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SINGLES: US. AND US
Britain and America share the same language - well, almost— but for the last ten years and more they have differed widely in musical taste. This gulf is reflected both in the differences between the McCartney singles released in the two countries and in the differing receptions accorded to the same song here and in the US.
Another thing which has changed since the early '70s is that now no-one releases an album without taking a single from it. When Paul began his post-Beatles career, albums were all the rage- Derek and the Dominoes' "Layla", for instance, wasn't released as a single until long after the group had broken up - and he felt no obligation to put out a single from either McCartney (1970) or Wings Wild Life (1971). In between those two, the brace of 45s from Paul and Linda's Ram provided a bizarre contrast: the very English “Uncle Albert – Admiral Halsey” was released in America only and made number one, while "Back Seat Of My Car", a classic dreamy love song, was simultaneously no more than a minor British hit.
Band On The Run (1973) produced the next "major divergence. Firstly, though not strictly relevant here, "Helen Wheels" (the preceding single) was added to the American album, which seems mighty strange to British listeners used to the unity of the LP as originally conceived. The title track was the second single extracted (in 1974), making number one in the US with "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five" on the flip and number three at home backed by the British TV theme, "Zoo Gang".
The Country Hams' "Walking In The Park With Eloise" (1974), written by Paul's father James and (with the Percy Thrillington album) the oddest item in the McCartney discography, was only released in the UK. Being an instrumental, only Paul's name could have given it airplay enough for chart action to be a possibility: as it was, so few fans noticed it at the time that original copies are now highly collectable. (It was reissued in 1982.) With its country lilt, it's slightly strange that the American public weren't given the option to snap up "Eloise".
"Venus And Mars- Rock Show" (1975) was the third single taken from the V & M album, probably to coincide with Wings' British tour: ironically, it did far better in the US. Now it's time for Linda to take a bow- in the guise of Suzy and Red Stripes, the name on the label of "Seaside Woman" (US Epic, 1977). Wings (for it was they) had recorded this some years before and performed it live; not till 1979 did it emerge in Britain, on A & M. We all waited too long for this chirpy number with its wonderfully eccentric instrumental break.
Then came the rum episode of "Mull of Kintyre/Girls' School" (1977), the first Wings double A-side. Paul needed much convincing that his and Denny Laine's tribute to Paul's favourite part of the world had mass appeal, the subject being so close to the singer's heart. In fact, of course, this personal quality was so endearing that it became the biggest selling British single until "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Across the Atlantic, the radio stations obviously found "Mull" too 'ethnic' and concentrated on the rocking "Girls' School", a moderate hit.
Many thought "Maybe I'm Amazed" the obvious single on McCartney; finally, in 1977, the live version from Wings Over America was issued, making the British charts and the American top ten. The two countries were treated very differently with the singles from Back To The Egg (1979). Britain and the US received "Old Siam, Sir" and "Getting Closer" respectively at first, the latter doing rather better. Then the old country got "Closer" and "Baby's Request" as a double A-side,, America getting 'Arrow Through Me": again, the latter was more successful.
Now, another strange one: the 1970s revival of Christmas records in Britain left America competely untouched, so that even John and Yoko's "Happy Christmas" sank without trace. Paul's solo "Wonderful Christmas Time" (1979) suffered a similar fate over there, while we British bobbed gently round the Christmas tree and sent it to number six. The disparity continued with "Coming Up" (1980): although not a double A-side, US radio picked up on the live Wings' version — it made number one — while Paul's completely solo version made number two in the UK.
You'd have thought John Bull and Uncle Sam weren't on speaking terms about this time, since 1980's "Waterfall"-a classic ballad in the line from "Yesterday" through to "No More Lonely Nights" —scarcely dented the Hot Hundred, while making the British top ten. Probably as a result, "Temporary Secretary" (1980) wasn't released in the US. However, order umc restored with "Ebony And Ivory" (1982), the first to be number one in both countries.
Then came another parting of the ways: The British coupling of "Pipes Of Peace/So Bad" (1983) was reversed in America, the latter song — simple, direct emotion with unusually high-register singing from PMcC- being a good-sized hit while "Pipes" made number two back home. The 'ethnic' problem reared its head again with "We All Stand Together" (1984); Rupert Bear being unknown territory to you poor Americans, you might have said "Nuts" to Nutwood, so the single came out in Britain only. "Spies Like Us", of course, reunited the two countries in 1985.
ANOTHER AWARD FOR PAUL
Caring not that Paul's kitchen cabinet is already groaning with the things, the 13th American Music Awards presented him with a special Award of Merit for his achievements over the last 20 years. An audience of 50 million watched the televised ceremony on 27th January. Phil Collins hosted the British segment of the show, beamed by satellite from London's Hippodrome Club to AMA headquarters in the US. A happy Paul is pictured with Roger Daltrey, Bob Geldof (who received a special Award of Appreciation for Live Aid) and Phil.
JUKE BOX SERENADE
Does a man's juke box reveal his innocent self? Sounds doubtful, but let's see what we can glean from the contents of Paul McCartney's very own disc-spinner.
Paul's taste in music has never been narrow. When the rock world was becoming increasingly introverted, he harked back to the music of a more relaxed era in writing "When I'm 64" and "Honey Pie". The Black Dyke Mills Band were produced by him for one of the first Apple releases and the launch party for Wings in 1971 featured the dance band of Ray McVay. Peggy Lee was no rock V roller, but Paul appreciated her sultry style enough to write and produce "Let's Love" for her in 1974. Then of course there is that strangely dormant MPL artiste, bandleader Percy Thrillington ...
So we should not be surprised that the list starts with two Glenn Miller items, "I Got Rhythm" by Valaida and Al Jolson singing "Give My Regards To Broadway". Now what does that last one remind me of? Johnny Ray is the only other artist too far back to be more than a faint childhood memory to Paul. As you might expect, most of the remainder are from the rock V roll era.
The home-made early version - skiffle -gets a look in with Lonnie Donegan's "Don't You Rock Me Daddy-O" and Chas McDevitt with Nancy Whiskey (the famous "Freight Train"). Then there are two each from Little Richard (including "Long Tall..." - oh, what was that girl's name again?), Elvis and Fats Domino. Jim Lowe's 1956 version of 'Green Door", a pinch of rockabilly with Sonny Fisher's "Rockin' Daddy" and the Everlys' "Bye Bye Love" keep the party going.
"If you missed Bill Haley and the Comets in 1956, don't miss Halley's Comet in 1986," runs the tube advert. Well, Bill and co. are in there with "Rockin' Through The Rye". Finally, the broad-minded Mr. McCartney finds room for balladeers Pat Boone and Paul Anka. How many of his selections would you have guessed?