Paul McCartney, “Collaborations” (TMOQ Gazette / HMC 052)
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – U2 / With A Little Help From My Friends – Ringo Starr / Cosmically Conscious – Ringo Starr / I Saw Her Standing There – Bruce Springsteen / Twist And Shout (Bruce Springsteen) / Cut Me Some Slack (Dave Grohl) / Blackbird (Solo) / Scrambled Eggs (Jimmy Fallon) / I’ve Just Seen A Face (Paul Simon) / One After 909 (Elvis Costello) / Mistress And Maid (Elvis Costello) / Let It Be (Billy Joel) / Get Back (Brittany Howard) / Birthday (Ringo Starr) / I Wanna Be Your Man (Ringo Starr) / Long Tall Sally (Prince’s Trust 1986) / A Day In The Life – Give Peace A Chance (Neil Young)
Only Love Can Break Heart (Neil Young) / Why Don’t We Do It In The Road (Neil Young) / God Only Knows (Brian Wilson)
Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (Ringo Starr) / With A Little Help From My Friends (Ringo Starr) / No Other Baby (David Gilmour) / Let’s Have A Party (Lulu) / Brown eyed Handsome Man (Lulu) / Baby You Can Drive My Car (George Michael) / While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Eric Clapton) / Band On The Run (Dave Grohl) / Back In The USSR (Dave Grohl) / Dance Tonight (Kylie Minogue) / Ebony And Ivory (Stevie Wonder) / Yesterday (Brodsky Quartet) / Lady Madonna (Brodsky Quartet) / I Saw Here Standing There (Little Steven & The Disciples Of Soul) / Blue Suede Shoes (Rock ‘N’ Hall Of Fame) / Got To Get You Into My Life (Jools Holland) / Hey Jude (Children In Need) / All You Need Is Love (2002 Buckingham Palace Garden) / Ballad Of The Skeletons (Alan Ginsburg) / Four Five Seconds (Rihanna)
If this set had been released officially, it might have ben called something trite like, ‘Duets’, had have been recorded in the studio or at a generic Macca-glorifying live event but with a few more stars of now like Ed Sheeran or Miley Cyrus – Essentially someone who would have paid to appear to bolster an already lucrative / flagging career. Trust the bootleggers to do this right. Under their Gazette banner, HMC have compiled a packed couple of disks of McCartney and friends bunching together to play different Macca tracks, Beatles beauties and other oddities. The title ‘collaborations’ is a bit of a misnomer too – There are a couple of solo tracks spotted in and around – The label evidently thinking that they wanted these tracks out there and so the best way to do that was sandwich them in here – no complaints from me.
The tracks follow a random path – There is some small sequencing effort but it’s a little hopscotch in it’s approach, veering between Paul’s ‘old man voice’ and that raging rock voice that we know and love – That’s the beauty of the boot however, nothing is really chained together, especially motivated to make a cohesive whole, it’s all dropped in for fun and (Apart from the first two tracks) sprinkled in in a ’So we have this ..’ fashion. The tracks are uniformly of a respective sound quality and faded in mainly to sound like a cohesive whole.
It’s my word against yours as to what’s hot and what is not (I LIKE ‘Ballad of The American Skeletons’, Paul’s effort with Beat poet Allan Ginsberg, however, I’m aware that some people find it folderol and less of a song than a packet of sugar or a length of copper wire, the less said about ’Scrambled Eggs’ the better.) – These are a handful of the highlights that I believe this set offers; I’m gonna start with ‘Cosmically Conscious’, not because that’s the kind of fiend I am but it’s loopy, dippy chorus is perfectly charming enough to work with – It is just fluff and nonsense really but as a lesser heard collaboration with Ringo, it’s worth a nod. The first two tracks with Bruce Springsteen rock – Two vintage acts that still pull punches live, together on stage and sounding like they’re possessed by the excitement – Beautiful!
‘Cut Me Some Slack’, performed with two of the remains members of Nirvana was released as a download single. A heavy weight ‘Helter Skelter’ alike, it shows that with a crack band behind him, Paul can still pull it off. Again, there will be those that yawn or beg to turn it off but I really found myself drawn in. As I did with Paul’s hook up with Elvis Costello duetting on ‘One After 909’, a beautiful, base, skiffle feel. If he was to put out an album like this – Yes, unplugged but solo, I’m sure we’d lap it up.
The second slot with Ringo features an over excitable ‘Birthday’. A brilliant take on the White Album track that never gets old. The version of ‘Long Tall Sally’ from the Princes Trust takes us way back to the mid-80’s when we could enjoy a man still in love with his roots and who still had the voice to hold it out there too. That crazy piano playing, a wonderful highlight.
I’d have to give a slight pass in respect to the Paul and Neil Young coupling of ‘Only Love Will Break Your Heart’ and ‘Why Don’t We Do It In The Road’ – Both anomalies to each (other) artist – In fact, that’s a complete sidetrack for Macca as he very, very rarely plays his song at all – The Young track is mainly his alone, the Beatles track is a true combination of the forces with a manic solo in the middle by Neil that really ramps up the odd raunchiness of this rocker. There’s a reason that the tracks end disk one however as they’re not the purest audio quality. Back to the Ringo backed tracks, our second ‘Sgt. Peppers’ opening duo is more successful than the first. Maybe because it features a band who are used to playing the songs or is stripped of it’s experimental histrionics, it’s more, atypically ‘Beatles’.
‘No Other Baby’, one of the greater, forgotten tracks from Macca’s post-Linda oldies album features the songs other star, Dave Gilmore, hey, it’s ‘No More Lonely Nights’ again! And those discrete, sad solos are perfect for the shallow chug of this really rather appealing mock-oldie.
Sticking with the ‘Run Devil Run’ era, Paul was happy to join any programme that would have him pre-millennium and from the BBCs National Lottery based show of Saturday night, Paul guests with a equally shouty Lulu on this perfectly played ‘Let’s Have A Party’ and cover of Buddy Holly’s ‘Brown Eyed Handsome Man’. That late November in 1999 was a good one!
On George’s ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, Eric Clapton takes charge while adds a quiet shimmer on acoustic – Eric’s soloing is wonderful and could split your heart apart alone but the very soul of the track itself is astonishing. Two more tracks with Dave Grohl next up, Dave taking up guitar duties at first then climbing back on drums and the renditions are superb. A raucous Macca vocal, some fantastic crunchy musicianship – ‘Band On The Run’ and ‘Back In The USSR’, certainly under the capable hands of the Foo Fighters lead man, are beasts of their best.
Under the delicate hand of the Brodsky Quartet, ‘Lady Madonna’ is turned in to a jolly tea-dance. Paul’s rinkly piano twinned with strings and horns fits it with an extra dimension – The former rendition of ‘Yesterday’ would have had to have done much more to impress.One year on from the Bruce Springsteen / Hyde Park early finish debacle, Little Steven appoints Paul to join him back on stage to finish the job – a very-E-street ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ with a wobbly saw solo right in the middle adds more than just the regular edition and it more than worth investigating.
The next 4 tracks are less duos than ‘cast of thousand’ renditions as Paul clubs together with his contemporaries at a succession of live events and leads out on various oldies and Beatles tracks -‘Blue Suede Shoes’ is more likely to be played out at rehearsals only nowadays so should be considered a rarity, ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’ always a joy to hear – Especially teamed with a full band at the back – ‘Hey Jude’, well, yeah! And finally ‘All You Need Is Love’, played out in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, is a regal rocking treat.
As mentioned, you’ll either skip the Allen Ginsburg track as there are no Macca vocals or Beat poetry doesn’t move you – If you dismiss it offhand, it’s your loss. Allen’s wise cracking, dry as a dustbowl jokiness is puerile and wise all wrapped in a brittle parchment of snark – Macca’s whittling, cracked guitar lines are pure electric blues and are some of the most disjointedly melodic freak-outs that you’ll hear this side of avant noise. Terrific.
The packaging for this set is the standard Gazette publication – Some great liner notes detailing these duets and collaborations along with, yep, Meat Free Monday ads. I’ll reiterate what I said, this set, if it was official, would be nullifying and not the set that you would pull out that often, you’ll see no shelf wear on the case in 5 years time, that it has been put together with care and a keen eye, you’ll listen to it more than you’d have thought.