Tug of War (1982)


 
1. Tug of War 2. Take it Away 3. Somebody Who Cres 4. What's That You're Doing? 5. Here Today 6. Ballroom Dancing 7. The Pound is Sinking 8. Wanderlust 9. Get It 10.Be What You See 11.Dress Me Up as a Robber 12.Ebony and Ivory

 

There was about a ten period in Paul McCartney's career, mostly during the eighties, where he really tanked and somehow put out an awful lot of forgettable material. There was one curious exception. For whatever reason, in the midst of all that muck, he managed to come out with one of his best albums ever, and maybe this salvaged his career just a bit longer until he could shake the cobwebs. In addition to being a very fine piece of work, this album shares two well known distinctions. First, he teamed up with famed Beatles producer George Martin when making this album, and second, this was the first album Paul had written and released since the death of John Lennon.

The title of the album could possibly be construed as a "concept" of sorts, since Paul and John seemed to be quite at odds since The Beatles split twelve years prior, but that really isn't the case. There is one tribute on here to John, and that's the very touching Here Today. Around this time, artists everywhere were writing and recording tributes to John Lennon, but Paul's was obviously the most personal, and therefore one of the best. He acknowledges that if his friend were "here today" that he probably would be the same old John - but the tribute is done with love and it's very special.

The whole album really shows off a lot of Paul's diversity without ever really losing focus. He was a man of many talents - no matter what styles he was pursuing, and just about everything here resonates very strongly. Curiously, the biggest "hit" song Ebony and Ivory (a duet with Stevie Wonder) is probably a bit overrated. It became popular more for its message of racial harmony than any sort of a quality recording. He does another duet with Stevie on the album that's much more carefree and upbeat (What's That You're Doing?) and this song is definitely the stronger of the two. He also does a killer duet with Carl Perkins on Get It that really makes you wish McCartney would interact with his peers a bit more.

At times, Paul is sounding a little too much on the "cute" side, but that was always his trademark. Witness The Pound is Sinking which is probably the silliest song ever about a depressed economy. Was Paul trying to get a tad political here? Probably not, as the song is just too snippy and snappy. I'm not really sure what the point is in Ballroom Dancing, but the song is genuinely....well....like you would think a song about ballroom dancing would sound. Again, only Paul McCartney can pull off something like this. He writes some very good sweeping majestic melodies as well. The title track is actually the strongest song on the whole album, complete with a sweeping orchestra that never overwhelms, but enhances quite well. Wanderlust is another beautifully underrated piece. He also managed to go up pretty high in the charts with Take it Away that is, again, pure Paul pop magic. Although his talent would be somewhat erratic in the years to come, it was nice to know that Paul still had a lot of magic left inside him, it would just take some digging to find it in some cases.

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