A treasury and a place to meet people of all ages with various interests from all over the World
Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

News:

PLEASE READ OUR FORUM RULES HERE

Pages: 1 [2]

Author Topic: Microscope: Tug Of War  (Read 3713 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Ovi

  • Global Moderator
  • A Thousand Pages
  • *****
  • Online Online
  • Gender: Male
  • Posts: 1071
  • Tonight, I'm a rock 'n' roll star.
Re: Microscope: Tug Of War
« Reply #20 on: July 24, 2012, 11:52:57 AM »

I've bailed out on 'McCartney II', but I really like this album so I wrote a short review. It's not very good, but it's better than nothing :

It's 1981 and McCartney gives us something different from the previous year. While 'McCartney II' was spontanous, home-made, superficial and very experiemntal, 'Tug of War' is in many ways the opposite : a set of carefully and consciously constructed songs produced by George Martin with whom Paul collaborates for the first time since his Beatle days. Did John's death bring them together ? (notice Ringo's also here on one song) Or was McCartney just trying a more serious approach on music? Whatever the reason, Martin provides a nice, warm orchestrated production. There is diversity, the melodies are present, the acoustics beautiful, Paul's voice - better than ever ("BAAAALROOOM DANCING", anyone?) and the lyrics, well, there are some good sets of lyrics here.

The title track comes first in my mind, a beautiful haunting anthem that gets more and more powerful as the song slowly emerges from an acoustic track to an electric one. It's also got a fair share of emotional moments like when Paul sings "in another world..." with havenly harmonies backing him. Oh, and the message is pretty powerful, too. The living proof that McCartney can write pretty much everything he wants to as long as he takes it seriously. 'The Pound is Sinking' is another breathtaking tune, as McCartney accomplishes in 3 minutes what some bands can't on an entire album. It's amazing how easily, yet gracefully it shuffles through different melodies and moods, until it arrives at that ferocious climax and then within seconds it all calms down and the song ends the way it started.

Those two are the absolute highlights here, if you ask me. But the other songs don't fall far behind, either. There's the contemplative 'Somebody Who Cares' with its pleasant acoustic guitar solo and dreamy flute, the generic, yet lifted up by the strings ode to John called 'Here Today', the funny country/rock n' roll duet with Carl Perkins, 'Get It', the charming 'Take It Away', the bombastic 'Balroom Dancing' with Paul screaming from the top of his lungs as a highlighted moment and 'Dress Me Up As A Robber' with its latino-sounding guitar solo.

However, there are two songs here that keep the album from being perfect. As you may've already guessed, the Stevie Wonder collaborations are both pretty much terrible. What's an overlong disco song called 'What's That You're Doing' doing there between two ballads? Then there's 'Ebony and Ivory' which has a nice and peaceful message, but is ruined for me by that typical 80's sounding bridge, which is also present again in the tag.

If it wasn't for those two songs, I'd say the album is perfect. As it is, I can only place it below 'Ram', 'Band On The Run', 'Venus and Mars' and 'Back To The Egg', give it a 4.5/5 rating and name it my 5th favourite McCartney album (so far).
Logged
http://tangledupinmusic.wordpress.com - yet another music blog

Yeshelloitsmehereagain

  • Getting Better
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 291
Re: Microscope: Tug Of War
« Reply #21 on: July 24, 2012, 07:38:34 PM »

It'll be here by Thursday, I'm half way through.

It's interesting, whilst we can all seem to agree that it's on the whole a strong set, it doesn't seem to be up there with any of our top ranked albums. Maybe it's just a touch too glitzy?
Logged

Yeshelloitsmehereagain

  • Getting Better
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 291
Re: Microscope: Tug Of War
« Reply #22 on: July 28, 2012, 02:36:32 AM »

Well here is the A side review...

Tug Of War
 The acoustics sound familiar and Paul instantly seems comfortable, he sounds more like "Beatle Paul" than he has ever done since '69 and unsurprisingly, it works. The orchestral things are nicely understated, this is definately a George Martin production. :56 "In another world..." background vocals seem treated, not so sure if I like it. It's not the Wings backing, that's for sure, it's just different. "In a time to come..." the strings that move through here are spine-tingling... Paul is singing really well, good use of tracking in places. 1:54 I think it must be a combination of Linda, Paul and Eric that's been treated again I think "Pushing, Pulling" maybe not needed here but the arrangement underneath moves it well enough for it not to be much of a problem. 2:04 Wow one of Paul's best verses ever "In years to come...". Guitars come crashing in and sound great. Oh my. "...the air we breathe and the life we lead..." Great vocal. If it is Linda it's great here 2:20 "It wont be soon enough..." splendid. 2:38 George Martin kicks, it's superb, very powerful. "Flag unfurled..." that horn isn't so great. 3:18 backing on "drum" works well. Can I say anymore? Maybe one of Paul's best. A great job by George Martin. There's an "ooo" low in the mix which leads into...



Take It Away
Nice intro from Ringo and Steve Gadd though don't ask me to tell you which is which and where they are in the mix. There's a great sound on the Bass and Paul's falsetto is cool and not over cooked it's a breathless falsetto. I could take the whole song like this. At the :30 mark a Piano comes in and ramps up the tempo somewhat, it sounds a little forced to me. The Piano is a bit out front for my liking and the vocals sound fat. Ringo is great. Nice "ooo's" It's a driving song. I could do without the brass. It's lightweight, though not offensive and it pops along, as has been remarked before the tempo changes all of the time, it's probably a b**** to play and get it right. 2:12 the brass annoys the heck outa me. "You never know who may be listening to ya..." the stacked harmonys are nice, I think I'm ok with the treated vocals now. Nice "ahhhs" into the outro. But that brass is still annoying.
Paul McCartney - Take It Away (1980 Studio Demo)


Somebody Who Cares Nice intro on the Spaniard. Nice singing. The second verse "Like somebody has taken the wheels off your car..." is either designed to take the wheels off the song or it's just a poor analogy. 1:06 is a great positive direction, the percussion is great and really enhances the piece. "Always somebody who cares..." nice singalong. I like the flute. That's killer playing from Paul. Could probably stop at 2:12 point. Goes on a bit without adding much.

What's That You're Doing Cool funky guitar, nice drums. Makes me want to dance. Very progressive. "Even if it's wrong Girl I do agree..." I can relate to that. "Girl I like what you do to me, do it some more" 2:06 Stevie goes all scat it's great. The breakdown around 3:30 something is good. Little synth touches around 4:07 are very pretty. There's not a word out of place. 5:26 gets a bit much but I'm still dancing. I like it.

Here Today Slight acoustic into in Em, just so you know whats coming. :22 The strings come in and it's all very Beatles'y :46 the cello (I think it's the cello) comes in  announcing it's definately a George Martin score, the cello is kind of his signature sound. :55 "Tear's no more..." is well sung. The echo is effective. It's all very emotional, if a little slight. Still it's a nice tribute. If you can't feel it you must be a cold person or something.

I'll do side B soon. I think Get It is the weakeast song of the bunch.
Logged

jamesbjorkman

  • A Beginning
  • **
  • Offline Offline
  • Gender: Male
  • Posts: 50
    • Everything Paul McCartney
Re: Microscope: Tug Of War
« Reply #23 on: August 06, 2012, 02:32:40 AM »

Since this is one of my favorite albums - period - might as well do a little review.  ;)

It's 1981, John Lennon is gone, and Paul had grown bored with Wings and ended it just like he ended the Beatles.  Ahem.  Well, what's a big pop star to do?  Wait for Michael Jackson to call.  Well ....  Michael hasn't called yet.  Anyway, he goes back to his roots, big time, and gets his Beatles producer, Beatles drummer, wife Linda, and just about everyone else from the extended Paul universe and brings it all home in a family affair.

This album is all about continuity with his legacy while making a clean break with his immediate past.  I think he accomplishes this awkward task brilliantly.



"Tug of War" - Right away, we get a lush orchestration, the stamp of George Martin.  Starts off peacefully with an acoustic guitar, but after that, the electric Guitars are way in the background, a welcome break from the late Wings "Van Halen imitators" days.  Linda is a major presence to continue the essential Wings sound (and she makes a real contribution here, sorry, Linda haters).  The video makes clear this is about, um, tugs of war - hey, did you know that used to be an Olympic sport that Great Britain excelled at? - but Paul nicely brings in some very subtle environmental concerns, another nice segue from the past.  He aims high on this one, sort of saying that progress is a constant struggle with successes and failures, and pretty much hits his target.  Overall, a nice start to the album, not one of my favorites but I recognize it as great.  On the downside, Paul adopts that earnest, pleading tone that, well, I wish he would use less often.  But still a very nice record that grows on me with time, to the point that I sometimes listen to it for purposes other than reviewing it.

I might add that the video ending - with Linda in the control room, and then next to Paul, and then disappearing and leaving him alone, followed by his disappearance - is quite affecting now.



"Take it Away" - in runner-up position, we have perhaps Paul's best song of the album and, to be truthful, the decade.  Ringo is around on the video to ham things up - that was his real value to the early Beatles, of course - and George Martin actually has a nice gig in the (1950s-vibe) video.  I also like that Linda is shown handling the business affairs, which is my understanding of how things actually worked in the '70s at least.  Nice horn (synthesizer) work, nice transitions, drumming is right up there (thank you Mr. Gadd, too), Paul is in excellent voice, and the lyrics add something that make this darn near autobiographical.  Linda contributes some nice "woo-woos," and you can't overestimate the value of a feminine touch here and there.  Paul does his well-worn path of a mellow start, then ramp up to the main tempo, and then a few breaks in the action later, reminds me of "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" in that regard.  One of the tunes on the album that I enjoy pulling up now and then, Paul should be proud of this one.

"Somebody who Cares" - After two show-stoppers, time for a "little" song, and that's exactly what we get.  A few nice instrumentals (thank you, George), and Paul is in fine voice (yes, I'm going to keep saying that on this album), but the lyrics, well, let's just say that I like the melody and leave it at that.  Transitions are a bit awkward, and the repetition that is a constant Paul theme is a bit much, and then it just sort of ... ends.  OK, it's "a beautiful song."  The acoustic guitar work saves it for me, but it's in the bottom half of this very tight album.

"What's that you're Doing?" - We get a nice funk sound right up front, which I find refreshing.  Stevie Wonder is in the house!  Sort of a late-disco vibe to it, which is OK, since the whole album isn't like that and it would get old quick.  Unlike just about everyone else, I think this is a worthy addition to the album that gives it a contemporary feel.  I also like hearing Paul sharing with and harmonizing with another singer, and not just another "so what voice is Paul going to use on THIS song."  A little variety is the spice, baby.  Goes on a little too long, but Stevie, he needs maneuvering room, dig?  He probably could have gone on for another twenty minutes.  I think people dislike this one because it's ... different ... for a Paul album, but a good tune and still a pleasure.  Paul brought Stevie back 30 years later on his "My Valentine" cd, so he must have liked the results.

"Here Today" - Paul dials it back - can't let that funk get out of hand!  - and gives one of his (patented) soulful, emotional ballads with that (thank you George Martin) "Eleanor Rigby-esque" string backup.  I am VERY MUCH alone in thinking this is perhaps the weakest song on the album, when some others think it is one of his best ever, but I don't mark up song grades based on whether they are tributes to John Lennon or not, sorry.  Yes, I am cold as ice about music, John was worth more than any tribute song.  At least it is relatively quick, again in the "Eleanor Rigby" vein, but, sir, I knew Eleanor Rigby, and....

Side 2

"Ballroom Dancing" - for my money (and I bought the "Tug of War" cassette when it came out and still have it), the second best song on the album, which is probably why it leads off side 2.  Great lyrics, great melody, nice transition.  I love the concept of a 1950s dance competition, again Paul is going back to his real roots in a different way, and with (thank you George Martin) nice clarinet and horn work.  Sounds very, very, very similar (to my ears) to the Kinks "Come Dancing" hit of the same year on the same theme, which is a classic, and this isn't quite in the same league as that song, but it is right up there.  Perhaps goes on a bit too long, but still a top track.

"The Pound is Sinking" - so many people love this song that I hate to say that I find the lyrics are Paul at his weakest and most trite, the melody is weak, and it has an experimental feel that would have worked better on McCartney II or even "London Town," when it was written.  Some people like the repetition thing, me, not so much, I'm a Philistine who didn't like "Picasso's Last Words," either.  It passes the time and isn't downright irritating, so not a bad album filler.

"Wanderlust" - this has the feel of a song that came out of a cathedral, with precise notes and a slightly ponderous - make that suitably majestic lol - feel.  Paul is in absolutely superb voice and his soaring vocals almost make you forget that this is a song about a boat he used to charter in the Carribbean.  Perhaps soaring vocals deserve a soaring theme?  I would put this as one of Paul's best album tracks ever, right up there with "1985" and "Mrs. Vanderbilt" and a few others, but not a truly great song.

"Get It" - the forgotten song from the album, a duet with Carl Perkins that has a country feel.  Just as with the Stevie Wonder song, this helps give the album a rounded feel, which can be difficult to do.  Has an "Act Naturally" feel to it, and that is pretty fast company, sort of like Johnny Cash guesting on a U2 album (now where might they have gotten that idea...), with nice results.  Pretty classy for an album filler, and Carl lightens things up with his marvelous laugh.  If you (I know you're reading this) don't like a British man attempting country, just skip this one.

"Be What You See" - Paul goes for a choir sound, some would say "ghostly," and it works if you like that sort of thing.  Again, a nice change of pace, Paul's best albums are ones on which you can't pin him down.  Could have been extended and fleshed out a bit more, Paul has a habit of throwing some of his best ideas out there unfinished, as if to say, "hey, that's good enough for the likes of you" or maybe "I'm not sure if I really like this one so haven't rounded it out, get back to me on that, would you?"

"Dress Me Up as a Robber" - Unfortunately, this always reminds me of a theme song to some 1970s action show like "SWAT" or maybe something starring George Kennedy or Roger Moore.  Anyway, it has a very good '70s vibe to it that again shows Paul adapting yet another musical style to his own needs.  The lyrics aren't much, but Paul is in good voice (again!) and there is some more good acoustic guitar work (thanks again, George!), so there are many redeeming qualities to this album filler.

"Ebony and Ivory" - OK, here we go.  This is the smash hit that everyone hates.  It is a nice duet with Stevie Wonder that says some very nice things.  I'll always remember the criticism when it came out, that there isn't TRUE equality between the white and black keys on a piano, so THE SONG IS FLAWED.  Like, oh my God, how deep do we have to dig to rag on a simple song?  Anyway, it has a very 1980s hit vibe to it, which drives some people loopy and drives others to say it is one of the best songs in history.  Well, it is neither, but it IS a very nice record, and Paul is in nice voice (again!).  Perversely, the weakest link on the song is probably Stevie's synthesizer playing, which is usually his strength, but that doesn't destroy the song or anything. 

The main problem with this song imho is that it does not fit any of the standard categories for a Paul song.  Here, he is reaching out with a completely different sound in order to draw in new fans.  I think that worked - brilliantly, and, as such, is one of the greatest successes of his entire career (yes, entire career).  Paul's appearance on "Thriller" gets similar hacks from Jackson fans, that "The Girl is Mine" is the worst song on the album and so on and so forth.  Hogwash.  Music is a business, and both songs broadened Paul's (and the associated artists') fan base.  That it isn't yet another knockoff of "Eleanor Rigby" or "Blackbird" or "Yesterday" and thus "doesn't sound right" to big Macca fans is just such a shame - and means nothing about the true quality of this excellent song/performance. 

The video is very formal, showing that this is a Serious Topic.  It's like a summit meeting between two heads of state, perhaps Paul trying to fill a gap in his musical resume, and it works.



 



 



« Last Edit: August 06, 2012, 04:59:48 PM by jamesbjorkman »
Logged

Toejam

  • A Beginning
  • **
  • Offline Offline
  • Gender: Male
  • Posts: 239
Re: Microscope: Tug Of War
« Reply #24 on: August 06, 2012, 10:11:14 AM »

It'll be here by Thursday, I'm half way through.

It's interesting, whilst we can all seem to agree that it's on the whole a strong set, it doesn't seem to be up there with any of our top ranked albums. Maybe it's just a touch too glitzy?
No. It's got Ebony & Ivory on it! :)
Logged
IMAGINE ALL THE PEEPLE

Yeshelloitsmehereagain

  • Getting Better
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 291
Re: Microscope: Tug Of War
« Reply #25 on: August 06, 2012, 03:47:28 PM »

Hmm, even if Ebony and Ivory was taken off or substituted for one of the 3 half decent tunes on Pipes of Peace I doubt it would push it up the over-all individual rankings. Don't get me wrong, it's a very good album, has a great production and some terrific performances but it's just not quite there somehow. I can't pin it down.

Sorry for the delay in talking about side B, I've been very busy getting in trouble with the law. Tbh I haven't even started it. Please don't wait for me. You can all enjoy Pipes Of Peace. I personally dislike reviewing the weaker albums, although there are a few things that are nice, nothing, absolutely nothing, approaches blue chip McCartney on that record. We All Stand Together is probably a better tune than anything on it and considering that is constantly considered a nadir of Paul's output it really is saying something. I don't see the point of reviewing Broadstreet bar the 3 new tracks but it seems to hold affection with the middle aged so I'll chip in with that. I have alot of favourable things to say about Press To Play, that's one of my favorites.

I'll be here with Tug Of War 2 soon.
Logged

Bobber

  • Administrator
  • Sun King
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 13490
Re: Microscope: Tug Of War
« Reply #26 on: August 06, 2012, 06:13:31 PM »

Nice reviews everyone. It is simply great to read what others like and don't like and then listen to the album once or twice again.

I'm sorry I have been extremely busy in the past few weeks. I have been listening to Pipes Of Peace however, but lacked the time to write about it. I hope I'll manage that before I go on a (well deserved if I may say) holiday.
Logged

tkitna

  • That Means a Lot
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Gender: Male
  • Posts: 6873
  • I'm a Moondog,,,,,are you?
Re: Microscope: Tug Of War
« Reply #27 on: August 07, 2012, 12:09:28 AM »

I agree with Ollie in saying that I dont think 'Broadstreet' needs a review, but thats up to Cor.

Bobber

  • Administrator
  • Sun King
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 13490
Re: Microscope: Tug Of War
« Reply #28 on: August 07, 2012, 02:13:18 PM »

I agree with Ollie in saying that I dont think 'Broadstreet' needs a review, but thats up to Cor.

I never even considered reviewing it. There isn't much to review, is there? No More Lonely Nights is a wonderful song, the rest is forgettable.
Logged

tkitna

  • That Means a Lot
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Gender: Male
  • Posts: 6873
  • I'm a Moondog,,,,,are you?
Re: Microscope: Tug Of War
« Reply #29 on: August 07, 2012, 11:35:58 PM »

No More Lonely Nights is a wonderful song, the rest is forgettable.

I love 'No Values' and 'Not Such A Bad Boy', but besides those two and 'NMLN', the rest is rehashed stuff.

Frightwolf

  • A Thousand Pages
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Gender: Male
  • Posts: 2137
Re: Microscope: Tug Of War
« Reply #30 on: September 19, 2012, 10:46:29 PM »

I really do love how The Pound is Sinking gets a lot heavier later on with that wailing, awesome voice of Paul's.

Tug of War has a wonderful middle section.  It's heavenly and just allows the film to soar.  A perfectly sounding melody there.

Wanderlust also provides great use of Paul's voice.  Very beautiful melody and vocals.

Here Today really is something special.  The "I love you" gets me each time because he's as sincere as can be about it.  A simple line made special by his delivery.

So yeah, my three favorite songs have what I consider to be his most impressive vocals.  However, this whole album sounds more polished and Paul's voice far superior to many of his other efforts.  I know George Martin definitely had something to do with the former, but I think this album probably has his best vocals of any of his solo albums.
Logged
Pages: 1 [2]
 

Page created in 1.07 seconds with 27 queries.