Monday 4 April 2016

Jack The Lad "Rough Diamonds" (1975)

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Jack The Lad "Rough Diamonds" (1975)

Rocking Chair/Smoker's Coughin'/Captain Grant/My Friend The Drink/A Letter From France//Gentleman Soldier/Gardener Of Eden/One For The Boys/The Beachcomber/The Ballad Of Winston O'Flaherty/Jackie Lusive

It's not often an album cover winks at me, dear readers, but this one just did. What's more it's holding a guitar in one hand a pint in the other. Oh and did I mention this figure happens to be a playing card? All in all it's our resident mascot dog Bingo's favourite album cover! In the hands of another band I'd be worried, but this album cover is pretty much spot on for the Jack The Lad unique brand of boozy bonhomie and gentlemanly geniality. What's more, it's an important breakthrough for a band that both they and album company Charisma have never quite known how to market properly (with barnyard banjos on the first cover and a down-home sitting room complete with washing on the second, neither exactly hip images in mid 70s music circles) and suggests that, at last, Jack The Lad know what they stand for and where they're going. 'Rough Diamonds', itself another very Jack The Lad image, demonstrates a new-found confidence with stability within the line-up (this is the only record the Lindisfarne spin-off will make with the same band members for two records running) and an eagerness to record the sort of anachronistic, head-scratching material no other band would touch. Though 'It's Jack The Lad' may have the better songs (mainly courtesy of Rod Clements) and 'The Old Straight Track' the better performances (mainly courtesy of Phil Murray's powerful bass), 'Rough Diamonds' is Jack The Lad's most deserving album commercially and a true band effort. The fact that it too failed to set the charts alight and saw the band quietly dropped from Charisma was a tragedy the band never quite recovered from.

Still, the band weren't to know that at the time they recovered this album which not only winks but positively twinkles, Jack The Lad having by now truly found their identity outside Lindisfarne. It helped that the band recorded it 'on holiday' as it were, having been invited to travel down to Bayswater to make the album a little bit different. Not that it was ecxactly an ideal holiday and the conditions were difficult: Charisma hadn't left an awful lot of money or much time to make the record (so it's just as well the band were hot from a recent tour) while the band were late booking their hotel room and ended up staying altogether in one room during the course of making the record (with Murray, a famously loud snorer, persuaded to sleep half-outside through an open window!) As with other AAA albums recorded in trying circumstances though (like 'Please Please Me' and 'Band On The Run') the 'we'll show you' attitude actually pulled the band together and the record seems to have been a much happier one to make than any of their other three despite all the practical difficulties. 

After all the band had numerous reasons to be cheerful: John Peel's wife was still on at her husband to include her favourite band as often as possible giving the band ever more exposure (with Jack The Lad playing seven Peel sessions across their career - they'd make a fine compilation one day if only we can make the band famous enough between us to warrant it!), the band had just been on a successful tour in support of Ralph McTell (where they won most of the reviewers over to 'their side') and in 'Rockin' Chair' Billy Mitchell had just written a timeless classic that in any other hands would have been a surefire #1 hit record (but which, with Jack The Lad's typical luck, no one at Charisma blooming thought to release as one!) If the band's first two records were at least partly about the bitter Lindisfarne split then 'Rough Diamonds' was very much about announcing the band to the world. It should have worked. Why it didn't remains one of rock (certainly folk-rock's) biggest mysteries.
Of course, Jack The Lad hadn't severed ties with their Lindisfarne past completely. That winking album cover was drawn by fellow Lindisfarne refugee Ray 'Jacka' Jackson in a rare return to his days as a graphics student (and which is sadly his last album cover for any band, following his similarly inventive cover for his parent band's 'Nicely Out Of Tune') and he clearly understood the band well with their triumvirate of drinking, gambling and virtuoso playing. In fact Jacka, at a loose end after Lindisfarne Mark II split up in 1974, nearly joined the band as a spare singer and harmonica playing, adding a gorgeous solo to the band's highlight 'Rockin' Chair' and guesting with Jack The Lad at a few gigs (part of the soundtrack of which can be heard on the CD version of fourth and final album 'Jackpot'). Jacka, always a valuable addition to any band, really should have joined full-time and given the 'Lads' a slightly more commercial edge to go with their quirky songwriting (he was asked but declined), but six members would perhaps have been too many for the band to cope with (they wouldn't have fitted into the same hotel room for a start!)

The other major addition is Simon Nicol, fresh from working with Fairport Convention and - more importantly from a sound point of view - Richard and Linda Thompson, whose recent masterpiece 'Hokey Pokey' was very much in a Jack The Lad vein (with depressive folky philosophy interrupted by witty humour and a title track about an ice cream seller that wouldn't have surprised anyone had it come with Si Cowe's name attached to it). No one quite remembers why he ended up producing this album: as a freelance producer Charisma may have been washing their hands of anything to do with a project they knew was likely to fail or perhaps had noticed similarities between the folk-rock music he had been making. In actual fact 'Rough Diamonds' ended up being a poppier and less folky album than 'The Old Straight Track' had been, with a tougher more aggressive rhythm sound from Phil on bass and Ray Laidlaw on drums and a development of the tricky 'on/off' metres that had worked so well on the last album's 'Weary Whaling Grounds' (generally regarded as that record's standout track). Nicol, originally a guitarist before he tried his hand at producing, could also be called upon to beef up the band's three-part guitar sound, taking over from an astonished Mitch when he complained that his own part on his arrangement of 'The Ballad Of Winston O'Flaherty' was too hard to play. He also brought in his old friend John Kirkpatrick, the accordion player on 'Gentleman Soldier', after working with him on another Fairport solo project by Ashley Hutchings. It's a shame that Nicol never worked with the rest of Jack The Lad or Lindisfarne again as he clearly understood their sound, tidying it up better for top 40 radio without losing any of the band's idiosyncrasies or trademarks.

Musically, it's much like you'd expect from the first two albums: a gentleman soldier getting up to hanky panky in his sentry box, a highway robber who flees from prison, the evils of cigarettes, the bittersweetness of booze, a honky tonk Music Hall piece set in France, a French Riveria style tune set on an English beach, a spiritual piece where God is a gardener and a card game as a metaphor for life. The strongest songs though, as usual, came from the darker deeper side of Jack The Lad's repertoire. After some strong songs on the first albums Billy has really found his songwriting groove by now and turns in two of the strongest songs he ever gave the band: 'Rockin' Chair', as discussed, is a true classic up to the level of anything Lindisfarne did (which is saying something!) as the narrator lives what most would call a useful and productive life until the time comes to tell his grandkids stories of what he got up to and he regrets that he didn't step out of line and experience adventures more, like his own reckless seafaring horse-riding grandfather. There's also the reflective 'One For The Boys' which tries to divide up the narrator's meagre possessions before discovering that there's actually too many people to send them to, a thought that cheers him up no end. It also serves as a kind of overture for Jack The Lad and their financial struggles, with the band both worrying where the next payday will come from and not caring a jot because at least this song is being heard by someone. Add this to a song sung half-jokily half-seriously to 'my friend the drink' which blots out the world around him and you have to wonder if Mitchell was beginning to tire of the band's lack of success (he was, after all, half-expecting to join Lindisfarne itself, who had a much better chance of sales with their established name, while reviewers still insisted on comparing him to Alan Hull even though their songwriting came from completely different ends of the social spectrum). However, if such speculation is true, Billy seems to have cheered up immeasurably for the actual performances and turns in some of his strongest and most confident work, truly leading the band from the front now.

Billy also gets to sing several of Si Cowe's songs on this album (which, given that the record features just the one instrumental this time around, features more of Mitchell vocals than any other). However Si is still a strong presence on this album with his unique brand of songwriting exploring new avenues. Though Si is often in a predictably silly mood (who else would write a hymn to the delights of smoking, with the band coughing their way through it as a harmony!) there's also an undercurrent of sadness in his songs too. Si's first marriage was in the course of breaking up - loudly as it happens, with tales of thrown crockery and all-night arguments during the rehearsals for next album 'Jackpot'. Si will end up leaving the band soon after, with this his last recording until the Lindisfarne reunion three years later, and understandably you can hear the doubts and frustrations already in his songs here: though Billy sings 'The Beachcomber' as a cross between a roaring twenties foxtrot and a film noir soundtrack it's actually a heartbreaking song about looking back on a time when the narrator proposed to an 'icy maiden' and wonders why he tried so hard to warm her heart; 'Gardener Of Eden' too seems to come with a subtext about taking beauty and perfection for granted and expecting perfection to come only from 'perfect' people; 'Jackie Lusive' meanwhile is one of those 'crying court jester' sorts of songs that's built for laughs but was clearly written through tears of sadness. Cowe's only purely comic song on the album is about how smokers are going to die young because of a habit they can't kick and how everyone has an excuse not to quit - which is the sort of thing the Government turns into a sob story shown at tea-time with the sort of brutal realism you wouldn't get in an 18 certificate film nowadays. Though none of his songs are bad, one of the reasons 'Rough Diamonds' loses out over its predecessors is that Cowe's glorious eccentricity feels a little curbed here and unlike the first two records he's not quite up to the level of Billy.

The overall record theme, then, is loss and death and worry, but this is not a dark record. Jack The Lad were, after all, too busy partying to know how to make a dark record.Instead we have here a frequently laugh-out-loud funny record that covers some deeply serious subjects and one that seems to both celebrate and curse the excesses of modern day living. A unique mixture of absurdists and realists, 'Rough Diamonds' both laughs over and cries with us over the fact that life is often stupid, unpredictable and difficult and that hard times are inevitable. Rather than cry over what can't be changed, though, 'Rough Diamonds' prefers to laugh, wishing at the end of its life that, actually, the characters wish they'd been naughtier in life and led even more adventurous lives; though it hasn't left them much money to pass around to 'the boys' it has left them a lot of treasured memories. In the wake of Si Cowe's untimely death (the first of the 'Lads' to leave us - rather amazingly, really, if the tale of high living are all to be believed), this is more of a moving listening experience than ever it was at the time. Jack The Lad are a band that have grown with the passing of time well, even if they've grown old disgracefully. At the risk of repeating our two previous two Jack The Lad reviews, the fact that more fans didn't latch onto them at the time is one of the great tragedies of the 1970s music scene.

In many ways too 'Rough Diamonds' is the archetypal Jack The Lad album, uninterrupted by disappearing band members, the need to impress record companies or a desire to make lengthy songologues. Like the best dramas, the comedy doesn't detract from the tragedies while sometimes the best thing that can be done with a helpless situation is laugh at it. With so many practical jokers and natural comedians it makes sense that Jack The Lad should have ended up here (with poor Ray forced to play the straight-man for much of his time with the band - though he is at least credited on the album sleeve for 'crazy rhythms' this time around), but like the best comedians there's a sense that the band understand the importance of humour as a release from a difficult and troubled world with the laughs here for a reason. Like Simon and Garfunkel's 'Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme' and The Rolling Stones' 'Between The Buttons' (two of our earliest reviews), this is an album that's often delivering a different story to the one people think it is. Though the album often sounds jolly and happy and poplike, the real truth of the situations here are often sad: addiction, death, loss, religion: this album could easily have gone in a completely different direction in terms of arrangement and treatment (Leonard Cohen would have had a field day...) This is arguably the 'true' Jack The Lad spirit and style and it's heard at its best across an album here, past individual classics about giants and wurms and whalers notwithstanding, and you sense that the band could have continued in this vein for an awful lot of years to come had they wanted to or been allowed to. Instead the band jumped ship to Warner Brothers after feeling that Charisma effectively left this record to die - a move that sadly will take them away from the Lindisfarne family and ultimately cost them dear.

'Rough Diamonds', then, is another strong album by a great and perennially under-rated band, if not necessarily their best. On a song by song basis 'Rough Diamonds' is perhaps a step down from the impressively consistent first two albums. Few AAA debut records are as strong as 'It's Jack The Lad' with its carat gold classic 'Turning Into Winter' and 'Lyiong On The Water' (though admittedly no other such debuts have so much material about the split of a previous band to talk about), while the album also lacks the range and sense of adventure of 'The Old Straight Track' which switched from comedies about fortune tellers and giants to serious social protest as if they're all really the same thing. There's a slightly repetitive feel to 'Rough Diamonds' which just ever so slightly takes the edge away from proceedings with the band repeating the same ideas on a few songs and branching out perhaps a little too far into experimentation with the George Formby-esque curio 'A Letter From France', one of the weaker Jack The Lad songs. There's no performance here quite as tight or direct as 'Fast Lane Driver' or 'Weary Whaling Grounds' either, even if the band are also never as sloppy as they were on 'De Haviland's Mistake' or 'Rosalee'. However the major plus point in 'Rough Diamonds' favour is that this sounds like a full record this time and one made by the same band from track to track rather than a record that's trying hard to condense multiple bands in one. It's not quite the band's 'Jackpot' (though that record, with the switch to heavy rock, is actually the band's weakest), with perhaps half an album not quite up to the standard of the previous two, but it's close enough with some of the greatest Lindisfarne-related .songs of them all. Which, of course, means some of the best songs by anyone. 'Rough Diamond' is - despite the name - a record with a big 'heart' (and often a big club to wallop you round the head when you're not looking!)

The record starts near the end, as it were, with 'Rockin' Chair' as Great-Grandad Billy tries to find a funny story to impress his grandchildren with. Only he can't think of any - he was too busy being sensible and an upstanding member of the community (!), with a job family and children, not like his own Grandad who lived life to the full and was a right menace his whole life through (though, presumably, he too had children if Billy's his grandson...maybe he was one of those relatives who was always abroad sailing the seven seas?) But now that it's Billy's narrator's turn he can't think of anything interesting to talk about and ends up swiping some of his Grandad's stories instead. It's a clever idea for a song that sounds jolly until you scratch under the surface and realise how serious another band would have made this song, the unspoken aspect being that the narrator, presumably in his final years, has only just realised how wasted his life has been doing what people wanted him to do instead of what he wanted to do (it's a very Ray Davies like song now I think about it). All of this is delivered by Billy with a delightful swagger and Jack The Lads come up with a fun, bouncy arrangement that ties together most of their strengths with Walter's exquisite fiddle playing taking the song into country, Phil's heavy bass lines into rock, the acoustic guitars into folk and a guesting Jacka's delightful harmonica solo into blues. All of these ingredients seem to cook into such an obvious hit single - something Jack The Lad badly needed by 1975 - that you feel like slapping the Charisma staff with a wet fish for noticing it. The band themselves seem to have been particularly keen (sadly one of the very few surviving Jack The Lad TV clips - possibly for children's show 'Supersonic' - has them playing this song for a bunch of bored under-tens, which seems quite apt now I think about it; the Youtuber lists it as 'Sailed The Seven Seas' rather than it's real title but before you think that's going to lead to a cheap laugh, hey, this is one of the most obscure albums I own so I'm not going to complain and anyway I'm too grateful he/she thought to upload it at all). Perhaps the peak of Jack The Lad's career, a song that's catchy-but-deep in all the best ways and everything this band were all about.

'Smoker's Coughin' is, perhaps, a joke too far although there's a certain grim chuckle to be made at Si Cowe's song of praise to one of his favourite vices. The black humour comes from the pun on the word 'coughin' bringing the characters closer to 'coffins' and a memorable chorus of 'smoking, choking, sneezing, wheezing...' and a sarcastic comment that 'everyone's got their personal reasons[for not giving the habit up]' (this one's more like a John Entwistle song!) Jack The Lad perform this one like Music Hall never went out of fashion, with twin banjo parts from Billy and Walter and an opening where Si Cowe sounds like the Geordie re-incarnation of Edith Piaf. Like many Cowe songs this one is a little too left-field for most mainstream ears, but as usual in Si's Jack The Lad days there's a strong tune in there too, a jaunty happy-go-lucky melody that couldn't be less like the dark humour of the lyrics that goes alongside it. Though buried, the strongest part of this song might well be the full band harmonies (a rarity for Jack), as well as a deep whispered 'out you come out you come...' after the line 'He said do you fancy something stronger?' and a final peal of deep throated coughs. Smoking after this? You must be joking!

'Captain Grant' is often listed as the album's highlight, a traditional song in the same line as the hard-rocking 'Weary Whaling Grounds' from 'The Old Straight Track'. It's certainly a strong performance, full of the traditional stop-start rhythms the band nail with their usual precision as members drop in and out of the song. As a song, though, Captain Grant has slightly less going for it than some of Jack The Lad's best and is more like the straightforward traditional folk songs the likes of Pentangle normally do. Captain Grant is a military Robin Hood, stealing money ('Half I kept for myself, half I gave to the poor') before he's caught and it's assumed he's also responsible for a much bigger robbery that's also occurred. Sentenced to be hanged and carted off to Edinburgh jail, he escapes but is betrayed in turn by a woman he once loved and ends up swinging from the rope after all having thrown himself on the mercy of the court. The song doesn't fill us in on much background detail, but the very fact that Grant is a 'Captain' suggests he's quite rich to begin with which throws a different light on his unusual attempts at poor relief. He announces himself as 'one of the heroes of the highway', so he for one is convinced he was doing the right thing, though the rest of the song is more ambiguous. Though technically as great as Jack The Lad usually are, they still sound slightly uncomfortable on this song with Billy not sure how serious to take it and the decision to give the song a typical 'ta-dah!' pop ending rather undermines the weight of the previous few minutes.

Not that Jack The lad are addicts or anything, but next is Billy's ode to 'My Friend The Drink'. Another cheery song masking a sadder truth, Billy's narrator is watching everyone acting really sad and annoyed by a sudden downpour before telling us he doesn't care because he's drinking quite heavily. Later verses make it clear Billy's character is hiding bigger truths too: out of love with his wife when sober, he feels deeply in love with her when drunk and somehow switches from making this a love song to her to the empty bottle of booze in his hand. Billy throws in a quote from an old Lindisfarne B-side ('I have got no time to lose') and it's a track that would have sounded right at home on the similarly-sodden Mark II album 'Happy Daze'. There's no sense of unhappiness or bitterness in the actual song, which is another jolly pop song driven by a fantastically loud bass riff from Phil that takes the song by the scruff of the neck and makes it stay upright. However this is, at heart, another deeply unhappy song where the narrator admits that all he's really after is a 'replacement' for the one he loves and - in a line unlikely to be written nowadays - 'the needle's for fools' and though smoking is cool...'he prefers how he feels on alcohol. Clever, but perhaps a little too convincing and close to the priory for comfort.

Billy's 'A Letter From France' is such an oddball little song many fans assume it's one of Si's. A tale of a lover in the actually very Northern sounding town of 'Arkwright Street' (there's one in Burnley and one in Oldham, though none in Newcastle that I can find), related as a sort of working class Northern England lyric performed in the manner of a 1920s French romantic ode. Billy pours his heart out to a very gentlemanly sounding Si Cowe and quickly gets the giggles as the two fall in love, before 'Albert' gets cold feet and runs off to France pretending that he's died and sending her alimony under the pretence that it's a 'war pension'. It's the sort of half-remembered thing many of our AAA bands from the 1960s and 1970s delivered as a sort of nod to childhood when these sort of songs were many future rockstars' first introductions to popular music, at one with The Bonzo Dog Doodah Band and The Beatles' 'When I'm 64'. Si's outrageous accent aside, though, there's not much here to actually laugh at and the honky tonk/banjo backing is a little too George Formby for most fan's tastes.
DJ John Peel's favourite song of 1975 (or so he said on air at the time of a Jack The Lad radio session anyway), 'Gentleman Soldier' was said to be the most joyful song Peel had heard in a long time (he gets a credit on the original sleevenotes too, just to keep him sweet). It certainly sounds that way here with what a jolly chorus of drums going rat-a-tat-tat, a cheery double strum on mandolin and banjo and an opening that has nothing to do with the rest of the traditional folk tune (instead it sounds exactly like 'Twist and Shout' with some rocky 'aaahs'). Even for this album, though, it's actually a sad song at heart: a soldier falls in love and bids a fond farewell to someone he thinks is the love of his life, only to find out she's already married with three children ('My other love's in the army and one is too many for me!' Billy all but cackles on her behalf, before the most raucous country dancing instrumental break in folk history). There is something infectious about all this, though, with Laidlaw of all people driving the song on with a folk band's impression of Keith Moon. Not that deep perhaps, but still catchy.

Over on side two Si Cowe takes us back to the beginning with 'Gardener Of Eden', both in terms of subject matter (the first day of Earth) and the music (which is about as close to pure traditional folk as Jack The Lad ever came). Given the context of what's about to happen in Si's life, it's hard not to see this as one last fond look back to love and marriage and what it once meant for a teenage Si. The narrator urges his loved one to closer her eyes and look again at the world, to remember the 'beginning' back in their own personal Eden as the couple can 'start our life again'. They don't just 'walk' with each other, though, but with the 'Gardener of Eden', suggesting that Si also had God in mind here (or at least a sort of semi-agnostic 'Clear White Light' style deity as he doesn't act much like God). Is Si suggesting here that love 'is' God and he walks beside everyone in love? Or was he just after a phrase that sounded good? (Or was he simply drunk?!) Either way, 'Gardener Of Eden' is one of the most serious songs Si ever wrote and the fact that the track was handed over to Billy's more 'normal' vocals suggest that he saw this as a possible single for the band or that he wanted to distance himself from always being the 'joker' in the band. Sweet and pretty, it's a nice sojourn between the louder songs either side of it although it's not quite as memorable or distinctive as most of Cowe's material.

The album's second major highlight is Billy's drunken ode to his mates 'One For The Boys'. Like many songs on the album, it's really a sad and melancholy type of song but unusually for this album begins there: Billy's narrator comments that 'someone's trying to take a piece of me, they say they'll give me success in return' and sighs over the fact that yet again he knows it will never happen. A second verse sighs over having to pick up the pieces of your life and carry on 'when your heart is burnt' and how hard that is. A later verse has him lamenting the tears he cried and wishing he could spare more for the suffering friend/listener he's addressing this song to, greeting 'us' as another old mate down the pub in a verse that's most affecting. However the chorus ties all this misery up in a typical Jack The Lad twist: though the narrator is left with little practical material goods, he contents himself that he has so many people to give these things away to when he dies. This is clearly the better way round of the two and Billy adds a whole list of people to remember, including the friends who 'keep me from going insane' and 'the woman who took my name', ending with 'a small piece for whoever's hanging round - and a small amount to spread around the crowd'. It's more like a Who song this one, with its dark bitter introvert tones flipped on its head as a hymn to community and like-minded fellow suffering friends ('Quadrophenia' is full of songs like these). Billy plays things perfectly with one of his career best vocals, caught halfway between genuine sadness and feeling sorry for himself with real joy and celebration. A great song, much under-rated and one that's a perfect fit for Jack The Lad.

'The Beachcomber' is another Billy-sung Si-song that finds our usual joker on deeply serious form. Once again it's a song about a romance that seems to be over and the narrator wishing he could go back in time. He's probably gone a little too far back in time, actually, with this song's Medieval/Fantasy imagery of being followed home by a 'seal maiden'. The narrator seems to change partway through the song, weirdly, with the narrator now trying to hide her need for moisture and ugly skin from her beloved. By the end of the song the seal maiden has had six children but grown so homesick she has dived back into the sea, though she still returns to leave fishes for her human loved one every day as a token of their love. Yes, quite - it's that kind of a song (from that kind of a band). Like Si's previous songs 'Fingal The Giant' and 'The Third Millennium' from 'The Old Straight Track' this is a storybook account that throws light on human rituals and sounds in retrospect the sound of a marriage breaking up with the writer yearning for the days when things were simple (so that even the thought of an inter-species marriage can be overcome. Unless Si is having a go at his ex for looking like a seal). Unlike those earlier tracks, though, this one isn't an obvious comedy - you have to really search through the lyrics to pick up on just how odd this track is and Billy has his best narrator's voice on again. It's a rather sweet and lovely understated track, especially when the rest of the band add some lovely harmonies behind Billy's lead. In other words it gets the AAA seal maiden of approval, though perhaps not as memorable as past Cowe songs!

'The Ballad Of Winston O'Flaherty' is an unusual traditional song, one of those instrumentals that have kept the band in bread and butter and mandolins over the past few years. Like 'Corny Pastiche' it's really a medley of lots of songs in the public domain strung together, starting off slow and precise almost like Jack The Lad are a 'proper' folk band before getting rockier and more manic in the middle (with a near Hendrix explosion of feedback and noise in the middle). As with the band's other songs in a similar vein it's all well played and arranged with so many twists and turns that it never sits still for a second, while this time round the song benefits from the distinctly celtic flavour of things. However fans who've come here direct from Lindisfarne and think a Bazouki is a Geordie swear word rather than a Greek banjo (as played by Si on this track) will more likely skip it to get on with something else.

The album then ends with 'Jackie Lusive', a final burst of Cowe mayhem about a pack of cards. The opening a capella burst is impressive and of all the Jack The Lad 'originals' this is the one that sounds the most authentically 'old', complete with olde style language and nothing anachronistic about the lyrics or setting. The guitar playing, as usual, is pretty spot on too. However the song gets more and more peculiar as it goes along, moving from a tale of humans being divided up like playing cards ('Some are black, some are red, some are easily led...') into a morality tale of The King of Clubs taking the Jack and...what is that second verse about exactly? It doesn't help that Billy gets the words wrong at one stage (it's apparently meant to be 'box and fuddle your brain' which comes out as 'fox and ruddle...') and gets the giggles briefly again, or a confusing last verse involving a 'dealer' who doesn't seem part of the rest of the story. But then as the lyrics put it, 'it's only a game'. Jack The Lad and sundry extras then all join in the all-too-brief coda, shouting out the name of various card games (including, famously, Lindisfarne/Jack The Lad publisher Barbara Hayes, who has 'the manliest voice on the record' according to writer Si). It's a lot of fun, but lacks the deeper symbolism of much of the album and is also rather short (we could have done with an extra hand, especially the finale which fades all too soon).

Even if some of the hands dealt on 'Rough Diamonds' are a bit low, though, with one or two jokers in there somehow, there's more than enough here to make you feel you get your money's worth. Jack The Lad took a real gamble here by heading even more towards a split between their folk and rock sides, with even more oddities and one-off styles scattered through the record in between a handful of their most ear-catching accessible pop tunes. It's the sort of record you'll want to tell your children about from your rocking chairs in later life, while they sit there trying to divvy up your collection and working out what will sell for the most on ebay because it sounds so exciting: seal maidens, gardeners of Eden, comedy songs about cigarettes and alcohol - this is the sort of album that never got made again and was something of a one-off even for the times. Unfortunately from this relative moment of calm and stability will come a change in line-up, record labels and sound, as Jack The Lad leave their run-down five-to-a-room hotel behind for a bigger budget rockier record that would polish the Jack The Lad diamonds a stage further. Most fans, though, prefer this band back when they were 'rough', with the first of the band's three albums all varying classics to one degree or another, all much loved, much treasured and too much ignored for far too long.


'Nicely Out Of Tune' (L) (1970)

'Fog On The Tyne' (L) (1971)

'Dingly Dell' (L) (1972)

'Roll ON Ruby' (L) (1973) 

'The Squire' (AH) (1975)

'The Old Straight Track' (JTL) (1975)
‘Jackpot’ (JTL) (1976)

'Magic In The Air' (L) (1978)

'Back and Fourth' (L) (1978)

‘The News’(L) (1979)

'Sleepless Nights' (L) (1982)

'Dance Your Life Away' (L) (1986)

‘Amigos’ (1989)

'Elvis Lives On The Moon' (L) (1993)

'Here Comes The Neighbourhood' (1998)

'Promenade' (2002)

Si Cowe Obituary and Tribute (2015)

Surviving TV Clips

Live/Solo/Compilation Albums Part One 1970-1987

Live/Solo/Compilation Albums Part Two 1988-2015

Essay: Keepin’ The Rage On Behalf Of The Working Classes

Paul McCartney/Wings: Non-Album Songs Part One: 1970-1984

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Non-Album Recordings Part #1: 1970

Released as Paul's debut solo single at the peak of the Beatles' troubles, Lennon laughed his head off when [13] 'Another Day' came out - a song that couldn't be less like his own recent autobiographical songs like 'Cold Turkey' and 'Working Class Hero'. His claim that he was the band's real genius and that Paul only wrote boring imaginary songs about imaginary characters seemed to have been re-enforced by the bored career woman at the centre of 'Another Day' (its the song Lenon quoted in his Paul-baiting piece 'How Do You Sleep?' as being particularly false: 'The only thing you did was 'Yesterday' and since you're gone you're just 'Another Day'). However the character in this song isn't that imaginary - like 'Lady Madona' its a McCartney tribute to women who juggled careers and babies with aplomb and was almsot certainly written with Linda in mind. The cleverness of the song is that the chorus manages to be uplifting and jolly - what you'd expect from a McCartney single - but cleverly strips away all this facade in the middle eight (there is no chorus as such, the repeats of the title phrase being tacked onto the end of the verse). 'So sad...sometimes she feels so sad' Paul sighs, 'Alone in her apartment she cried...', the only chance of happiness out of all this enforced gloom the chance of expectation of a date, who 'comes and he stays - but he leaves the next day!', the melody's rise and fall over these lines emphasising just what a rollercoaster ride of passion this is. Paul then cleverly gives the listener or his character any time to reflect on what's just happened: she has to be at the office the next morning and suddenly we're off again, on 'another day'. The effect is less successful when the trick is repeated almost immediately, but it's a very clever idea - her workforce might see as calm and professinal but outside office hours she's just another sad lonely city girl trying to get by. Possibly written by Paul as a 'calculated' start to kick off his solo career (he often looks back to 'Yesterday' for inspiration, with both this song and 'Tomorrow' seemingly inspired by the idea of looking forward instead of back), it's actually a very strong start and remains one of his most unfairly neglected singles, catchy but deep just how like them. The last laugh is on Lennon: 'Another Day' has dated better and is more palatable than 'Cold Turkey' and in its own way is as moving and expressive as any of that first 'Lennon/Plastic Ono Band' album. Paul expresses his soul without the need to scream, that's all. Find it on: 'Wings Greatest' (1978) 'All The Best' (1987) and 'Wingspan' (1999) plus the CD re-issues of 'McCartney'

Evidence that Paul wouldn't just be a balladeer as Lennon often sneered came as early as Another Dat's flipside [14] 'Oh Woman Oh Why?' A noisy, disjointed rocker, it's an early example of Paul playing everything, layering lots of guitar parts on top of a steady drum pattern, topped with his best screaming vocal since 'Helter Skelter' (his last attamept at this style, 'Oh Darling!, never really took off). The lyrics are typical B-side fare (ie they're simple and probably took about five minuets to write - 'I met her at the bottom of a well, I told her I was trying to break a spell') but they do their job in telling the story of a relationship gone wrong. At one point the narrator's missus even grabs a gun, a pistol shot used as part of the backing track (and punctuating the 'bam bam' hook of the song). The result is one of the better examples of Paul's loose and gritty style, based around a fiery riff and with just the right hint of malice. Linda's backing vocals - among her first recorded alongside her husband - are pretty nifty too, adding a harder edge to this song's funky backbeat. Find it on: the CD re-issues of 'McCartney'

Originally heard as just a snatch buried away at the end of 'Hot As Sun', Mccartney originally head loftier albitions for his piano ballad [15] 'Suicide'. Hearing that Frank Sinatra was in town and looking for a song Paul decided to send him one and thought he'd write a song towards the sadder, bluesier end of the crooner spectrum. Unfortunately somewhere along the way that characteristic 'McCartney' smile got in the way and instead of a tearjerker about a couple meant for each other falling apart it turned into a cheesy variety act. Paul's demo even includes him doing his best Sinatra impression, which reporedtedly didn't go down too well (perhaps it was Paul revenge for ol' blue eyes calling George's 'Something' the 'greatest Lennon/McCartney song of all time'?!) Still, he had to do something - the song is really a verse leading up to a cheery chorus and lacks McCarrtney's customary roundedness. Arguably, though, McCartney didn't need to that. Sensing he was on to a loser, he apologetically performed it for the other Beatles in the 'Let It Be' days, hamming it up for laughs when he realises they're not taking it seriously. The result is a sad lapse and a rare rotten apple from an otherwise excellent period in McCartney's writing. The full length version released on the deluxe edition of McCartney reveals that the snatch we've heard for decades was actuallyt the intro, followed by some lengthy dah-dah -dah-ing, as if to disguise how little of the song is really here. Career sucicide indeed had this strange song been released, although fans have rather a soft spot for this silly song given its period in history and McCartney's good grace not to inflict it on us the first time round. Find it on: the deluxe edition re-issue of 'McCartney'

More forgivable but equally wretched is McCartney trying to follow Yoko's lead by getting into feminism. Alas [16] 'Woman Kind' is no 'Lady Madonna' (Paul's earlier tribute song to the single working mother) and it's certainly no 'Women Is The Nigger In The World'. Instead women have a 'terrible time' because 'from the age of ten they're chased by men'. Paul then urges his colleagues to 'burn your bras' as 'the men will come when the time is right'. However the effect is rather undone by Paul's variety of silly voices, which range from received pronunciation to girly screams and bass profundo comedy voices, the song ending with a cheery music hall raspberry. 'Thankyou Hank' grins Paul at the end, in deference to country singer Hank Williams, although this song is actually pure English music hall and the sort of thing a generational were oh so grateful to The Beatles for destroying. Another odd lapse from an artist who was otherwise on the top of his game, sensibly removed from the 'McCartney' running order early on. Find it on: the deluxe edition re-issue of 'McCartney'

[8b] 'Don't Cry Baby', the other rarity added to 'McCartney', is actually just the backing track to 'Oo You' and re-named after the howl of poor baby Mary, trying to sleep while her dad makes all this racket. 'Don't cry baby' Paul coos, 'Daddy's going to play you a lullaby'. However this chiming, angry, angular rocker is far from a lullaby and 'Oo You' sounds like a much more impressive gutsy rocker without the silly words attached to dilute the impact. Paul should have kept to his original plan instead of worrying about the instrumentals on the album and adding a vocal on during the late stages of the album (now 'Valentine's Day', there's an instrumental ripe for some lyrics...) Find it on: the deluxe edition re-issue of 'McCartney'

Non-Album Recordings Part #2: 1971

I'm so thrilled to be able to discuss [28]  'A Love For You' openly at last. Recorded as part of 'Ram' but better known to bootleggers as the opening - and best - song from Paul's 1979 compilation of outtakes  'Cold Cuts' (abandoned when a copy first leaked out on illegally), it's taken a staggering 40 years for this lovely track to see the light of day (as part of the 'Ram' deluxe set). We chose this as our 'song of the year' 2011 for a reason, despite the song being so old: it's a lovely example of just how catchy and pretty Pauk's songs can be. Compared to 'Ram' this is simpler and funkier than any of the more polished songs that made the album (perhaps that's why Paul didn't release it?) and a neat template for what he'll do with early Wings: rock and roll that isn't too loud or hard (this will change by the Jimmy McCulloch/Joe English line-up). A great call-and-answer riff blends several sections together with consummate ease, the band have fun getting increasingly looser towards the end and while the results aren't as sophisticated as some later McCartney songs few others possess quite such a winning combination of its author's customary bounce and enthusiasm. Baby baby baby baby baby baby I really have a love for 'A Love For You', yeah! Find it on: the deluxe re-issue of 'Ram'

A charming song left off 'Ram' because the critics would have murdered it and Paul had had enough of that already, [29] 'Hey Diddle' is another outtake originally intended for 'Cold Cuts' that's again a lovely song that deserved a release somewhere, if not quite there. It's very early 'Wings' despite the band not existing yet, with a cosy informal feel and daft lyrics that somehow merge a love song for Linda with a childish nonsense rhyme clearly written to amuse the children. It's a lot better than sequel 'Bip Bop' though, with a lovely rolling acoustic riff and it veers off into lots of fascinating avenues to explore as it merrily bounces down the road. The unexpected middle eight, which seems to play the song in reverse, is particularly lovely ('I wouldn't make her wooden table...') and Paul and Linda sound gloriously together on this song. Paul was probably right not to release this on 'Ram' - even without worrying about the critics its too soft and cosy for Macca's hardest-edged and most aggressive album - but all these years on 'Hey Diddle' sounds charming. However the original 1979 Cold Cuts mix is better than the version which did finally see the light of day, which tries too hard to be 'weird', with half-hidden vocals and extreme left-to-rights on the stereo spectrum (Paul nicknames it the Dixon Van Winkle Mix on the Ram sleevenotes, which is funny but not very helpful). An additional version, with Paul playing on his acoustic while Linda tries to sing along and both are interrupted by their laughing giggling children, can be seen as part of the 'home movies' footage on the 'Wingspan' documentary and also ended up becoming the sole rarity on the CD. Again it's sweet, but not that serious and not all that essential - not worth forking out £15 or so for anyway! Find the studio take on the deluxe edition of 'Ram' and the 'live in McCartney's garden' version on 'Wingspan' (1999)

[30] 'Rode All Night' couldn't be more different, a noisy thrash-metal jam between Paul and drummer Denny Seiwell that was clearly played to let off steam (though the sleevenotes in the otherwise explicit 'Ram' set don't say anything, it's tempting to inagine this jam taking place the night of a  business meeting at Apple or after reading some snide Lennon comment in the press). Macca has found an inventive guitar groove, which sounds more like a Pete Townshend riff, and hacks away at it whiole a chord sequence slowly falls into place. Next come the lyrics, apparently improvised off the top of McCartney's head, and they're a fascinating insight into how his brain works. 'I don't feel it, don't feel so bad anymore!' he sings with typical McCartney optimism. But then comes the twist: he's feeling good because he's been working hard, he's 'Rode all night till I finally hit the daybreak!' and as Macca sings about his workaholic tendencies - so different to the bed-ridden depression/lethargy of 'McCartney' - he both comes alive and starts to sound scary. 'The sun come up - I'm left with a casket love!' The riff gathers pace, the thrash solos become louder and wilder and McCartney pitches his vocal somewhere just further outside his comfort zone each time. This isn't a man who doesn't feel so bad anymore at all - this is a man whose desperate and is pushing himself way past the point of collapse precisely because he does feel so bad he has to prove something. The song even comes to a natural full ending at six minutes but Macca is too far gone into his groove and starts hitting into the song madder than ever, with Denny doing a good job at trying to keep up with the new ridiculous pace. A fascinating glimpse into how McCartney puts songs together, half of this song had appeared on bootleg previously to the 'Ram' set but even bootleggers had figures the full nine minute version a bit too intense for public consumption. Mischevously, McCartney didn't seem to care and left this jam intact, one of the hardest-going and yet rewarding moments in the McCartney canon. Find it on: the deluxe re-issue of 'Ram'

Non-Album Recordings Part #3: 1972

Everyone seems to like sneering at [39] 'Give Ireland Back To The Irish' , a rare piece of political invective from McCartney during his solo years and written after seeing horrifying news reports of the 'Bloody Sunday' riots of 1972.  The song seemed to please nobody: the English refused to play it (Top Of The Pops couldm't even mention it by name, calling it instead 'the latest by Wings') and the title alone stirred up a lot of fans who resented McCartrney dictating political policy. The Irish, meanwhile, hated the way that Macca's usual need to please everybody (don't knock it - it's anendearing trait) meant that he calls Great Britain 'tremendous - as nobody knows like me'. Most fans simply complained that this simply wasn't a very good song. But I like this track a lot - Paul has as much right to sound his mouth off as Lennon and there's more guts and creativity in this song than his ex-partners' offerings ('Sunday Bloody Sunday' and 'Luck Of The Irish', both from the 'Sometime In New York City' record which Lennon didn't even release as a single - perhaps fearing the consequences). Liverpool has strong links with Ireland, being effectively the nearest part of England to that country (Lennon was particularly proud of his Irish name) and Paul is simply doing what he always did with The Beatles - reflecting the world as he saw it. From the start he seems to have intended to make his political leanings brutally clear - while Lennon was merely commenting on events, here McCartney is offering opinion. His complaint - that there is no difference between us so neither should be controlling the other - may be politically naive but it's also patently true (once again the people in the street paying for the ;crimes' of the people in charge). The song's retro feel is pretty good too, hard and heavy, as if this return to the 'bad old days' of Paul's youth has made the writer think about the songs he was listening to last time the 'Irish troubles' were on the news. The riff is a strong one though, tough and uncompromising but still ever so polite - a very McCartrney response. Paul has since said that one of his favourite moments was when a fan sidled up to him and whispered 'thankyou' not for writing 'Yesterday' 'Hey Jude' or 'Mull of Kintyre' but for making this song, at a time when most writers were prepared to look the other way.The result isn't as pretty as most McCartney songs and probably not as clever, but it's one of the bravest things Macca ever did and just about gets away with some dodgy lines thanks to a heartfelt impassioned vocal and one of Wings' tightest backing tracks. The band's single career is off to a flying start, with more controversy to come (who'd have guessed that McCartney would have a song banned by the BBC before Lennon?!) Less interesting - and currently officially unavailable on CD - is the B-side, a 'kakaroke' version of the A-side, which far from ehnacing what a tough rocker this is simply show us up how scruffy some of the criss-crossing guitar parts are. Find it on: well not a lot at the current moment. to be honest. The A-side used to be around on 'The McCartney Collection' CD re-issue of 'Wildlife', but that's going back a bit now, while the B-side hasn't been re-released in the digital age at all!

If you thought 'Give The Ireland' was slaughtered by critics, then that was nothing on [40] 'Mary Had A Little Lamb', the - err - unexpected follow-up Wings sequel. Many people naturally assumed that Paul was making a statement or playing things so safe that the BBC wouldn't possibly ban this single; actually it was just yet more evidence of Paul's Gemini multiple-directions brain in action. Paul and Linda spent far more time with their children than most rockstar mums and dads and Paul was often writing when they were around. Clearly songs like 'Hi Hi Hi' had to be written when the children were in bed, but occasionally his cosier daytime songs found release too. This sweet but rather gormless version of the famous nursery rhyme was busked by Paul to keep his now three-year-old daughter Mary amused with a tale of another girl with the same name who liked animals. Paul was pleased with the silly melody he came up with - as she should be; with its charming 'la la las' and the first chance to hear the growing  McCartney brood on tape its all loving and informal and excatly what the early Wings were all about. Paul even thought the song was so good it would do really well as a single - which is where somebody should have stopped him. 'Mary' is a pleasing B-side, a bit of light-hearted fluff played between the heavier songs (it might have been good given to Ringo even), but its not a single and certainly shouldn't have been a single for a band in disarray after their 'heavy' first song got banned. After all, so soon on the heels of the last single and with another close after it Wings really didn't need to release a single at all at this stage. This is the point in time when Paul, more than ever, needed John to stop him looking foolish (you could say the same vice versa, actually, given that Lennon had gone too far in the oposite direction with 'Sometime In New York City'). Find it on:  Another relative rairity in the McCartney catalogue - the song did peak at an still impressive UK high of #9 after all - the song can currently only be found on the twenty-year-old 'McCartney Collection' re-issue of 'Wildlife'.

A fun but slight flipside, [41] 'Little Woman Love' was more grist to the mill of critics who claimed that McCartney could only do light songs (they clearly hadn't been listening to 'Give Ireland Back To The Irish' properly!) Cute but fairly forgettable, it features such disparate sections as the repeated rhyme of 'love' and 'glove', a clever piano riff and a strange 'oh yeah oh yeah uh huh huh huh' middle eight that sounds like it's come from a JamesBrown record. A strong performance from Wings (which basically consists of lots of Pauls and Denny Seiwelll on drums) half-salvages the under-par song, although even then Macca's vocal is just that little bit too smug and full of itself (his half-chuckle at the daftness of the words is quite endearing though). Find it on: the McCartney Collection re-issue of 'Wildlife'

More controversy next: [42] 'Hi Hi Hi' was a knees-up ode to sex drugs and rock and roll built for playing on tour and based around a slinky guitar riff that may well have been a direct response to Lennon's repeated criticisms of his lightweight songs. The song would have been forgotten as a relatively minor song in Macca's career had it not been for the BBC's mis-reading of the lyric sheet and the surreal tongue-in-cheek rhyme: 'I want you to lie on my bed getting ready for my polygon', which they mistook for 'body gun'. However this surely is a misnomer - McCartney must have known he was swimming in dangerous waters from the title alone (shortening the drug phrase 'high' - so common even BBC censors knew it - to 'hi' wasn't fooling anyone). This song seems designed deliberately to provoke and see what he could get away with, perhaps enhancing his reputation as best he could after 'Mary Had A Little Lamb' (seen as example of Paul losing the plot, its actually another example of his Gemini personality with a finger in lots of pies at once). What's a shame is that behind all the controversy and increasingly desperately outrageous lyrics ('Gonna do you sweet banana like you've never been done!' - seriously Madonna would have raised eveybrows with a lyrric like this), there's a good song here: the opening line 'When I met you you were standing with a bootleg in your hand' is a great beginning to any song;the line 'Take off your face, recover from the trip yoiu've been on!, returning to the scene of 'Eleanor Rigby' with the 'face that she keeps by the jar' and the funky four-in-the-bar blues riff are all great ideas. It's just a shame that Paul listened so hard to critics and ended up trying so hard to grow up that the end result seems rather childish. Find it on: the 'McCartney Collection' re-issue of 'Red Rose Speedway'

Generally speaking the whimsical, dottier side of McCartney's writing style gets a bit of a kicking. For every 'Eleanor Rigby', full of pathos and layers, for every 'Hey Jude' full of uplift and hope, for every 'Maybe I'm Amazed' full of authenticity and love there's a gormless 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer' coming down upon our heads that makes you wonder why you ever became a McCartney collector in the first place. [43] 'C Moon' is a rare case of McCartney controlling his humour to write a half-decent song, one that manages to make an important point about generational gaps while featuring xylophone solos and gibberish goonish solos. Actually, take that back - we've spent so long being told that these lyrics are gibberish that its easy to lose sight that, at the time, they did mean something (well sort of). Perhaps formed out of a conversation teaching Mary and Stella about shapes, Paul relates how a 'half moon' and a 'C' combined together look like a circle - and circles are associated with things that are happy and smiling (unless its a custard pie being thrown at you or a Spice Girls album on vinyl). Anyway moons and circles are cool (maybe 'C's are too, who knows). By contrast a 'square' is something 'bad' - its someone who isn't 'hip' and is the opposite of cool. A 'square' is formed by the letter 'L' and the number '7'. Get hip, cats and kittens, don't get left behind. However somewhere along the way this silly song with its jovial nursery rhyme chorus changed tack. The narrator isn't that far out of learning shapes and letters himself but the teenager is already thrown in at the deep end, trying to cope with a girl he doesn't know how to ask out and parents that just don't get it, man. With Heather now about to turn eleven, Paul may have been imagining his children's own teenage years and wondering if they'll be like his own, perhaps mixed in with a bit of healthy worry that he's a parent now and he can't be as hip as he used to think he was. 'C Moon' starts off like Edward Lear but ends up like 'Don't Look Back In Earnest', a song about Bobby and Patty shacking up together and worrying that their folks don't get what their relationship is 'all about' or how each generation is doomed never to understand the 'next one down' because that's just how the world works (what's the point of doing what your parents did, even if they were in the Beatles? The reason so many people look back fondly on other people's childhoods - eben if they're having a terrible time - is that they aren't defined yet, with a chance to do anything and be anyone. This song sounds like the thought just occurring to Paul that one day the choldren he's teaching to make circles and squares might be having a better time than him as an adult, while they won't be able to teach him anything in return because he'll be too stuck in his ways). Though dismissed as more cosy nonsense, there's a slight frisson of danger and guilt that makes this song just dark enough to get away with its borderline-banal chorus and unsophisticated charm. Paul even deliberately messes up the first line, as if to emphasise the freedom of playing with words in the song. Though Lennon never commented on this song you could probably take that as being that actually he was quite impressed by this oiece, so close to his own word association style (given that he took great delight in kicking the last two!) Wings no doubt only ever meant this song as a fan-friendly flipside anyway until circumstances intervened and 'Hi Hi Hi' got banned, leading to radio stations turning the single over (it was credited as a 'double 'A' side and peaked at #5, although I'll bet my Rupert The Bear scarf that more people bought it to hear 'C Moon'). Though different in every conceivable way, it could be argued that 'C Moon' had the edge over its older, more adult brother anyway, proof that McCartney shouldn't ignore the whimsy that comes so naturally to him all the time. Find it on: 'All The Best' (1987) and 'Wingspan' (1999) plus the 'McCartney Collection' re-issue of 'Red Rose Speedway'

I still find it hard to believe that thje gorgeous [44] 'Mama's Little Girl' - perhaps the single best recording Wings made in 1972 - had to wait until Paul needed a B-side in a hurry in 1991 before finding an 'official' release. Recorded as part of 'Wildlife' and for a time mooted for inclusion on 'Red Rose Speedway' when that record was intended as a double album set, in truth it doesn't fit either song very well: it's too cute for the rawer edge of the former and too understated for the whacking productions of the latter. It makes a lovely counterpart to the similarly acoustic A-side 'Put It There', though, accounting for one of Paul's better A and B side combinations. Written for daughter Mary (born 1969 and now a three-year old), Paul is still overblown by the birth of his first-born, 'taking some time for this heart of mine because my eyes can't take it all in'. Like a third person 'Mother Nature's Son' Paul is amazed at her ability to already commune with the natural world the way her parents do, looking like a rag doll and singing like a sky-lark, exactly like Paul has always dreamed his children would look. A haunting melody is full of fatherly pride and a fun 'Bip bop' style nursery playtime feel, while Wings' backing vocals are superb, with understandably LInda but also Denny Laine sounding like proud parents (from what I've read Denny was very close to all the McCartney children and his own songs from later in Wings' career often centre on children despite the fact he didn't have any of his own). All in all, a gorgeous song that fully deserved a wider audience. Find it on: the CD single 'Put It There' (1990)

Non-Album Recordings Part #4: 1973

One of Paul's better B-sides, the rather forgotten [54] 'The Mess' was originally intended for the fourth side of 'Red Rose and Speedway' back when the album was a double-set. Part of a mini-concert, this track would have kicked off the side with a typically McCartney blend of the inspired and tired. On the plus side the song's knockout stop-start riff makes Led Zeppelin look like amateaurs, Henry McCullough gets a rare chance to shine with a great rock and roll style solo and there's a marbvellous middle eight that drops all the rock and roll posturing for a slower, tenser cat-and-mouse feel that's particularly effective.The almost choral cascading Wings harmonies which link the two very different sections together is also beautiful, turning a simple rocker into something else entirely. On the negative side the lyrics aren't the best: 'I spoke to Jimmy with the big tattoo' is the kind of blocked in first-thing-that-came-into-my-head lyrics Paul seems to have always been using in this period and we never get to the bottom of why the narrator is in 'the mess' he's in. I'd love to have heard a studio version of this song with the odd mistake ironed out, but then again this performance is one of the strongest by the early line-up of Wings, with Denny and Henry bouncing off each other well. Far from a mess, this is one of the band's most unfairly neglected songs that makes for a neat combination with A-side ballad 'My Love' - a track which couldn't be more different from it. Find it on: the McCartney Collection CD re-issue of 'Red Rose Speedway'

One of Wings' most popular moments - and near enough the unlistenable James Bond theme song (even Lulu's isn't very good)  - is [55] 'Live and Let Die'. Given that the film itself was rather a crucial one (the first to feature Roger Moore rather than Sean Connery in the role) the producers set about asking all the big names they could find. Paul was an obvious person to ask for a song - the Bond soundtracks were more often than not recorded at AIR studios, the ones part-owned by George Martin and it was the producer who was sounded out about working together with one of his old comrades. The surprise is that this hadn't happened before - George was just about the only person still on friendly terms with all four Beatles by the end and he and McCartney still got on well (although, as will happen in 1980, George was less keen on Wings as a group). Having enjoyed the lasdt commision the pair had worked on together (1966's 'The Family Way'), Paul readily agreed and with the screenplay not yet ready set about reading Ian Fleming's book. Whether he captures the mood of the actual film is a moot point (its one of the quieter Bonds - meaning there's only ten explosions across the film, not 20), but McCartney as ever 'gets' the commisoon exactly right: 'Live and Let Die' is filled with drama, sound effects and an all guns blazing orchestra that's as rock and roll as the film credits ever got (even when the likes of Garbage and Madonna are hired precisely for that purpose in the 1990s). The riff is particularly strong and suitable for action scenes, while the sudden switch backs from high drama to slow romance ballad are made with a lot more care than the films ever managed. There's even the earliest example of the McCartneys - and as a reult Western music - using reggae on a hit song during the middle eight (written partly by Linda, hence her co-credit - rare for an A side. This is particularly impressive given that she hadn't read the book). This is in fact the most intriguing moment of the song, dropping down the tension to alow the song to relax and the listeners to take a deep breath, only to return unexpectently back to the main song with a scream of 'hell!' that cleverly sets the whole song in motion again. There's even a decent lyric - surely unique for a Bond score - that's unusually tough and gritty for McCartney, flying in the face of 'All You Need Is Love' by declaring that the narrator has had enough of letting live and let live, along with the sub-plot of the main character hardening as he gets older ('When you were young your heart was an open book'). Just as Lennon was turning into McCartney across 1973 (with the 'Mind Games' LP), so McCartney was turning into Lennon, this track as tough and uncompromising as any of John's work. Wings plays well too, with Denny Laine providing some excellent harmonies as ever and Denny Seiwelll getting one last chance to show off what a versatile drummer he could be. The fact that this is pretty much the last recording the first/second line-up of Wings (with and without Henry) made is truly sad. The one element that doesn't quite work is the vocal - Macca pitches it a little too high (this is often the song that strains his voice during modern-day concerts) and doesn't quite nail what should be a glorious shift of gears from paranoid to relaxed and macho to romantic. Perhaps sensing this, ** Broccoli (the producer of the Bond films) gave some interesting feedback when George presented him with the finished tapes: 'Great demo George - but who are we going to get to sing this on the record? I hear a female voice!' An abashed George paused for a minute and said  'well - you do have Paul McCartney!' While not as strong as some of Paul's most personal, revealing and downright moving songs ('Every Night' 'Waterfalls' 'Don't Let It Bring You Down' etc), 'Live and Let Die' is towards the upper end of Paul's 'hack' work, written through the power of nothing more than his imagination (Lennon, always jealous of this ability which he didn't possess - again see 'Mind Games' - was particularly snooty about this song). It's also one heck of a lot more memorable than the film, which seems to have taken it's cue from this song's fireworks rather than the lyrical drama. Find it on: most McCartney compilations including 'Wings Greatest' (1978), All The Best (1987) and 'Wingspan' (1999)

An early example of Denny Laine singing a folkier than normal McCartney song, [56] 'I Lie Around' is another charming Wings B-side from the mid-1970s. Unusually Denny is cast as the 'grumpy' one and Paul as the bouncy 'happy' one (this will change over by the time of 'Children Children'), messing around at the start of the song pretending that he's jumping into a river (listen out for a brief dog bark which sounds suspiciously like the one used to link 'Good Morning Good Morning' and the Reprise of 'Sgt Peppers' in 1967). Another song about city boy Paul's respect for the 'healing' properties of nature, Denny plays the part of a hobo, sadly reflecting that 'I have no choice in the matter' while Paul's delightfully sunny melody tries to shake him out of his blues. By the end even Denny's narrator is revelling in the fact that he has nowhere to go and no deadlines to meet, away from the stuffy city life and able to 'lie around all over the place'. The song ends with some gorgeous three-part harmonies (with Linda especially prominent) and some owl hoots suggesting the narrator has found somewhere to rest for the night. The riff is particularly lovely, first played on a shuffling acoustic guitar looking at its feet before the sound gets emebllished first by Henry's electric guitar, then the harmonies, then Denny S's drums, flowering from a song about loss into one of having everything and not realising it (a very McCartney theme - that's another reason why this book is called 'Smile Away'). Unusually Paul emebellishes the production with horns - the first time, really, since as far back as 1966's 'Got To Get You Into My Life', particularly odd since a brass section is generally lazy shorthand for 'city slums'. Funnily enough, too, the last but one song recorded by Wings era one has Denny sighing 'so long, bye bye - it was fun while it lasted'. The result is a sweet song that deserves to be more widely known. Find it on: the 'McCartney Collection' CD re-issue of 'Red Rose Speedway'

Simiarly [57] 'Country Dreamer' finds Paul in his best farmer's voice and sounds very much like a song busked for Linda during a trip to their Mull of Kintyre farm. A belated sequel to 'Two Of Us' this finds the pair going out and doing nothing, 'getting lost' safe in the knowledge that it doesn't matter what they do as long as they're together. Funkier and rawer than usual for Wings, this is the band with their wellington boots on, wallowing in the mud after so many pristine sounding recordings and sounding all the better for it (especially the pedal steel guitar part). The tune is pretty, though, and perhaps a little out of place, the introduction playing around with the cute aocutsic guitar riff for a full 30 seconds before everyone else joins in (perhaps that's the point, ther timid city boy suddenly realising he has acres and acres of natural ground to play around in). With a sudden flurry of classy Wings harmonies on the chorus, it's one of the author's most overlooked songs, the last time he sings of the joys of being outside for the rest of this book and thus ending a theme that stretches right back to 'Mother Nature's Son' on 'The White Album' (and of course reached it's zenith on 'Ram'). Paul needs to write another country song about the country - he clearly has a feel for the genre. Find it on: the 'McCartney Collection' and deluxe re-issues of 'Band On The Run' 

Non-Album Recordings Part #5: 1974

A cheery if bonkers instrumental with slight gaulic overtones, [68] 'Zoo Gang' is an unusual duet for accordion and mellotron. Written at the last minute in the 'Band' sessions and released as the B-side of 'Band On The Run' when it was unexpectedly chosen as a 'third single' from the album (at EMI's request, not Paul's), chances are we weren't meant to hear it at all. The song was written in a hurry for Lew Grade, the man who just a year before had been sueing McCartney for daring to let Linda co-write half his songs and forcing him to make TV specials where he had to hang around with his dad round the pub and dress up in a tuxedo. In truth, the pair got on and were fairly good friends by this time, with Grade commissioning Paul for a TV series he thought had legs named 'Zoo Gang'. Despite the title the series was actually a thriller about fighters in the French 
Resistence Movement who all come out of retirement to chat avout old times (it's like 'Dad's Army' without the laughs and some horrific accents). It's sort of like Paul's theme for 'Spies Likes Us' a decade later (what with 'Live and Let Die' as well, why do people keep asking McCartney to write themes for spy movies?!) and equally inessential to the canon, really. The song really was recorded in France during a 'working holiday' for Wings there, though only this and a couple of songs later released on LInda' compilation 'Wide Prairie' ever came out. The mellotron sound is pure Wings, though, as is the sudden shift from foghorn siren to an actually pretty funky guitar and bass part. Find it on: The McCartney Collection and deluxe re-issues of 'Band On The Run'

[69] 'Junior's Farm' is a prime example of why McCartney fans both love and dread each and every new single because they never quite know what they're going to get (Paul's biggest problem is that he's no great judge of his own abilities,promoting, say, 'Maxwell's Silver Hammers' whilst having doubts about a song as strong as 'Yesterday'. Denny Laine does get better at telling him 'stop' but doesn't know Paul well enough yet and has his own lapses in taste to contend with occasionally anyway). A driving rocker with a great riff, a strong unusual Motown style bass part and a fabulous cameo from new boy Jimmy McCulloch on guitar ('Take me down, Jimmy!') this should be one of those well respected Wings songs celebrated by those who don't usually like the band. Had this song been an instrumental it would surely have been a truly loved moment in the Wings canon. But the single comes with one of McCartney's most wayward of lyrics, the sort of thing he badly needed a Lennon around to tell him to go and write better. Inspired, very very loosely, by Dylan's 'Maggioe's Farm', typically Paul puts a happier twist on proceedings and makes the farmer a youngster, presumably one of the 'hippie' generation Paul so often wrote for in the 1960s. The fact that the flower children are now taking jobs of respnsibility and are in a position to make the changes they were always denied as oldies - effectively becoming the establishment - is a great basis for a McCartney song (Paul, too, could be 'junior' and was well into his 'farming years' by this time). However the song's tricky riff means this song has to have an extended rhyming scheme: not so much ABAB as usual but AAA. Paul just can't think of enough words and gets inceasingly surreal as the song gets on, strating off at a poker game, moving to an eskimo and ending up in politics ('At the houses of parliament everybody's talking about the president - we all chip in for a bag of cement'). Unusually Paul seems to be doing John's old trick of watching the telly while writing for inspiration, quoting from what seems to be a fictional Laurel and Hardy film (I have the box set and I don't remember a film with Olly on a horse - believe me, that's not an image I'd forget! Paul may have been remembering the silent film 'Wrong Again' in which Laurel nearly sits on a horse, mistaken for a piano - long story - but not Hardy). That's a pity because this song is exactly what fans had been longing for from Wings from many a long year: a song that manages to both rock really hard (with Wings' twin guitars-and-bass attack never sounding better) and stay imminently playful, the two best sides of McCartney's many talents. It's also, along with the B-side and Country Ham tracks, the only place you can hear Geoff Britton as part of the band and he sounds far happier here than on the other three with some excellently fierce drumming. Find it on: 'All The Best' (1987) and  'Winsgpan' (1999)

Meanwhile the first official sessions by Wings Mark II were taking place in little ol' Nashville. Paul had vague plans to record a whole album here, before the law busted his boy Jimmy outta town after a drunken night too far and he realised he didn't quite have an album of suitab;le songs yet annyway. [70] 'Sally G' is our only evidence of what a 'Wings Over Nashville' album might have sounded like - and I'm not qiiute sure if its a tragic loss or a great escape. The tune is Macca-catchy, with a great hook ('Why do you want to do the things you do to me?') and the classic revelation that the narrator never does find out his beloved's last name ('But I know for sure it wasn't 'Good'!) There's also a lovely middle eight that really socks a punch as things go wrong and we switch, without knowing it, to the minor key ('I could see our love was dying!') and the un-named narrator realises he has to 'move along'. Actually the song started life as 'Diane G' in homage to local country singer Diane Gafney, but was quickly rebranded when Paul read about her suing a journalist using her image without asking and feared a similar court case. Typically, Paul also adopts a whole new genre with aplomb, mastering country currency with the ease he's tackled big band numbers, psychedelia, folk-rock and all but invented heavy metal in years past. However there's an underlying sense that this song is having just a bit too much of a good time. This track is a pithy song about heartbreak but everyone is playing it for laughs (just listen to the lyrics - Sally sings 'A Tangled Mind', a daft country song by Hank Snow, while 'Printer's Alley' was Wings' favourite haunt in Nashville, in-joked both and just check out that strummed guitar note and spoken sigh from Paul at the song's end). How you respond to this song depends how you respond to the opening lyric: is 'In Nashville I met a pretty - made a pretty big fool out of me' the single best line of McCartney's career or the worst (answer: it's both, simultaneously.There'll be lots more of this sort of thing to come later). But nobody seems to have told their hosts Buddy Emmons (pedal steel), Vassar Clements and Johnny Gimble (fiddles), who play this song as if its just another Nashville ballad. Curiously, EMI re-marketed this song all over again when 'Junior's Farm' proved to be only a middling seller in the hope of getting another hit and even stamped up the record again with the 'A' and 'B' notices switched, though 'Sally G' actually fared worse in terms of sales. Find it on: the 'McCartrney Collection' and deluxe re-issues of 'Venus and Mars'

Though people naturally assumed from the 'McCartney' credit on the single that the instrumental [71] 'Walking In The Park With Eloise' was another example of Paul having a go at a new genre, the song was actually much older than that - older than Paul in fact! The song and its B-side were written by Jim McCartney, Paul's dad, and were briefly in the repertoire of the Jim Mac Jazz Band. Though McCartney Senior never considered himself a proper songwriter like his son (his comment on hearing these recordings was 'I didn't writethem son - I might have made them up but I didn't write them!') and had to be persuaded to play these songs at all, a proud Paul knew exactly how they went. The Wings Nashville trip was at least partly arranged to these songs could be recorded there - Paul having befriended Chet Atkins who had asked him about his background and had grown interesting in hearing about his dad's musical past - even though they don't actually have much of a Nashville sound (a trip to a Coliery mining town might have been a better bit for the song, though admittedly would have made for a lousy holiday).Cheery with a touch of sunshine about it, McCartney senior very much has his son's writing style and this track is similar in many ways to 'Honey Pie', with the same roaring twenties flapper feel and slightly awkward charm. Chet Atkins and his usual bassist Floyd Cramer both guest while Denny and Jimmy are conspicuous by their absence, although you can't really hear either of them too clearly, drowned out as they are by three saxophonists and a trumpet player. Clearly the song was never going to appeal to Wings' normal audience to Paul came up with the self-deprecating name 'The Country Hams' to disguise their involvement, accidentally 'giving away' the deception soon afterwards to boost sales. The single still flopped, in part because Jim refused all publicity - though tickled pink by the trouble his son had gone to he wasn't at all sure he wanted Beatle fans to know about it! Find it on: the 'McCartrney Collection' and deluxe re-issues of 'Venus and Mars'

[72] 'Bridge Over The River Suite' was the B-side of the above single and though less immediate is arguably the better. This track shows where Paul got his moodier, darker side from too with its slow burning blues funk and double bass part. Jimmy and Denny both return, the former playing a lovely delicate solo answered by the horns. Like the A-side, though, it has limited appeal outside hearing where the McCartney genes come from.  Find it on: the 'McCartney Collection' and deluxe re-issues of 'Venus and Mars'

Non-Album Recordings Part #6: 1975

 [85] 'Lunch Box Odd Sox' is 'Venus' era out-take, a cute synthesiser instrumental every bit as weird as it sounds from the title. It's based aroud an urgent piano riff (which sounds not unlike the one from '1985') and features one of those instantly recognisable wobbly Wings syunths on top (playing a phrase not unlile the one from the middle of 'Band On The Run'). Abandoned due to better songs being around, it was surprisngly reveived to become B-side of Macca’s 1980 Coming Up single (with no credit given to the 'Mark II' Wings line-up that made it), the first real example of McCartney raiding his own cupboards for release (there'll be a lot more of this sort of thing in the 1980s and 1990s). Find it on: the 'McCartney Collexction' and deluxe re-issues of 'Venus and Mars'

Talking of which, most fans know [86] 'My Carnival' as the rather noisy flipside to 'Spies Like Us', a rather noisy single from 1985. The two songs go so well together, both featuring the more simplistic and primal side of McCartney's art, that many assumed it to be contemporary. Instead it dates back to 'Venus and Mars' and, improvised at the sessions, it shows off the New Orleans party vibe far more than any of the songs that made the album. The song starts off promisingly, with a catchy Mardi-Gras style riff, but goes downhill fast from there after a first verse about this being a 'lovely day' and not much more and your heart really sinks by the second half of the song when you realise that this is all there is going to be. Wings try hard to concoct a party atmopshere in the studio and almost succeed, but you can tell that no one except Paul thinks this is a good idea, with the horns stiff and the rest of the band OTT in their attempts to gee-up a non-song. Shockingly, the original version of the song, titled 'Going To New Orleans', was even worse, with the riff played on piano as Macca busks 'Going to New Orleans to see the Mardi-Gras and when I get there all the girls gonna know who we are!' Like many a jam session it goes on too long and sounds more fun to play than to listen to, although as ever it's interesting to hear what Paul decided to keep and what to throw out after having his first ideas. As usual, too, it wasn't always the best aspects of the song that got kept, as this versions' slight waddle is a better treatment of the riff than what the band decided to play later. Find both versions on the deluxe re-issue of 'Venus and Mars'

A much better outtake, which sadly never got further than demo form, is the sad little guitar song [  ] '4th Of July'. While I'd love to think that Paul wrote this because he remembered my birthday (albeit seven years before I was born), it seems more likely that his holiday in New Orleans over the Summer period revealed to him what a big deal American Independence Day is over there. Perhaps feeling a little adrift from the partying, being English and all, Paul comes up with a character who feels similar lost and confused by it all, only this person has just been dumped by the love of their life. Everyone around him is smiles and sure he'll get over this little setback in his life, asking him why he's crying, but Paul's narrator doesn't see it like that and fears that his life will never be the same. Together with a pretty melody, that's haunting and thoughtful and quite different to most of the whizz-bang-whallop tracks on 'Venus and Mars', this is one of McCartney's better outtakes of the period, so obscure that for years all bootleggers knew of this song was the ten second chorus, doodled between some other songs on another reel of tape. It's great to hear the full song and for it to be so much better than expected. Find it on: the deluxe edition of 'Venus and Mars' 

Non-Album Recordings Part #7: 1976

 [98] 'Soilly' is the song that time forgot - a cracking studio version (taped during early sessions for what became 'Venus and Mars as seen on the documentary 'One Hand Clapping', with Geoff Britton on drums) is still, frustratingly, unreleased, leaving fans with the live recording at the very end of 'Wings Over America' to savour. Feeling that the song hadn't quite gelled at the time, it seems odd that Paul didn't revicve it during 'Band On The Run' (especially as its one he knew well and didn't have to piece together after demo tapes were stolen during the making of that album). One of Macca's best rockers, driven by a punchy aggressive bass line, some  noisy drumming from Joe English at his best and some screaming Jimmy McCulloch guitar getting in some early practice for the heavier sound he'll pursue (briefly and sadly unrecorded) with Humble Pie in 1977, it's Wings at their finest. Despite playing for some three hours, they still manage to reach fever pitch with this delightfully silly song that gets more and more out of control with each verse, pushing Macca to a hoarse 'oh yeahhhhh' scream that would have given even Little Richard the heebeegeebies. The lyrics are once again the weak link, as they so often are on McCartney heavy rock songs, with the chorus rhyme 'Soilly, soilly - the cat in satin trousers says it's oilly!' among the weirdest we've ever covered. Whether its because Wings have been playing for two hours and you're caught up in the moment or whether you simply can't hear the words anyway, somehow this matters less on this track than usual, however. 'Soilly' is a powerful, punchy rock song that's one of its creator's best and eats the previous and supposedly heavier song ('Hi Hi Hi') for breakfast. All together now: Duhn-duhn-duhn-duhn-duhn-duhn-duhn, duhn-duhn-duhn-der-doooooooooooo! Find the live version on 'Wings Over America' (1976) and the studio 'One Hand Clapping' version on the 'Band On The Run' deluxe edition 

Non-Album Recordings Part #8: 1977

Modern McCartney fans - or McCartney fans who live outside the UK - may be surprised to learn what the biggest selling solo or Wings song in Paul's homeland is. With more sales than even 'Hey Jude' and beating a long-standing record set by 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' by The Beatles back in 1964 it''s...[101] 'Mull Of Kintyre'. If you're American then its that rather dreary song with bagpipes on the flipside of slop single 'Girl's School'; if you're of a certain age then it's that song that sounded good at first but got less interesting each time you heard it for all the eight flipping weeks it was at number one and shown on Top Of The Pops on every single flipping one of them; and if you're a modern McCartney song then its the one you skip to get to the Michael Jackson and Stevie Winder duets. 'Mull Of Kintyre' is all sorts of things to all sorts of people - and I find myself siding with all of them. Ironically Paul wrote the song as he was sick of hearing 'Auld Lang Syne' and 'Loch Lomond' and wanted a modern Scottish song for people to sing still keeping with the old traditions, perhaps not realising how over-played the song would become (Paul was actually unusually doubtful that this song would be a hit in the middle of punk; it was the guesting Cmpbeltown Pipers' enthusiasm for it on the overdubbing session that convinced him). To those who hate this song I agree - it's a bit of a dirge without much happening and chocolate-box lyrics that aren't up to Paul's (or co-writer Denny's) usual high standards. To those who skip this song - I'm one of you most of the time as this song really does suck all the life out the room most often when you play it and I've gone mad skipping through the thing every week for eight weeks on the TOTP BBC4 re-runs; I'd have gone mad sitting through all of it every week for that long. Of all the McCartney songs to break world records, this doesn't feel like it should be 'the one', with the slowest tempo of all McCartney singles outside 'My Love' and none of that song's warm melody and universality. And yet... every so often, I'll get a tingle that shows me what a great song this is, away from all the laughs and jokes and the piles of this single still lying around in charity shops. McCartney and Laine are class acts and know how to add an extra sparkle into a song and the way this song accelerates expertly through the keys, moving from an introverted solo performance into a mass singalong is still very very clever. There's just enough sense of national pride too, even if McCartney is only an 'adopted' Scotsman, with his simple rain-sozzled mist-covered 'home' painted as if its one of the most amazing places on Earth, a simple statement about overcoming obstaclesa that makes this song 'more' Scottish than if it was simply written about heather and tins of shortbread (my Scottish friend Lizzie still gets weepy over this song and most Scottish fans tend to be the same; interestingly my family history seem to come from the parts of the English-Scottish borders that were forever changing hands, hence my mixed feelings for this song). To prove this point, away from Scotland this single flopped miserably in most countries, although it was a surprise #1 hit in Australia and Belgium! Though 'Mull' is having a bit of a 'lull' in terms of reputation right now, in a few hundred years when we've forgotten it this song might yet be celebrated as one of Paul's finest. Find it on: 'All The Best' (1987) and 'Wingspan' (1999) and the 'McCartney Collection' re-issue of 'London Town'

The few people who ever bothered to turn the 'Mull Of Kintyre' single over would have been in for a shock. The flip side of one of the best-selling records ever is the bordering-on-releaseable [102] 'Girl's School'. Now unlike some critics (who were even more scathing of this song in the era of punk than the A side) that's not because I don't like it. On the contrary, its a great way for the McCulloch-English era of Wings to end with one of their tightest performances on a gritty rocker with a guitar riff guaranteed to get stuck in your head. It's just that this song is, in its authro's own words, a 'pornographic St Trinians'. Almost all the song titles are taken from X-rated film titles ('School Mistress' 'Oriental Princess' 'Woman Trainer') and concerns a new girl at the school whose lured out of her virginal ways.While the young girls making a film aren't decsribed in any detail they're clearly up to something they want to keep hidden ('They put the paper on the win-ders!) and probably illegal ('She gives them thrills in a paper cup and then knocks them on the head!') With a guitar riff bordering on a wolf whistle, this is a song that would have raised eyebrows released by anybody - released by the former adorable moptop Paul, I'm surprised in retrospect it didn't cause as big a fuss as 'Give Ireland  Back To The Irish' (it isn't as if Paul kept his intentions over the song clear). In case you're thinking 'this is only a B-side - he can get away with saying anything', it was only a B-side in Britain (where releasing a single all about Scotland made sense). In America the song was flipped over with 'Girl's School' the promoted side, where it died an ignoble death and fell off the charts quicker than any other Wings release since 'Ireland' and 'Mary'. In truth this song deserves better: it's tight and powerful, as infectious as any other of those songs in the infectious McCartney catalogue and a nice attempt to try something a little different away from the nicer-than-nice image that critics always complain Paul never breaks and always ignores when he does . Find it on: The McCartney Collection re-issue of 'London Town' 

Non-Album Recordings Part #9: 1979

McCartney has tried his hand at just about everything over the years, usually with success somewhere once, if not every time. [133] 'Goodnight Tonight' is Wings' disco song, a track which will make those who haven't heard it yet recoil in horror, but as ever Paul doesn't just grasp what a genre of music needs to sound good - he pulverises the competition. Built around a repetitive Steve Holly drum part and his own busy bass part that keep trying to talk, 'Godnight Tonight' is a memorable song that somehow manages to find something new to say about that worn-out old theme of not wanting to break up.'Don't say it!' McCartney snaps, his vocal as staccato as the rest of the song, although its also quite a tender song pleading that from his experience you can never get 'tired of love'. Things go a bit wrong and a little desperate in the middle, when criss-crossing guitar solos, rattled synthesised percussion and an early use of the vocoder sound like a middle aged man's idea of what the young are up to these days. However most of this song is impressively spot-on and must have been quite alien for a band like Wings to try: the guitars are the suface noise, not the driving force; the bass and drums work in competition not tandem and the rhythm has to be the single most important element of the song. The fact that we also get a song on top that isn't embarrasing makes this one of the better Wings singles - head and shoulders above the 'Back To The Egg' album that same year - and a fine way for their discography to end (its certainly a better end than that 'Wonderful Xmas Time' , which doesn't even feature the band and is instead a McCartney solo). Find it on: 'All The Best' (1987) and 'Wingspan' (1999) plus the 'McCartney Collection' re-issue of 'Back To The Egg'

'Goodnight's B-side is another much-loved McCartney song, often quoted by Paul as one of his favourite 'forgotten' songs. The latest in a long line of tributes to women in general and LInda in particular, [134] 'Daytime Night-Time Suffering' is Paul coming to terms with sexism and equality about the same time that Lennon was writing 'Woman'. Like many of Paul's better 1980s songs to come, it's really two songs conbined together even though there's no natural fit: the first half features a catchy riff and the idea that the woman in the song gets no respect or reward but does her job well anyway. The second half has two lovers joining together, 'you are the river - I am the stream' and features a quite different sort of catchy riff (which in another's hands might be classified 'soul'). There's even a middle eight stuck in to keep the song moving, featuring some lovely Wings harmonies, dismissing Paul's earlier asttempt at writing this sort of as song while younger on 'Lady Madonna' by saying its 'no fairytale anymore' (well, technically that song was based around a nursery rhyme but it same difference). This section then ends with Beach Boys micxed with The Batcherlors style harmonies as heard on parts of 'Ram' and more especially the recent big band re-recording 'Thrillington'.  Both Paul as writer and Wings as performers have clearly out more effort into this song than usual - so why it didn't make the album or the A-side is unknown. As a last chance to hear what Wings could offer that few others bands could (a funky backing track covered by classy harmonies), it's another fine last hurrah. Listen out for Pauls then-toddler James crying out 'mama' during the end of the third section -a part left on from Paul's demo presumably because it fitted the song's theme about a busy mother always having something to do. Find it on: 'Wingspan' (1999) and the 'McCartney Collection' re-issue of 'Back To The Egg'

The McCartney optimism, hope and cheer ought to go well at Christmas and Macca really ought to be more capable of writing an uplifting song than Lennon, who stole a march on him with the Beatley 'Happy Xmas (War Is Over)' back in 1971. However, as with so many other Wings releases across 1979, there's something a bit off about [135] 'Wonderful Xmas Time'. To be fair, Wings are blameless: though their name appears on the record and they look suitably uncomfortable miming to the song on a chaotic music video this is really all Paul's doing, a doodle written early on during sessions for 'McCartney II' and played by Paul's keyboards singlehandedly. It's one of his most gormless, cliche-ridden and irritating songs, nicking the 'ding song' bit from a George Harrison single and adding sleigh bells and handclaps alongside one of the single worst lyrics of his career. The gist of the song: what a great time we're having, which to be fair has got us through plenty of over festive schlock down the years but really is particularly bad. 'Cheer' rhymes with 'year' 'dong' rhymes with 'both 'song' and long' and 'up' somehow gets shoe-horned into rhyming with 'enough', even though it plainly shouldn't. Even the basic single-line chorus doesn't scan ('dur-dur, dur-dur *deep breath* di-dahh dee-dah-dah-dah', which is at least a 'dum' short). The whole thing is a mess which should have been ripped out and started again, with only rhe refreshingly contemporary synth sound to recommend it (and even then 'Mccartney II' makes better use of similar sounds). Even at Christmas my feelings of goodwill to all beings goes out the window when I hear this song and am reminded, once again, that even ex-Beatles are only human. At least there's one blessing though: there was talk about holding this single back another year (it was released on November 26th, which is a bit late for the Christmas shoppers) - it could so easily have been riding in the charts the week Lennon died, which is a thought too awful to contemplate (then again I'm surprised he felt the need to compete with McCartney at all and come out of 'retirement' after hearing this!) Bah! Humbug! Find it on: Every charity shop known to man, plus the deluxe edition of 'McCartney II' 9whioch contains an even longer edit of the song!)

You can usually rely on a McCartney B-side to justify spending money on a weak A-side, but for once even that seems pretty pointless. The best thing about [136] 'Rudolph The Red Nosed Reggae' is the title, which will surely give you some idea what a rum release this is. Like that pair of socks or that Soice Giorls compilation you got for Christmas and have to force yourself to look pleased about, this song's merry cheer sounds forced and painful as 'Rudoplh' gets massacred thanks to synth and fiddle. Once again Wings are blameless and Paul plays most of the backing, although the violin part has always been something of a mystery. Paul rang his manager and got him to send him a violin player at Abbey Road Studios where the mixing of the single was taking place. However neither Paul nor his manager took the violinist's name; a bit of research in later years revealed him to be Bob Loveday, a session regular who also played on albums by Bob Geldof, Jeff Beck and Kirsty McColl. The result is a mess: a cheery post-Christmas-hangover bobhomie mess maybe, but a mess all the same. Rudolph with your synth so bright, why's this single such a fright? Find it on: The McCartney Collection edition of 'Back To The Egg', although we suggest a long lie down in a darkened room straight after to help you recover!

Non-Album Recordings Part #10: 1980

Just to tidy things up, the live debut of [137a] 'Coming Up' played on Wings' 1979 tour in Glasgow was nominated as the 'A Side' of the more regular 'Coming Up' single in some countries. Though played with passion and a pretty fair facsimilie of a record that must have been hell to create only using usual instruments, it's nothing like as original or powerful as the 'synth' version and ends awkwardly, with a crowd chant of 'Paul McCartney' that runs for a minute, batted away in an embarrassed manner by Paul who joins in with a nonsense cry of 'Henry Nonglish' to break the spell (actually edited on the end from the performance of 'Mull Of Kintyre' with pipers from the same show - the crowd are quiet after 'Coming Up' and don't know what to make of it at all!) Lennon said in one of his last interview that he 'liked the freaky version Paul made in his garage' and that he 'thought the record company had a nerve telling him to put that version out' (America, where the single didn't do so well, had the 'live' version as the A-side). As per usual when it came to McCartney songs, Lennon was right. Find it on: the deluxe re-issue of 'McCartney II'

One of the first songs demoed for what became 'Tug Of War' is the gentle ballad  stringfest [ ] 'Same Time Next Year'. A typically melodious eyes-open-innocent McCartney song, the track was written for the film of the same name and relates to the plot of a clandestine love affair and a reunion after many years. The song was however rejected from the soundtrack, which is a blinkiung cheek since, while no classic, its one hell of a lot classier than the film (it's all a bit pointless, like an episode of 'As Time Goes By' stretched out to a whole two-hour movie). Set after the lovers are parting for another year, it's full of regret and sadness with a particularly mounrful middle eight ('Ah but nothing changes!') that hints at the emotion under the surface of the film couple. However the execution is a bit lumpy at times: check this out for the second verse -  'Still to me you look the same, as when I fogot your name, lovers in a lovers game!' The riff is also a bit, well, gauche: its stop-start section is clearly meant to make Paul sound like a lovestruck teenager but just makes him sound as. if. he's. sitting. on. something. very hot. and he'cant'. talk. proper. ly. Even so the song deserved better than to sit in the vaults for so many years, eventually being released in 1990 on the back of the 'Put It There' single, a home for rejected 1970s McCartney songs. Find it on: In a development I really don't agree with, 'TheMcCartney Collection' featured every song in the order of release rather than recording, which means that this song sounded more out of place than ever on the end of 'Flowers In The Dirt' from a decade later

 [155] 'Rainclouds' is a typically happy go lucky McCartbey song about how things can look bad but aren't really - the sun is still there, its just hidden by a 'raincloud; that will fly away soon. If Paul, Dennyand Linda sound less than entirely convincing, however, that's because it was this song the pair were working on during early sessions for what became 'Tug Of War' with George Martin when the studio heard the breaking news that Lennon had just been murdered. Rather than flee home and avoid the cameras, the quartet didn't want to go home and face up to it so they elected to stay behind finishing off the vocals for the song and delaying the inevitable press conference for as long as possible (this was arguably a bad decision - a weary and over emotional McCartney telling reporters 'it's a drag', more out of numb shock than any discrespect for his fallen friend). Of all the many ripples of bad luck, sgrief and lost opportunities that came after Lennon's death, 'Rainclouds' is only a minor casualty but a minor casualty all the same. This song is genuinely pretty and deserves the off-hand, almost angry throwaway vocal Paul understandably gives it here, the lyrics that seemed so clever that morning apparently mocking him - this is one part of a sdunny sky blocked out by more than just a 'raincloud'. A brief return of the flageolloen turns this song briefly into an Irish sea shanty - the first since 'Give Ireland Back To The Irish' - but even this neat touch now sounds hopelessly misguided because of circumstances beyond everyone's control. You can understand and sympathise with why Paul never returned to this song - it was no doubt blackened forever in his mind when the four got the news and its surprising actually that he did release it at all. But Lennon's death wasn't 'Rainclouds' fault - this clever, witty and very McCartney pop song deserves a fairer break. Find it on: the deluxe re-issue of 'Tug Of War'

An early demo sensibly discarded from 'Tug Of War, the music hall-esque [  ] 'Stop! You Don't Know Where She Came From' is cut from the same slightly artificial cloth as 'Ballroom Dancing' but not quite as strong or memorable. To be fair, Paul never got that far with the song and seems to have abandoned it after having fun with its bogie woogie piano line for a few minutes, although it's nice to have as an extra after all these years.

Non-Album Recordings Part #11: 1981

In 1981 Paul invited 50s guitar legend Carl Perkins to appear on a rockabilly song he'd just written for 'Tug Of War' titled 'Get It'. Though George had always been the big Perkins buff in the Beatles family, Paul admired the slickness of Carl's work and the way he managed to tell simple Chuck Berry-like stories that set up a whole world (he'll cover the Perkins song 'Movie Magg' on 1999's 'Run Devil Run'). Carl enjoyed the experience so much (you can tell by the laughing over the fade of 'Get It', which runs and runs) that he wanted the collaboration to happen again, with Paul turning up to Carl's place this time. [156] 'My Old Friend' is a Perkins song written as a 'thankyou', although iuts a rather odd thankyou: the pair had never met before the 1980s and yet here Carl refers to Paul as a really old friend who goes way back, rather than a new friend he'd enjoyed hanging out with. Carl goes further: You treated me like a king and you've given me a reason to go on...and if we never meet again outside of life...' Steady there Carl, 'Get It' wasn't really that great a song!Paul sounds suitably embarrassed and unlike the earlier collaboration both of them sing at once, which is a touch uncomfortable on the ears (Paul, realising this, gets them to swap verses in his song). The result is an oddity, though long neglected by Beatle fans who don't know about it. Find it on: the Carl Perkins album 'Go Cat Go!' (1981)

 Non-Album Recordings Part #12: 1982

A silly song Macca used to love playing on piano at the drop of a hat, [169] 'I'll Give You A Ring' is a very 50s-style song based around the much-used pun over the 'ring' that Pauk's narrator wants to put on his girls' finger and the 'ring' that he's waiting for on ther telephone. 'You look-a-little lonely' is an ear-grabbing opening, though, while Paul gets away with a lot through his vocal delivery - even the rhyme of 'picture' and 'feature' is almost pulled off. In common with many of his 1970s leftovers, the song is also two very different pieces stuck together, with a louder, noisier chorus ('Woah man! I know I won't be lonely anymore!') exploding into life suddenly in the middle. Neither are that much of a song on their own, but put together this track is the sum of more than its parts somehow. It's the backing that isn't quite right, with Paul fighting a losing battle against an anonymous string part and a dense pop production thyat's nothing like as appealing as the many (many many many) bootleg takes of Paul fooling around with this song on the piano. Find it on: the deluxe re-issue of 'Tug Of War'

Though Paul had always intended [168b] 'Ebony and Ivory' as a duet with a black singer (to make the point about piano keyboards having black and white notes), he first recorded the song as a solo demo, in order to hear how it might sound, Though this effectively means he's singing to himself, it does sound like much more of a McCartney song somehow, with a very liverpudlian pronounciation of 'we learn to give each otherrr' and as a bonus there are none of the over-produced and awfully fake backing vocals in place yet. However you do miss Stevie's charm, which is a good part of what carries the song - in as far as this song gets carried anywhere. Released as the flipside of the 'Ebony' single, few fans have ever actually played it. Find it on: the deluxe edition of '#Tug Of War'

Macca's third collaboration of the early 1980s was with Michael Jackson, who was invited to sing on 'Say Say Say' and wouldn't go home, resulting in a seconfd song 'The Man'.Just as Paul thought he'd finally fgot shot of Wacko Jacko he got a phone call inviting him to reprise their duet on a song Michael had written, which thanks to its inclusion on Michael's best-selling album 'Thriller' quickly became the most-owned McCartney item ever. How Paul must hate that fact because [170] 'The Girl Is Mine' is atrocious. Sloppy, cliched and so treacly it would rot the tooth fairy's teeth, it's one of those songs that should never ever have been made and, frustratingly, reinforced to lots of people who didn't know what McCartney usually sounded like that he was a mere purveyor of silly love songs like this. Jackson did have a writing talent, thoiugh nothing close to Paul's standards, but he's at his best on uptempo songs he can dance to - songs that are all about the groove, not the story or the melody, two things Paul excels at. This doggone song has nothing, just two lovesick fools fighting each other over a girl they haven't even had the decency to ask out yet (what's the betting she won't like either of them after their behaviour on this song?) The sort-of remake of this track in 1989 (as 'You Want Her Too', another collaboration with Jacko's polar opposite Elvis Costello) sounds as if Paul was trying to rid his memory of the fact that this song ever happened. I don't blame him. Even Jackson's fans hate this song. Find it on: 'Thriller' (1982)

Non-Album Recordings Part #13: 1983

Given that 'Pipes Of Peace' was already made up of leftovers from 'Tug Of War', McCartney was stretching himself very thin with that year's B-sides. [182] 'Ode To A Koala Bear' - flipside to 'Say Say Say' - is a much-mocked composition, a love song apparently written for a koala. Actually, like 'Single Pigeon', it's a song that compares human behaviour with that of the animal kingdom - the unknown person addressed in the song is a 'koala type bear', whose culture Paul's narrator tries to understand in the song's highlight the middle eight ('Tell me what it's like looking through your eyes...'). Like the koala it tries to compare notes with, this song appears cuddly from the outside but musically digs its claws in a few times thanks to a repeated staccato piano riff. The weakest of Paul's songs trying to teach the public about the very noble concern of animal conservationism,the music has an oddball waddle and unfinished feel about it, while the lyric doesn't quite know where to go past the first verse. A strong McCartney guitar part triple-tracked and a loud gulping bass  helps liven up the song into something more substantial, but even Paul's vocal seems to be yawning it's head off. Find it on: the deluxe edition of 'Pipes To Peace'

One of many McCartrney songs submitted to film scores across the 1980s, [183] 'Twice In A Lifetime' is unusual both in that it was used in the actual film (unlike, say, 'Spies Like Us') and yet failed to make it onto a bona fide McCartney release independently (unlike, say, 'Spies Like Us'). A typical yearning McCartney ballad, dressed up to the nines, 'Twice in A Lifetime' is a tough film to write a love song to, about a happily married steelworker who ends up being seduced by Ann-Margaret as part of a mid-life Christmas (She's 'Tommy's mother, this is just wrong! What will Oliver Reed say?) At least this time, unlike 'Same Time Next Year' or 'Spies Like Us', the song was actually included in the film, although there never was a film soundtrack album for fans to buy and the song was in limbo for much of the next decade until the 'McCartney Collection' series came along. Macca's lyrics sweetly suggest that there may be more than one chance at happiness - and at least two soulmates for every person. However the narrator may be hedging his bets here: he requests his lover to 'stop before you give your answer' after debating with her about true love, more interested in his own feelings of elation than whether ot not his date feels the same thing.  A lovely sighing middle eight ('I don't want to step on anybody's toes') deserved to be the main hook of the song - the one that's in the chorus, played by the saxophone isn't as interesting and the rather soul-less and very 80s production does have the habit of chaining this ethereal song to the floor when it should be soaring away. Still the song is a likeable one that deserved a better fate than to be left behind on a film nobody saw. Find it on: the 'McCartney Collection' edition of 'Pipes Of Peace' 

Non-Album Recordings Part #14: 1984

Even the critics who hung the 'Broad Street' project out to dry agreed that [184a] 'No More Lonely Nights' was another McCartney masterpiece. A yearning ballad that sounds as if it was written around the same chords as 'The Long and Winding Road', it may be that Paul was playing around with new arrangements of his old song and reminding himself - for possibly the first time - of his long history and how he 'used' to write. The last of his all-time classic 'perfect' songs it has a strong, powerful hook that can be used in all sorts of ways (see below) and is used repeatedly throughout the film as 'urgent' theme music. This ballad is more relaxed, though, yet again written as tribute to Linda and touching on his 'confused' period circa 1970 when the world seemed to be against them both, Special guest Pink Floyd's  David Gilmour makes for easily the most impressive guest role on any McCartney record, with a searing guitar solo that conveys just the right amount of passion and optomism (not something he'd had much of a chance to use, recently, in the middle of Pink Floyd's 'gloomy' period). The result has aboslutely zilch to do with the film where Linda is by his side throughout (that's the problem with his film script in fact - Paul is never lonely or in any real danger except - shock horror - he might have to re-record his 30th album and his record label might hgave to wait a few months before becoming millionaires again!), but is a powerful enough testament to what Paul can do like nobody else: write songs about old subjects that still sparkle like they were the first ones ever written. Find it on: The 'Give My Regards To Broad Street' soundtrack album (1984) plus 'All The Best' (1987) and, weirdly enough given the dating, 'Wingspan' (1999)

Weitten in a hurry, [185] 'Not Such A Bad Boy' was an attempt to give Paul's 'character' a fun strutting simple rock song that the band in the film (including Eric Stewart and Ringo) could play 'live'. A fun early Wings-style rocker, it's a re-write of Pauk's Beatle song 'Getting Better', with the adult narrator guilty at the discrpenecies in his youth ('I laughed at the teachers who taught at my school' is the opening line'). Like 'Lonely Nights' the idea of re-recording songs from his past seem to have set Paul's notalgia mode into hyperdrive and he reflects here that even the bad experiences were good - that a disappearing girlfriend 'taught me things that I needed to know'. With a classic catchy chorus, a funky beat and some lyrics that again veer from McCartney at his best and worst ('I followed the leader into a tent, but nobody told me she owed some rent!'), 'Not Such A Bad Boy' is a fun song that, while no classic, more than fulfils its mission brief. Despite being written and recorded in a hurry, it's actually a lot more substantial than a lot of last album 'Pipes Of Peace' recorded and messed around with over a period of years. Apparently Paul never liked the song, though, and was prepared to drop it from the film. The intervention of Ringo's new wife Barbara Bach - who appears in the films and guests on backing vocals - changed his mind; for that I'm hugely grateful - this song is too good to be stuck in a vault. Find it on: The 'Give My Regards To Broad Street' soundtrack album (1984)

[186] 'No Values' is another of the Broad Street songs and again one of Macca's most under-valued pieces. For the first time since 'Yesterday' the idea came to him in a dream: he and LInda were out at the Bag O'Nails Club in London where the pair first met and watching the Rolling Stones on stage (Paul was a friend, Linda a big fan - the Stones were her first commision as a photographer and during the pair;s courting she often teased him that the Stones were better than the Beatles!)Waking up, Paul found himself still singing a song that went 'no values' and commented to LInda how much he liked the song. When she looked blank, he dug out his Stones LPs and - not finding the song - wrote down what he could remember. The song would indeed make a fine Stones recording - it has the Mick Jagger swagger, the inter-weaving guitarplay and the lyrical theme of being loveable rebellious renegades ('The Artful Dodger says he wants to pick a pocket or two'). However where it differs is the extreme amount of wordy lyrics and the longing middle eight that shows more worry than the Stones ever do on their albums (their solo records, however, are a different matter...) A glorious passage that leaves the cocksure narrator 'stranded on some distant shore', it's a poginant section that gives the song a pathos the clever verses don't have. Reflecting on the jealousy of the poor, the verse reflects 'I like your wife's smile, I like the car, if I had your lifestyle I couldn't go far wrong...' The ending is fun too - with solo after solo played by such luminaries as Dave Edmunds, Eric Stewart and Paul himself crtiss-crossing over and over. The bootlegs reveal that this lovely finale originally lasted for some two minutes, the ad hoc band turning into a better 'jamming' bands than Wings ever were, all three trying to outdo each other while the rhythm section pick up the idea and run with it. Alas the 'finished' version and the one in the film are cut short by a 'cheesy' moment whereby Paul sees the film's loveable rogue Harry absocnding with his precious master-tapes, letting fly a timid 'don't do it!' and calling a halt to the song. Clearly meant as a dramatic moment, it falls very flat - we just want to hear the song again! Find it on: The 'Give My Regards To Broad Street' soundtrack album (1984)

[184b] 'No More Lonely Nights' - the 'Playout' version - is less successful, being a rare and unwelcome example of Mccartney trying to be hop. Everything so well cast in the 'Ballad' version is missing: the sincerity, the poignancy and the melody. This re-recording is at least proof of what a chamelon McCartney is: no one else would have two such contreasting recordings on the same album even without creating both from gthe same basic building blocks. The right one was chosen as the single though - this is cliched pop, perfect for the charts in 1984 but far less inviting than a timeless classic like the 'ballad' version. Find it on: The 'Give My Regards To Broad Street' soundtrack album (1984) and 'Wingspan' (1999)
Fans who hung around to watch the 'Broad Stret' film credits were treated (if that's the right word) to a small extra: an unreleased McCartney instrumental that plays over the credits. With a cry of 'bloody great lads, come on lay it on 'em!' Paul seems to be parodying a rock and roll band before ushering in one of his most extreme genre hops with [ ] 'Goodnight Princess', another of his roaring twenties style songs. It's a good fascimilie of the sort of thing Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers would be dancing to during one of their films, but has absolutely nothing to do with the film (they could have chosen 'Give My Regards To Braod Street' if they really wanted to do this sort of thing!) Paul realised that his soundtrack album was a little too long for the days of vinyl and something had to go - mercifully he chose this track, although it does appear on the CD if you really need to hear it (though chances are you don't). Find it on: The 'Give My Regards To Broad Street' soundtrack album (1984)

Bom Bah Bum! It's the return of Rupert The Bear, who finally saw the light of day in the hands of McCartney after abandoned attempts in 1971 and 1979 with a whole new storyline that didn't involve 'The King Of The Birds'. [187a] 'We All Stand Together' is, as everyone of a certain age, a certain record collection and possibly children of their own knows, the cornerstone of the animated short 'Rupert and the Frog Song'. In it Rupert discovers an underground lair with a load of operatic singing frogs and somehow still gets home in time for tea. The cartoon was well loved - about the last time Mccartney ever got positive reviews across the board - and my non-Beatles friends still don't believe me that Paul really did do all the voices (barring Rupert's disbeliving mother, who everyone assumes was voiced by Linda but was actually June Whitfield). People were less sure about the record, which admittedly sold well (a #3 hit in the UK) but rather divided people. Should an ex-Beatle really be spending his time on yet more children's songs after 'Mary Had A Little Lamb' and 'Hey Diddle'? However where the song improves on both is be being, effecticvely, 'All You Need Is Love' for a younger age market. 'Face the game, fight the fight - but what's the point on a beautiful night?' is a sentiment that wouldn't have sounded out of place in The Beatles' canon, while the idea of species sticking together despite their differences is only a comically exaggerated version of what The Beatles were all about anyway (peace, love 'n' frogs, Ringo!) The song is also helped by one of Paul's prettier melodies and - on his lasdt collaboration with Paul - one of George Martin's greatest production triumphs, uniting several different Pauls, The St Paul's Boy's Choir and vocal group The King's Singers, who swap their usual madrigals and parlour songs for a turn as the three bass profundo frogs (they'll re-record the Beatles songbook soon after as 'The Beatles Connection' to get their own back!) The end result is not made for continual re-listening - and still comes as something of a shock heard in the middle of 'All The Best' - but it's the best of Macca's children's songs by talking up rather than down to its audience and adding the colour and pizazz only on top of a carefully thought out backing. Find it on: The McCartney Collection edition of 'PIpes Of Peace', 'All The Best' (1987) and on the back of the 'Tropic Island Hum' single (2004)

Less essential - and rather rarer - is the version of [187b] 'We All Stand Together' heard in the credits, which is nicknamed the 'humming' version ob the sleeve. This is basically the tidier, more well behaved version of the song without the peaks and troughs as performed by St Pauk's Boys Choir singing 'ee ee ee' as if they're doing an impression of Wallace and Gromit/Alvin and the Chipmunks (delete according to location). So far the song has yet to appear on anything except the original single, but then again it does feature little or no input from McCartney performance-wise anyway. Find it on: the original single

'Wings At The Speed Of Sound' (1976)

'London Town' (1978)

'Back To The Egg' (1979)

'McCartney II' (Original Double Album) (1980)

'Tug Of War' (1982)

'Pipes Of Peace' (1983)

'Press To Play' (1986)

'Flowers In The Dirt' (1989)

'Driving Rain' (2001)
'Chaos and Creation In The Back Yard' (2005)

'Memory Almost Full' (2006)

'New' (2013)

The Best Unreleased McCartney/Wings Recordings

Surviving TV and Film Footage

Live/Wings Solo/Compilations/Classical Albums Part One: 1967-1987

Live/Wings/Solo/Compilations/Classical/Unreleased Albums Part Two: 1987-1997

Live/Wings Solo/Compilations/Classical Albums Part Three: 1997-2015

Non-Album Recordings Part One 1970-1984

Non-Album Recordings Part Two 1985-2015

Essay: Not So Silly Love Songs

Key Concerts and Cover Versions