Figures Of ’88 (Godfather Records GR 548/549)
Disc 1 (76:18): Return To Pepperland, Love Comes Tumbling Down, Christian Pop, Atlantic Ocean, Lindiana, I Love This House, We Got Married, Rough Ride, Figure Of Eight, Squid, Big Day, Beautiful Night, Loveliest Thing, Love Mix, Peacocks
Disc 2 (77:18): This One. Bonus additional tracks: Footprint, Write Away, Tough On A tightrope, Yvonne, Pretty Little Head, Talk More Talk, Once Upon A Long Ago, The Same Love, Good Times Coming / Feel The Sun, Press, Move Over Busker, However Absurd, P.S. Love Me Do, It’s Not True, Don’t Break The Promise, Strangelhold. The Royal Variety Show, Theatre Royal, London, England – November 24th, 1986: Only Love Remains
It seems to be a truism that Paul McCartney’s career hit a period of stagnation in the mid to late eighties, and that the period between Give My Regards To Broadstreet in 1984 to Flowers In The Dirt in 1989 represent a low point of his career as a composer. This assessment is merited solely on the fact that it was a time when he was looking at new ways to write and produce his music. But the core of McCartney’s genius, writing catchy melodies, remained.
Figures Of ’88 is the latest McCartney release on Godfather, presenting relevant documents from this time period. The core is the theoretical album Return To Pepperland. The label include other relevant tracks from the period to give a more well rounded view of the time.
Previous releases include Return To Pepperland (PMC) in 1998 which has “Return To Pepperland” and “Love Come Tumbling Down” along with the 1989 “Countdown” telecast. Return To Pepperland: The Unreleased 1987 Album (Sergeant M Records SM-0001) and Pizza And Fairy Tales (Vigotone 189/190) both arrived in 2000 and cover much of the same material.
The first disc, and “This One” on disc two, come from a tape assembled on January 21, 1988 to give to prospective producers. It contains songs produced by Billy Joel’s producer Phil Ramone scattered over several studios recorded throughout 1987. There are many good ideas and good songs, including the title track. The sparse mixes suggest these to be nothing more then demos, however, unfit for release in this form. Some of the songs, such as “Lindiana” and “Atlantic Ocean,” are nowhere near as good as the others and deserve to remain buried.
Several of the tracks, “We Got Married,” “Rough Ride,” “Figure Of Eight” and “This One” would be reworked for Flowers In The Dirt later that year. “Beautiful Night” would be released a decade later in 1997 on Flaming Pie.
The additional tracks on the second disc contain songs from the middle eighties including songs from the Press To Play project. “Good Times Coming / Feel The Sun,” is much longer than the released version due to the bridge having an additional verse with a different melody, and there is a much tighter production on “Move Over Busker” since it was being considered as a single at one point; when issued as a 45, “Pretty Little Head” underwent similar production slimming.
“Press” some guitar and synth overdubs missing and “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.
The final track is Paul’s presentation of “Only Love Remains” from his return engagement (23 years down the line) at the Royal Variety Show. He makes a clever opening remark, echoing John Lennon. It closely mirrors the 45 mix of the track, which added a synth introduction to what was originally a cold vocal intro. The sound quality for all of the tracks on the disc is very good, clear and enjoyable and is another great McCartney release on Godfather.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)