Tug Of War (1982)

Album Cover

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In October 1980, Paul goes back to an old project consisting in gathering some never released tracks for a new album called Cold Cuts. McCartney and Wings work on it during October at Paul's farm in Hastings, Sussex, but the project is finally aborted.

In November, Paul and Denny Laine join together at George Martin's Caribbean studios in Montserrat.

Paul starts working on a new album in collaboration with George Martin. This is the first reunion of McCartney and Martin since Live And Let Die in 1973.

  Paul and George Martin collaborating again.
    Paul and George Martin collaborating again.

Wings has just broken up. Laurence Juber and Steve Holly have been dismissed from the band and Back To The Egg seems definitely to be the Wings' last performance.
For the new album, Paul wants to have various guest stars recording each song with him.

Paul's interview in 1982.   On December 8th, 1980, John Lennon is shot dead in New York just when he returned home after a recording session. Paul breaks off from work and decides to withdraw to his farm in Sussex, totally overwhelmed and unable to make any comment.

Paul finally returns to Monserrat in February 1981 and goes on recording Tug Of War, the new album. Various famous musicians follow one another in George Martin's studio to record with Paul: Dave Mattacks, Steve Gadd, Carl Perkins, Stevie Wonder, Stanley Clarke, Eric Stewart and Andy MacKay are among them.

Paul also gets the visit of Elton John, Ringo Starr and George Harrison. All together, they record a new composition by George, inspired by John's death and called All Those Years Ago. This single will be included later on in the forthcoming album of George Harrison, Somewhere In England.

Paul's interview in 1982.    

A lot of visitors... but also a departure: Denny Laine definitively quits Paul during the Tug Of War recording sessions. Denny is looking for a solo career, but its future work won't be a great success.

Tug Of War is issued in April 1982 and is very well received by the critics. Even today, Paul's fans often regard this work as his best one since Band On The Run.

The album quality clearly comes from the profitable partnership between Paul and George Martin and from the well chosen artists who accompanied Paul all along the album recording... without mentioning the growing maturity of Paul who now is at his best as a songwriter and as a performer.

Tug Of War is a huge success everywhere, and particulary in the United States where it remains #1 for 3 weeks. The album will stay in the US charts for 29 weeks. 

Because of Tug Of War, Paul will be rewarded as the best british artist and for the best contribution to british music (BPI Awards).

  Promotion for Tug Of War.
    Promotion for Tug Of War.

Paul and the orchestra playing Tug Of War.  

The masterpiece is kicked off on side one by Tug Of War, a nice ballad with the same title as the album.

It starts slowly with an acoustic intro and goes on into something more electrical and more powerful, the whole song being backed up by a beautiful orchestra.

In this song, as in many others on this album, Eric Stewart perform backing vocals with Paul and Linda.

Paul and the orchestra playing Tug Of War.

Take It Away, a faster song, follows directly without any fading after Tug Of War. As the song progresses, more and more instruments join during the chorus and the song becomes more and more joyful. Ringo Starr play drums with Steve Gadd and George Martin plays electric piano.

Then comes Somebody Who Cares, another acoustic and beautiful ballad written by Paul. 

McCartney's voice is perfectly clear and some nice instruments contribute to the beauty of this song, like the Spanish guitar played by Paul or the pan pipes played by Adrian Brett. The guest star performing this song with Paul is Stanley Clarke who holds the bass guitar.

Tug Of War recording session.
  Tug Of War recording session.

Next guest star is Stevie Wonder who join Paul to write and to perform some kind of funky song, What's That You're Doing. Paul and Stevie alternatively take the lead vocal and join together for the chorus. A nice happening when Paul and Stevie start to jam around the famous lyrics of "She Loves You, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!...". Stevie Wonder plays synthesizers and Andy MacKay (sorry, there were two guest stars...), former Roxy Music member, plays lyricon.

The album side one ends with Here Today, dedicated to John Lennon and written by Paul after John's death. It's a sad and heartrending song. Some nice violins back up the melody and remind us of Yesterday. As often with Paul songwriting, his saddest songs include some pure moments of hope and relief and Here Today is a good illustration of it.

Is the pound really sinking ?  

Ballroom Dancing vigorously opens the album second side. It's a good rock song about Paul's memories of dance halls when he was a joung man.
The lyrics are backed up by an efficient mix of piano, bass and electric guitars, some good drumming and strong brass instruments. The clarinet gliss is played by Jack Brymer, the senior figure in clarinet playing in UK.

Next comes The Pound Is Sinking, a song written by Paul to mock at the money market. Stanley Clarke holds the bass guitar once more, and Paul can focus on his electric guitar providing us with a virtuoso performance.

The song is a kind of medley for it is mixed with an unfinished work by Paul, originally called Hear Me Lover. Paul often did such medleys in the past like A Day In The Life with John or like 
After The Ball / Million Miles
and Winter Rose / Love Awake on the album Back To The Egg .

Is the pound really sinking ?    

Then follows Wanderlust, a magnificient ballad played by Paul at the piano and backed up by the wonderful Philip Jones Brass Ensemble. This symphonic interpretation is probably the best song on this album, thanks to George Martin's collaboration. At one moment, Paul's clear and perfect voice is double-tracked and used to simulate an amazing two-lines duet between Paul and himself.
Wanderlust is the name of one of the three yachts that were hired by Paul for the recording sessions of
London Town which were performed in the Virgin Islands in 1977.

Another historical moment happens when Paul is joined by his old idol Carl Perkins to perform Get It, an happy country duet written by Paul.
Carl plays electric guitar and Paul plays bass, acoustic guitar, percussions and synthesizers.
Paul and Carl alternatively take the lead vocal.

After Be What You See (Link), a short piece where Paul is playing acoustic guitar and vocoder, comes Dress Me Up As A Robber, a fast song mixing high and low pitches vocals by Paul. It seems to be a little bit experimental as if coming from his previous album, McCartney II. George Martin is at the electric piano and Dave Mattacks at the drums.

  Paul with Carl Perkins
    Paul with Carl Perkins.

Promotion photo for Ebony And Ivory.   The album's last track is the second collaboration between Paul and Stevie Wonder.
It's called
Ebony And Ivory, written by Paul and pulled out from the album as the main single.

This is a nice song with lyrics about peace and toleration.
Paul plays guitar, bass and piano. Stevie drums and plays synthesizers.

Promotion photo for Ebony And Ivory.    

Three songs are taken from Tug Of War and released as singles in 1982:

  • Ebony And Ivory/Rainclouds/Ebony And Ivory (solo version) is issued in March and reaches #1 in the US charts. Rainclouds is an excellent B-side performed by Paul and Denny. The single also includes a solo version of Ebony And Ivory performed by Paul without Stevie Wonder.
Ebony And Ivory Single
  • Take It Away/I'll Give You A Ring is issued in June and reaches #10 in the US charts. As usual, the B-side contains a valuable title with I'll Give You A Ring, a song that already existed as a demo in 1974.
Take It Away Single
  • It seems that there was also a release of Tug Of War as a single, but probably restricted to Europe.
Tug Of War Single
Another single, The Girl Is Mine, will be issued in October 1982 as the result of a collaboration between Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson.

This is a song written by Michael Jackson for his album Thriller. Paul and Michael perform a duet in this song that will be rather successful on the radio.

The Girl Is Mine Single
  Paul, Linda and Jacko

Paul, Linda and Jacko...

In the past, Paul had written a song for Michael, Girlfriend, which was included in both Paul's album London Town and Michael's Off The Wall.

A last production is released in Decembre 1982 with the movie theme from The Honorary Consul written by Paul and issued as a single.

Credits: Thanks to Francisco Soza from Brazil for providing me with pictures and the Portuguese translation !

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