years ago when Jeff Lynne released a new album he was all over the BBC. Breakfast TV interview, The One Show, two Radio 2 interviews, documentay on BBC 4 followed by ELO live concert. And then there was that whole U2=BBC fiasco to promote U2 latest album a few years ago. It’s priceless advertising courtesy of TV licence fee payers!

  27. Straker says:

    Don’t sit on the fence Paul, tell us what you really think!

    The Beatles and Macca don’t do anything for me personally but even as a non-fan it’s interesting reading the well-informed replies here, as always.

    Is it just me or does that pic at the top look a bit like a still from The Walking Dead?

  28. RJSWinchester says:

    It’s probably worth bearing in mind that this broadcast was not aimed specifically at McCartney aficionados who hang on to his every word and own everything he has ever produced in triplicate. It’s aimed at casual radio listeners and its objective was to show Macca as a thumbs-up Mr Nice Guy and persuade those listeners to buy his new compilation!

  29. Jezk says:

    James Dean Bradfield interviewing Paul M specifically about Pipes Of Peace here is a good read, something along these lines would’ve been so much better:

    http://diymag.com/2015/09/30/sir-paul-mccartney-talks-1983-classic-pipes-of-peace-with-james-dean-bradfield

    • gb says:

      thanks Jezk.
      as a manics fan this was real interesting to read.

    • DaveM says:

      Jezk, now thats a decent interview. Thanks for the heads up.

      • CJ Feeney says:

        Agree, a very good interview (despite JDB breaking his initial promise not to keep talking about himself). But it is clear from this interview as well that Macca isn’t the introspective kind, he clearly writes by instinct/inspiration without often stopping to question what s behind or beneath the things he writes.

        The fact that JDB is talking about his own interpretation and experience of the album is probably to his advantage as an interviewer, as Macca clearly appreciates hearing what people get from his music as opposed to the traditional critique where the reviewer tries to second guess what the artist was thinking/feeling when they wrote or recorded the work.

        Ultimately I agree with Mr Sinclair, that the Mastertapes production team gave up too much editorial control to the point where it is not the program it aims to be. The BBC have plenty of platforms for this type of interview and they could have made this program a lot more interesting – the interview linked to by Jezk is evidence that Macca is up for it if it’s pitched right.

  30. Rick R says:

    Your headline made me think I was reading The Onion. Brilliant, and very much on point!

  31. LouAnn says:

    Cue the usual Macca fanboy outrage. Dismiss Kanye as an artist? Check. Accuse Macca of being a “parody of himself” (who else can he be but himself?)? Check. Rang about Paul telling Beatles stories rather than revealing the no-doubt riveting reason why Denny Laine left? Check. Make cheap-shot comments on McCartney’s aging face? Check. Come now folks, where are the rants about his dyed hair? You’re slipping.

    Sheesh, you all say Macca is on autopilot but then, so are you. For goodness, it’s a BBC program aimed at a GENERAL audience, about a COMPILATION of McCartney’s solo work — the first to ever attempt to represent his entire solo career after the Beatles. He can’t ask himself questions. And if he was asked too many Beatles questions — as is usually the case — that is on the BBC interviewer, not on Paul.

    Likewise, it’s ridiculous to attack a notoriously private man for not being outspoken. He’s not John Lennon, folks. Get over it. As Paul said in this program: “Why do people have to know my innermost thoughts?” That is absolutely honest and revealing. It’s how he feels — much like George Harrison felt about this dog-and-pony show he had to do to sell albums and promote his music. Paul does these interviews to promote the new release. That’s it. And we all should know that by now. It’s just rude to rip into the old guy for doing what he’s always done. And FYI, Lennon’s “honesty” was BS a lot of the time. He was very good at lying and convincing you he was telling “the truth.” And Keef says garbage he doesn’t he even mean just to get headlines. But I guess the only thing that’s important is that you all feel entertained by their ranting BS. What bothers me is your thinking that their flamboyant interviews reveal any more than Macca’s reserved interviews. It’s all spin.

    I would have preferred sharper questions about Paul’s solo work. But his solo work unavoidably starts with the Beatles breakup and people still want to hear about that — even if Macca fans have heard about this to death.

    I thought Paul was funny, open (as he can be), and interesting. And he answered Paul Weller’s question — however much you all don’t like his answer. Cue usual outrage from Macca fans about Beatles heavy set lists.

    • Daran says:

      ” it’s a BBC program aimed at a GENERAL audience”

      I thought we had already established that this series is entirely NOT aimed at a general audience? Previous shows have been as per billing the breakdown in detail of a specific album. So why should they have changed the rules for this interview with Macca? If they wanted a banal / generic 60 mins of rambling and such like from him (that provides nothing new) then they should have done it as one of the BBC’s ubiquitous bland bank holiday ‘specials’ (you know the ones that nobody is around to listen to).

      I believe there is a bank holiday coming up next week! What perfect timing that would have been.

    • Chris Squires says:

      You are plainly quite passionate about this LouAnn, however if you read most of the points here only a few target Macca specifically. And on any forum that is to be expected, we can’t all love the same people. I would suggest that many of the posts here quite understand why Macca is becoming like he is, agree with it or not, but their ire is aimed at the program specifically and the BBC in general. It’s not Paul’s fault that he was allowed to escape unscathed, un-challenged and nothing of any depth was really asked of him. Yes he could have been more open, he could have gone into more depth but the interview and program process didn’t really even go there so why should he volunteer? The vast majority of the responses above seem to get that and only a few go into areas that could even remotely be called disrespectful. SDE and this thread is not really as bad as the post you put your name to suggests, it is not perfect and some posts tread close to a line, but that is rare and responses are usually forthright to anything remotely troll-like or disrespectful. If you read any thread there are people who will admit to not being a fan of X, Y or Z but can appreciate what they are doing or what they have done. I feel like we have been unfairly told off for something that really wasn’t that bad….

      • RJSWinchester says:

        “It’s not Paul’s fault that he was allowed to escape unscathed, un-challenged and nothing of any depth was really asked of him”

        McCartney and his management & PR teams stage manage these sort of things. He’s not some up and coming artist, he’s Paul McCartney and the BBC will bow down to any demands regarding the questions that can be asked and topics that can be discussed.

    • Fady says:

      I completely agree LouAnn.

      Whether or not you like Kanye West there is no need to call him a “talentless fool”.

      • Chris Squires says:

        Ahem. I guess that, for me was one of the things that I did agree with.

        Kanye West operates in an area well outside of my comfort zone, that I find hard to even have a passable interest in because it comes from my polar opposite. I can’t stand the lifestyle or music that he promotes, I think it is really bad for society. All of which is bad enough, but then he makes these pronouncements that even the press don’t have to put a “stupid” spin on because he has done that himself.
        So If *I* were to make a dictionary with someone to epitomise a talentless fool Kanye West would be right up there in the running. Oh, OK he is successful and rich but so are many other talentless fools. All my own opinion of course. So maybe I misunderstand him, maybe I haven’t given him the time, but really he operates so far into my “This is terrible” zone that I believe he deserves to be there. We all have people we just don’t *get*. He (and his awful, awful talentless extended family) is one.
        Maybe I am just jealous.

        • Fady says:

          Yes, he acts like an idiot and there is no doubt he has said and done some outrageously stupid things. I get that people don’t care for him or his music but that doesn’t make him “talentless”.

      • Daran says:

        Why not? His antics (stage crashing award presentations etc) show that at the very least he is an idiot with a huge ego. Since when has telling the truth been outlawed? I missed that announcement.

        • Fady says:

          “Since when has telling the truth been outlawed? I missed that announcement.”

          The comments about West acting like a fool and behaving poorly is truth. The comment about him being talentless is not truth but an opinion.

          • Paul Sinclair says:

            I said some people think he’s a talentless fool. That is fact.

          • Daran says:

            Debateable. It seems it’s quite a widely held view even in the rap community, let alone the industry generally. Talentwise, he’s no Jay Z is he.

  32. Daran says:

    Maybe he was saving stuff up for this:

    “Paul has today launched a brand new six-part virtual reality documentary series discussing songs from his forthcoming release ‘Pure McCartney’. Filmed in his private home studio, fans embark on a personal journey with Paul as he recounts memories and anecdotes related to various tracks, while sharing archival and never-before-seen footage.

    The ‘Pure McCartney VR’ episodes, which chronicle ‘Dance Tonight’, ‘Coming Up’, ‘My Valentine’, ‘Mull of Kintyre’ and ‘Early Days’, will be released episodically, starting today, and continuing through the coming weeks up to the release of ‘Pure McCartney’.

    On his website.

  33. Adam shaw says:

    I watched it and yes it was the same old Q n A .
    What I didn’t like was the BBC headlines to promote the program .
    Macca “I was depressed ! ”
    Macca “Kanya is a monster!”
    Totally taken out of context for advertising .
    I wonder what PM thought of that ?

  34. LouAnn says:

    P.S. The fact that Paul’s comments in this interview have received massive publicity — about comments you all have heard him make many times before — suggests there is interest in these comments and the the interview did what it was supposed to do: promote the new compilation to a NEW and GENERAL audience. You all may buy Pure McCartney as completists but it wasn’t created for the diehard fans, it was created to introduce casual fans — now and for years to come — to Macca’s solo work. Especially after he kicks it and people want to buy a compilation of his solo stuff.

  35. Ollie Carlisle says:

    If nothing else, reading this discussion will make watching it tonight far more enjoyable! Fair enough, Macca is something of an anecdote jukebox. Maybe in another ten years he’ll be tucked up in a rocking chair with a blanket on his legs repeating ‘John Lennon’, ‘Baking bread’ and ‘Good little band’ endlessly but for now perhaps we should enjoy the fact he’s still around to tell the same old tales. I replay his albums many times over so I’m happy to keep listening to his stories as well.

  36. RJSWinchester says:

    I do think this is a somewhat naive critique by Mr Sinclair. The main purpose of programme was to promote McCartney’s forthcoming compilation. If McCartney had been promoting a warts ‘n’ all autobiography where he’d discussed his artistic decline over the past 30 years, then it might have been raised in a one on one interview. But he isn’t. This broadcast would have been carefully choreographed and stage managed by McCartney and his management & PR teams with rules set beforehand about what could and what couldn’t be discussed. He was promoting a new compilation so questions about his commercial decline over the past 30 years were never, ever going to be raised! This was just a crowd-pleasing promo broadcast aimed squarely at casual radio listeners, not obsessives who, for whatever reasons, want to know the ins and outs of McCartney’s personal life. And knowing any of those details isn’t going to make his music sound any better (or worse)!

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      That may have been the main purpose from McCartney’s perspective, but the producer of Mastertapes shouldn’t / wouldn’t have had that as his ‘main purpose’. The main purpose of a new McCartney interview under the ‘Mastertapes’ banner should have been to offer some interesting insight into the recordings of an album or some albums. I think we can all agree it failed to do that…

      • RJSWinchester says:

        In a situation like this, it’s McCartney who will dictate what can and cannot be discussed, not the BBC.

        • Paul Sinclair says:

          Maybe, but so what? As someone has already pointed out, no one is forcing the beeb to agree to his terms. If all the BBC are going to get is the same stuff he’s be saying for decades, why bother?

          • RJSWinchester says:

            Because he’s Paul MacCartney and casual fans / Beatles fans will tune in. It’s aimed at the mass market not McCartneyologists!!

  37. I generally expect no new revelations in these kinds of interviews. After all, McCartney is known to millions of people and that means millions are just casual fans who haven’t heard all of these oft-trotted out anecdotes before.

  38. AlexKx says:

    Soon what did he say about Michael Jackson? Anything about the Sony/ATV catalog being sold?

  39. Kenneth Tilley says:

    Don’t get me wrong i’m a macca fan but this, deary me, he’s been working to a script in interviews
    for quite a while now. what annoys me is where are the probing questions, it just seems no one wants to annoy him and they let him get away with it. his voice is not what it used to be neither.
    sorry.

  40. MikeyH says:

    The interview was a bit like Paul in concert – a show of the greatest hits (stories) carefully strung together to please a mass audience. He is actually capable of interesting stuff, but you won’t hear it in interviews or concerts. Paul (Sinclair) is right on with his critique – and agree that McCartney’s ‘for the masses’ chat show interview clearly subverts the intent of this series.

  41. Paul fraser says:

    Your dream of ever interviewing McCartney is looking even dimmer after this review, Paul. So well done on not watering it down for personal gain.

    As a Beatles fan with only a passing knowledge of his solo work, I rather enjoyed it, although the poor fella has certainly lost his singing voice. Some of the anecdotes felt familiar and I don’t have the same knowledge of the proper McCartney fans here, but it did feel like interview on autopilot.

  42. scotty_G says:

    WOW. So much interest here. I agree with the general sentiment on nothing new from Macca and the show did not present as Mastertapes intended.
    I disagree about the show intention being for mass market and not “McCartneyologists”.
    McCartney has not been mass market for thirty years or so, his albums sell on the strength of his Beatles association and his successful Wings 70’s era and early 80’s solo work. The majority who by Pure McCartney will be “McCartneyologists”. In that vein the expectation is that McCartney will share something more insightful with his loyal fans on a show such as Mastertapes and especially when they are considering to fork out their hard earned $ again on another of his releases.
    Casual listeners who want a compilation of this nature in this century will download and create their own, particularly if its intended aim is at listening to “while driving” as Paul himself said in earlier promo’s. Unlikely casual listeners will be watching Mastertapes also I would think, given the shows usual intention is to focus on a particular album/s etc. Misguided marketing.

    • RJSWinchester says:

      “Casual listeners who want a compilation of this nature in this century will download and create their own”

      Casual listeners will most likely pick up a copy at their local supermarket! Really surprised by the naivety and lack of knowledge about how these interviews are played out when it involves such a big name. If McCartney goes to the BBC for a chat be it on the radio or TV, the BBC will be briefed beforehand about what they can or cannot ask. It’s standard practice for a name as big as McCartney! Anyway, why would they ask him why he’s not had a Top 10 single in 30 years when the answer’s bloody obvious!?

      • Daran says:

        There is no naievty here. Everyone knows how the game is played with media advisors and the big stars having their own press offices. It’s no secret you can’t ask Macca about Denny Laine, he won’t talk about it and the interviewers are asked not to ask. We get it.

        But the bottom line as Paul’s rant (can I call it that!) made very clear is that this was ‘Mastertapes’ – a show for hardcore fans who want to hear about why Yamaha DX7 synth Marimba sound was added to track 2 of album XYZ etc etc…. It’s not (and has not been) a show for casual ‘chat-show’ type talk.

        The BBC either picked the wrong show for a casual ‘new CD on the way’ promotional chat with Macca, and should have made it a special for a weekend or bankholiday or they should have had the foresight to know that he could not provide the content to match the shows established theme and therefore not invited him on it!

        • RJSWinchester says:

          It’s a special edition… Here’s the promo blurb for it on the BBC Mastertapes website.

          Mastertapes Special: Paul McCartney. In this filmed version of Mastertapes, Paul McCartney talks to John Wilson about his career and answers questions from the audience at Maida Vale studios.

      • Chris Squires says:

        You are, I am sure, aware that you have not only labelled the curator and most of the posters here as naïve. You’ve done it twice now. To me that diminishes your points, which might or might not have been instructive. Calling people naïve at every opportunity doesn’t impress on me that we are actually naïve, but instead that you feel you have something to desperately prove. Your intelligence or insight maybe. There are other ways of doing that that do not include insulting everyone, or almost everyone, here. You might be right but people stop listening when you stoop to insult.

        Apologies Paul for the off-topic post on this occasion but I felt it was merited.

        • RJSWinchester says:

          And I’ll say it again. It was naive to expect anything other than a “Paul’s a really nice two thumbs-up sort of bloke who’s about to release a new album” broadcast. I think the McCartney obsessives need to be a bit more realistic with their expectations when it comes to this sort of thing.

  43. gwynogue says:

    QUOTE – Paul Sinclair: As someone has already pointed out, no one is forcing the beeb to agree to his terms. If all the BBC are going to get is the same stuff he’s be saying for decades, why bother?

    QUOTE – Paul Fraser: Your dream of ever interviewing McCartney is looking even dimmer after this review, Paul.

    BINGO! Traditional media such as TV and print (and even radio) is slowly being arse-kicked by the internet. Exclusives, ratings and revenue are what counts, so a station/network is not going to refuse a major star who could easily up and go to a rival station/network.

    But I do think it’s often the management more than the celebrity him/herself. This is very true here in Australia, the breakfast TV and chat shows are very fawning over celebrities (even minor ones) because they know that if they ask/mention something they were told not to, they could lose any opportunities for future appearances – not just from that particular star, but possibly other stars from the same management/PR company. Appearances that rivals would gladly appreciate. The situation reminds me somewhat of this dialogue from “The Games”:
    John Clarke: We can’t have this sort of rubbish being written. This is badly written, unresearched rubbish.
    Gina Riley: You don’t mind badly written, unresearched rubbish when it’s on your side.
    John Clarke: I don’t have a problem with favourable crap. Favourable crap is an excellent result. It’s the best result you can get in Australia, favourable crap.

    I realise Mastertapes is not a breakfast/chat show, but are they really going to turn down an opportunity like this? Post-70’s-commercial-decline notwithstanding, Macca is a musical icon. This appearance gave Mastertapes attention from world-wide press. Yes, it was crap – but it was Mastertapes’ crap and no-one else’s.

    On a lighter note, I think this Macca interview is the best one I’ve ever seen. :)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKCCDlPdlq4

  44. Paul Wren says:

    I agree with every word of this review.

  45. Barry says:

    Why can’t we be just thankful he is still alive and producing new music? Do we really need to criticize him on his interviewing technique and other things that really don’t matter? I cannot imagine a world that had never borne Paul McCartney. Oh, yes I can….Hell. Okay, well, that’s an exaggeration but think about the music lost….

  46. liam says:

    I enjoyed it.

  47. Dave McGonigle says:

    Well, what do you expect from these sessions – they are the audio equivalent of ‘an audience with…’ and as such are about as controversial as Kanye West being….controversial. A chap whom I must defend: he’s often a fool, but hardly talentless. I dread to think what being stuck in a lift with him is like, though…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yxg96916Ls

  48. gwynogue says:

    They should have let Heather Mills ask a question…..
    : )

  49. Brett says:

    What an ignorant comment about Kanye West. Whether you like him or not, there’s no denying he’s one of the most important artists of the last decade.

  50. mike says:

    I thought the Macca story about Kanye was rather sad – you have one of the worlds greatest songwriters in studio, and you take a couple of riffs, speed them up and send them over 6m later as a shambolic beats effort – shows complete disrespect. Suspect Macca doesn’t actually approve of being butchered but then he is hardly likely to turn down a top 5 single.

    • Daran says:

      “you have one of the worlds greatest songwriters in studio”

      Yes, and Macca’s not too shabby either :)
      Seriously, how could anyone including Sir Paul not be in awe of a talent so huge as to be able to get mentions in for Gladys Knight and her Pips, WAGS and Ribena in the same song! That sort of magic doesn’t come along every day now does it.

    • Craig says:

      ‘Complete disrespect’? – wasn’t it The Beatles who first played with speed and time in the recording studio? Editing recordings to create new sounds, like Kanye, is exactly what Paul would have done 50 years ago.

  51. Craig says:

    So, it seems, because you don’t like Kanye West, the new, interesting insights are pointless. I think your emotions got in the way of you with this critique. Plus, whilst the licence fee may have been ‘wasted’ for you, there are many younger fans who would have loved to hear these stories; they’re not exactly common knolwedge unless you’re a real Beatles fan who has gone digging for them.
    In the same way that you feel about the show, this review was an utter waste of my time.

  52. Paul McNamara says:

    The BBC’s general dumbing down, which we see so much in their political and economic broadcasting often finds its way into music and other areas on entertainment and McCartney was a willing stooge, rambling as usual, never really answering the question, because he never really listens: he’s always full of his own ideas/agenda. Agreed the celebrity audience was a sham with the usual suspects holding court. Altogether very disappointing.

  53. D.Martin says:

    I think an artist of Paul’s stature and longevity would probably take on a project such as this purely out of politeness. He must be some effing bored by the constant demand to reflect on his past. That he is still out there playing live and doing exceptional performances really should be enough. If we insist on an artist constantly reflecting on their past, we inhibit their ability to look forward. Give humble thanks that we lived in the same era as Paul.

  54. If Sir Paul would get his finger out and get all The Beatles albums, Wings albums, and all his own album issues out in a digital disc format in hi-resolution rather than Hi-Res downloads (Minimum outlay for max profit) then i will empty my bank account but as everyone who has a hi-end Blu-Ray audio disc player or hi-end SACD player will tell you ‘once we have all The Beatles and Wings and his solo work in Hi-Res then what else has Sir Paul got to re-release over the next ten years, not an awful lot, yes i agree with this review on the BBC iPlayer interview, a lot of reworked answers to very familiar questions to promote his latest re-release.
    Sir Paul,
    Please. i would buy it if it was in Hi-Res Blu-Ray Audio or SACD but not in standard def i have all them already.
    Keep alive and kicking though, would hate see you go.

  55. Jeremy Price says:

    Paul McCartney is arguably one of the most examined people of our time. To be fair, as he says in this interview on http://noisey.vice.com/en_uk/blog/a-pure-conversation-with-paul-mccartney :

    Noisey: Hi Paul. Do you ever feel like you have nothing left to tell people?

    Paul: Yes, definitely. There is one story for every situation. I do it in my live show. I’m talking and a story comes up. I think to myself, “If anyone’s been to my show before then they’ve heard all this.” There’s only one story about how I met John. I can invent another if you like, but everyone knows it wouldn’t be true. I always think to myself, “I’ve told this a million times.”

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