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Paul McCartney Songbook Vol. 1

 

It is remarkable that two songwriters who were at the absolute vanguard in changing pop music in the 1960s were born within two days of one another. They were friendly rivals whose mutual admiration spurred one another on to greater heights.

They were born within two days of one another, but they grew up in very different circumstances. Paul McCartney, who turns 80 on June 18, was born into a war whose effects scarred his hometown of Liverpool throughout his youth. He grew up in monochrome Britain, but in a loving family. Brian Wilson, who turns 80 on June 20, grew up in technicolour California, the son of an ambitious and tyrannical father. Paul and Brian came from vastly different backgrounds, but they had in common a knack for writing songs and innovating on them; Brian mostly on his own, Paul with his friend John Lennon.

Both had massive success and exercised great influence with their respective bands, which even shared the first three letters of their names. Both stopped touring in order to innovate in the studio.

As you would expect, a Brian Wilson Songbook will follow next week, a few days after the great man turns 80. Today, however, we have the first of two Paul McCartney Songbooks, a couple of days before he turns 80. This volume covers his Beatles era; the follow-up will cover — as the fiendishly clever reader will have worked out — Macca’s solo output.

There’s little point in discussing McCartney’s compositions in great detail; many people haver done so to much greater effect than I could hope to do. One thing that does strike me, though, is that Paul’s songs tend to be more adaptable to other genres than John’s. That is true, of course, of Paul’s ballads in particular. Some of them have been spoiled by having been covered too many times, and too often by easy listening merchants. Can one listen to Yesterday without having the fear of Mantovani put into them? Well, in this collection, Dr John exorcises all of these cheesy versions of Yesterday, and puts some meat on the song first known as “Scambled Eggs”. A mention must be made of Una Valli’s excellent interpretation of Yesterday on Covered With Soul Vol. 15.

 

 

I might be open to persuasion otherwise, but it seems to me than Paul’s songs lend them themselves better to soul covers than John’s. The two Beatles specials in the Covered With Soul series, Vol. 14 and the aforementioned Vol. 15, bear out this observation. About half of the songs on the present mix are soul or soul-inflected tracks.

I’ve posted many mixes of covers of Beatles songs before, including track-by-track Recovered mixes of every Beatles album (you will find them all here, among other Beatles-related stuff). I’ve tried not to repeat any previously-used cover on this collection. The only recycled track is Got To Get You Into My Life by Thelma Houston, which appeared on the first of two mixes of songs on which Wrecking Crew drummer Jim Gordon played.

One track here is sort of a repeat, but it isn’t. On the Let It Be Recovered mix, the Long And Winding Road duties were done by Ray Charles, in his version from 1971. Featured here is Ray’s 1973 live recording, performed with the Count Basie Orchestra. It was unreleased until 2006 because the recording track of the orchestra was of poor sound quality. Charles’ vocal track was fine, so some very clever people got the new Count Basie Orchestra into the studio to re-record the instrumental track, and mixed these with Ray’s 1973 vocals.

It was only when I looked over the tracklisting that I noticed that all acts here are North American, except one. Joy Unlimited was a band from Mannheim, Germany. They were headed by Joy Fleming, who probably is Germany’s greatest soul singer — though the pool of contenders may not be enormous. Certainly Joy’s soulfulness belied her very unfunky birthname: Erna Raad. Fleming, who died in 2017, has featured here a couple of times before: on Any Major Schlager Covers with her version of Respect, on Any Major Eurovision with her superb Bridge Of Love, and with Joy Unlimited on Yellow Submarine Recovered.

 

Paul McCartney poster in Germany’s Bravo magazine in July 1966.

 

One act here is not really known as a singer but as a recording engineer and producer: Glyn Johns. Among his many charges were The Beatles, whose Get Back sessions he engineered (his mixes were later released as Let It Be Naked. He’d later also co-engineer McCartney’s Red Rose Speedway album). Between 1962 and ’67, Johns tried to carve out a career as a singer, while engineering acts like The Rolling Stones and the Small Faces. One of his seven singles was a cover of The Beatles’ I’ll Follow The Sun, released in 1965, and it features here.

A little twist: Johns also engineered for Humble Pie, but the present track by the band, a 1975 cover of We Can Work It Out, was engineered by Steve Marriott — who was a member of the Small Faces when Johns engineered them…

One act here actually was co-credited with The Beatles, the only artist ever to be thus honoured by the band. Billy Preston played on Let It Be, contributing that searing organ solo. His version of the song here appeared on his 1974 live album, Live European Tour. And it was engineered by Glyn Johns’ younger brother Andy.

As always, this mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-tumbs-upped covers, and the above text in an illustrated PDF. PW in comments.

1. Pat Benatar – Helter Skelter (1981)
2. Aerosmith – I’m Down (1987)
3. Ike & Tina Turner – Get Back (1973)
4. Thelma Houston & Pressure Cooker – Got To Get You Into My Life (1975)
5. El Chicano – Eleanor Rigby (1970)
6. Billy Preston – Let It Be (1974)
7. O.C. Smith – Hey Jude (1969)
8. Bobby Womack – And I Love Her (1972)
9. Humble Pie – We Can Work It Out (1975)
10. Dr. John – Yesterday (1975)
11. Joy Unlimited – Oh Darling (1969)
12. George Benson – Here, There And Everywhere (1989)
13. Rickie Lee Jones – For No One (2000)
14. Dar Williams – You Won’t See Me (2005)
15. Carly Simon – Blackbird (2006)
16. Sheryl Crow – Mother Nature’s Son (2002)
17. Bobbie Gentry – The Fool On The Hill (1968)
18. Glyn Johns – I’ll Follow The Sun (1965)
19. José Feliciano – She Came In Through The Bathroom Window (1970)
20. R.B. Greaves – Paperback Writer (1971)
21. Ray Charles & The Count Basie Orchestra – The Long And Winding Road (1973/2006)
22. Sarah Vaughan – Michelle (1966)
23. Lou Rawls – Golden Slumbers (1972)

GET IT! or HERE!

Previous Songbooks:
ABBA
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Barry Gibb Vol. 2
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Carole Bayer Sager
Carole King Vol. 1
Carole King Vol. 2
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
Elton John & Bernie Taupin
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Rod Temperton
Steely Dan

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  1. amdwhah
    June 14th, 2022 at 13:54 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. Jens
    June 14th, 2022 at 14:09 | #2

    Brilliant Selection. Looking forward to listen to it.

  3. June 17th, 2022 at 12:47 | #3

    Another great selection! Looking forward to parts two, and the Brian Wilson version. Thanks!

  4. Rhodb
    June 25th, 2022 at 23:04 | #4

    Thanks Amd for the wonderful version of McCartney’s tunes Well done

  5. Tough Sponge
    August 28th, 2022 at 06:57 | #5

    Excellent collection, thank you!
    I would like to add the fantastic, sped up versions of “I’m Down” and “There’s A Place” by Amercian Punk Rock Band “White Flag”:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Jq6klkTGGY
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53hcEN3-Ilw

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