The Other Side Of Off The Ground (Jack Flash JFR 007)
(76:49): Off The Ground, Big Boys Bickering, Long Leather Coat, Kicked Around No More, I Can’t Imagine, Keep Coming Back To Love, Down To The River, Midnight Special, Things We Said today, Cosmically Conscious, Style Style, Sweet Sweet Memories, Soggy Noodle, Deliverance. Bonus tracks, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY- October 20th, 2001: I’m Down, Yesterday, Let It Be, Freedom
Although 1989’s Flowers In The Dirt is considered Paul McCartney’s commercial comeback, complete with his first tours in more than a decade, Off The Ground is probably a stronger sign of his return to artistic integrity. It contains much more variety in styles, substance,
Recording sessions began in the autumn 1991 with “Winedark Open Sea” the first demo. “Peace In The Neighborhood” and “Biker Like An Icon” were recorded between November 25th to December 6th at McCartney’s Sussex home studios with the rest recorded between December 9th, 1991 to July 1992.
Off The Ground was released in February 1993 and four songs, “Hope Of Deliverance,” “C’Mon People,” “Biker Like An Icon” and “Off The Ground” were issued as singles. Along with the singles came a slew of songs recorded during the sessions but not included on the album. A rare 2CD set called Off The Ground: The Complete Works was officially released in Japan and the Netherlands.
The Other Side Of Off The Ground collects all of the singles from the album into one collection. It’s not a simple copy of disc two of official two disc set because it contains much more.
The first track is the third single and title track, “Off The Ground.” The 7″ single mix is ten seconds longer than the album cut. It’s the same musical mix, but there is a ten second introduction with the percussion and Paul’s “la-la-la-la-la” before the guitar and album track cuts in. There are four other songs on the CD single, but are found later on the disc. Jack Flash probably broke them up, and placed this song first, because it is the title track.
“Hope Of Deliverance” was the first single from the album and actually preceded its release by several weeks. It is one of his few “political” themed songs and became a minor hit in Great Britain. The CD single had three other songs included. “Big Boys Bickering” has a similar political theme, but is much more negative and is a rare example of Paul using an obscenity on record.
“Long Leather Coat” is a strange pop – fifties rockabilly hybrid, and “Kicked Around No More” has a rare co-writing credit with his wife Linda.
The next three songs are from the “C’mon People” single. “I Can’t Imagine” and “Keep Coming Back To Love” are pop-oriented ditties which sound like outtakes. “Down To The River” is much more interesting, however. It was played live in a couple of shows on the “Unplugged tour” in 1991 (and can be heard on Codename Falconer (Beatles Master Works BMW009 A/B) The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise (Beatles Master Works BMW029 A/B)). It’s Paul’s unabashed salute to American balladry in the same spirit as “Midnight Special,” one of his favorite songs.
It’s appropriate then that the next two songs, “Midnight Special” and “Things We Said Today” follow. These are live tracks from Paul’s “Unplugged” session and were released on the single “Biker Like An Icon” in the U.S. (and on the 12″ “Once Upon A Long Ago” in the U.K.)
The next four tracks come from the “Off The Ground” single and are perhaps the most interesting. “Cosmically Conscious” was written by Paul in 1968 when The Beatles visited India. Ninety seconds appear on Off The Ground as a coda to the final track “C’mon People.” It changes styles from acoustic ditties to transcendental singalongs and is one of McCartney’s strangest tracks. “Soggy Noodle” is a twenty-eight second little ditty.
“Delvierance” is the Steve Anderson 12″ disco mix of “Hope Of Deliverance” which was a minor hit in the U.K.
Jack Flash include several bonus tracks from the Concert For New York City at Madison Square Garden on October 20th, 2001. They are really out of context with nothing to do with Off The Ground. But, since Jack Flash released this in 2002 it was thought to be a good bonus at the time. It contains McCartney’s set from that show except for “From a Lover to a Friend” and “Lonely Road.”
The Other Side Of Off The Ground is packaged in a flimsy cardboard digipak and fills a need for the McCartney collector because it contains so many hard to find b-sides from the era in one convenient disc. The singles and rare Off The Ground Complete Works still float around, but are still hard to find and expensive when they do appear (the Complete Works was recently listed on Ebay for $80).