McCartney II (1980)
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After the British Tour in late 1979, Wings take off for Tokyo on January 16th, 1980, in order to start a new tour in Japan.
On flight's arrival, customs officers discover some marijuana in Paul's luggage. Paul is immediately arrested and remains incarcerated during 10 days.
He is finally expelled from Japan and all the forthcoming Wings concerts are cancelled. Paul will have to refund the price of one hundred thousand tickets already sold at that time.
But it doesn't matter anyway, for Wings record selling in Japan is multiplied by five, owing to the Tokyo airport incident.
Paul arrested at Tokyo Airport in January 1980.
In 1975, Paul already had some trouble of this kind and was not allowed to enter Japan because of similar reasons.
The Japanese incident leads the band to split up. Laurence Juber and Steve Holly decide to quit Wings temporarily, and Denny Laine goes to Paris where he starts recording his own album, entitled Japanese Tears. This album, directly inspired by Paul's misfortune, is recorded with the help of two former Wings members, Denny Seiwell and Jimmy McCulloch. Japanese Tears will go unremarked by the public.
Ten years after his first solo album McCartney, and since Wings seem to be on the way to break up, Paul decides to repeat a solitary musical experience.
In summer 1979, before the Wings British tour, Paul had already started working on his own on some new material. He goes back to his work and finishes a new album called McCartney II.
For this album, Paul is alone and performs everything himself: songwriting, instrumental and vocal interpretation, recording and production. Most of the album is recorded in his Scottisch farm, using microphones directly plugged into the back of a 16-tracks tape machine bypassing the recording console.
McCartney II is issued in April 1980. The album is based on rather experimental music and seems to be partially unfinished as if it was a demo album. It will not be considered as a masterwork, and even more, many people will take it for the weakest album ever produced by Paul.
Paul at his farm in Sussex, back from Japan.
But as for Wild Life (another Paul's production which is usually held in low regard), there are many beautiful melodies in this album. Moreover, McCartney II record selling is good and fast. It reaches #1 in UK and #3 in US.
The album opens with Coming Up, the leading title which has been issued as a successful single shortly before the album release.
This song had already been played on stage by Wings in Glasgow during the British tour in late 79.
It's a rather dancing song, less experimental than the rest of the album. Paul uses a strange and nasal voice to perform the vocal.
Next follows the more experimental Temporary Secretary. The song is based upon an hypnotic rhythm played on the keyboard and which can be seen as a forerunner of today's techno beat.
Then comes On The Way, a more traditionnal ballad with a nice melody, a good bass tempo and two wonderful solo lines provided by two electric guitars. The guitars'cristallin sound and Paul's reverberated voice give a kind of cosmic background to the song.
Paul for the release of Coming Up.
The next song, Waterfalls, means Paul's return to simplicity as far as songwriting is concerned. This title is a wonderful acoustic ballad with soft keyboards in the background. The lyrics and the light atmosphere provided by the keyboards give a fullness of quiet to the whole song. Definitely one of the best titles on this album.
Then Nobody Knows closes the A-side of the album. There it goes back to more rock'n'roll roots with a catchy rhythm, a good drumming, and some electric guitar backing Paul's voice which is recorded on a set of two different tracks.
The B-side opens with three instrumental titles played at the keyboard. The first one, Front Parlour, is a joyful piece sustained by a computerized drum.
It's followed by Summer's Day Song, a peaceful song with soft synthesizers and a short vocal part by Paul which is double-tracked for the harmonies.
A third instrumental comes with Frozen Jap built upon a strong drumming and a synthesizer performing some kind of asian melody. Even knowing that this title has been writen by Paul before the Tokyo incident, you can't prevent yourself from thinking about Paul's Japanese arrest when you listen to the song.
After these instrumental songs, Paul goes further experimenting with the two forthcoming titles. In the first one, Bogey Music, he uses special tricks, echo effects and multi-tracked vocal recording. The whole song is once again backed with an electric guitar solo line. The second one, Darkroom, is very special, mixing vocal and drumming effects. It's a minor production which contributes to this feeling of a demo recording album.
The McCartney II original release closes with One Of These Days which is probably the best song on this album. Like Waterfalls, it's a wonderfull ballad with a nice acoustic guitar line.
The clear echo given to Paul's double-tracked voice added to the fine and simple lyrics provide us with a complete feeling of piece and hope throughout the whole song.
Paul and Linda before departure to Japan.
The McCartney II CD release in 1987 includes two bonus tracks:
- Check My Machine which is the B-side of the Waterfalls single. It's a fully instrumental and experimental song with vocal and computer effects. Like Temporary Secretary, it can be seen as a forerunner of today's techno beat.
- Secret Friend which is the B-side of the Temporary Secretary single. Still instrumental and experimental. A 10 minutes long title. It has some reminiscences of contemporary jazz style in it, despite some computer experimental effects.
The CD remaster in 1993 includes a third bonus track, Goodnight Tonight, which would have had a better place as a bonus track on the CD remaster of the Back To The Egg album.
Three singles are taken out from McCartney II in 1980:
- Coming Up / Coming Up (Live At Glasgow) / Lunch Box/Odd Sox is released in April.
It includes a live recording of Coming Up performed live by Wings in Glasgow in 1979 when the song was still unreleased.
The B-side Lunch Box/Odd Sox is a good instrumental mixing a jazzy rhythm at the piano and a keyboard line. It was originally recorded in 1975 during a jam session in New Orleans as Wings was working on the Venus And Mars album.
The Coming Up single is a rather successful hit which reaches #1 in the US charts. It's promoted by a funny video in which Paul dresses up like some famous pop musicians as Buddy Holly, Franck Zappa or Andy MacKay.
- Waterfalls / Check My Machine is issued in June.
- Temporary Secretary / Secret Friend is issued in September.
Paul dressed up as Roxy Music's Andy MacKay
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