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Listening to Macca #6: Pipes of Peace and Give My Regards to Broad Street (Album and Film)

Posted on the 30 June 2019 by Russellarbenfox
Listening to Macca #6: Pipes of Peace and Give My Regards to Broad Street (Album and Film)After multiple re-listenings, I can't help but feel that these two albums give us a McCartney that is fully of the 1980s; that's just the best way to put it. Pipes of Peace has its roots in leftovers from the recording sessions of the amazing Tug of War, but as he continued into the decade, it seems like the hungry, sometimes funky, sometimes brassy, spirit of that album was smoothed over, as Paul got leveraged and diversified and streamlined with the corporate mood of the times. That's unfair, of course, but still--once he was jamming with Stevie Wonder, now he's making syrupy, lite-funk pop with Michael Jackson? Once he was seemingly in recovery from the exhausting attempts to get more out of Wings than it might have been able to give (or he might have been willing to accept from it), now he's making movies and cartoons (it's not bad, actually) and is all over MTV. That's probably unfair, but I just couldn't help but see Macca, circa 1984, as a product. It'll be interesting to see if that impressions lasts.
Listening to Macca #6: Pipes of Peace and Give My Regards to Broad Street (Album and Film)Pipes of Peace didn't get harsh reviews, for the most part, but it didn't get good ones either, and I concur with that sentiment; it's a C album, maybe C+ at most. The title track has grown on me some; its middle section, in particular, has a wonderful martial melody to it, with a good use of pipes and percussion. But it's still ultimately just an okay pop song, the same as can be said for "The Other Me" or "Average Person." "Keep Under Cover" has a nice funky groove, and "So Bad" is almost sultry, something McCartney really almost never (I think the effect is primarily due to Ringo's steady, subtle, pressing drum sound). Other than that, I just don't think "Say Say Say" has worn well at all, and "The Man" doesn't use MJ's talents particularly well, in my opinion. (If you're going to turn a song into a hand-clappy, chorus-heavy number, then Macca should have gotten the whole Jackson 5 involved.) I think the best cut in the whole album is the jamming number he composed with Stanley Clarke; considering what I said last month about McCartney's skill with the bass, it's fun to hear him trade licks with Clarke, a jazz-fusion bassist extraordinaire. (Also, "Ode to a Koala Bear," another bit of Macca silliness which he actually turned into a pretty great number, should have been on the album, rather than a B-side.)
Listening to Macca #6: Pipes of Peace and Give My Regards to Broad Street (Album and Film)Give My Regards to Broad Street is just kind of a limp project, I'm afraid--not terrible, once again, but also not very good."No More Lonely Nights" was deservedly a solid pop hit, but the only other new songs on this soundtrack album, are "Not Such a Bad Boy" and "No Values," both of which are forgettable. McCartney obviously was more enveloped in the actual movie and in producing new versions of previous hits; of all of those, the only one which really is really pretty wonderful is "Ballroom Dancing," which gets turned into a fabulous, jamming, classic rock and roll number. "No More Lonely Nights" itself (or at least segments of it) appears on the album in three different versions, as both a country-western tune and, in a long close-out to the album, as an extended disco number. It's not bad, but not really worth the price of the album. But if you want to hear every version there is of "Silly Love Songs" or  "For No One," it's not worthless. Maybe a C-, I say.
Oh, and the movie? Kind of terrible. Jokes that don't work, line-readings that are unconvincing, and extended dream sequences that are more goofy fan-fic than anything that propels this half-ass film along cinematically. (Did we always want to see Paul, Linda, and Ringo play out a Sherlock Holmes drama in Edwardian garb? Yes, of course we did.) I watched the whole thing, but that's so you don't have to.

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