Artist: Paul McCartney
Album: Tug of War / Pipes of Peace
Label: Hear Music
Release Date: 10/02/2015
As the latest entries in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection, these two reissues find Sir Macca focusing on his early ’80’s output with the same attention and care he’s paid to the previous releases in the series. The eye for detail pays off too.
Fresh from the dissolution of Wings and reunited with former Beatles producer George Martin, McCartney originally released Tug of War in 1982, to a world still reeling from the sudden death of John Lennon. That death, which actually occurred during the early songwriting sessions for material that appears on both reissues, remains tied to each record. “Here Today” from Tug is an overt tribute to McCartney’s former bandmate, while the title track from Pipes is a Beatlesque anti-war song that mirrors Lennon’s own “Give Peace a Chance,” albeit with lesser results.
Heard now in high-quality 2015 remasters, each song holds up remarkably well despite the seemingly time-stamped original production. Other numbers aren’t as lucky. The Tug of War duet with Stevie Wonder “What’s That You’re Doing” may revel in its dated funk with pride, and “The Other Me” from Pipes of Peace struggles more lyrically than it does from its use of drum machines and synthesizers, but McCartney’s clear enthusiasm to embrace the technology of the decade shows its age throughout each track.
Perhaps that’s why the scaled-back demos and extra tunes included with the two-disc special editions of each release are so refreshing. All the experimentation and overdubbing in the world can’t diminish the joy of hearing a songwriter of McCartney’s caliber stripped to his essentials, yet still swinging for the fences. He doesn’t always go yard, but on the folky strummer “Rainclouds” he comes close. And for such a talent, sometimes close is just enough.
– Michael Cimaomo