Monday, 7 March 2016

"Jefferson Airplane" (1989)




You can buy 'Wild Thyme - The Alan's Album Archives Guide To The Music Of Jefferson Airplane/Starship' by clicking here






"Jefferson Airplane" (1989)

Planes/Freedom/Solidarity/Madeleine Street/Ice Age/Summer Of Love/The Wheel/Common Market Madrigal/True Love/Upperfront Blues/Now Is The Time/Too Many Years/Panda

"We used to say 'don't trust anyone over 30' but obviously we know that's not true anymore at our age...it should be 'don't trust anyone over twelve!" (Grace Slick at reunion show 1989)

Maybe it's the thought of having just lost founding member Paul Kantner and knowing that in the end this really was the last Jefferson Airplane album with all the key players involved that makes it seem different somehow. Maybe it's being starved with Jefferson product after a 1980s that was actually pretty full of Airplanning and Star 'shipping'. Maybe it's the fact that the cold war - which was close to blowing itself out by the time this album came out but actually hadn't quite yet - is a distant memory, with the unpredictability of terrorists and sects making the idea of two world-powers fighting some distant battle seem quaint. Maybe it's a spin of the Earth on its axis to the point where hippie values suddenly seem like sense we all should follow rather than hopelessly naive and outdated. Maybe it's having sat through so many AAA albums full of outdated 1980s synthesisers recently that I've simply become immune. But for the first time probably ever, the only result of what was once voted 'the most unnecessary reunion of the year' for 1989 doesn't seem as bad as I remember it. And I do remember it being pretty bad.

Or to be more specific, for not sounding much like 'Jefferson Airplane'. If ever a band existed to overcome barriers, discover something new that no one else had even considered could fit on the map before or be caught 'doing things that haven't got a name yet' then the Airplane were the band. Times had changed of course while the band had been off doing other things; bank balances had grown while the stakes for what their music could do had shrunk, but still their core fan-base hoped that the sheer alchemy that had made them one of the most exciting bands on the planet circa 1969 would return when all five finally got together twenty years later.  The fact that it didn't and that the band ended up with an album that nobody (fan or casual music buying foe alike) wanted or liked effectively killed the band off for good after a quarter century as one of rock's greatest evolvers and survivors. The album's biggest obstacle is, surprisingly enough, what made them so great and unique in the first place - that unique mix of music and characters. In the Airplane everyone seemed to take it in turn to be the 'leader', uncaring who led from the front as long as the music was there and did the talking, while the music evolved naturally wherever the music needed to go. In 1989 the synth is king and every musician no matter how great good or ghastly sounds like they're wearing the same dress - something big and heavy and unflattering. Worse, every band member is being overly polite to each other, worried about taking centre-stage after so long away, so that everyone thinks delivering the album's big ideas and the band's raison d'aitre, is someone else's job. It's a typical Jeffersonian irony: one of the bands who did so much for a democratic, equal society where everyone gets treated kindly gets killed out of politeness.

Or at least that's what I used to think. Hearing this album again for the first time in a while (why listen to this album for fun when you can be listening to, say, 'After Bathing At Baxters' or 'Blows Against The Empire'?) I start hearing an album that works as a kind of parallel to the debut, 'Jefferson Airplane Takes Off!' (making this album, inevitably, 'Jefferson Airplane Come Into Land!') Back in 1965 the band were struggling with how to get so many different styles to gel together and cared just that tiny bit too much about what everyone else in the pop and rock world was doing; 'Jefferson Airplane' has the same problem - the band's only other LP to name themselves as part of the official title, it finds the band struggling with their own identity and caring too hard about keeping up with the 80s pop scene. Like 'Takes Off' you can tell that the band are a couple of tours away from truly flying in formation in that unique Jefferson style and yet the strong ideas are beginning to form. 'Planes' 'Summer Of Love' 'Common Market Madrigal' and 'Too Many Years' all sound like the sort of things the band should be trying and which we should have applauded more. Following the same logic the next album could have been the reunion era's 'Surrealistic Pillow', albeit as much as any record can sound similarly timeless when released with a 1980s/1990s production sell-by-date attached to it. Still, there is promise within this album about what might have been had the band played more gigs, written more songs and spent more time getting to know each other all over again before pressing 'record' (as a sign of how rushed this album is, note that the running order changes slightly from CD booklet to box).

It would surely have surprised many fans in the early 70s that the band would ever need to spend any time getting to know each other again, given how telepathically close they had once been. Most fans would have re-acted with denial if you'd told them the first time round that the full Airplane with the classic Grace Slick-Spencer Dryden-Marty Balin line-up would never again play together past 1970 and that the closest we would ever get would be this Dryden-less synth-drum filled version released a full sixteen years after the band's final concert. The Airplane, after all, were always several groups in one and who loved breaking the ideas of what constituted being in a 'band' anyway, with various band members creating breakaway groups and releasing solo albums during the course of their time in the band. Most fans would probably have predicted a series of coming togethers and partings down the years, Crosby Stills Nash and Young style, but in the end this is the only reunion that ever featured more than three members of the sextet together. The way the band got back together again at all after so long away is similarly convoluted and unlikely as to the way they formed the first time. Paul, after all, had walked away from Jefferson Starship in 1984, taking the first half of the name with him and suing the remaining members when they tried to use it. Grace, by now his ex-partner, was one of those members who'd only quit the pop-making covers band Starship as recently as 1987. She'd also announced her retirement as her fiftieth birthday in 1989 got nearer and nearer. Jorma and Jack had made their feelings about the end days of the Airplane quite clear and had their own careers - sometimes together as 'Hot Tuna', sometimes apart. Marty Balin, meanwhile, had quit the Jefferson bands not once but twice - the Airplane in 1970 and the Starship in 1978. Throughout the album's recording sessions Grace was still officially suing Paul in court over breach of copyright for using the Jefferson Starship name without her say-so. Spencer, the drummer who hadn't performed on stage or on record since his stint as a New Rider Of The Purple Sage came to an end in 1975, was the only member you'd have thought needed the money or exposure - and he ended up being the one who passed. All things considered,  the Airplane reunion seemed incredibly unlikely even as recently as 1985.

However there was one largely forgotten and overlooked reunion between three of the Airplane members (Kantner, Balin and Casady) in the CSN-referencing KBC Band in 1986 (see if you can guess which is which!) who released one poor-selling record and had a couple of tours. When the band came to a halt, Casady decided to revive the Hot Tuna band with Kaukanen, with Kantner and Slick popular guests at many of their shows, though never at the same time. Paul and Grace finally got together again when she guested, unannounced, at one of his 'Jefferson Starship' shows - the sort of shows Grace was currently suing him over for mis-appropriation of the band name. Grace was, in fact, so unannounced that even Paul didn't know she was turning up - she just started singing the opening bars to 'White Rabbit' in the wings and the new line up of Starship, already used to playing the song, followed suit. Paul could have had his ex thrown off the stage; instead in true Jefferson fashion he gave her a hug. The natural parting of the ways in the early 1970s, with each band member off doing their own thing in ones, twos or threes, seemed to have naturally come to an end nearly twenty years on and after so many half-reunions here and there it was only a matter of time before somebody thought to make the call to re-group the 'explorer' ships back to the mother-ship for an MOT and service.

It speaks volumes that the sessions were probably the easiest-going of any Jefferson album since 'Crown Of Creation' way back in 1968 and the most democratic in terms of dividing the songs (with three for Paul, three for Marty, three for Jorma and four for Grace, alongside one track by outside writers). With most other bands, AAA included, a democratic reunion album made in an atmosphere of peace and co-operation is a good thing; think The Rolling Stones in 1989, The Who the same year or the recent Grateful Dead get-together. Jefferson Airplane, though, are a band who for all their peace and love credentials thrive on frictions and sparks. To be a 'true' reunion faithful to the old Airplane Grace should have slept with half the band (actually she and Marty - the one member she never slept with - are getting very flirty on the cover while her ex Paul appears to be looking anywhere else), Jorma and Jack should have held up the sessions with some impromptu speed-skating tours, Paul should have broken off halfway through to write a bonkers concept album and Marty should have disappeared partway through the sessions, claiming that his role in the band was 'only ever going to be temporary'. Instead the Airplane seem to have worked politely and fairly and nicely throughout, hoping for a revival in their fortunes - and where's the fun in that? certainly nobody seems to have been all that disappointed that the album didn't work out and in a funny way the band were probably luckier that it didn't; having spent money plugging this album and wanting more Epic naturally agreed to sell Hot Tuna's first record in twelve years now that Jorma and Jack had enjoyed working together; Grace finally returned to the retirement she'd postponed; Paul got back to his own personal Jefferson Starship with a better understanding between band members when he could and couldn't use the name and Marty's solo career got an extra boost, with a solo best-of hot on this album's heels and some of his better solo work to come across the 1990s. Unlike The Beatles, who had to put up with calls for their reunions in almost every interview they ever did between 1970 and 1980 and occasionally beyond, Jefferson Airplane could point to this album and get on with what they wanted to do, safe in the knowledge that they were also better friends than they were the last time they'd all been in the same room in 1970.

The album also serves as a fair farewell to a great album in some ways too - not the production, obviously, or the average quality of the songs, or the very un-Jefferson method of playing it safe. However like many successful reunion albums, 'Jefferson Airplane' is a compact disc tie-dyed through with nostalgia - and a nostalgia that sounds fitting to what the band's morals and ethics had once been. 'Planes' should have been the closing track not the opening, a sweet song about immortality and passing on the love of something on to a future generation so that it never really dies, with Paul's lyrics finding closure of sorts as he tries hard to offer his childhood the love he never got when he was young and literally passing an airplane down to the next generation to keep and treasure and modify. It remains the first and only song about the transport the band were named after since the rather more unfathomable opening track on the opening LP, 'Blues From An Airplane'. Grace's bluesy 'Freedom' addresses a subject that's been keen to the Jefferson DNA since the first gig, Grace admitting 'I've been standing still so long, I almost forgot you had a song'. Marty's 'Solidarity' is the band's single most Summer Of Love celebrating epic ever - except, of course, for Marty's own 'Summer Of Love' later on this same album. 'Madeleine Street' is a memory of being young, even though fans differ as to which period and incidents it's actually remembering.  'The Wheel' sounded ridiculous on 1989, an OTT hippie song calling for us to be 'one world' when America felt like it was split up at least thirty different ways after a difficult cold-war riddled decade, but it's a nice nod to what the Airplane would no doubt have been singing about the modern age had it been happening in 1967 instead. 'Too Many Years' may be a personal confessional type of love song, but the chorus at least is a 'Wasted On The Way' style 'too many years have gone by' message that every reunion album should have at least one of. 'I get back to thinking about where we once were', a line from 'Summer of Love', is written through this album like coastal town names get commemorated in rock (the sweet, not the musical genre).

That's fine. That's nice. You need to know where you've come from before you can work out where to go next - which is a very Jefferson ideal. But there's a sense too that a whole album of the Airplane looking back on their youth from their rocking chairs is something of a wasted opportunity. I can guarantee that if the Airplane of 1967 had been around in 1989 they'd be kicking Reagan as much as they once did Nixon and they'd be decrying the anti-Russian anti-communist 'star wars' rhetoric the same way they once attacked American foreign policy in Vietnam. The Airplane weren't always political (that element of their music only arrives once Paul and Grace get really going), but heck even the Jefferson-less Starship threw a few songs in there decrying the modern age, while the Jefferson-filled Starship kept such ideals central to their navigation system. The closest we get here is Grace singing about the European Common Market as a sort of storybook fairytale and Paul singing about Nicaragua apparently voting in democratically the very rebel group that had been committing murder and genocide on a mass scale, with some alleged help from some dodgy American arms dealers lending a helping hand (not that you'd know it from the song, which is more about hope for a utopian solution than the nuts and bolts of why 1980s society is a mess despite such 1960s hope and promise for the future). The year 1989 - the bit shortly before the Cold War becomes history and Reagan hands over to daddy Bush - needed an album like the one the younger Airplane could have offered more than ever, with piercing no-prisoners attacks on the corruption and stupidity of those in power. Instead it got fifty odd minutes of Marty singing about how great the summer of love once seemed (which won't have been much consolation for those too young to ever remember feeling hope) and Grace singing about pandas. Actually, closing track 'Panda' is one of the brightest songs here - in terms of subject matter if not as an actual song - as the Airplane finally record their first ecological song, a spin-off of the protest genre which the band had been doing all their lives and which was big in the 1980s. Though Pandas seem an unlikely subject for a band named after one of the machines that has the biggest carbon footprint of any ever invented, it also fits them like a glove. There should have been more songs like this on the album.

The other trouble, if you really know your Jeffersons well in this period, is how much of this album is recycled. 'Planes' and 'Summer Of Love' were two of the most popular songs The KBC Band performed live on their 1987 tour and though the band split before they had a chance to record it in the studio the arrangement is clearly closely modelled on the original, with just a few extra Slicked-up harmonies for good measure. Two of Jorma's three songs 'Ice Age' and 'Too Many Years' had both appeared already on his 1985 'Too Hot To Handle' solo album where they sounded rather better. Even Grace's 'Panda' had already been played by her in superior form on a TV special she made with Graham Nash the year before. You can't help thinking that the band are using this reunion project as an excuse to show their better songs of recent years to a wider public - but if so then it's sad just how low even these better songs fall against the glories of the band's past.

The 'real' problem though is that the Airplane were a band built - a few classic Marty love songs aside - mainly for speed, adrenalin and excitement. It's hard to sound excited when you're singing about growing old against a backdrop that makes even the teenage kids of the day sound old before their time (seriously, most of the 1980s performers still going sound much younger now thirty years on), which robs the band of one of their biggest unique selling points. The 1980s production, by Ron Nevison who'd worked with Jefferson Starship in the final Kantner days and on Grace's last solo album 'Software', then takes away the first thing that hits you on any past Airplane recording (Jack's fat bass sound) and sticks Jorma off somewhere to the side instead of dead centre where he belongs. Add in the lack of full-on harmonies ('Planes' is probably the only song to feature Paul Grace and Marty soaring in tandem), the tacky pop cover (something Jefferson Starship might do but never Jefferson Airplane), the strange blues instrumental (something Hot Tuna always did, but rarely in the Jefferson family), the depressingly large number of session musicians in the credits (with only Jorma's brother Peter a familiar face/sound)  and the overall feeling that the band are wailing about something you can't quite hear over the synths instead of inviting the audience to join in and live inside the song with them and you have several reasons why this reunion album adds to being a disappointing and underwhelming release on the whole. Had the better songs ('Planes' and 'Summer Of Love' especially) been draped around something more substantial, though, we could so easily have been talking about the re-booting of a career here and another glorious ten years or so under the Jefferson banner.

Using up their best song and the only track on the album that sounds as if it's a 'true' collaboration at the start, 'Planes' is - fittingly enough - the essence of the Airplane. A Jeffersonised version of CSN's 'Teach Your Children', it's a typical Paul Kantner epic about taking a sad song and a sad start in life - and making it better. An eternal doodler, there's surely more than a little of Paul himself in the character of the kid in class whose oblivious to everything except the drawings of planes and ignored by everyone except the girl sitting next to him in class. The lad has a difficult life - 'his mother didn't want him and his father was always working' (in real life Paul was close to his mother who died young, but his father was indeed always working and packed him off to boarding school) but doesn't get bitter because the Airplane aren't a bitter band. Instead he loses himself in daydreams and imagination and a middle eight where it feels as if he is physically soaring along with the plane, a million miles away from the all-too-real earthly restrictions pulling him down to Earth. By the time of the second verse the boy is older (he met a little girl and they had another little boy) but still not grown up - he's still referred to as a 'little boy' still obsessed with planes. The father learns to pass on his 'coping mechanism' and enthusiasm to his boy and in typical Kantner style teaches him to dream big with nothing to hold him back, but with the added proviso that hopefully there'll be less for him to escape from. A sweet middle eight informs us that 'both his mother and father love him and hold him and hug him whenever he needs it!' It would be nice, too, to think that Paul had his most famous band in mind when he wrote this song about experiencing wonder and escape from hardship and learning to pass the ability onto other people - except that this song started life as a KBC track long before an Airplane reunion was on the cards (arguably when Paul started performing it circa 1986 he was as out of love with the Jeffersons as he ever would be, having split with Starship and about to split with Balin and Casady). It just 'sounds' like a high-flying Airplane song, though, and the band do it justice for perhaps the only time on this album, with some sweet Nicky Hopkins keyboards in a Grace Slick style (the 'Volunteers' pianist returning once more on what's probably the last of his 30 odd AAA appearances) and some soaring Paul, Grace and Marty vocals just like the old days. The song isn't quite perfect - the chorus especially sounds unfinished and ends without a rhyme ('I love planes...experimental aircraft...jet jet aircraft!'), while Kenny Aronoff fails badly at the admittedly thankless task of trying to sound like Spencer Dryden and even Jorma sounds slightly off with his unusually grungy playing (is it in fact brother Peter performing here?) Even so 'Planes' is a near-classic that ticks most of the right boxes and more than deserves it's top thirty US single chart placement, the last of the band's career to date. Had the rest of the album soared close to this sort of altitude this reunion album would have been a winner.

Alas Grace seems to be treating the album like a last solo album. Thankfully 'Freedom' is closer to the emotional ballads of her masterpiece 'Dreams' than the nonsense of 'Software' or the noise of 'Wrecking Ball', but even so this musical re-make of her own 'El Diablo' (complete with Spanish hand-claps near the end) lacks both passion and fire. On paper this song should be the most Jeffersonian on the album, Grace passing on the wisdom she's learnt from her years in the band - that you shouldn't wait for someone else to come along and teach you how to be 'cool' but to feel the freedom to be yourself. Grace even makes out that she's singing this only to the listener, sympathising with 'out' tears and wondering 'how any of us ever come out sane' in such a crazy world - a trick that's hard to pull off but one that Grace manages well. The fact that Grace is turning the clock back full circle by writing a bluesy song (Hot Tuna should have kept it for their record) would also seem to bode well. But in practice this is a sloppy song that doesn't have enough of a tune to be memorable, one which more than likely only features Grace and a bunch of session musician and is marred by some truly over-blown guitar solo-ing and heavy handed drumming. 'Don't look back 'cause that's just a waste of time' Grace consoles us during the middle of this song, However a little more looking back to the past might have reminded her how the Airplane could and should have approached this song, with Grace sparking off Jack and Jorma and turning a personal private plea for 'freedom' into a singalong band crusade.

At least Marty has the group spirit, with his co-write with Brecht and Cummings on 'Solidarity' a pretty song that if anything is a little too obviously simplistically Airplane. Sounding as if it was written with early Airplane cover 'Get Together' in mind (with one ear on the late 1980s vogue for bombastic musicals), 'Solidarity' is a song about strength in numbers that would have sounded perfectly at home in the set-lists of the Summer of Love era Airplane. Castigating those who rule and 'try to split and fool us', Marty reminds us that people are greater in number than politicians and that we have the power to change the world for the better when meeting in a 'common cause'. Together with a nice punchy chorus that grows in stature (and even features Paul and Grace, briefly), I've certainly heard bands who should know better get away with worse on charity singles down the years. Marty copes well with the song too, although it would again have been nice to have had more of a Jeffersonised style about things (this is, after all, a rallying cry about standing together - which only Marty and - very briefly - Paul and Grace appear on). The trouble is, though, the old Airplane used to be more subtle about this sort of thing. Yes the sentiments are perfectly in keeping with the Airplane ethos of peace and love, but the ponderous 80s backing so isn't in keeping with the method. There's no grit here, no awareness that coming together is unlikely but still worth trying and no sense that this is an invitation only the tone deaf or the heartless could possibly refuse. In 1967 'Won't You Try?' was the Airplane's intoxicating invitation to join them in turning on, turning out and dropping out and they sounded like a band who had all the answers; in 1989 'Solidarity' makes the Airplane sound like on the one hand that they aren't a united band and on the other that they're s disunited band with more hope than sense.

'Madeleine Street' is the album's slow grower, a rare Marty-Paul collaboration (their first since 'St Charles' back in 1976) on which Paul unusually sings lead. Another song about memory, it recounts a trip Paul took to Nicaragua that appears to have taken place after he dropped out of college. 'A little young, a little crazy', Paul is trying hard to look hip, 'talking about Tennessee Williams and trying to be so cool', while embracing this mysterious new world where everyone wants to chat and everyone stays up late - so different to his own regimented military academy upbringing. 'Madeleine Street', then, is a song about learning that you don't have to follow rules and you can't get any more Airplane than that. You also can't get more Paul Kantner-esque than the verse that has the narrator imagining he's sitting next to Marlon Brando and being a real rebel while name-checking his band in the line 'I took an Airplane named desire' for where he travels next. Unlike 'Planes', though, this song feels like it lacks the usual Kantner twist or extra message to make it special and the song ends at least a verse too early. How much more interesting it would have been, for instance, to find out why the trip happened after 'my world came apart' (in reality it was Paul effectively running away from home to become a musician) or exploring the fact that it was here Paul first falls in love (yet already learns that 'love is not for fools' - it's worth pointing out that they didn't have any girls at his school). 'Madeleine Street' sounds as if it's leading somewhere, as if we're hearing Paul re-count the first small steps on a great journey that led to a quarter century (and counting) of high-flying exploration, but instead it's too busy partying to tell us the story properly. At least this sounds like a 'band' song again, with a nice guitar solo (almost certainly played by Jorma this time) and Grace matching her vocals alongside her ex-partner one last time (the song needs more Marty, though). The real star of the show though is Nicky Hopkins playing a last great honky-tonk solo as he keeps the song rooted in a bar. At least the band sound like they're having fun, though.

Fans are split as to whether Jorma did his songs for this album better as acoustic solo spots or as here in electric form with a 'full band' (though sadly not the Airplane - Jack may be the only other member on this song). Personally I'd take Jorma acoustic most times, but 'Ice Age' does suit the electric crunch of his double-tracked guitar quite nicely (there's a great guitar solo, albeit one more in the Hot Tuna bluesy-controlled style rather than the Airplane psychedelic-unhinged tradition) and his vocal is a little more committed here too (it's just a shame about the percussion). As with so many of Jorma's 1980s songs, which move further away from the 'happy and hopeful' Jefferson trip than ever,  he feels stalked by something, with some intangible danger shadowing him and making him think about his own mortality. We never hear what the 'news' is that starts Jorma off thinking this way, but the second and third verses suggest it's something political as Kaukanen reflects that as politicians tend to be older than most people they don't care about leaving the planet behind in a good state for the younger crowd, while craving 'immortality' and re-shaping people's ideas of what they actually did ('They're sewing up the past with shining sutures' as Jorma characteristically poetically puts it). For the rest of us, meanwhile, we have no such hold on immortality and 'live our lives as slaves' following the rules of the powers that be while we 'race on to the grave'. Jorma never uses the term 'ice age' anywhere in the lyric, but he's clearly hinting at a colder, less humane period for humanity, which makes a lot of sense given the context of this song being written in 1989 with the likes of Reagan and Thatcher and the cold war seemingly unmoveable. It's great to hear the Airplane tackling something a little edgier and darker like this song, but Jorma's been out of the Airplane for so long he's forgotten how to work his talents around theirs and ends up with a song that sounds like a slightly less passionate version of his solo version without any real band interaction at all bar Jack (mixed horribly low).

'Summer Of Love' is the album's second near-classic, a sweet and loveable ballad from Marty. Though it sounds at one with all his traditional love songs of yesteryear it's a romance not about a person but a time-period as Marty makes those of us already sick at being too young for the Airplane the first time round even sicker by making the 1960s sound as magical as can be. Marty is proud enough to declare that he was 'a part of it' and even prouder to claim that he 'believes in all the music' even nineteen years after he quit the band, even adding 'it's still playing!' The real heartbeat of the song though comes at the end, when Marty gets as close as he can to paraphrasing Paul's 'Wild Thyme' but sighs on the line that he expected it to be 'just a beginning' before declaring that the days aren't really dead because 'the spirit lives on in you and me'. Though Marty's tune is pretty special too, slow and languid and memorable in a way none of the rest of the album's tunes are, you have to say that both performance and production again really fluff a halfway decent song. The slow tempo, the icky synths and an unusually ropey harmony vocal from Grace alongside Marty's lead place a song that's trying so hard to look back to the summer of love firmly in the summer of 1989. Though it's hard not to doubt Marty means it when he sings 'I want to do it all again!' the Airplane sound uncomfortably old and middle-aged here, a world away from the sort of adventurous anything-goes roots Marty is trying to salute here. I still stand by the thought that as a song this is one of the best on the album though, even if ironically enough it's reuniting with the Airplane that almost kills it (Marty's solo re-recording on 1991's 'Better Generation' is far better, while Paul and Marty-era Jefferson Starship later did the song pretty well too on a run of live CDs where the song went from the-one-nobody-liked to the-one-everybody-loved almost overnight). The summer of love really was something special - it's just a shame that it's spirit is a memory here not a way of life and the resulting recording is one you sense most Airplane fans of years gone by would have scoffed at openly, for better or worse. Still, a fitting last Airplane song by Marty, as a writer at least.

'The Wheel' is Paul's final track released under the Airplane name and though as a song it's not a fitting way to say goodbye, it's ambition is certainly in keeping with Kantner spirit as he tries to pull off a complex six minute song full of twists and turns and embracing multiple styles at once that still somehow ends up sounding pure Kantner. The song, subtitled 'for Nora' in the lyric booklet, seems to refer to Nicaraguan guerrilla fighter Nora Astorger who left a peaceful family home in Italy to rise up against who she saw as the oppressors of her homeland, The Samoza, who had brutally reason to power and claimed martial law (allegedly with some help from Ronald Reagan arm deals; Paul had already written the KBC Band song 'Mariel' for her so the fit seems ever more likely). Nora seems in the song like a typical Kantner heroine to go alongside 'Martha' and 'Lightning Rose' - the heroine who sorts out mankind's problems by being noble and just and fighting for peace. Except that Astorger's story doesn't really follow these lines; she's on record as saying that 'armed struggle was the only solution and that a rifle couldn't be met with a flower'. General 'El Perro', one of the major leaders of the Samoza, was supposedly murdered by her when a kidnapping plot went wrong, while she often dressed in military fatigues to get her message across to others. She did, at least, end up a respected politician and Nicaragua's representative at the United Nations when the Samoza lost power in the mid-1980s. Paul may have been particularly impressed with her tenacity in a long-running court case against the United States whereby she proved that their role in the takeover of Nicaragua was 'illegal', her last victory before her death in 1988 - a year before this song was written.

As usual, though, Kantner is more interested in the bright possible future of peace than mulling over the darkness of the recent past and 'The Wheel' is much more about how Nora represented hope for the future than anything specific about her story. Kantner sees life a series of cycles, a big wheel turning as in so many other songs, and vows that a better one must surely be in store after so many years of bloodshed, 'some climbing aboard' to help the wheel of change turn faster. A second verse goes very Jefferson Starship as Kantner is given a return visit by the 'spirit of the mountain' and gets all cosmic with a 'lighthouse keeper' and a 'seer of visions', which probably wouldn't have meant a lot to Astorger and couldn't have been more different to her feral existence on the run from the 'law' for so many years, but clearly means something to Paul. There are some good lines near the end of the song though, as Paul tells us 'dreams don't die...unless you let them and watch them die in fury!' Like many a Kantner epic, though, this is less a 'song' and more a collection of disparate parts that don't really fit together. The 'we can be one world' chorus seems clumsy and again a little too obviously Airplane-like, while - ironically for a song about the inevitability of change - the song seems to get stuck there, returning to this most simplistic part time and time again. Jorma slots in the best guitar solo on the record, all flying fingers and rage, but once again the listener is more likely to be distracted by the heavy-handed drumming and the less than harmonious harmonies. Many of the best parts of the song are also not Paul's at all but taken from Nicaraguan poet Margaret Randall's thoughts and quotes from Nora's life (a lifelong voracious reader, this marks the first time Paul got a song using this method since 'Crown Of Creation' in 1968, although once again Paul has leapt so much further ahead in his thoughts, using the book as a launching pad rather than turning it into a song, so that the few people who've read the book and heard this song have probably never seen a connection - till now, anyway, though the odds of someone reading this site as well are infinitely lower than that still!)

'Common Market Madrigal' is Grace's best song on the album, if only because it's the one that most resembles her traditional style. A pretty song that makes good use of her unique block-chord piano playing style for one last hurrah, sadly it's caught between genuine inspiration (the opening) and the sort of pop song that gave Starship a bad name. In typical Slick style, she takes the ideas that the others are writing (with this song mirroring the hope of 'The Wheel' and 'Solidarity' in particular) but humanises it, making the new formation of a 'common market' a backdrop to a personal tale of travel and hope that would have been harder without it, rather than talking about huge numbers enjoying the benefits. Grace doesn't actually mention the common market anywhere but the title and if anything the song sounds olde worlde, Grace singing about travelling through 'ancient lands' and imagining 'enchanted princesses' and 'fairytales' she's only ever known from books before now. Travel is clearly broadening the mind of her two un-named characters, even if they only seem to have eyes for each other for much of the song, but as with so many songs on this album there's no real 'message' here, no sudden realisation or resolution that the Jeffersons of old would have added in for definite. The performance too is a little unsteady as chances are only Grace appears again and the track calls out for Paul and Marty's harmonies, though this song also features easily Grace's best singing of the album. Still, even if 'Madrigal' (it isn't a madrigal by the way - there's more here than just vocals for a start and no mention of religion, although there is a slight Baroque feel about the track) isn't the best song Grace ever came up with it's good to hear here at least partly up to her best before she waves us goodbye.

One song on the album many fans seemed to enjoy was the Marty-sung Steve Porcaro track 'True Love', also released as the album's flop second single, though for the life of me I'm not quite sure. Noisy pop that would sound identical to Starship had Marty sung it more like Mickey Thomas, it's the closest Jefferson anything ever come to sounding like a Eurovision act complete with oh-so-predictable key change, over-drippy lyrics ('True love' is the sort you don't recognise until it 'creeps up on you') and the musical equivalent of 1980s shoulder-pads with the synths sticking out more than ever. To be fair at least there's a catchy riff underneath all this and Marty and Grace deliver far more passion than the song actually deserves and had this song been the Eurovision winner in 1989 for a new act I wouldn't have minded too much (though I still say Nathalie Paque should have won for France that year with her 8th placing 'I Stole Life' over Riga's irritating 'Rock Me' for Yugoslavia). But this is the Airplane. They never did predictable and the only cover songs they ever did in their heyday were fashionably unfashionable - Biblical gospels or songs David Crosby's various bands had rejected for being 'too weird and controversial'. Even Jefferson Starship never got quite this pop-hit by numbers and would have found something a little off-beat to throw in there. 'True Love' is a good song and if Marty had stuck it on a solo album I'd have been tapping my feet with the best of them. But up to standard on the one and only Jefferson Airplane reunion album, their last will and testament to the world and their first music of any kind in seventeen years? I don't think so.

Similarly 'Upfront Blues' is an indulgence too far and one the younger, less polite edition of the Airplane would normally have requested Jorma to drop early on (or perhaps not given 'Wild Turkey's placing on 'Bark'...) Chances are only Jack, Jorma and new drummer Kenny (finally given a song that suits his louder, relentless style - he sounds pretty darn good here) appear on the track, which is really a bluesy Hot Tuna Jam rather than a 'proper' Airplane song. 'Embryonic Journey' it ain't, although at least the first opening roar is impressive as Jorma slowly whips the trio into shape and then adds a second guitar part which bounces off the first. Unfortunately what sounds like it's going to be a killer opening to a song ends up being the whole song and runs out of ideas long before the seemingly hasty 2:02 playing time.

'Now Is The Time' is another Grace song that sounds as if she wrote it for Starship, complete with gritty grungy guitar posing (almost certainly not by Jorma) and heavy contrasts between a laidback verse and an urgent pop chorus. It's good to hear Grace swapping lines with Marty (they still sound more natural together than Grace and Mickey ever did) and there are some nice Jeffersony lines about how 'life is a dance' with each of us born 'with our own song to sing'. However, that's about all - some nice ideas (and some not so nice ones: check out the couplet 'Now is the time, the time it is right, we've got no reason to wait - let's do it tonight!') drowned out by a clumsy OTT backing track and more feeling that the Airplane of old wouldn't have even contemplated doing a track like this in their first career. Sure the band couldn't turn up and just sound like it was 1967 all over again (though oddly, yet typically, most of the reviews of this album made that accusation anyway), but no fan - including the three or four who statistically must have loved this period of music in general - wanted them to sound quite as '1989' as this. Sadly 'now is the time' - and it really shouldn't be.
'Too Many Years' is Jorma's exit and thankfully a stronger goodbye than his partners get. By far his best song on the album, it's a typically Jorma song about regret and loss that had it not originally appeared on an all-acoustic solo album would have been the 'quiet, reflective' one on a Hot Tuna album in between the blues and rock. Jorma opens the door to an ex partner and his mind instantly turns to 'danger' mode, while their body language would appear to outsiders to 'be the way of strangers'. But Jorma's narrator doesn't want things to end like this; he's cared for her too long to say goodbye so coolly and finds that the pair rather enjoy their goodbye chat, with a chance to say things they never got round to saying safe in the knowledge they might never meet again. He even feels part of what made him fall for her in the first place, but in keeping with this album's theme he feels it more as a memory. Jorma's best verse comes right at the end when he says that both of them were in the partnership were in it for the right reasons, but he naively thought 'living together was simply a matter of caring' and found marriage far more complicated than he ever realised. Always the pessimist in a band of eternal optimists, there's no happy ending in this song the way that there would have been in Paul's, Marty's or Grace's and that seems about right, with Jorma trying to learn from his mistakes rather than declaring he'll do better next time. Jorma sings the song well and his playing is as exquisite as always (it's currently a shoot-out between Jorma and Stephen Stills for 'the best AAA acoustic guitarist' in the finals of the weird championships being held in my head, with Jerry Garcia an honorary bronze), but he actually did this song better on 'Too Hot To Handle' without the usual sessions musician distractions going on behind him. Once again Jack is probably the only other Airplaner to appear on this song.

The album ends in slightly underwhelming fashion with 'Panda', with the band leaving it to Grace to see out their career. Many fans like this song which at least has much of the old Jefferson spirit; the band were always big on their animals (most famously with 'White Rabbits' in the Airplane days and with tigers and dragons in the Starship era) and the idea of an environmental protest song seems so obvious Airplaney it's strange to think that this is their one and only. The difficulty is that, like many Grace songs of recent vintage, it's all so forgettable, with Grace clearly writing the words first and setting them to rather bland music that rises and falls without ever really going anywhere (she'd spent most of the Jefferson Starship years as a lyricist anyway). The lyrics are better, but Grace still sounds more earnest than genuinely inspired as she sings such clichéd lines as 'When will the killing end? When we see the light?' Inevitably though the song starts off gentle and slow and almost interesting, the session musician excesses soon over-topple the song into a parody of itself, a Stock-Aitken-Waterman pop song that's lost sight of the message it was trying to offer. Paul pops up on the vocal briefly, but otherwise chances are Grace is alone for the final Airplane recording on their final album. The band that once started in such dramatic fashion with the opening gutsy chords of 'Blues From An Airplane' that sounded so different and so real has ended up going out on a damp squib that could have been by anyone and - though heartfelt - comes across sounding fake.


'Jefferson Airplane' the album is, then, a sad way to bring the curtain down on such an extraordinary career - too 80s by far for long-term 60s fans and too loosely dipped in hippie manifesto to win over a trendy audience (nice try with the 'hip' cover guys, but the band are also all too clearly showing their age there too). The band simply weren't ready to work together again - too many rifts unhealed, too many songs that needed to be written and too many questions about what their sound was and whether it was worth returning to. The idea, though, was surely a worthy one and had the band waited just that little bit longer to see the end of all law suits, build up a rapport, audition a more suitable drummer and wait for the 1990s (when bands like the Airplane become hip once more) then this album could well have worked, with 'Planes' and 'Summer Of Love' a strong core to build a whole new career on. Alas it was not to be and the reunion album takes away just that little bit from who the Airplane were and what they could be. Few reunion albums could ever have lived up to that though - and if 'Jefferson Airplane' the album is too bland by half, that's only because we're measuring it against 'Jefferson Airplane' the group, the one who did eleven impossible things before breakfast and came as close as any band can to changing the world. 

Other Jefferson-style articles from this website you might be interested in perusing:


A NOW COMPLETE LIST OF JEFFERSON ARTICLES TO READ AT ALAN’S ALBUM ARCHIVES:

'Takes Off!' (1966) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/news-views-and-music-issue-116.html

'Surrealistic Pillow' (1967) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2014/03/jefferson-airplane-surrealistic-pillow.html

'After Bathing At Baxters' (1967) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/review-15-jefferson-airplane-after.html

'Crown Of Creation' (1968) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/jefferson-airplane-crown-of-creation.html

'Volunteers' (1969) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/jefferson-airplane-volunteers-1969.html

'Bark' (1971) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/news-views-and-music-issue-91-jefferson.html

'Blows Against The Empire' (Kantner)  (1971) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/review-44-paul-kantner-and-jefferson.html

‘Sunfighter’ (Kantner/Slick) (1972) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/paul-knatnewrgrace-slick-jefferson.html?utm_source=BP_recent

'Long John Silver' (1972) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2017/02/jefferson-airplane-long-john-silver-1972.html

'Baron Von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun' (Kantner/Slick/Freiberg) (1973) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/paul-kantner-grace-slick-and-david.html

'Dragonfly' (1974) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/news-views-and-music-issue-51-jefferson.html

'Red Octopus' (1975) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/jefferson-starship-red-octopus-1975.html

'Spitfire' (1976) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/jefferson-starship-spitfire-1976-album.html

‘Earth’ (1978) https://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/jefferson-starship-earth-1978.html

'Modern Times' (1981) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/jefferson-starship-modern-times-1981.html

'Winds Of Change' (1982) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2016/07/jefferson-starship-winds-of-change-1982.html

'The Empire Blows Back'# aka 'The Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra (Paul Kantner/Jefferson Starship) (1983) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2016/10/paul-kantnerjefferson-starship-planet.html

'Nuclear Furniture' (1983) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/review-87-jefferson-starship-nuclear.html

'Jefferson Airplane' (1989) http://www.alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/jefferson-airplane-1989.html

Non-Album Songs 1966-1984 http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/jefferson-airplanestarship-non-album.html

The Best Unreleased Recordings 1966-1974 http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/jefferson-airplane-best-unreleased.html

Surviving TV Footage 1966-1989 http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/jefferson-airplane-surviving-tv-footage.html

Tribute Special: Paul Kantner and Signe Anderson http://www.alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/tribute-special-paul-kantner-and-signe.html

Live/Solo/Compilation/Hot Tuna Albums Part One 1966: 1978  http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/jefferson-airplanestarship.html

Live/Solo/Compilation/Hot Tuna Albums Part Two 1979-2013 http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/jefferson-airplanestarship_16.html

Essay: Why Flying In Formation Was So Special For The Jeffersons https://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2018/02/jefferson-airplane-essay-why-flying-in.html



Paul McCartney: Surviving TV Appearances and Film Footage 1970-2018





As a fair few of the AAA bands don't actually have any videos or releases in their name we decided to start an occasional series looking back at all the surviving TV footage of each of our AAA bands, even thought to be honest our Macca DVD page was already overflowing. This article was published as one of our rather extended 'top ten' columns and was first published as part of the newsletter 'News, Views and Music Issue 334' published on March 1st 2016 – not that we’ve noticed any updates of Macca doing anything exciting since then, but you never know!

The Beatles always had close links with films and TV - their first recorded performance on film at the Cavern Club in 1962 came before they'd even released their first single and it was the film 'A Hard Days' Night' that helped spread the word about the fab four beyond the confines of the record player. The fab four even 'invented' the music video as a good excuse not to have to keep making those same mimed performances over and over, starting with 'Paperback Writer' and 'Rain' in 1966. Paul in particular relished the art-form and decided to use it a lot in his solo career and during the seven years he flew with Wings and there are dozens of examples on this list, one much longer than for most AAA artists and also long before MTV made music videos essential. Most of these music clips have been gathered together in the DVD 'The McCartney Collection' - though not all by any means, with several 1980s clips sadly missing. Though the music videos make the backbone of this list there's plenty to watch too from madcap interviews on children's television promoting Rupert The Bear to several Wings TV specials - some of which were even actually screened - and a handful of mini-concerts for TV everywhere from the top of the David Letterman studio roof-top to the half-time performance at the Superbowl.
This is undoubtedly one of our longest lists, not only because of how prolific McCartney has been down the years but because such a high quota of his work has survived the ravages of time, unlike so many other AAA bands. Unlike the early Beatles when everyone assumed they’d disappear overnight, practically everything Paul has done since 1970 has been kept by whatever network he was appearing on: archives were far more complete in the 'colour' era than they ever were in black-and-white and by the time of The Beatles' split everything McCartney did was newsworthy and worth keeping. Though mainly confined to UK television, Paul and Wings were also popular everywhere they went so there's a fair sprinkling of American and European TV footage here too. Please note though that this list probably isn't complete - it couldn't be, not with the amount Macca and co have done around the world across so many years.  Chances are there'll be some obscure Australian late night TV clip I've never seen or a brief news clip of Paul bursting into 'Hey Jude' that's missing from this list. As always, the clips listed here mark only those that I've seen with my own eyes (it’s hard to review something you haven't seen I find!) rather than a complete list: even so, it’s a lot of Macca to be going on with. Please note too that we've had to be selective: we've included every lengthy interview Paul ever gave and absolutely every musical appearance we can find, but we've drawn the line at news-reel footage or news reports, or documentary programmes, or Paul speaking as part of another programme (e.g. the footage of Paul used in news clips around the world on Lennon's death isn't here). We've also ignored the footage that is available complete elsewhere (and covered elsewhere in our book) so you won't find the 'Broad Street' film, the 'Rockshow' concert or 'McCartney In Red Square' here as we've already gone over those particularly long and winding roads. However music videos and substantial interviews are fair game whether or not they've ever been re-released - we'll tell you where you can see them officially as the list goes on; if not then please give our very own Alan's Album Archives Paul McCartney Youtube playlist a look? (Simply go to https://www.youtube.com/user/AlansArchives and search for the 'AAA Paul McCartney Playlist' if you have enough ‘Queenie Eyes’ (we'll wait here patiently while you do, honest!) So without further ado here's the act you've known for all these years...

1.    [11] Maybe I'm Amazed (Music Video 1970)

Needing to promote the 'McCartney' album with as little involvement and as little fuss as possible (the album was made in secret so that nobody from Apple would dare to change it) Paul himself directed this simple video to go alongside the debut album's best loved track (never itself released as a single). Less a film, more a visit to the McCartney home collection for a private viewing, it’s largely made up of pictures shot by him and Linda all looped together in one long slideshow, including some particularly lovely shots of dad with seven-year-old stepdaughter Heather and very newborn baby Mary. It's not unlike using windows media player to join up pictures today and though low budget goes nicely with the audio. Appears in 'The McCartney Collection' DVD and the deluxe edition of the album 'McCartney'.


2.    [23] Heart Of The Country (Music Video 1971)

A similar trick was used for this song from 'Ram' - an unusual choice given that depending where you lived you got either 'Uncle Albert' or 'The Back Seat Of My Car' was actually the album single and neither of those got promo videos. This delightfully simple song is much easier to put a video to however and is probably a better bet as the single than the other two anyway. The video is similarly home-made but full of moving images this time, with Paul and Linda taking turns to film each other riding horses in a variety of arty ways and hanging out at the cold-looking Scottish beach with Paul's English Sheepdog Martha. It must have been a jolt for Beatles fans in 1971 seeing so much footage of Paul and Linda together (they'd been relatively private till here, at least in comparison to John and Yoko) and so at home in the countryside so soon after he'd been out on the town with Jane Asher and always out in town. Appears in 'The McCartney Collection' DVD and the 'Ram' deluxe edition.


3.    [18] 3 Legs (Music Video 1971)

More horses for courses on what looks much like ‘Heart Of The Country’ part two. There’s some sweet footage of Paul and Linda riding horses next to each other this time (whose filming this sequence? Judging by the low height, is it maybe young Heather in a period when the McCartneys didn’t trust ‘outsiders’? If so she’s very good!) and the same beach is being filmed at night. The sweet video doesn’t really go with the sarky visuals however and this less successful clip wasn’t seen quite as often then or now. Passed over for ‘The McCartney Collection’, it did appear in the deluxe edition of ‘Ram’.

4.    [39] Give Ireland Back To The Irish (Rehearsal 1972)

Though Wings never filmed a video for their first single, one of the few not to get one in the 1970s, that's probably just as well: it would have seemed trite to start miming a song about the Irish troubles while all smiles or wearing green caps or something. However a three minute snippet of Wings in rehearsal does exist and it’s the earliest footage of them around. It was broadcast as part of an 'ABC Special Report' about Paul's new band and the American network are clearly far more sympathetic to the Irish struggles than UK TV would have been at the time. In an odd bit of symmetry this very first and what will be the very last Wings clip seven years later both show a clearly nervous and slightly bored band rehearsing and trying to cope with Macca's OTT vocal. The raw take filmed is still a great version of this song though and Wings already have their signature band sound despite only knowing each other weeks by this point. Still officially unavailable.


5.    [42] Hi Hi Hi (Music Video 1972)

Wings' second single is a real no-frills song about hi-jinks and, well, plainly drugs whatever explanation of the song's radio ban McCartney might give out these days. Fittingly the video for the song is simple, introducing the band in film (even Henry McCullough who is so new he didn't even play on the original record!) but with a slightly surreal haze as if the video too is 'recovering from the trip it's been on'.  Sadly the video was rarely seen at the time thanks to the ban but now is back in its rightful place as part of the 'McCartney Collection' DVD.


6.    [43] C-Moon (Music Video 1972)

Luckily Paul also had the presence of mind to film the sweetly daft B-side, which became a hit instead of 'Hi Hi Hi' when several Disc-jockeys decided to turn the single over. Alas the lyrics don't make any more sense in this version of the song, even with Macca's helpful hand gestures (L7 makes a 'square' gettit? No nor me really...) Even this early in Wings career the band are ringing in the changes, with Paul on his 'magical mystery tour' psychedelic piano, Denny Laine on guitar, Henry on drums and Denny Seiwell on trumpet! Thank goodness this clip is mimed... Appears in 'The McCartney Collection' DVD.


7.    Mary Had A Little Lamb (Music Video 1972)

Macca and co shot a special promo video – different but similar to the one re-shot for the ‘James Paul McCartney Show’ – for his latest audience, the under-fives market. Basil Brush was the foxiest host of 1970s British television (Boom! Boom!) and their appearance here is visibly a shock for the rest of Wings (especially poor Henry, who does his best to look rock and roll cool while perched a-top a badly built hill). Denny L, though, doesn’t take things lying down and, err, lies down in a fake brook seemingly in protest. Even Linda looks uncomfortable. Paul, though, is in his element and even gets his ‘magical Mystery Tour’ tank-top out the wardrobe. Mercifully/oddly, things are interrupted in the middle for a badly animated version of the nursery rhyme which looks like an off-cut from ‘The Bruce McMouse Show’.

8.    [46] My Love (Music Video 1973)

Another straightforward mimed band performance of the 'Red Rose Speedway' single. The director clearly 'knows' this song is about Linda because there are lots more shots of her than normal, even though she actually does less in this video than she normally does (a bit of dancing and that's about all, not even any keyboards). Note that while everyone is more or less back to their 'normal' roles Denny is miming Paul's bass parts while the Liverpudlian lad himself mimes his piano overdubs. You can see this video on the DVD 'The McCartney Collection'.


9.    [61] Helen Wheels (Music Video 1973)

One of my favourite Wings videos, this one seems to be laughing at the fact that there are now only three 'Wings' to cover five instruments. The band members keep jumping from one part to the other and compared to their rather po-faces on the last few songs seem to have been having a massive joke just before filming that they're still laughing out their systems. Intercut into this is the McCartney jalopy after which, according to interviews a nervy McCartney gave to the press while fearing another radio ban, this song was 'named'. Nice try Macca, we all know this was a sneaky way to get 'hell on wheels' past the censors! While Paul i, naturally in Wings' driving seat, Denny and Linda take turns trying to see who can stand up the highest in the car and pointing at the camera being carried by the vehicle in front of them, while offering the first filmed appearance of the 'Wings' emblem (two waved hands looking like birds!) You can see this video on the DVD 'The McCartney Collection' and in the 'Band On The Run' deluxe edition.


10. James Paul McCartney

([45] Big Barn Bed/’Blackbird’/[56] Bluebird/’Michelle’/[23] Heart Of The Country/[40] Mary Had A Little Lamb/[41] Little Woman Love/[43] C Moon/[46] My Love/[21] Uncle Albert-Admiral Halsey/April Showers (pub singalong)/Pack All Your Troubles (pub singalong)/You Are My Sunshine (pub singalong)/’Gotta Sing Gotta Dance’/[65] Live and Let Die/versions of ‘When I’m 64’ and ‘Yesterday’ sung by the public/[64] The Mess/[11] Maybe I’m Amazed/’Long Tall Sally’/‘Yesterday’ UK TV Special 1973)

Even for Paul McCartney and his large collection of unreleased films, this TV special had a chequered history. The only reason it exists at all is because of a legal dispute that saw TV executive Lew Grade (the boss of ATV songwriting which published the McCartneys music) challenge the fact that Linda (signed to a different company) ‘deserved’ half the songwriting royalties of his records, having never had a note published in the past. Time will show, of course, what a gifted songwriter Linda could be in her own right, but this was long before the likes of ‘Seaside Woman’ and ‘Oriental Nightfish’ came out and after the Beatles split people seemed to believe anything bad of McCartney and his wife. In actual fact it was the only money the McCartneys were existing off between 1970-1971 when all their Beatle finances were tied up with Apple. The dispute was settled out of court on the grounds that Macca allowed himself to appear in an hour TV special for Grade's other interest, TV station ITV (ABC in America screened it a month earlier than in Britain). The fab one agreed, reluctantly, that it was the best solution for band and fans and might even give Wings an extra boost of publicity and that’s how ‘James Paul McCartney’ came about with everyone less than enthusiastic about it and on a very tight budget. A weird mix of live-in-the-studio footage, home movies of the extended McCartney clan at the pub, a song and dance tap number and some solo acoustic performances (plus some truly dreadful karaoke from the passers-by in the street), it’s such a heady, schizophrenic mix  it makes ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ seem normal! The Wings footage in particular, though, is great, with some rare songs you don’t often get to see such as ‘Big Barn Bed’ (overlaid with spoof questionnaires over the top that are actually quite funny: Paul likes ‘good’ music, has ‘two’ eyes and ‘many thousands’ of hairs!), we get the earliest live footage of Paul singing such important milestones as ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ ‘Live and Let Die’ and ‘C Moon’ back when they were brand new songs and the always-forgotten, nearly-best-ever-Wings-rocker ‘The Mess’ gets its only performance on film. You can even see the very moment Henry McCullough decides to leave Wings I suspect, judging by the look of horror etched on his face as he tries to mime the guitar solo on 'Mary Had A Little Lamb' while surrounded by sheep with Linda swinging - literally, not on an instrument but on a swing - just past his ear. This wasn’t why he got into rock and roll! The song and dance number is a pain to sit through (why are they all wearing half-male half-female costumes?) and the people on the street interviews are awful, clearly here to fill up time at the last minute when the special was running and the producers wanted to make the return of a Beatle seem like a ‘big deal’.  However even these clips have a certain period charm now we're this far removed from 1973 and the McCartneys down-the-pub clips - long dismissed as the most boring segment - are actually fascinating, with Paul the most uncomfortable I think we’ve ever seen him until he darts to the pub piano to lead a singalong (and what a hammy lot the McCartney family are – see how many you can name from the lyrics to [90] ‘Let ‘Em In’!) Not forgetting of course the big big big talking point of the time: the first time any Beatles songs had been heard live from the band since the split (Wings only did ‘Long Tall Sally’ on their first tour, whilst John’s, George’s and Ringo’s first live dates weren’t till after this Easter Special!) The people at home heard ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Michelle’ sung live by Macca for the first time since 1966 and ‘Blackbird’ for the first time ever! That alone makes this special worth seeing, while no other single work has ever come quite as close at capturing so many sides of the mercurial McCartney all at once, as confusing as it all is and as grating as one section seems when put after another. Let’s hope Macca bungs this show on the back of his proposed ‘Red Rose Speedway’ deluxe re-issue sometime (‘Rose’ being the nearest album chronologically to this, even if Macca strangely only does two songs from it), just like he did with the unreleased ‘One Hand Clapping’ film on ‘Band On The Run’. So far, though, it’s unavailable at the time of writing.



11. One Hand Clapping

('One Hand Clapping Theme' [55] 'Jet!' [101] 'Soilly' [43] 'C Moon' [41] 'Little Woman Love' [11] 'Maybe I'm Amazed' [46] 'My Love' [56] 'Bluebird' 'Let's Love'-All Of You-[170] I'll Give You A Ring' [54] 'Band On The Run' [65] 'Live and Let Die' [63] '1985' 'Baby Face' Unscreened 1974)

Wanting to introduce Wings Mark II to the world properly, Macca decided to make a documentary of the band 'apparently' running through the recent 'Band On The Run' album at Abbey Road, but really playing in front of the cameras as a sort-of rehearsal for the new Jimmy McCulloch/Geoff Britton line-up. Shot by Paul's friend David Litchfield (actually a young magazine editor Paul admired and not an experienced director at all) it's basic and funky, fascinating for its unpretentiousness compared to most later Macca documentaries (coming to this one straight after 'In The World Tonight' I can tell you which technique works best!) Alas Wings Mark II lasted even less time than Wings Mark I, with new drummer, karate expert and hardened session veteran Geoff Britton (who often dresses in his karate gear) clashing with new teenage whizzkid Jimmy McCulloch repeatedly. You can already see from the clips here that Wings is not a happy band – a clearly drunken Denny Laine says (more slurs, actually) that his brush with fame and the need to be bigger than it means he 'gets' Wings more than anyone else could but he already seems to consider the band a duty rather than a love; Geoff and Linda are already butting heads (watch for their mini-argument over what went wrong during the take of 'Soilly'), while a rare interview with Jimmy reveals him already to be as arrogant and pompous (yet loveable) as people always say he is (before he's released a note as a member of Wings and at the age of just twenty-one he's already boasting that he's been playing for longer than almost anyone else in the band! To be fair his solos are already something special). In fact none of the band come out of this too well - the first documentary since 'Let It Be' hints again at Paul's tendencies towards bossiness in between the genuine warm smiles and clever jokes, while Linda has never looked more like a spare part (she'll come into her own in a few years' time though!) You have to question too the fact that Paul spends so much of this TV special - intended to cash in on Wings' rock band success and make them the biggest act on the planet - playing old pre-war standards on the piano, alongside a few he's written in the same style (what other performer could go from 'Live and Let Die' to 'Baby Face' without blinking?) The documentary is also confusing over what's actually happening - how Howie Casey kept his cool when Macca ‘teaches’ him how to play the sax part he invented on 'Bluebird' several weeks earlier I'll never know. However the music is almost all great, with a terrific rock crunch Wings will never quite match again and some fascinatingly early versions of 'Soilly' (debuted on 1976's 'Wings Over America') at it’s very best whatever the messed-up ending and 'I'll Give You A Ring' (A B-side released as late as 1982). We also get to see the second ever filmed performance of 'Maybe I'm Amazed' - which would surely be a cause for celebration even if it wasn't also one of the very best performances Paul ever gave of it - and some cracking performances of Band On The Run songs fresh from the well including a rollicking 'Jet!' and a very heavy '1985'. The band even invent a new catchphrase, as long suffering Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick gets roped in as producer and the whole band ask him in turn, with accents that comes with various degrees of success, 'how was it for you Geoffrey?!' There's an awful lot of great stuff here - alongside the usual occasional descent into McCartney awfulness - and the long-awaited release of this special for the first time ever in 2010 is the highlight of the entire 'McCartney Deluxe' series so far. How's it for you Geoff? Pretty darn good!


12. [54] Band On The Run (Music Video 1974)

Another oddly low-budget music video, made up of some illustrations and some pictures of the 'A Hard Day's Night' Beatles and a sequence of black and white houses that looks very like the 'Eleanor Rigby' one from 'Yellow Submarine'. A few splashes of colour arrive in the form of some surrealist characters, there are some clips of random people walking down a street and finally the 'passport' photos from 'Band On The Run's back cover whizz past our eyes. By and large, though, this is one of the least successful Wings videos - a waste given how visual the song is and how strong the idea is (we could have had a re-creation of the three Wings members doing their famous album cover and escaping from prison!) You can see this video - if you must - in both 'The McCartney Years' DVD and as part of the 'Band On The Run' deluxe edition, but it won’t hold your interest to the end of the song.


13. [59] Mamunia (Music Video 1974)

Oddly there was never a music video for the single [55] 'Jet!' but there is one for the album track 'Mamunia' - possibly because this song was intended as the album's third single before some high-up in EMI told Paul he'd get more sales if he released the title track instead. The video is another moody cartoon, overlaid onto real footage that’s even moodier, this one made by illustrator Jim Quick (who lived up to his name, getting four minutes of footage made pretty much single-handed where the Rupert Film with a whole crew stalled for years). Other than the music, the video has no Wings involvement and follows an oddly Lennon-like doodle as he first hides from and then embraces the storm-clouds overhead. Before you ask, no I have no idea who that is at the end when the camera follows an old man in a raincoat and ends with a close-up of his face - nor does anyone else it seems! You can see this video on the DVD 'The McCartney Collection' and the deluxe edition of 'Band On The Run'.

14. [89] My Carnival (Wings in New Orleans 1975)

Wow, that must have been some party! Wings had a whole five days’ holiday during the making of ‘Venus and Mars’ to take part in the Mardi Gras carnival. They clearly don’t want to get back to work on their return, so McCartney leads them through a dumb new song he’s written for five minutes while the rest of the band look mutinous (Jimmy especially). Paul is having great fun though and tries to gee the band up into making something. An intriguing bit of behind-the-scenes footage not aired at the time but more professionally shot than the other home movies on the ‘Venus and Mars’ deluxe re-issue. There were, surprisingly, no music videos for this album (not even for [85] ‘Listen To What The Man Said’) but there was a TV advert, which mostly consisted of footage of Wings playing pool while songs play in the background.

15. Norman Gunston Show (Australia TV 1975)

Now a comic interlude. This Australian show is, I guess, the equivalent of Edna Everage’s but with a real Australian. A cross between Buster Bloodvessel from Magical Mystery Tour, a substitute geography teacher and Mr Bean, real name Garry McDonald asks a lot of dumb questions to Wings backstage at one of their Australian show where the interviewer is pretending to be asleep. Typical questions to Linda: ‘It must be hard Mrs McCartney being married all day...’ and ‘What happens if you decide you don’t want to go on stage and say sorry dear tonight I have a headache’. Along the way Apple is called a ‘fruit shop’ (‘was it one of John’s ideas?’ ‘It was Norm, yes’)  Best question of the night: ‘Paul, was there any truth in the rumour that you were once dead?’ Best answer, when Linda is asked which of The Beatles she fancied most: ‘Mick Jagger. A worried interviewer then asks if the marriage is Ok ‘It was, but you’re not helping Norm!’

16. [95] Silly Love Songs (Music Video 1976)

Another ho-hum video which merges quick cuts between the 'speedy' photographs of the band from the back cover of 'Wings At The Speed Of Sound' and a bit of on-tour home footage (included in full, such as it is, on the ‘deluxe’ Speed box set). In this video we see the band including their new horn section messing about backstage, Jimmy McCulloch trying not to be filmed in his rarely seen spectacles, the band in general trying to hide from the camera and everyone  boarding plane after plane as well as singing 'Silly Love Songs' on stage. A much 'better' video for this song will be made by Macca in 1984 as one of the better sequences from his 'Broad Street' film (where the ad hoc band are a bunch of aliens who only come out to perform the song once a day!) You can see this original video on the DVD 'The McCartney Collection' and the deluxe edition of 'Wings At The Speed Of Sound'.


17. Unknown (Denmark TV 1976)

An impressive moustache and beard combination yet from the presenter of an unknown Denmark show promoting the release of ‘Wings At The Speed Of Sound’. Uniquely the whole of Wings get interviewed in this rambling piece where everyone (interviewer and band) try to beat each other with one-liners and largely fail. Wings Mark II are clearly worn out by this stage, with Paul very much their spokesperson and Denny very much the rebel. He most interesting story is when the McCartneys ask to see The Queen who isn’t in (Denny: perhaps she’s drunk’) Paul: ‘…’Because she’s only 34 we thought she might like us’ Denny: ‘Yeah, she’s just about alright then’. Interestingly Wings talk about how they might change their setlist around ‘with Paul on drums if Joe wants to sing his number’ (Must Do Something About It), something which sadly never happened.

18. [102] Mull Of Kintyre (Music Video 1977)

The video for the biggest-selling UK single of its day used to be everywhere: every TOTP2 compilation seemed to have it (perhaps because this was shown in the #1 slot every week for two whole months and seared itself on the nations' consciousness!), every McCartney or Wings retrospective featured it and anything even vaguely Scottish seemed to be an excuse for showing it. I haven't seen it in a while though - except on 'The McCartney Collection'. Another delightfully simple video, it really was filmed at Paul's Scottish farm at the Mull of Kintyre and starts off with Paul sitting down and strumming solo guitar before a walking Denny joins him and Linda absent-mindedly picks some flowers. Suddenly a Scottish dragoon walk down a beach to join them and the song goes up another gear. Note the absence of Joe English, who'd left the band after performing the song but before the video was shot. Still unsure of the song's success Paul was relieved to hear the leader of the bagpipers telling him he'd recorded a definite #1 hit between takes of recording the 'campfire at night' sequence. The gathered crowd of local children geed up into singing along behind the band at the end look far less sure that this is all a good idea, however.


19. Mike Yarwood Christmas Show ([102] 'Mull Of Kintyre' UK TV 1977)

McCartney really liked his dry ice doesn't he? Either it's been added to add a touch of Highlands fog to proceedings or English impressionist Mike Yarwood was a bigger smoker than we thought given that the fog dominates the appearance. Paul, Linda and Denny are perched on stools, unusually singing live rather than miming their hit record before - surprise surprise - the same old Scottish dragoon band march in, bagpipes at hand. Sadly this clip is not officially available anywhere at the time of writing.


20. Countdown ([112] 'With A Little Luck' UK TV 1977)

In which Wings get into the 'new wave' sound a full three years early, miming to their latest single as a three-piece and with a performance dominated by two banks of keyboards played (not that convincingly)  by Denny and Linda while a group of enthusiastic but rather co-ordinated extras dance behind them (well, it beats the usual surly Top Of The Pops look!) For some reason there is also a giant mock tree in the background - the set dresser was hoping for more than a little luck of his own when he threw this low-budget set together I think! This clip is another included on the 'McCartney Years' DVD set.


21. Southbank Show (UK TV 1977) includes [104] London Town title track video

Melvyn Bragg's South Bank Show was brand new when this lengthy interview with Paul and Denny was broadcast in the first series - by far the interviewer's biggest guest up to that time. Macca is on his standard mid-70s defensive form though, giving little away, ducking questions about the Beatles and nattering about whatever he wants rather than what he's asked. We do get an early hearing for Paul's first ever song 'I Lost My Little Girl' though and some interesting reflections on the McCartney household growing up, plus Paul playing the drums while squealing Little Richard's 'Lucille' during an intense Wings jam. What comes over most though is the first real rush of Beatles nostalgia, with clips of The Beatles miming 'Love Me Do' and performing at Shea Stadium intercut into the interview alongside discussions of the early Lennon-McCartney songs, how Paul wrote 'Valerie Higgins' (sorry - 'Eleanor Rigby') 'Michelle' 'When I'm 64' and 'Yesterday' and the nerves recording at Abbey Road for the first time. Even more interesting is what Wings were up to, with rare shots of the core trio recording the vocals for 'Mull Of Kintyre' (Paul's lead was originally much higher and shrill judging by the outtake shown) and the rather odd music video for ‘London Town’, filmed on the Southbank set, that features Paul, Linda and Denny knee-walking slowly past the cast of characters heard in the song. It’s called ‘London Town’, not ‘London’s Southbank’ you know! This bit is on the ‘McCartney Years’, but not the rest sadly. Funniest moment: 'I can't stand these reviewers who go from the classical world to rock and roll - they're such different animals' (says the man who'll be writing an oratorio in a decade's time!)



22. [111] I've Had Enough (Music Video 1978)

The flop second single from 'London Town' was the only one of the three to get a traditional 'proper' video. It's not much to write away home about though, as Wings get their pictures taken in a studio with some moody lighting including some blinds. Macca released this video just as the song was slipping down the charts anyway and the video didn't do much to stop it. The delay came because there simply wasn't a 'Wings' left to promote this album other than the 'core three' - instead this final video features the first ever appearance of 'Mark III' musicians Steve Holly and Laurence Juber, who mime along happily even though neither of them played on the original. Macca ends the song with a mock hand gesture at the camera, an inverse of his usual optimistic 'Wings' salute! This clip is another included on the 'McCartney Years' DVD set.


23. [126] Rockestra (Unscreened Documentary 1979)

An honorary mention for a bit of unscreened footage that was meant to be part of a documentary but which was left unloved in the McCartney vaults until 2007. The Rockestra project during the 'Back To The Egg' sessions was one of those typically grandiose McCartney ideas - unite loads of big name figures in music to record a simple little ditty he'd just come up with, a theme tune for an imaginary band. Amazingly this one actually happened and remains the only place where you can see members of The Beatles, The Small Faces, The Who, The Shadows, Led Zeppelin and Procul Harum playing together at the same time. The result is a bit of a noise to be honest and not quite worthy of the talent in the room, especially on one of Paul’s sillier, emptier songs (sample lyric - in fact the only lyric - 'Why haven't I had any dinner?’ while the tape sadly clicks off before the second superior but lesser known song recorded that night [131] 'So Glad To See You Here'. It's great to see a room full of so many people simply having fun together though even if the music's not up to much. Parts of this footage can be seen on one of the menus for the ‘McCartney Years’ DVD set.


24. Concert For The People Of Kampuchea ('Got To Get You Into My Life' [3] 'Every Night' [154] 'Coming Up' [5] 'Hot As Sun' 'Lucille' 'Let It Be' [126] 'Rockestra' 1979)

What turned out, unknowingly, to be Wings' last show was a various artists charity gig at the Hammersmith Odeon held to raise money for the victims of civil war in Cambodia. The night was a key one for all sorts of reasons - it was the last time Macca played live for a full ten years, the last appearances with Denny (after seven years), Laurence and Steve, is the only existing film footage of this era of Wings playing live, it featured backstage the first meeting between Paul and a young Elvis Costello the new hot property of the moment, it saw the revival of several Beatles songs never performed live before this tour (including a storming 'Got To Get You Into My Life' with the last appearance of the Wings horn section really getting their teeth into the song) and only the second ever live performance of new song 'Coming Up' (the first, at Glasgow a week before, can be heard on the B-side of the original single). Oh and this concert also saw the only official life performance of Macca's 'Rockestra' supergroup as coincidentally many of the musicians who guested on the 'Back To The Egg' recordings were also playing at this show (including a mischievous Pete Townshend who'd just played a storming gig with The Who and was the only one to refuse the cheap snazzy suits ordered for the occasion, ending the last song with a trademark windmilling  leap on the last note!) Their section of the show is introduced by comedian Billy Connolly (who mischievously misnames them as 1960s Merseybeaters 'The Applejacks'!) It's a good performance too, much tighter than on the record and especially on the one song everyone on the stage seemed to know, Little Richard's 'Lucille'. The Wings set is good too, even if the band look tired and Macca is sweating like a pig by the end and the director insists on a few too many arty shots of heads merging into one another that have rather dated it. Great song choice though so kudos to the editor for choosing the 'right' three songs to broadcast rather than the ‘famous’ ones (the same three as the soundtrack album, funnily enough, even though Wings played closer to twenty that night). Given a one-off, never-repeated TV broadcast soon after being performed in December 1979, the show was a big event at the time, not quite 'Live Aid' perhaps but probably 'Concert For Bangladesh' style big. And yet despite all these many important reasons why Beatle fans should know and cherish this show, it’s all but been forgotten, partly through Macca's drug bust in Japan a mere fortnight after this show and partly because it's been so hard to get hold of down the years. Youtube has changed all that now of course (so my old battered VHS copy can rest in pieces) - odd that no extracts were included in the 'McCartney Years' DVD although you can see 'Coming Up' on the deluxe edition of 'McCartney II' and 'Every Night' and an originally un-broadcast 'Hot As Sun' on the deluxe edition of 'McCartney'. Will we get the full thing as an extra on a deluxe edition of ‘Back To The Egg’ one day I wonder?



25. [133] Goodnight Tonight (Music Video 1979)

One of the better Wings videos features the final line-up of the band dressed as if they're giving a 1920s radio broadcast - even though this song is about as contemporary-edged as Wings ever get! The band all look great with slicked back hair and Linda particularly looks stunning, while there are plenty of laughs to be had from the 'gentlemanly' way Denny and Laurence wave each other's criss-crossing guitar solos on! The finished video includes 'intercut' scenes with a proper-looking Wings but the 'full' dressed up version is better - you can choose between both on the 'McCartney Years' DVD by clicking the 'alternate video' button! The video was also shown at the end of the 'Back To The Egg' special, although it was actually filmed before the rest.


26. Back To The Egg TV Special

('Getting Closer' 'Baby's Request' 'Old Siam Sir' 'Winter Rose-Love Awake' 'Spin It On' 'Again and Again and Again' 'Arrow Through Me' 'Goodnight Tonight' UK TV 1979)

A slightly more 'normal' version of the 'James Paul McCartney' special, this handy little bit of TV promotion was filmed back to back with the album and is mainly set in the grounds of Lympne Castle in Kent where the record was made. Screened once in America in 1979, it wasn’t until 1981 (after Wings had folded) that Britain got to see it. The special starts off with a re-creation of the sci-fi cover (revealing Wings' cosy living room to be part of a spaceship) without any explanation and ends with the band shutting the picture of Earth up as they pull a rug back over the floorboards and walk away. All the clips in-between were filmed inside the castle or its grounds - including a nearby poppy field for ‘Again and Again and Again’, an airport hangar for ‘Spin It On’ and (re-dressed to look old) Baby’s Request’, while Linda floats through the castle grounds on a horse for ‘Winter Rose’. Without a word spoken between the songs, this special is actually ahead of its times by a few years and makes one of the weaker McCartney albums seem a lot more interesting than it really is. This is also almost our only occasion to see the final line-up of Wings at play and they're having a ball - most of the time anyway - with Denny Laine and Laurence Juber trying to sportingly 'outdo' the other at every turn!  However seeing these tracks mimed rather than performed is a wasted opportunity and one still wishes Wings had done this with one of their better LPs such as 'London Town'. Even with the extra promotion the album bombed, which might be why Paul waited a further eighteen years before trying another one - and then it'll be more traditional and documentary based.  This special, never made available officially, would make another worthy extra on a deluxe re-heated ‘Egg’ one day.


27. [135] Wonderful Christmas Time (Music Video 1979)

Poor Wings Mark III. There they were with their heads vaguely held high when Paul turns up with the new single he's recorded single-handed at home without their input. And it's awful - festive shlock unworthy of their name or their talents. What are they made to do? Grin aimlessly for the camera while miming to something they didn't play and having lots of mock-fun throwing mock snowballs at each other in a mock-band that didn't really exist anymore, in an all too obviously freezing pub (which was the only bit in this video that was ‘real’). Amazingly this video manages achieves the near-impossible feat of being even more cheesy and unlikeable than the audio. Just to add insult to injury, it's the last single and the last video ever released under Wings' name. Paul apparently entertained the locals between takes by playing lots of Beatle standards on the piano. They should have filmed that and put it out instead. Bah! Humbug! You can find it on 'The McCartney Years' DVD and the deluxe edition of 'McCartney II'. So be warned - there's now no excuse for this horrendous monstrosity to take you unawares!

28. Wings Tour Rehearsal ('Eleanor Rigby' 'Unknown' [112] 'With A Little Luck' [154] 'Coming Up' 'Got To Get You Into My Life' 1979)

In a neat mirror of the 'Give Ireland Back To The Irish' rehearsal at the start of their journey the final footage of Wings preparing for the Japanese leg of their tour shows them bored and sullen. Paul tries his best to gee the band up through the songs he wants to add to the setlist (curses! We could have had 'Eleanor Rigby' before the 1989 revival!) but the band are unresponsive and look as if they'd rather be anywhere else right now (it looks to all intents and purposes as if there's just been a big row before the cameras started rolling). Paul and Denny especially never make eye contact, suggesting tensions between the two were running high even before the Japanese drug bust. It's still worth watching though, especially a second song which the band never returned to again, a funky piece that has a much better groove than any of the 'Back To The Egg' rockers even if the lyrics haven't been properly worked out yet.  'Got To Get You Into My Life' sounds rather good too, with a slow and funky bluesy sound set to a reggae beat quite unlike the version Wings had been playing across 1979 or the one McCartney would go back to in 1989. So far only the [154] 'Coming Up' clip has seen the official light of day, on the 'McCartney II' deluxe edition.

29. [154] Coming Up (Music Video 1980)

Or perhaps Wings were actually holding McCartney back because, suddenly, without them he's got his mojo back - in terms of music videos at least. 'Coming Up' is one of the very best AAA videos of the lot, not only because of the ultimate 'catchy but deep' song going on over the top but through the inventive and still mind-bogglingly ahead of its day video. Paul, who doesn't have a band anymore, solves the problem by making up a group of all his friends - only he's playing the part of all of them. Look out for affectionate parodies of his heroes and colleagues including Hank Marvin, John Bonham and Ron Mael from Sparks as well as squeezing back into his old Beatles collarless suit to become himself circa 1964 (where a now thirty-eight-year-old Macca is astonishingly convincing as his twenty-two-year-old self!) Along the way Macca dresses up as some generic musicians, including a spoof of the day’s half-male, half-female hybrid backing singers (with him and Linda dressed up to look like each other) and a four part horn section including one member who always gets things 'wrong' (which must have been hell to coordinate!) 'Coming Up' is Macca at his finest, using his natural born optimism to great use on a catchy song given a hilarious self-deprecating video re-acting to the idea that Wings are no more and now he ‘is’ the band! A Must see for all McCartney fans. This clip is another included on the 'McCartney Years' DVD set and the 'McCartney II' deluxe edition.


30. [152] Waterfalls (Music Video 1980)

Though slightly more po-faced, the just as elaborate video for the second classic single from 'McCartney II' is also one of Paul's better ideas. The video starts with a few false notes not heard on the record as Macca tries to compose a new song in his home 'studio' (sadly a mock-up rather than the real thing). A very expensive shot sees the camera go through the tiny window of his 'house' and twirl round his piano before Paul walks off into his imagination, dodging the inevitable waterfall re-created on set and swinging around on a carousel. Perhaps regretting his decision to include a verse about 'don't go chasing polar bears', Paul appears on a mock-up Arctic set that's also highly convincing, while a real polar bear named Olaf is seen at the back of shot, not a million miles away from a nervy looking Paul (now there's a potential headline for the tabloids had something gone wrong: ‘Polar eats Paul!') Paul then walks back to 'himself' and shuts the blinds, song finished (very postmodern!) Another lovely video - the only part about it that isn't is his shocking taste in wallpaper! This clip is another included on the 'McCartney Years' DVD set and the 'McCartney II' deluxe edition.


31. Meet Paul McCartney (UK TV May 1980)

A rather boring interview in which Tim Rice meets his hero and runs out of things to say, while Paul is not in the kindest or most helpful of moods. Paul seems to bristle a few times across the interview, especially when being asked about whether 'McCartney II' is a 'proper' album or not and when Paul is being compared to John. Against all odds this less than flattering interview on both sides' account was re-released in the 'McCartney II' deluxe edition set.


32. Day By Day (UK TV July 1980)

'Hopefully Wings will be making another album before too long...' Actually this is Paul's second interview as a solo star, where he chats to - erm - footballer Kevin Keegan about a recent claim by the Guinness Book Of World Records that he is officially the most successful writer of all time ('If I was writing back then I probably would be writing like Beethoven...he was a good 'un!') Paul is most interested talking about modern music (Art Garfunkel’s 'Bright Eyes' is his recommend as the best song of recent years, interestingly) and jokes that the youngest generation around don't even know of The Beatles (but it doesn't bother him, honest!) Worryingly in the talk about age Paul jokes that everyone gets old and 'nobody gets out of that one!' before Keegan claims that Buddy Holly and Elvis will always get to stay young ('but hopefully nothing like that will happen to any of The Beatles' - this is a mere five months before Lennon gets shot). In fact Paul mentions that his next gig is to record with Ringo on an album all The Beatles are contributing to - though of course the much-delayed 'Stop and Smell The Roses' will be set back a year and end up a Beatle short after Lennon’s death. Macca's comment when asked if Wings will ever be as big replies 'The Beatles is about as big as I ever want to get!'


33. [169] Ebony and Ivory (Music Video 1982)

Though Paul and Stevie didn't actually meet to make the record, they were reunited for the video where they both perch uncomfortably on the same piano stool for an all-too literal take on the album's 'black and white keys' lyrics before going for a wander down a giant keyboard, as you do. The video script, written by Paul, featured an unfortunate mistake where Paul was meant to smile at the blind Stevie who smiles back - a quick rewrite later and Stevie grins in completely the wrong direction to be met back by a now genuinely grinning Paul! The best thing about this video is the pair of singer's contrasting jackets, which include both black and white but in very different places! This clip is another included on the 'McCartney Years' DVD set and on the deluxe ‘Tug Of War’.


34. [159] Take It Away (Music Video 1982)

Though a surprise flop as a single, 'Take It Away' is back to the classic McCartney videos, as he ropes some of the big names who played on the song to appear in the promo with him (including producer George Martin, here on piano, 10cc's Eric Stewart on guitar and Ringo on drums - though sadly not Denny Laine whose voice can be heard loudest in the harmonies). The twist is that 'this' band of genuinely famous people are young and hungry wannabes who haven't made it yet – during the three minutes of the video they get interrupted by their landlord and have their electricity cut off! They make it in the end, however, playing the last verse enthusiastically to a crowd of cheering extras (the roles advertised through McCartney's 'Club Sandwich' fanclub and who got an impromptu mini-concert afterwards as a 'thankyou' that's widely thought to be one of the best Paul ever gave). Oddly the video didn’t help this song up the charts, where it was a rare flop. This clip is another included on the 'McCartney Years' DVD set.


35. [158] Tug Of War (Music Video 1982)

Another surprise flop - surely it’s more deserving of success than 'Ebony and Ivory' ever was? - the video for the title track of Macca's 1982 album features him miming in a studio with Linda joining him while George Martin tries to control things from inside the studio. Alas what looks like it will be another of Paul's low budget charmers is 'interrupted' for some stock footage of chaos and random tug-of-war teams that doesn't really add much to the song. This clip is another included on the 'McCartney Years' DVD set.


36. Nationwide (UK TV 1982)

After more or less kick-starting 'The South Bank Show' Paul all but ends an institution by being one of the last guests in the fourteen-year running current affairs programme 'Nationwide'. Paul's first post-Lennon TV interview is an oddball, swerving between jokes with presenter Sue Lawley and genuine moments of emotion ('I'm lucky if I get old...'), especially talking about his lost friend. When asked if he thought about packing it all in Paul freezes for a moment and says that he thought long and hard about it but felt he had to carry on - and that if he'd been in Lennon's shoes he'd have wanted his old friend to carry on without him too. Paul also talks about the end of Wings but doesn't mention George Martin's criticisms, instead saying 'I fancied a change...' There's some nice older footage that isn't seen anywhere else too: a home movie of what looks like a Jamaican holiday in the late 1970s with a seven/eight-year-old Mary dancing round her daddy while he tries to play the congas! Typically 'Nationwide', this clip is used to demonstrate the question 'it must be awful when people invade your privacy!' This clip has so far never been made officially available.


37. [173] Say Say Say (Music Video 1983)

Michael Jackson learnt so much from McCartney: melody, professionalism, musicality, hard graft and even - in between takes - business lessons (told to invest his new-found money in song publishing, Michael took Macca at his word and bought the Beatles catalogue!) However Paul learnt a lot from Jackson in pure terms of videos. The second most viewed video in 1983 borrows heavily from Wacko Jacko's own 'Thriller', including telling a full-blown story aside from the song that looks like a mini-film in its own right and has a beginning that runs for quite a few minutes before the song starts. Mac and Jack are conmen - which makes a kind of sense given how hard this song tries to be 'current' - and along with Linda are doing the ol' 'snake oil' act, selling worthless produce to a lot of gullible locals (they'd be involved in pyramid multi-level-marketing schemes the pair of them if the characters were around today). Actually the dating is up for debate - we get a few questionable 'Black and White Minstrel' references as Mac and Jack put on a Vaudeville act which suggests early 20th century, although the lotions and potions market was a more common sight in the American Wild West times. By the end of the video the partnership has made a lot of loot and Jacko's even got a girlfriend (not very realistic - she's almost as old as he is, not a pre-teen!) while the trio sail away on the back of a lorry safe to scam another day. For all this video's big budget - with more money spent on it than anything else in this list, accounting for inflation - it doesn't have the charm of the best on this list made with a movie camera and 50p for lunch. This clip is another included on the 'McCartney Years' DVD set and also the ‘Pipes Of peace’ deluxe set.


38. [172] Pipes Of Peace (Music Video 1983)

Another candidate for greatest music video ever made by anybody, the ever under-rated 'Pipes Of Peace' got its UK #1 chart showing at least partly on the back of this much-discussed video. Paul plays both German and English officers in World War One and the video is set on the day of the Christmas Day armistice in 1914. The two Pauls embrace in the middle of no man's land, showing each other pictures of their misuses (strangely neither looks anything like Linda) while in the background extras kick footballs around until the truce comes to a sudden and unexpected end. Still, both 'our' McCartney and 'Herr' McCartney sleep better knowing that the enemy is only human, like them, and that their opposites too think this war is a stupid idea. A very moving and clever video, which could easily have gone quite schmaltzy, is just about kept in check and makes good use of another king-sized budget and attention to detail (the trench that was built really did go on for miles and both uniforms are right down to the last button hole, with a 'costume researcher' hired especially for the shoot). This clip is another included on the 'McCartney Years' DVD set and the deluxe ‘Pipes Of Peace’. The booklet of the latter even includes a ‘behind the scenes’ photologue shot by Linda that may well be the best part of the set.

39. MTV (US TV 1983)

You can tell that we've moved on to a 'new' generation - Paul's first big interview with music channel MTV starts with a jokey black and white clip of a young Paul laughing at the idea of performing past the age of thirty and then starts with the words 'Paul is aged forty now...' He'll be getting that sort of thing a lot from now on. The interview is meant to promote 'Pipes Of Peace' but also features Paul putting the finishing touches on a 'sneak preview' of 'Broad Street' - the surly young American presenter seems underwhelmed with both of them and Paul admits that everyone he showed the script to said 'don't do that!' (you can also see the sudden doubt in Paul's eyes as he reads out the plot from Broad Street' and is asked what the character is he's playing in the film ('erm...he’s called Paul?') This is many ways Paul's most intellectual interview though, spending nearly a full half hour talking about the 1980 McCartney albums about following the same 'internal struggle between hate and love' and that 'Tug' poses the questions to Peace's 'answer'. Macca also talks about the fun he had writing with Michael Jackson and making the 'Say Say Say' video into 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' with far more joy in his eyes than when asked about the collaboration in future years.

40. The Tube (UK TV 1983)

Three years after 'Quadrophenia' and five before 'Men Behaving Badly', actress Leslie Ash is an uncomfortable host of music series The Tube. It's the most risqué programme Macca's been on for a while and features Leslie with a punked up haircut trying to lead Paul to the studios through a busy street. She gets more looks of recognition than he does before they finally get into a waiting cab and do the interview there. [179] 'Average Person' is both the soundtrack and the 'theme' as the programme does its best to make the Beatle seem 'normal' and 'with it'. Paul discusses the fact that 'Tug Of War/Pipes Of Peace' was meant to be a double album, that he missed working with other people during his 'McCartney' and 'McCartney II' albums ('where's all me mates'?!), the fact that Michael Jackson is painfully shy (really?!?), the fact that Stevie Wonder is notoriously unpunctual and he comments on some buildings they're driving past 'I tried to live there once - but the residents didn't want me because I was a pop star. Think I was better off without them!' Paul also gets asked the weirdest question in an interview ever ('Where would you like the car to go next?!') and politely requests a visit to London zoo! Leslie clearly has good taste though, nominating [182] 'Through Our Love' as her favourite song off the 'Pipes Of Peace' record!


41. Late Late Breakfast Show (UK TV 1983)

Noel Edmonds is a bit clueless in this clip - he says that he's surprised Paul has appeared because 'he doesn't do TV shows'. What the heck are half this list about then? Paul was never off them! This is a rare interview with Paul and Linda equally and while there are no unusual questions or revealing answers it's good to see the interplay between the two of them and Paul cracks a lot of jokes (he ends revealing the plot about 'Broad Street' with the line 'and then I get into bed with John Travolta!') The couple wave to eldest daughter Heather who at twenty years old is their baby-sitter for the night. Paul revealed later that he was embarrassed by this interview and did it because he was desperate to promote the film ('I clam up when I get stupid questions!') suggesting we won’t be seeing this clip on anything official anytime soon, but actually it’s good to see his sillier side come through.


42. [188] No More Lonely Nights (Music Video 1984)

Perhaps 'Broad Street' might have worked better as a lower budget film like its off-spring music video, because there's more class and emotion in this four-minute video than there is for the whole of the eighty minute feature film. Though clips from the movie are used, this is more than just an overlong trailer: we start with the McCartney he might become if Harry really does run off with the master-tapes for his next album (the whole plot of the film): living up stairs in a tiny flat with only a cat for company and all his old show business pals refusing to pick up the phone. Paul gives up waiting for someone to call back and clambers upstairs on top of his rundown shack's epic rooftop - and as with The Beatles in 1970 the new perspective of the roof suddenly gives him the optimism he needs to get through. A charming much-forgotten video, although anyone who doesn't know the film (which must be 90% of the 'McCartney Years' DVD owners) must be deeply confused as to who all these people are and why Paul and Ringo are dressed in Victorian garb for much of it (a dream sequence set to 'Eleanor Rigby' if you don't know!)


43. The Tonight Show (US TV 1984)

Paul is busy plugging ‘Broad Street’ over in the States and is in talk with Johnny Carson. Paul hasn’t been in America for a while (since John’s death?) and is rather shocked by the level of screaming, admitting ‘I never get tired of it’. Alas it’s a fairly standard interview mostly about The Beatles years – for instance when asked ‘what question haven’t you been asked?’ Paul jokes ‘I’ve been asked that one!’ Johnny also doesn’t seem to be taking much in. When Paul talks about a scene where he meets Ringo he’s asked if they still keep in touch. ‘Yeah’ says Paul ‘I’ve made a film with him!’ An odd extract from ‘Broad Street’ then follows, ‘Wanderlust’ of all things! Paul also sadly refuses to play the guitar Carson has ‘conveniently’ brought on set for him.

44. Russell Harty (UK TV 1984)

An hour - give or take adverts - this special is the longest McCartney interview yet. Alas it's not one of the best: Russell Harty isn't a natural interviewer and Paul is getting bored of being asked these tiring sorts of questions. However there's a bit more of his childhood years than we usually get, Paul proudly getting out the family photographs and saying 'don't I look like me dad!' There's a great story about George Harrison getting caned on the wrist by accident rather than his hand and his dad going round to punch the teacher hard in the face! ('He was a school hero then!') Paul's response from his parent when he got caned: 'Well, you were probably doing something to deserve it, son!' There's a few photos I haven't seen before actually ('Oh you would show that one - look at my puppy fat!') Paul talks a lot about the Hamburg years too and that the only Beatles who knew any German were him and George but that what they knew wasn't particularly useful ('Jacob was the cheekiest of all ravens I have ever seen' was the only phrase they could remember from school!) Paul also talks about busking for real in the 'Broad Street' film and says that he did it partly to promote busking ('because they tried to ban it a year or so ago and I don't think that's on!') In an embarrassing return to 'James Paul McCartney', members of the public are invited to sing some McCartney songs - the results are even more cringe-inducing than last time! Interestingly it’s a sneak preview of [192] 'We All Stand Together' that gets the biggest cheer of the night with Harty commenting that Paul and Linda look like the two frogs coming out of the water at the end ('it's not true!' laughs Paul in reply). Sadly still unavailable officially, I’m not sure which deluxe McCartney set this might appear on (surely they won’t make one of ‘Broad Street’?) but it’s a good special and one of the best.


45. [194] Spies Like Us (Music Video 1985)

Although Macca was still a pretty big name back in 1985 the makers of the 'Spies Like Us' movie (the Saturday Night Live bunch effectively) rather buried their association with Paul, refusing to air his commissioned and specially written title track anywhere in the film. Paul doesn't seem to have taken it to heart, though, filming his own video which promoted both the single and the film (and again must have confused the goodness out of the 95% of fans owning the 'McCartney Years' set who either hadn't seen the film or had seen it but didn't get the link). Macca dresses up in the same bad-spy garb as Chevy Chase on his walk to Abbey Road to record the song, although anyone passing would surely have recognised him in an instant. Paul, his hair slightly greying for the first time, sets out to record everything for the song while Chase directs and various clips from the movie are shown. Like the film, it tries hard but doesn't quite work. Oh when things get tough the Macca videos get rough. Nice to see Abbey Road again though. Sneaky!


46. Live Aid ('Let It Be' 1985)

'There will be an answer - bring it on, let it happen!' Bob Geldof knew that if his multi-artist charity extravaganza had any hope of being taken seriously, he had to have a Beatle onboard. Ringo was in Monaco and George was in semi-retirement which left Paul, who got phone call after phone call until he said yes. Paul's argument - that he didn't have a band anymore and hadn't appeared in concert for six years - was waved aside with the promise that he could play solo on the piano and would be great. Alas Macca's grand finale went wrong. Though the 'Live Aid' performance was a technical tour de force even more than a musical one, linking up many dozens of countries round the world without putting a foot wrong almost all night, a loose wire meant that Paul was effectively singing to himself for a full three minutes. The microphone suddenly worked on the third verse, the crowd erupting with a roar of other-worldly cheers before a sea of famous faces wander on stage. Thank goodness that the event happened to an artist of Macca's calmness, experience and professionalism - had this happened to any lesser, younger artist it could have been a disaster but here more than anywhere else Macca is a pro that keeps it all together. Before the planned repeat Macca was allowed by the broadcasters to re-record his vocal, which is what appears on the DVD - both the official 25th anniversary Live Aid set and 'The McCartney Years' DVD.


47. TV AM: Good Morning Britain (UK TV 1985)

Five years on from Lennon's death Paul discusses his relationship with his old friend. Paul is still hurt by the way he's perceived and refers to John as a 'naughty boy, like the rest of us' and complains that his comments on Lennon always seem to be taken out of context. He makes a good point that Lennon would have hated being turned into a saint the way he was - especially in the 1980s - and poor Anne Diamond barely gets a word in edgeways Macca has so much to get off his chest. Paul ends by saying that he was the best collaborator he'd ever had, that 'I still can't believe he's dead' and that Lennon was the first friend he was really close to who'd died. Still officially unavailable.


48. [200] Press (Music Video 1986)

Though much mocked then and since, I rather like both video and song for 'Press'. In the video Macca wanders around the London underground, walking down escalators and giving up seats for elderly ladies who mouth 'is that him?!' over his shoulder. As early as the 'Pop Go The Beatles' radio series in 1963 Paul was moaning how his fame prevented him from walking around on public transport like he used to and this video is Paul taking things into his own hands, enjoying the fact that most people don't recognise him anymore - and being even more thrilled when they do (lots of pre-signed autographs were given away that day!) Though perhaps a rather over-literal interpretation of 'Press' (which should be about an emotional massage, not a literal button to enter a train!) Macca's having more fun than we've seen him have in ages. How come this never happens when I'm on the train at Liverpool?! This is the only 'Press To Play' video to be included in the 'McCartney Years' DVD sadly - the others are better still.


49. [201] Pretty Little Head (Music Video 1986)

Opening with a snatch of The Beatles' 'She's Leaving Home', the video makes it clear that the 'pretty little head' in Macca's bonkers attempt at a dance song is an innocent left adrift in a corrupt world. Macca's determined 'gonna take care of you!' line, which sounded so creepy on the record, makes more sense in the video as he appears like a giant statue trying to offer words of hope and comfort to a girl who is finding none. Hungry and homeless and ripe for corruption from the 'Hillmen' (who in the video are street gangs), the girl in the song is beaten only when McCartney superhero blows them over. Though the storyline is daft, the song is tough enough to withstand the arty camera shots and the result is one of the most visually striking and inventive McCartney music videos of them all. Typically, as with most things 'Press To Play', it's rather been airbrushed from history and sadly this song doesn't feature in the 'McCartney Years' DVD either, though it was included on the 'Once Upon A Video' VHS of 1987. Note that the mix of the song is the rarer 12" single version which sounds a fair bit scarier than the record.


50. [195] Stranglehold (Music Video 1986)

'I wanna see the band!' Sadly missing from the 'McCartney Years' DVD too was this as ever under-rated song from the 'Press To Play' album of 1986. Like 'Say Say Say' it's a full-on story which follows a young lad's attempts to get into a club to see the McCartney Band all the adults are raving about. He's even brought his saxophone to play with. Luckily Linda's there to look out for the lad and smuggle him past the security guard and in to see Paul. Luckily his sax part is just what the song needs and he arrives right on cue, isn’t that a coincidence?! He even plays a slightly longer solo than the version on the record, just to rub in how much better than the adults he is. Obvious perhaps but a lot of fun, with Paul and a band of extras looking very much the part of Texan cowboys, this clip needs to come out on something official soon! Included on ‘Once Upon A Video’ in 1987 and not seen since.

51. Multi-Coloured Swap Shop (UK TV 1986)

Paul's only appearance on children's telly was to promote 'Rupert and the Frog Song'. Macca, clearly at home around children, puts up with some rather odd questions from the phone-in five-year-olds and offers easily the best of that series' guest star prizes - a massive sack of McCartney and Rupert goodies and a box of selection chocolates! Once again Paul is teamed with Noel Edmonds, which isn't the best of pairings, but it’s an interesting interview that also sees Paul joining the panel of stars commenting on some new music videos. Ever Mr. nice guy, Paul tries to find something good about them all, though even he's struggling to find something positive about some of the inane pop rubbish around in the mid-1980s!


52. Prince’s Trust (‘I Saw her Standing There’ ‘Long Tall Sally’ ‘Get Back’ UK Concert 1986)

Prince Charles doesn’t have a lot to do in the UK being a Royal – he mostly sits around charging exorbitant rents and making tasteless duchy original biscuits. Once in a blue moon he will do something for his own charity though, one which supposedly helps disadvantaged children gain confidence and social skills (but not enough to speak up against Royal privilege of course). One year a rock show was held to fundraise round about what it costs to keep the Royals to their way of life for about half an hour and it was a good one. It was big news at the time particularly for Paul’s first concert on British soil since the Kampuchea benefits in 1979. It’s a messy show, a rare example of Paul playing with an ad hoc band of strangers and celebrities, but Macca is having a ball sticking to oldies and goldies for most of the night. The highlight surely is a rollicking version of ‘I saw Her Stansing There’ with a Mark Knopfler solo!

53. Wogan (UK TV 1987)

Terry asks Paul if it’s got any easier now he's on his fifteenth post-Beatles album and he says it gets harder. The same for the interviews it seems, as for the first time really on screen Paul merely recycles highlights from past interviews. It's still a good interview though with Macca almost flirting with Wogan throughout the chat and pleasing the audience no end when he talks about wanting to go back on tour soon (only two years to wait everybody!) Paul talks a lot about family and laughs when asked if he passed on the birds and bees the way his dad did ('his idea was to say ‘you see those Alsatians over there? It's like that!') The interview ends with an unusual clip never seen again - Paul recording his lead vocal for what sounds like an outtake of [200] 'Press' with an extra bank of keyboards.


54. [209] Once Upon A Long Ago (Music Video 1987)

A rare standalone single, this song makes good use of a moody mountain top and an equally moody black and white production, lifted by sudden glorious twists of technicolour. While the cartoon inserts (a sequel - of sorts - by the same animators who'd done 'Rupert and the Frog Song three years before) is awful and cliched (a happy family on a wintry day) the performance itself is shot very artfully and convincingly. The shot of the extra 'sweeping' up the leftover colourful notes is clever and Macca's latest band look good in black silhouette (including the first appearances in video by Wix in a wide-brimmed hat and Chris Whitten). They look not unlike younger bands of the day in 1987 before pop got silly again in 1988. There's also a guest appearance for a very young Nigel Kennedy who plays a very colourful violin solo - literally given the effects added in post-production! The video is another included in 'The McCartney Years' DVD.


55. Cover Story (US TV 1987)

'This is why I'm not a gardener - I like this plinking around too much!' This interview is slow to get going- delayed by 'highlights', video clips and sonme of the longest opening titles I've ever seen - but is great once it arrives, with a few different subject matters to normal. Paul talks about the move in the 1960s away from nonsense songs to compositions that meant something, the joy of realising for the first time that The Beatles had a chance at success and being something special and that 'I've got four kids...so that means there's always a lot of action'. Most interesting of all are Paul’s memories of 1970, of wanting to work but fearing people’s reaction to his music and trying to walk a fine line between 'pushing through it', the 'it' being the depression he felt once The Beatles split. Linda is interviewed too and talks at length about the day they met and that the McCartney have 'the best kids' and that they're 'my best friends'. More oddly, Graeme Edge and Ray Thomas of The Moody Blues are interviewed about people's re-actions to Linda (given that they hadn't talked to Denny Laine after he left in 1966 how do they know?!) and Brian Wilson talks about how Wings were 'always good and kept going and going' (what is this, an Alan's Album Archives convention?!?)


56. 'Wetten Das? (German TV 1987)

'They love you - yeah yeah yeah!' An awkward interview in which a German presenter tries to understand and translate Liverpudlian to his audience. Understandably the interview talks a lot about Paul's German links and his days in Hamburg. The stilted interview is broken up by translations and pauses and random bits of applause and Paul is stuck in an interview groove ('I'm not a living legend!') However a live in-studio performance of [209] 'Once Upon A Long Ago' is rather good, with a lovely vocal from Paul that actually sounds better than the record!


57. Unknown (French TV 1987)

Equally awkward is this French performance which features another lovely performance of [209] 'Once Upon A Long Ago' - at the start of the interview for a change - where Paul once again sings better than the record. However the interview runs as this: 'Do you speak French?' 'Non' 'Well I don't speak much English so this is going to go well. What are you doing?' 'What right now?' 'No, on this show...' The only sensible question is 'who was Michelle?' Paul's answer 'dans la tette' (in my head), a phrase he'll re-use for B-side [226] 'Ou est le soliel?' in a couple of years' time.


58. Top Of The Pops #1 ([209] 'Once Upon A Long Ago' UK TV 1987)

Amazingly Paul didn't return to Top Of The Pops in all the years since The Beatles' last appearance there in 1965 performing 'Ticket To Ride'. Amazingly too this is only the second time a solo Beatle has ever appeared on the programme, Paul following up John's performance of 'Instant Karma' some sixteen years later. Otherwise its business as usual as Paul sings this song live again, against some very purply coloured lighting. Alas we'll have to wait a while before it appears on BBC4's TOTP re-runs!


59. Bread (UK TV 1988)

One of Linda’s best friends was sitcom writer Carla Lane and after four seasons of asking she finally got the McCartneys to appear in a special episode of her most famous comedy (series four episode seven if you want to buy it; I was always surprised they weren’t asked to do the theme tune too). Their shared passion was animal welfare and there are a lot of pot-shots at meat-eaters in an episode where Paul and Linda open a local animal rescue centre. A character named Billy gets their autograph and invites them round to tea where an oblivious family moan about all their family troubles. Well, it beats watching ‘Wonderful Xmas Time’ anyway.  

60. [212]  My Brave Face (Music Video 1989)

A lot of time and money was spent on McCartney's comeback with 'Flowers In The Dirt' in 1989, including on the - gulp - four videos promoting that album and yet the whole quartet of singles rather flopped in the charts by Paul's high past standards. 'My Brave Face' deserved to do better as a song, although the lacklustre video probably didn't help. The clip follows a Japanese Beatles fan whose determined to have everything - which is a good excuse for lots of clips of old Beatles film but means we get precious little of Paul as he is now (in what must be something of a wish fulfilment, the bloke gets arrested when he puts Macca's Hofner bass up for auction. It would have been funnier if he’d ‘bought’ the ‘real’ Paul though!) The video could have been so much more, given that this is a very visual song already with its tale of barely-hidden breakdown after a romantic split. You can see the video on 'The McCartney Years' DVD and the deluxe ‘Flowers In The Dirt’, in two different versions no less.


61. [219] This One (Music Video 1989)

Second video 'This One' is just plain weird. Though nicely embracing the slightly psychedelic tone of the song and an excuse to wear some nice Eastern looking suits, the clips of McCartney with fake pupils painted over his eyelids is creepier than any horror film and enough to give you a bad trip, while the early use of a stop-motion camera was equally unsettling at the time. A shame because, again, the song is deceptively deep and already creatively visual and deserved much better. You can see the video on 'The McCartney Years' DVD and as well as appearing in the deluxe ‘Flowers In Then Dirt’ there’s another Linda photo-book of behind-the-scenes photos of the shooting of the video too.

62. [218] Figure Of Eight (Music Video 1989)

More basic, but so much better, the video for 'Flowers In The Dirt' single number three just shows the McCartney band performing a mock-concert in front of another specially invited crowd. It might just be my clapped-out old telly but the song sounds slightly different in this video too, which uses a slightly different mix of the single version – still unavailable on CD. You can see the video on 'The McCartney Years' DVD and ‘Flowers In The Dirt’ (deluxe).


63. Top Of The Pops #2 ([219] 'This One' UK TV 1989)

Peaking at #30 in the charts, 'This One' clearly needed a bit of a boost so Macca returned to the TOTP studio for a mimed performance that he sings along to (I think). In typical TOTP style the performance takes place in front of what looks like unfinished scaffolding while half the audience drown out the band with their whoops and cheers and the other half look bored and sullen. However in many ways there never could be a better moment than this one, with Macca and band having a great time at the peak of their powers. Macca even mimes opening up his jacket to 'let you look inside' - it looks as if he's wearing a tour t-shirt!


64. La Luna (‘My Brave Face’ ‘Distractions’ ‘We Got Married’ ‘This One’ Spain Concert 1989)

Alas Youtube only has the ‘dubbed’ version of this show, which substitutes the live versions for the records,  which makes it heavy viewing but the original of this show must be pretty darn good. Paul is in a jovial mood, having trouble getting down to the right level to sing into his microphone (Linda: ‘get on yer knees!’) and jollying his band through various ‘let’s crack on fellers’ type messages in the lengthy song breaks and tuning.

65. Big World Café (UK 1989)

An unusual show plugging not ‘Flowers In The Dirt’ but the European release of ‘Choba B CCP’. Paul admits to ‘listening to pretty strange stuff’ at home before name-checking Prince, weirdly. Paul mentions listening to ‘jams’ recorded on the last tour ‘seeing if I can come up with anything interesting’ – presumably he couldn’t which is why we get the ones on ‘Tripping The Live Fantastic’ instead. A grumpy McCartney admits to being a mean parent sometimes too: ‘If an ass needs kicking, I’m your boy!’ What were Heather (26), Mary (19), Stella (16) and James (12) up to?!?

66. [217] Put It There (Music Video 1990)

A late decision to be released as a single from 'Flowers In The Dirt', this charming little ditty about Paul's dad Jim and one of his favourite sayings may well be the best of the four. Though simple and a bit obvious it's also visually the best, with nice moody shots of Paul singing under blue lighting is intercut with mocked up monochrome shots of 'him' and his 'dad’ growing up. Neither look much like the originals, but the video has just enough authenticity about it to work. At just over two minutes it's easily the shortest clip in this list, however. You can see the video on 'The McCartney Years' DVD and the deluxe ‘Flowers In The Dirt’.


67. ‘Birthday’ (Music Video 1990)

They say it’s your birthday and you're gonna have a good time! I'm not sure who 'you' is, though, seeing as we get a clip of McCartney and band reviving this Beatles classic at Knebworth that year interspersed with lots of shots of extras enjoying birthdays. The single was released on the date of what would have been Lennon's 50th birthday, although I'm not quite sure what he'd have thought of the 'tribute' - some actual clips of Lennon in this lot would have been nice! You can see the video on 'The McCartney Years' DVD.


68. [229] All My Trials (Music Video 1990)

McCartney was  horrified by what had been happening in Britain when he came back from his world tour of 1990 and realised that his home-crowd was suffering higher unemployment, homelessness and suffering than most of the supposed back water countries he'd been playing too. Sung as a one-off on his homecoming, McCartney liked his emotional performance of a much-covered Liverpudlian favourite so much he made it a single and commissioned a hard-hitting video examining the suffering going on in the UK's late Thatcher years. Sadly for Macca, he got on the bandwagon a bit too late and by the time the single came out and the video was screened the less controversial figure of John Major was on the political throne. Still, it was a nice gesture - we could do with another one from Paul about now instead of all that gumph about sympathy with David Cameron and Theresa May. You can see the video on 'The McCartney Years' DVD, though sadly it’s not on the ‘Flowers In The Dirt’ set.


69. 48 Hours With Paul McCartney (US TV 1990)

'It was really tough, folks, and here's where the violins come in!' Which could be the longest forty-eight hours of your life, dragging even when edited down to eighty minutes. The worst question Paul's ever been asked 'are you happy?' The weirdest answer he ever gave: 'Once at Apple we entertained Jesus, it was a very nice time actually!' Along the way we see a tired looking Paul in the back of a cab, playing soundchecks and meeting Linda's American cousins The Fishers. Paul also talks about missing John for the benefit of the viewers of the land where he died and that now enough time has gone by since the Beatles split for him to look back fondly, disputing the claims he made in public that he didn't miss the Beatles and talking in more detail about still suffering from the sadness of the spit when trying to form Wings. More interesting than Paul's comments are the interviews with the behind-the-scenes figures on Macca's world tour - the organisers and doers who talk about why they're there and what Paul means to them above being just another job. This would have made an excellent extra on ‘Flowers’, but alas no luck – this special hasn’t been seen since transmission and not at all in Europe.

70. Later....With Bob Costas (US TV 1991)

Another epic hour-long interview again for the American market that's more interesting than most. Paul discusses reviving his Beatles material on tour, the joy of hearing 60,000 people sing 'na na na' on the end of 'Hey Jude' for the first time and disagrees with the interviewer over whose the oldest Beatle (‘Ringo - he's, y'know, very old!') There's a particularly interesting comment when Paul is asked whether he'd ever trade his persona for Lennon's air of danger - Paul says that to have that he'd have had a similarly tough childhood and he'd never want to change that. Though Macca is generally erudite and gives lengthy answers, when asked to say what the Beatles stood for in their time together Macca's response is succinct 'All You Need Is Love'. Macca also talks about his horror of Michael Jackson owning his songs and selling out their songs commercially to adverts after years of preventing people using them and a conscious decision between John and Paul that they owed their fans 'integrity'. Paul jokes that he still sees himself performing at ninety 'though the songs might all be rather slow by then!' Paul's face looks oddly fat and puffed, although he's on good form on the interview.


71. MTV Unplugged

('Be Bop A Lula' 'I Lost My Little Girl' 'Here There and Everywhere' 'Blue Moon Of Kentucky' 'We Can Work It Out' 'San Francisco Bay Blues' 'I’ve Just Seen A Face' [3] 'Every Night' 'She's A Woman' 'Hi-Heeled Sneakers' 'And I Love Her' [2] 'That Would Be Something' 'Blackbird' 'Ain't No Sunshine' 'Good Rockin' Tonight' 'Singin' The Blues' [6] 'Junk' US TV Special 1992)

'This is from an early album of mine named 'McCartney' 'Why did you call it that?' 'I don't know really...the title just came to me!' Macca and band were the first to actually release the soundtrack of their MTV Unplugged appearance - perhaps sensibly realising that the performance would be lifted for the Beatles black market anyway it was released as 'an official bootleg'. The show is an interesting one, the first of the MTV shows to be 'entirely' unplugged (with no electrical anything - no bass, no amplifiers, no monitors) and with McCartney in playful mood, joking between many of the songs ('the cleaning lady came up to me and said 'I like the one you did called 'Blackboard'!) and throwing in some real surprises into the set. There are many Beatles and Wings favourites that had never been heard live before, alongside a whole batch of rock and roll cover songs he never sang anywhere else (Hamish even gets one too!) and the first song Paul had ever written back in 1956 when he was fourteen 'I Lost My Little Girl' (a Lennon favourite much busked at the Beatles sessions!) Alas the performance isn't quite up to the strength of the setlist - the sextet band are a little over-heavy for such a purist folk-style performance and Macca's decision that 'unplugged' means the same as 'impromptu busking' robs many of these performances of the strength and rehearsal they deserve (even if his joke about this being a return to the 'skiffle craze' where it all started is spot on!) There are however many highlights you just can't see being performed anywhere else, including a fabulous 'She's A Woman' (of all the periods to revive your hard-hitting rock classic wasn’t one I expected!), a delicious 'Every Night', a moving 'We Can Work It Out' (not heard since 1966, with the middle eight about life being short and no time for fussing or fighting all the more poignant with Lennon gone), a harmony-drenched re-arrangement of 'And I Love Her' that works very well and an unexpected highlight of Hamish covering the Bill Withers classic 'Ain't No Sunshine’ and proving that he's more than just a backing singer (actually this is Hamish's greatest hour all round, with some stunning playing and singing). Strangely, although the show came out as a limited edition CD (which actually seemed to hang around the shops longer than the unlimited 'Off The Ground' album), the visuals never did come out on video and were never seen again after first broadcast - with the exception of 'I Lost My Little Girl' 'Every Night' 'And I Love Her' and 'That Would Be Something' which appeared on 'The McCartney Years' DVD with 'Junk' added to the 'McCartney' deluxe edition.

72. [238] Hope Of Deliverance (Music Video 1993)

How ironic - the video shoot for Paul's most openly 'peace and love' song in years was mired by problems, bad blood and delays. Once again a sea of extras were invited to join in the video through the McCartney fanclub - but the press was full for weeks afterwards of complaints about how they felt they'd been 'used', shut away in a little room without food and made to go through endless re-takes while their hero blanked them. What the extras didn't know was that a technical hitch had delayed the video badly and a tired Paul was drained after the endless re-takes. However the video left a lot of bad blood that's all too obvious when you watch the video back where everyone looks sullen. However that doesn't explain another weird set which is clearly trying to have an outdoorsy feel but just looks - again - as if someone has randomly planted a tree in the middle of the studio. After all that aggro the single didn't do very well either, crashing and burning at the lower end of the charts. The video features in 'The McCartney Years' DVD.

73. [247] C'mon People (Music Video 1993)

10cc's Kevin Godley was spending more and more time as a film director than as a musician as the 1990s began. 'C'mon People' was his first Beatle commission (he'd go on to shoot the 'Real Love' reunion clip) and is typical of his work with Godley/Creme. While Paul sings the song to us in 'real time', a sped up motion camera sees his simple uptight piano being pared down and then built up again as a 'grand', without Paul moving a muscle! This sequence works rather well, although I'm less sure about the middle eight's origami Hoffner basses, which have to be seen to be believed. The video features in 'The McCartney Years' DVD.


74. [236] Off The Ground (Music Video 1993)

In case you were wondering - and you probably weren't - the rare bit of guitar improv at the start of this video is officially titled 'Soggy Noodle' and appeared as an extra on the Japanese issue of 'Off The Ground'. I'm sure they were all thrilled with ten seconds of guitar tuning. Anyway we mention that because there's not much to say about the video proper - we see the latest McCartney band filming in the studio before Paul suddenly takes off and ‘flies’ out the studio (he should have done this song with Wings, boom boom!), soaring over lots of the countries the band have just played to on tour. The funniest bit of the video comes with the rest of the band waiting for his return - a nervous looking Wix helps Linda with her knitting while lots of crossword puzzles get filled in! Suddenly the band all get the high-flying bug too, as first Wix's hat and then all their instruments take off and Robbie McIntosh gives the all-time worst double-take in filmed history. The end shot is of the front cover about to be taken, with the band members' legs dangling over a ledge at the top of screen before a flying Paul takes one last swoop around and lands in place. The video features in 'The McCartney Years' DVD.


75. [241] Biker Like An Icon (Music Video 1993)

I don't get it - instead of driving a bike (as we would like) the girl in the video drives a car (that won't get her far!) As for the icon she gazes at everyday, this Jimmy Dean lookalike is too wet to have any interest from anyone at all. One of those weird character-driven McCartney videos in which the band barely appear and you wonder why they bothered. It's one of the lowlights of the 'McCartney Years' DVD.


76. Top Of The Pops #3 ([238] 'Hope Of Deliverance' UK TV 1993)

Again at an underwhelming #30 in the charts (Whitney Houston was at #1 with 'I'll Always Love You' if you were wondering), Paul returns to TOTP to plug his latest single and turns in one of his all time worst performances. His cod operatic vocal is clearly there to disguise the fact his voice is giving way after a lengthy tour. Luckily the rest of the band are free to, err, mime. Macca has fun doing the 'rockstar lean' on Robbie while he mimes his own solo though. Uniquely Wix is seen miming to an acoustic guitar while Linda plays keys solo! The last time we see this band.


77. Top Of The Pops #4 ([247] 'C'Mon People' UK TV 1993)

Macca was back again weeks later for a much stronger live performance of his 'Off The Ground' closer. Macca appears without band and plays on a gigantic grand piano while the TOTP dancers appear on stage behind him. There's a new echo effect on Macca's vocal and a subtly different mix of the song that adds more guitar and keyboard and less drums. Alas the Macca TOTP future isn't charrrrrrrging in - this is the last appearance he'll make on the show.


78. Chris Farley Show (US TV 1993)

Taking part in this Saturday Night Live comedy spin-off, Paul is given a, umm, unusual grilling by the host and deadpan grins his way through a performance that must have given him some relish after so many bad questions hurled his way over the years. The questions are spot on: ‘Remember when you were in The Beatles? Wasn’t that awesome?’ is the opening one, followed by the presenter attacking himself after Paul said he’d rather not be asked about his Tokyo drugs bust. The best question though: ‘Do you remember the rumour in the 1960s that you were dead, is it true?’ Hilarious!

79. [267] Young Boy (Music Video 1997)

Oddly missing from the 'McCartney Years' DVD set, the video for 'Young Boy' is actually by far the best thing linked to this woeful song. There are lots of shots underwater and then a similar 'rippled' effect on Paul as he plays next to a TV screen while a lot of flowers grow. Goodness knows what it all means but it is rather visually arresting and goodness knows we need something to distract us, this being one of the weaker Macca singles.


80. [264] The World Tonight (Music Video 1997)

The video for this much stronger song is another curious absentee from the 'McCartney Years'. Though Macca is now beginning to look his age for the first time, he's on great form on this low budget video that sees him dancing with an umbrella and using it to 'link' shots in the edit from one location to another. Low budget and funky, it's the first time he's used this style since [23] 'Heart Of The Country' and it suits him better than those big budget nonsense productions. The best moment comes right at the end when a sick looking Linda walks into shot and busks along for no apparent reason, the last time alas we'll see husband and wife together.


81. [273] Little Willow (Music Video 1997)

How I hate this song - the video would have to be pretty special to make it worth the three minutes of torture I'll have to put my ears through to watch it. And its...kind of OK. A slightly over-teary depiction of a person's life told in stages, it seems like one of those modern 'your furniture will outlast you' adverts that are so depressing but is at least slightly more original than the godawful song. Oddly we don't see a single willow until the last shot - I'm not sure whether to be pleased they finally gave in or not. McCartney doesn't want to break our heart honest - it only seems that way when you see some of the rotten videos. Thankfully not out on anything official.


82. [275] Beautiful Night (Music Video 1997)

Oh no I can't stand this one either - that 'Flaming Pie' album really was bad wasn't it?! Desperate to liven up perhaps the least interesting song he's ever written, Paul goes in an odd direction for the video, which was banned from most television stations in protest at the naked swimmers skinny-dipping at the end (which was surely inevitably going to happen; while a song can be heard despite a radio ban if you buy the record, surely the whole point of a video is that people can see it?! Call me cynical but it seems like an excuse to get the papers interested in a song not good enough to stand on its own two feet). Julian Temple was the director and should have known better, especially after starting his career doing far better music videos for The Kinks - this is one of the most boring music videos around and only Linda seems to be in character - sadly this is her last appearance in one of her husband's films. Though Ringo appears in a cameo, the band Paul mimes with is a band called Spud, who had nothing to do with the album or McCartney - they just happened to be the local band in town when the video was being made. I think somebody's been taking too much Mac and Jack potion! Regrettably, this video does appear on 'The McCartney Years' DVD where it might be one of the longest three minutes of your life.


83. In The World Tonight (UK TV Special 1997)

A straight-to-video documentary about the 'new album' in which Paul tries to tell us how humble and down to earth he is while chopping down trees for the biggest bonfire you've ever seen from the grounds of his, erm, stately home. I really have a problem with the 'Flaming Pie' album - there's no substance, few tunes and very little to get hold of at all. Sadly the same is true with this interview which reveals almost nothing. Things finally made sense a year later when you realised how poorly Linda was and that Macca was keeping more tight-lipped about family and career than usual because of circumstances outside his control. He still should have been allowed into the house to film, though. The 'Young Boy' and 'World Tonight' videos are featured in full too and this is the easiest place to find them commercially.


84. Oprah (US TV 1997)

'I lurrrved me some Paul!' Macca's first brush with 'Oprah' didn't come after writing his oratorio (it's about the only classical style he hasn't done yet!) but talking to what was then America's most watched interviewer. Can't say I ever quite understood why - all that fake whopping from the audience and an interviewer whose more keen on talking about herself than to her guests makes some of these shows excruciating. Sample question: 'Did you see The Beatles as a big accomplishment?' Luckily Paul's coped with worse and still throws in a few nuggets to make this worth watching, especially his take on not wanting to use a writing formula and songs being a 'kind of magic' and living in a two-bedroom house with four children because they 'liked the house' and didn't want to move when more money started coming in.


85. TFI Friday (UK TV 1997)

Or ‘Fuck No, It’s Chris Evans’ as most people knew this British programme as. Paul has just flown in from New York and must be wishing he was back on the plane as he’s asked a never-ending sea of drivel (First question: ‘What about all this rain?’ ‘What, you mean it’s my fault?’) Another interviewer no-no is that Chris argues with Paul over who ‘nipped out for two hours’ while he wrote ‘Somedays’ (and that it’s actually his assistant Geoff not Linda; what they don’t know is that he actually wrote it during one of his wife’s cancer treatments but the McCartneys didn’t want that revealed at the time). It does give Paul the best line of the night though when he’s asked if all the drinking in the lyric of ‘The Songs We Were Singing’ was autobiographical (‘No, it’s the publicist again!’ At least Chris has gone to the trouble of mocking up the ‘flaming pie’ on the cover.

86. Brown Eyed Handsome Man (Music Video 1999)

Paul looks rather lost in his first music video without Linda, an odd choice as the lead single from his covers album 'Run Devil Run'. Buddy Holly's original is OK but Macca's remake loses all the swagger and the video is nothing special either, just an excuse for some extras to do a spot of line-dancing (which was big back then thanks to Eurovision). However the video just falls Flattery on it's facery. See it on 'The McCartney Years' DVD, if you really have to.


87.  No Other Baby (Music Video 1999)

Thankfully 'Run Devil Run' video number two was exquisite and a good match for easily the album highlight. Paul is adrift in a boat during another moody black and white shoot and looks amazingly isolated and lonely given that practically every other video since [23]  'Heart Of The Country' has seen him as part of a crowd of people. It's fitting for a song that's clearly about Linda (not that Paul wrote it, but that's why he chose it - just hear the pain in his voice as he goes all Lennon and primal in the last verse) and yet shows him not moping or sulking but learning how to carry on, going through his morning routine alone for the first time and facing up to the sudden stormy seas that engulf him. Like the icebergs Paul symbolically rows past, there's so much more going on underneath this cover to those who know what both song and video are really all about. It's a whole lot more convincing than 'Little Willow' I tell you! Watch it on the 'McCartney Years' DVD right now!


88. Jools Holland Hootenanny ('Brown Eyed Handsome Man' UK TV 1999)

Somehow, somewhere, the music programme that took off most to fill the void left by TOTP after its mid-1990s axing was Jools Holland's show. Arrogant, ill-informed and a most un-natural presenter, Holland has somehow gone to have quite a career - not least because of his Beatles connections. This show marks the first time Paul had worked with Jools since Anthology and he's brought his 'Run Devil Run' band along including David Gilmour, although for now he gets precious little to do except the one song, sidelined while Holland talks about something allegedly more interesting, like congas from the Sudan or his own memories of going plinkety plonk on some failed single or something equally boring.

89. Michael Parkinson Show #1 ('Yakety Yak' UK TV 1999)

Parky and Macca go back a long way - to 1963 to be exact when The Beatles appeared on Parkinson-hosted show 'People and Places'. They cross paths again in
1973, when Parkinson was at the peak of his 'first career' and Wings were too. Wanting to assemble popular faces people might recognise for his 'Band On The Run' cover, Paul rang up the presenter to ask him to appear in return for an autograph for Michael's nephew and an agreement to appear on his chat show 'some time'. Actually Parky had to wait twenty-six years - not least because his programme was off the air for a good fifteen of them - but made up for it by dedicating the whole of one programme to McCartney. Though not the best of interviewers - he was famous as the 'soft option' for guests who didn't like being asked difficult questions - Parkinson does at least know when to shut up and let his guests talk and Macca does a lot of talking even for him. Paul doesn't cover much new ground but he covers old ground in style and overall this is one of his better interviews. Unusually for the programme he also gets to perform, although Mick Green plays instead of David Gilmour who had a prior engagement (slapping Roger Waters with a wet fish in the ongoing Pink Floyd wars, probably).


90. Red Alert ('No Other Baby' ‘Brown Eyed Handsome Man’ 'Party' UK TV 1999)

Back in the 1970s Lulu was a big TV star with her own TV show, till blooming Jimi Hendrix got it axed by refusing to stop playing after the small matter of the credits having already rolled! Eventually she had a second shot at fame but it was cut short just as brutally, an ill-fated live show based around stupid games back in the days when people were so interested in the national lottery their programmes tended to last an hour rather than five minutes. Lulu, who must have had sleepless nights about broadcasting live again, does her best but she was no match for both the technical hitches that left her wordless for parts of the programme and the sarcastic opinions of those being made to play childish party games after being led to believe the show would be so much more. Thank goodness, then, for her special guest which saw her reunite with Paul for the first time since she sang a raucous 'Day Tripper' on the 'Songs of Lennon and McCartney' TV Special in 1966 and his 'Run Devil Run' backing band, complete with David Gilmour this time. There are clearly some technical gremlins on offer here too as the band start slowly and struggle from there, but thankfully Paul is playing the album's clear winner and a song that actually suits the slower tempo, sounding more mournful and regretful rather than feisty. 'Party' too rather suits the manic mayhem going on in the rest of the show as Macca admits he 'never kissed a goon but can shake a chicken in the middle of the room' one last time. Still, it's such a car-crash moment of television for both of them - the series was axed after this pilot disaster - that you can bet your bottom dollar this clip won't be coming out on any deluxe Macca CD/DVD sets any time soon!

91. CD:UK (UK TV 2001)

An unusually serious McCartney talks a couple of months after 9/11 to, of all people, Ant and Dec plugging ‘Driving Rain’. Sadly Paul talks about being ‘at a nice stage of my life’ with Heather Mills, little knowing the explosion that’s about to happen and is confused as much as bemused when asked if he runs his new songs past George and Ringo. Paul talks about taking pictures for the album cover with his expensive digital watch from a Japanese fan and proudly talks about working with his son James on holiday.  

92. Party At The Palace ('Hey Jude' 'All You Need Is Love' 'Her Majesty' UK Concert 2002)

There is only one occasion in my life when I've ever felt any pity for millionairess benefit scrounger The Queen and that's sitting through this awful concert held to mark her jubilee in 2002. However I still think I came off worst, sitting through three hours of some of my least favourite artists ever (Queen, Elton John, Rod Stewart, S Club 7, Atomic Kitten and Cliff Richard) in order to get brief snatches of a scared-looking Brian Wilson, a grumpy Ray Davies and a going-through-the-motions Macca. After all, if you must celebrate jubilees - and I'm not quite sure why we celebrate anything quite as undemocratic as unelected Royals - celebrate like with like; stick a few posh ladies with hats on a barge or have a polo tournament or something. Do not, repeat not, ever attempt to add rock and roll to an event praising the establishment; it just won't work, even (or especially) with so many pop acts attached. It's just all so terribly terribly safe, nauseating tribute after nauseating tribute followed by ten minute hit medleys that sound like karaoke bands. Thankfully Macca is the best of a bad lot, returning to his Beatle days by being the cheekiest of the acts, from Dame Edna Everage's spoof introduction to a cheeky improvised version of 'Her Majesty', the ditty from 'Abbey Road' (which reportedly didn't go down too well, although Macca still has his knighthood at least so she couldn’t have hated it too much). However the big reveal of the first ever live Beatley performance of Lennon's 'All You Need Is Love' should have been saved for a more important occasion. Honestly, never mind what the song 'American Pie' says, this was the day that rock and roll died - the only thing missing from absolute hell for me was The Spice Girls...


93. Glastonbury ('Drive My Car' 'Penny Lane' 'Get Back' [55] 'Jet' [269] 'Flaming Pie' [58] 'Let Me Roll It' 'Blackbird'[54]  'Band On The Run' 'Back In The USSR' [65] 'Live and Let Die' 'Yesterday' [315] 'Follow Me' 'Let It Be' 'I Saw Her Standing There' 'Helter Skelter' 'Sgt Pepper's Reprise' 'Hey Jude' 'Yesterday' UK Concert 2004)

'I asked a girl what she wanted to be...she didn't have a clue!' A better-than-average Macca concert, the massive crowd at Paul’s first ever festival (despite being on the panel at Monterey in 1967) inspiring the band on to greater heights while Macca - sensibly - realises that he's amongst friends and throws in some Beatley surprises (including several Beatle songs not sung before this tour either including a nicely raw 'Drive My Car', a ragged 'Penny Lane', a slinky Sgt Pepper's Reprise and a surprisingly tight 'Helter Skelter'). Paul had always wanted to play Glasto - Michael Eavis rang him up every year - but was persuaded to appear only when he felt his band were 'ready' for it - and after hearing from a family friend who'd been in 2003 and reported back that during a technical fault there was a mass singalong of Beatle songs after hours (which rather calmed his fears that no one would know his songs!) Macca, resplendent in a red t-shirt saying 'no more landmines', is on good form all night both vocally and during in-between song quips. Even the 'Chaos and Creation' tracks don't sound quite so bad as on the record. All in all, one of the better AAA Glastonbury sets. About half of the show was broadcast on TV - and an almost entirely different half appears on the 'McCartney Years' DVD (meeting up near the run of Beatle standards at the end), with sadly no official release including the full show.

94. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? (Quiz, 2005)

‘Ooh-hoo, good luck with the marriage!’ This Christmas Eve special of tone of Britain’s better quiz shows was clearly booked when Paul and Heather were deeply in love (and before the scandal about the coughing contestant who nearly allowed his friend to get away with a million). You can tell that she and Paul aren’t getting on and there’s a strained atmosphere between them but that they’ve decided to suck it up for their charity ‘Adopt A Minefield’. Paul knows what you’d expect him to know and not what you wouldn’t, correctly guessing that Kathleen Ferrier is an opera singer, having to take a lifeline to find out Martin Luther King Jnr was born in Atlanta (the one really big row of the couple on the night) and losing at the £32,000 mark for getting the chemical symbol ‘B’ wrong.

95. Creating Chaos At Abbey Road (UK TV Special 2005)

What could be worse than listening to the worst McCartney album of all? Watching it being made. In agonisingly slow detail. Nice as it is to see Paul back at Abbey Road, every idea he has for this project showing some invited posh audience members around his ‘home’, seems to be a bad one, apart from one revealing five minute segment in which Paul re-creates [54] 'Band On The Run' using wine glasses for a BBC trail 'looking at music a bit differently' (he should have done the whole album like this!) That aside, this is rubbish and the new songs - sound even worse here on acoustic guitar than they did on record. Thank goodness for 'I've Got A Feeling' and 'Blackbird' adding a touch of class, though even these don't sound as god as elsewhere. The closing 'Blue Suede Shoes' - set to the same ploddy melody as [269] 'Flaming Pie' and most of the worst songs Paul has written recently - makes for one of the oddest McCartney moments. Inevitably this show is one of the most seen McCartney projects, appearing on the ‘McCartney Years’ DVD (does he never learn?!)

96. [306] Fine Line (Music Video 2005)

There's a fine line between recklessness and pretentiousness - and boy does this video for another horrendous McCartney dud cross that fine line. McCartney isn't seen for most of this video which instead takes the not-that-bright song all too literally and draws Paul as a silhouetted line. And that's it, for three uncomfortable minutes, as what might have worked out on paper turns out to be a very bad idea indeed. And yet the video still shows more inventiveness than the flipping song! Take our advice and don't watch it and waste your time, although if you want to see if it’s as bad as we say head to the 'McCartney Years' DVD now.


97. Live Eight ('Sgt Peppers' 'Get Back' 'Drive My Car' 'Helter Skelter' 'The Long and Winding Road' 'Hey Jude' Concert 2005)

It seems funny listing this one as the 'middle' of the 'three Live Aids' when, ten years on, most people only remember this second and few if ever the third, which featured almost nobody modern collectors would be able to name. This is the 30th anniversary concert, held to make an impression on the G8 leaders meeting to discuss poverty and the environment and the global ramifications. Given that the British candidate was Tony Blair at the time you can guarantee that nobody in power paid any notice - but that didn't stop the right people doing the right thing by trying. Bob Geldof was again grand compere and while he tries to play down similarities with 1985 and now, he still chose to end the show with a Beatle, getting Paul to sing - thankfully without any sudden loss of power to the microphones this time. Macca also started the entire event, performing 'Sgt Peppers' (the 'proper' opening song this time) with U2 and the Bootleg Beatles, evidence of just what a cultural icon he continues to be after so many years. Less forgivably, Macca still hangs out with wannabes, including a very awe-struck George Michael doing 'Drive My Car' (which is meant to be 'funny', I think, given how often George seemed to be done for reckless driving at the time, but is actually sad - give the man some help don't laugh at him!) Otherwise this is business as usual, with the typical Beatle hits played by a band slightly under par (though nerves are entirely understandable given the size of the global audience) . Sadly Macca chickens out of repeating 'Let It Be' after what happened last time!


98. Michael Parkinson Show #2 (UK TV 2005)

For Parky's 'farewell' tour/series he asked back several of his favourite guests down the years to talk again, including his old friend Paul. Though shorter and less revealing than the 1999 clip and suffering from Macca losing his voice, it's still an interesting one - especially the talk about 'Tropic Island Hum' and attendant book 'High Above The Clouds, one of the great lost McCartney projects. Paul also talks a lot more about his and Heather Mills’ environmental campaigns and then moves on - somehow - to corporal punishment at Liverpool schools.


99. iTunes Festival aka The Electric Proms ('Magical Mystery Tour' [269] 'Flaming Pie' 'Got To Get You Into My Life' [327] 'Dance Tonight' [330] 'Only Mama Knows' 'Blackbird' [268] 'Calico Skies' 'Eleanor Rigby' [154] 'Band On The Run' 'Back In The USSR' [65] 'Live and Let Die' 'Baby Face' 'Hey Jude' 'Let It Be' 'Lady Madonna' 'I Saw Her Standing There' UK Concert 2007)

The BBC were very proud of their rebuilt engine shed ten or so years ago, with London's The Roundhouse their go-to place for concert after concert (although the acoustics suited rock and roll best). Macca was part of the year's first line-up, alongside Ray Davies, perhaps remembering the days when the venue was used as the 'happening' launch for many events he once attended in Swinging London (including the International Times launch party). Sadly the concert isn't one of his best of recent years - this is one of the first shows where his vocal starts off shredded and goes downhill from there, leaving him rasping by the end of an ambitious setlist. His band, usually as consistent as they come, are having a little bit of an off night too. Even the songs aren't that good, not by his high standards anyway, despite being so Beatles-orientated: the whole of that magical back catalogue to choose from and he does 'Dance Tonight' 'Flaming Pie' and 'Calico Skies', three of his worst five songs all at the same gig? Alas even the good stuff sounds bad, with 'Eleanor Rigby' on her last legs and 'Band On The Run' finding age catching up with them. As for the song patter, the attempts to chat to the specially invited audience (‘Didn't I see you on the X Factor? How are you doin' man? Rock and roll!') is embarrassing both for people young enough to know what on earth is going on and most of us who don't. Oh and Macca's 'joke' of trying to make the audience guess what he's about to play and then launching into something entirely unexpected (this week it's 'Baby Face') is also about twenty years past its best. Still, this is McCartney, so even on an off day there are bits of magic and a typically splendid night is somehow still guaranteed for all with the audience hanging on every word'.


100.              Culture Show (UK TV 2006)

At last some culture, not that ‘The Culture Show’ is all that cultural really (it’s kind of like a depressed version of ‘The One Show’). Paul talks about ‘Ecce Cor Meum’, after first making it clear that he refused to talk about the ongoing divorce with Heather. Paul talks movingly about the moving power of music, writing during arguments and that he had to pause writing the piece after Linda’s death before coming back to it almost a decade later. Paul talks about his changing relationships with classical musicians and his funny story about the switch on EMI’s mixers that could be changed from ‘pop’ to classical’ and their worry ‘what have they got that we haven’t got?’, not realising that it was the way he different instruments were recorded.    

101.              Paul Makes Mashed Potatoes (Youtube 2006)

‘Those of you who already know how to cook just sit and have a laugh. The rest of you who can’t cook like me, you might learn something’. This list covers everything. Even Paul demonstrating one of his favourite recipes from The Linda McCartney cookbook ‘On Tour’. It takes ten very silly minutes as Paul turns into Delia Smith and gets several different dishes ‘wot we have prepared earlier’. Macca magical tip: add onion for flavouring. Macca’s best messing around moment: treating his oven glove like a puppet. Inadvertent Liverpudlian catchphrase: ‘Sling ‘em’ in some boiling water’. The shot ends with Paul saying that while cookery shows usually let the crew eat everything he’s going to take the whole lot home! I’m not sure if I learnt much cookery, but it is very funny. We need more recipe videos, Macca!  

102.              Larry King Live (US TV 2007)

This week's product to promote: 'Blackbird Singing' , Macca's book of poetry. Paul's joke 'I submitted a poem to the school magazine that got rejected, so I became a successful millionaire songwriter to get my own back!' The level of a Larry King question: 'What's it like being a sir?' The verdict: 'Interesting...like getting a school-prize you didn't even go in for'. Larry's interviewing style is to remind everyone of his hard upbringing in Brooklyn, but he has his work cut out this time as Paul trumps him with tales of Liverpool from the dim and distant past. Macca talks about the schizophrenia of being famous, of having a part of himself 'separate' from the version that goes out on stage and the problems when people approach the 'wrong' one when he's not in a starry mood. Heather Mills turns up in the final advert break where they both talk about falling in love – it may just be in retrospect, but I'm sure that's a look of hatred not a lovey-dovey one she aims at him. She even says 'I'm here to talk about our work against landmines, not to talk about my love life.' Ouch!


103.              The View (US TV 2009)

There's a lot of kissing on American interview programmes isn't there? The closest we come to this in Britain is when puppet emus attack Michael Parkinson! Anyway, this is one of Paul's more informal interviews perched uncomfortably on a sofa alongside Whoopi Goldberg and four others as he talks about making the third Fireman album 'Electric Arguments' on the American equivalent of 'Loose Women'. There's also what appears to be a music video for [346] 'Sing The Changes' shown briefly - basically Paul singing from a billboard while white paint is thrown at him; no me neither - but I haven't been able to find any longer clips of this video (was it ever finished?) Paul talks about the chance to approach the album differently, singing with a deeper voice. Paul also talks about carrying a Christmas cracker harmonica with him everywhere in his pocket and stopping a crying baby at an airport by playing it ('She was just looking at me!') Paul also talks about the cirque de soleil's confusing Beatles ballet 'Love' and about choosing controversially to play Israel despite death threats and political shenanigans - taking the sensible decision to tell both sides that he was there for 'peace', not to take sides. Better still Paul talks about meeting Bertrand Russell while living at Jane Asher's house in the mid-1960s and talking about the Vietnam War - turning John onto it along the way. Paul's take on hiring security after Lennon's death: 'it lasted about a week and then I thought I can't live my life like this!' Unexpectedly interesting.


104.              Dance Tonight (Music Video 2009)

Actor Mackenzie Crook and Actress Natalie Portman help brighten up one of the dumbest music videos on this list and the simplest McCartney single since least ‘Love Me Do’. Paul things the postman is delivering a cricket bat but it turns out to be a mandolin that he then proceeds to play. A load of ghosts wake up and dance with him round his ‘house’ – personally I’d like to think one of them was Lennon giving his old musical partner a clip round the ear for making this inanity the all-important album single when he had such better material on ‘Memory Almost Full’ that nobody got to hear. There’s a curious coda too where all the ghosts get to dance in ‘person’ while Paul and an unknown drummer jam away.

105.              Superbowl ('Get Back' [65] 'Live and Let Die' 'Hey Jude' US TV 2009?)

Obviously nothing any human can do anywhere around the world can ever be viewed with the same importance and reverence as The Beatles - that's an indisputable fact, to go alongside the Earth being round and the Pope being Catholic and bears working shifts in the woods (at least I think that's how the saying goes). However apparently some people quite like sport too - not quite sure why they enjoy people running around fruitlessly when they could be listening to music in a comfortable arm chair but there you go - and in America they have a thing called American Football that's quite big. It's a bit like rugby, only with more protection and even less rules plus lots of random shouts of instructions like '49, Hike!' that comes from a code older and harder to penetrate than the Bible. Sometimes the mega-audiences who watch the sport in America like having half-time intervals that feature big events. And very very occasionally these events are worth watching - such as the time Macca and band took to the stage for a brief interval concert. It's a rushed affair that like many of the bigger-sized audiences shows on this list show signs of strain and nerves, but a decent flick through the old songbook gets them out of trouble. Paul also scored three touch-downs and a try in the second half, presumably for the New York Jets (Wooh-wooh! Jet!) The complete concert was included as an extra in 'The McCartney Years' DVD, despite being longer than almost every other segment.


106.              X Factor Finals ('Drive My Car' [65] 'Live and Let Die' UK TV 2009)

And so it comes to this. In a world without any Brian Epsteins and where youngsters just want to be 'famous' as opposed to 'famous and talented' reality TV shows are now all the rage. People seem to have forgotten that the only time The Beatles entered a (sadly untelevised) talent show they lost out to an old lady with a dog. However Paul's daughter Beatrice was a big fan of the show and it was her badgering alongside an invite that happened to coincide with a gap in his schedules that allowed Paul to appear. Even with an audibly fading voice he still knocks the rest of the over-singing under-prepared youngsters a quarter of his age. That's a seven from the AAA jury!


107.              David Letterman Show ([154] 'Coming Up' [154] 'Band On The Run' [158] 'Let Me Roll It' 'Helter Skelter' 'Back In The USSR' US TV 2009)



A memorable show in which Macca and band celebrate the 40th anniversary of the rooftop gig by playing an unbilled show on top of the Letterman studio roof. Paul is in a very sunny mood and the band are on good form, while Letterman - not usually a presenter who reveals much emotion - clearly can't believe that this is happening on his show. Even the set lists is the best in a while mixing lesser known Beatle classics with solo and Wings gems. However this second time up on a rooftop still isn’t quite as exciting as the first, forty years earlier.


108.              Saturday Night Live ('Take My Breath Away' [155] 'Jet!' [154] 'Band On The Run' 'A Day In The Life-Give Peace A Chance' 'Get Back' US TV 2010)

Before you ask, yes I think Paul did perform on this American skit show back in the 1970s but Youtube don't have it and I can't remember much about it I'm afraid so I've skipped it; lets' face it there's probably too much to read here not too little. There is readily available footage of a return performance, however, and one which in the grand SNL tradition gets Macca involved in the sketches too. A bespectacled Paul is looking for a job that's 'more stable' than his current job as a musician and deadpans that 'ever since I was a little boy in Liverpool I've dreamed of working in...Human Resources'. Paul then plays up to a Scouser stereotype by nicking the office's pencils as he makes his way to the door! The songs are a tad safer ground and pretty usual really by Paul's standards, although his touching memorial for Lennon with a medley of two of his partner's songs performed for an American audience thirty years after his death there is as moving as you'd expect.


109.              [369] Queenie Eye (Music Video 2012)

Meanwhile, back in Abbey Road, Paul leaves the safety of the control room at studio no 2 for an oddly conservative video to go along with his bonkers song. I was hoping I might actually understand the rules to the daft sounding game that inspired it after seeing the video – not a chance! For some odd reason the cast of the film 'Into The Woods' appear in the video singing along, even though the film has no other connection to McCartney that I can find. The video then ends with thirty seconds of Paul replacing a guitar and whistling as he walks up to the control room again - most odd!


110.              [370] Early Days (Music Video 2012)

'Early Days' is in the great tradition of story-videos that don't go where you expect them to from the song. Musically this is Paul remembering the early days of The Beatles in Liverpool, Visually, this is a civil war rant where a passing African-American shrugs as his white colleagues celebrate Independence Day. While Paul sings the song from within a log cabin, the young lad falls in love with the guitar and raises himself and his family out of poverty until finally he plays with Paul himself. A sort of you say Huckleberry, I say goodbye.


111.              Saturday Night Live #2 ('My Valentine' 'Cut Me Some Slack' [135] 'Wonderful Christmas Time' 'Holiday Time Holiday Cheer' US TV 2012)

Macca's here again and so is Christmastime! Santa McCartney hasn't exactly brought a sack of gifts for his fans though - just an oddball record of crooner songs which he sings even worse than on the ‘Kisses On The Bottom’ record. Macca doesn't join in any skits this time around but he does sing two festive songs exclusive to this programme - thank goodness they stayed that way, in both cases. The best thing here is ‘Wonderful Xmas Time’ (let me say that again slowly so it sinks in: the best thing, here, out of all four songs, is ‘Wonderful Xmas Time’. Back away slowly…)


112.              The Frost Interview (Al Jazeera TV 2012)

David Frost had a long history with The Beatles - there's a charming interview with Paul in 1965 where he admits to being horrified at the thought of still making pop music when he's thirty, while Lennon liked Frost enough to appear on his show three times. By 2012 Frost is nearing the end of his long career and reduced to appearing on the actually rather excellent Al Jazeera news channel (which is less biased than either the BBC or Sky and far less anglicised in outlook). The 'twist' in the interviews is that the subjects are asked to look at and comment on old film of themselves and even a hardened Beatle used to seeing himself on screen is moved into offering quite a few titbits we've never had before. Frost was always amongst the superior interviewers of his day, brave enough to tread new ground without causing his guests to scramble back to a defensive position and though age has made both men slower, this adds a nicely thoughtful and reflective quality to an interview that goes over and above the usual McCartney soundbites. Paul’s especially strong in this clip talking about his family members, his pride at the 'hidden strengths' of the working classes and on being a father for the second time. Excellent.


113.              2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony (‘Hey Jude’)

It’s a good job we don’t get medals for Olympic ceremonies because in truth London in 2012 was a bit of a mess. Danny Boyle’s incomprehensible ballet overshadowed the grand return of three AAA members, all of whom under-performed against their biggest worldwide audience in sometime. Macca was perhaps the most disappointing because he’s more used to giving big shows than Ray Davies or Liam Gallagher and a rather tuneless ‘Hey Jude’ seemed to go on for hours rather than just eight minutes. His is also the peak period of McCartney’s rather oddly dyed hair. Still, if they gave out medals for trying hard and being a legend after fifty years of continuous awesomeness Paul would get one of those medals anyday.

114.              Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (US TV 2013)

An American plug for 'new' album titled, erm, 'New', with an American interviewer whose even more starstruck than the others in this list. Paul is at his best discussing how touring has changed ('You can hear yourself now!'), the non-rivalry between The Beatles and Rolling Stones and the best gag of the night 'You were up 80 foot high with a piano - right?' 'No you must have been on drugs - it was a guitar!'


115.              The Ronnie Wood Show (US TV 2013?)

'The sun was always shining in the sixties!' 'Yeah - felt like it!' Speaking with my astrological head on, I've noticed down the years that despite being lovely and friendly and brilliant one-on-one, get two Geminis together and conversation quickly becomes a competition. It proved to be the case for Paul and Brian Epstein, maybe Paul and Brian Wilson too and again here where the Rolling Stones guitarist tries to 'interview' Paul by starting with his own memories which Paul then tops, leading to Ronnie topping, leading to Paul...you get the idea. This Sky programme was an odd idea: Ronnie is a naturally friendly guy but he's too busy chatting and messing round with his guests to do his homework and actually ask them anything of importance and often isn't listening to the answers his guests give, so that you end up learning less from his shows than any other interview. Seeing Ronnie talk as if this is a 'radio' show despite it being made for TV is also a weird quirk that you never quite get used to. There are however some fab impromptu performances of the rock and roll classics played on the show (which we don't hear as we go instead to the pair singing along as the records go out on air) and a few interesting snippets such as Paul talking about [11] 'Maybe I'm Amazed' (which Ronnie covered with The Faces), their shared love of Eddie Cochran and their mutual friendship with the late great Beatle mate Billy Preston, who'd died not long before this programme was recorded.


116.              [384] Hope For The Future (Music Video 2014)

'Beatles: RockBand' introduced the fab four to a whole new gamer generation in 2010. While sadly there never was a sequel ('play the bagpipes to [102] Mull Of Kintyre!') Paul's interest was piqued enough for him to agree to an invite to base his next song around a game, 'Destiny'. The game isn't actually very McCartney-ish, being a shoot-em-up sci-fi game with medieval overtones whereby Earth is the last great refuge after mankind stretched out into the universe. Paul appears to rally the troops pinned back to Earth via hologram, with a still-exclusive song that's a pretty standard McCartney ballad really, mixing an epic production with a simple song that has a catchy chorus about love and peace with a large dollop of the usual McCartney optimism. [76] 'Venus and Mars' might have been a better choice, while 99% of gamers who didn't know who Paul McCartney was skipped the cut-scene to go back to shooting up spaceships anyway.


117.              Graham Norton Show (UK TV 2014)

In which Paul is upstaged by Katy Perry (who flirts with Paul something rotten before accidentally insulting him - 'you only have twenty-four top ten hits? I've had ten and I've not been going anywhere near as long!') and comedian James Corden ('I'm not even a singer and I've had one!’) However just as Macca fans were beginning to throw things at the telly, Katy says her favourite McCartney song is obscure gem [19] 'Ram On' so all is forgiven. Paul copes with the hysteria well considering and holds his own on what is a much friendlier Graham Norton sofa of stars than normal. Astonishingly, though, the only music video shown all night is by flipping Katy Perry. This is what's wrong with the modern world in a nutshell but hey, at least it wasn't one of The Spice Girls.


118.              Jonathan Ross Show (UK TV 2014)

Paul seems to spend more time talking than making music nowadays, with another UK chat show appearance on another show that's best described as 'slumming it'. Ross introduces Paul as 'the father of dress designer Stella' and there's an interesting chat between him and comedian Miranda Hart, star of 'Call The Midwife', about his mum's own career as a midwife. Usually you watch Jonathan Ross' show for cheap laughs but this is actually one of the most moving interviews on the list as Paul is asked about where he was when he heard about Lennon's death. The funniest quote is when asked about Beatles RockBand where Paul admits 'getting mashed' by one of his own grandchildren but had the greatest comeback of all-time: 'yeah but I can play a real bass - and I wrote it!'


119.              Howard Stern Show (US TV 2014)

'I think your father was right, Paul - you should have stayed away from John, he was a bad influence!' Disc-shockey Howard Stern makes even a hardened interviewee like Paul look nervous as he talks about 'Helter Skelter' inventing heavy metal. There are some unusual questions, such as why Denny Laine chose to cover Paul Simon’s 'Richard Cory' during Wings live shows ('He's the suicidal one!' Paul quips) and denies the rumour that Paul always aimed the line 'get back to where you once belonged' at Yoko every time he sang it (he's actually a lot kinder about Yoko than he is elsewhere). Paul is under fire throughout, as all guests are on this anarchic show, but copes very well and joins in with the humour. At long last somebody asks Paul about CSN auditioning for George Harrison after being turned down by Columbia (' it’s something about that group!' quips Paul before remembering passing the house they were sharing in Chelsea and that 'I was impressed!') Oh and the usual off-subject matter of moving in with Jane Asher in their family house (Paul 'sneaking' into Jane's room 'and her mother didn't know about that!') and getting the worst room when Brian Epstein bought a London flat for The Beatles to share! Macca is also asked what the worst song is he's written and nominates the unreleased Beatles song 'Etcetera' while adding 'Get Back' as the song he wasn't expecting to be as popular as it was. Paul also says that he stopped smoking in the late 1970s after getting the flu and it was 'very easy' - a question I've always wondered about. Paul finished off by doing a bad Ringo impression as he laughs 'peace and love - no more autographs!' Unexpectedly revealing.


120.              Saturday Night Live 40th Birthday Special ('I've Just Seen A Face' [11] 'Maybe I'm Amazed' 'Only One' US TV 2015)

Finally Pauls McCartney and Simon team up for a special of the long-running American comedy show. There's a brief skit on the best people in the world always being called Paul and a single verse version of an acoustic  'I've Just Seen A Face'. 'We should have done 'The Sound Of Silence' a straight-faced Simon quips at the end. Thereafter Paul performs his old classic [11] 'Maybe I'm Amazed' and the Kanye West duet 'Only One'. Guess which one the world will still be singing by the time of Saturday Night Live's 80th birthday? Yeah, not that last one, I’ll tell you now…

121.              Who Cares? (Music Video 2018)

Oh dear. After skipping the ‘New’ album, Paul returned to making music videos with ‘Egypt Station’ and they’re every bit as weird and unpalatable as the album This one is an animation, but not a ‘Rupert’ style animation but one of those ugly jerky collage styles. Paul starts the song as a psychologist seeing his patient before she has a nightmarish vision that seems to see Paul dressing up as Alice Cooper. Well, at least this was one of the better songs off the album so who cares I guess? At least it’s short.

122.              Fuh You (Music Video 2018)

This one thought is just plain creepy. Paul’s voice comes out the mouth of a ten-year-old child whose just been caught by his girlfriend’s mother snogging outside her gate. I don’t know what’s weirder, a ten-year-old talking about ‘going out down the town’, wanting to sleep with a similarly juvenile girl or the fact that a ten-year-old would almost certainly not censor the ‘f’ word. I think I need a shower after that.

123.              Carpool Karaoke (US TV 2018)

This clip, however, is genius. British comedian James Corden had become a big sensation in America with his series inviting celebrities (not necessarily musicians) to travel with him to places while singing along to the radio. For Paul, though, James gets a whole day out to Liverpool and gets to go down Penny Lane and revisit his childhood in Forthlin Road, his dad’s house since bought up by The National Trust alongside Aunt Mimi’s (George’s sadly was knocked down already and they ran out of money for Ringo’s!) Paul gets to sing along to ‘Drive My Car’, talk yet again about writing his first song ‘I Lost My Little Girl’, sign his name on the ‘Penny Lane’ roadsign, visit the Penny Lane barbers in front of a picture of his Beatle self, busking at a bus station in town, pointing out where the furniture used to be at his dad’s house, getting fed up with his dad inviting fans in for a cup of tea and returning to the Liverpool pub we last saw in ‘James Paul McCartney’ forty-three years earlier for a medley of songs. Superb!

124.              Paul McCartney Answer’s The Web’s Most Searched Questions (2018)

We end with a rather fun idea, as  with the sponsoring of internet company Wire Paul answers the most searched questions in google. Most of them readers of this book will know multiple times over such as the stories behind writing ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Let It Be’ and so on (what do they teach in schools today?!?) but there are some good ones too. He mentions writing ‘No Values’ in a dream too but not by name (it’s the one The Stones are doing), interestingly dates the end of Wings to the Japanese bust rather than partway through the ‘Tug Of War’ sessions and takes about his close friendship with The Rolling Stones (‘Good group! Just not as good as The Beatles!’) Silliest but cutest answer: ‘Did The Beatles ever wear wigs? Yes and I’m wearing one now!’ Paul doesn’t answer everything however , joking ‘I don’t know what the dates are, I was too busy doing it!’  



'Wings At The Speed Of Sound' (1976) http://www.alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/paul-mccartney-and-wings-at-speed-of.html

'London Town' (1978) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/review-71-paul-mccartney-and-wings.html

'McCartney II' (Original Double Album) (1980) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/news-views-and-music-issue-106-paul.html

'Tug Of War' (1982) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/news-views-and-music-issue-122-paul.html

'Pipes Of Peace' (1983) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/paul-mccartney-pipes-of-peace-1983.html

'Press To Play' (1986) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/88-paul-mccartney-press-to-play-1986.html

'Flowers In The Dirt' (1989) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2009/08/news-views-and-music-issue-40-paul.html

'Off The Ground' (1993) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/paul-mccartney-off-ground-1993.html

'Driving Rain' (2001) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/paul-mccartney-driving-rain-2001.html


'New' (2013) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2013/11/paul-mccartney-new-2013-album-review.html

The Best Unreleased McCartney/Wings Recordings http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/the-best-unreleased-mccartney.html