James Paul McCartney: From TV Station Master Tape (Watch Tower WT 2001043)
(49:42): Introduction, Big Barn Bed, Medley: Blackbird / Bluebird / Michelle / Heart Of The Country, Mary Had A Little Lamb, Little Woman Love / C-Moon, My Love, Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey, Liverpool – The Pub Scene, Gotta Sing Gotta Dance, Live And Let Die, Beatles Medley (passerby) The Mess, Maybe I’m Amazed, Long Tall Sally, At The End Of Another Day, Yesterday, Hi Hi Hi (UK Broadcast; May 10, 1973)
The “James Paul McCartney” television special was his “début” to the entire world. Filmed after their university tour of 1972 and at the completion of Red Rose Speedway and “Live And Let Die”, it is a strange mixture of shtick, performance and introspection that is hard to categorize. The closest genre it approaches is the kind of variety show that was popular in the seventies showcasing a particular talent, like Donnie & Marie or The Brady Bunch. Viewing it thirty years later it is a fascinating piece to watch if for nothing else to see Paul and the first Wings line up playing live.
It was booted soon after the broadcast and can be found complete on the famous vinyl release James Paul McCartney (JPM 41673). Watch Tower released James Paul McCartney : From TV Station Master Tape in 2002 and this remains the best sounding editon on silver of the soundtrack. It is very clear and blemish free and includes the rare UK telecast-only performance of “Hi Hi Hi.”
It was broadcast in the US April 16th, 1973 on ABC and a month later on May 10th on the BBC. It begins with the band playing “Big Bard Red” in front of a high pile of television monitors with an audience cheering along as the texts introduce each member of Wings and list their favorite color and other teen mag trivia. The “Blackbird” medley is Paul sitting playing his guitar singing with Linda taking pictures. “Mary Had A Little Lamb” is nothing more than a performance video by a lake and walking on a bridge following a flock of sheep.
Some segments work better than others. “My Love/Uncle Albert” is a performance piece that prefigures McCartney’s videos of the 80s like “Pipes Of Piece” with lots of sets and costumes and interesting situations. “Gotta Sing Gotta Dance” received the most comments with its bisexual dancers to his cabaret style tune. “Live And Let Die,” which McCartney wrote for the James Bond film, was given its world premier in this telecast before its release as a single on June 1st.
Some segments are painful to watch like the “pub scene” with Paul in a Liverpool tavern yukking it up with friends, family and locals. And “A Beatles Medley” is the low point, a collection of people on the street with their out of tune renditions of Beatles tunes. The live performances are really nice including “The Mess”, “Maybe I’m Amazed”, and “Long Tall Sally” filmed on March 18th, 1973 at Bornham studios. For the audio only Watch Tower remains definitive. Two years after its release Misterclaudel released a nice version on DVD of the video which is also recommended.