Monday, August 15, 2016

The Macca and MacManus Demos

My mother is in town for much of this month. It's nice to have her here, but the extra bed in our house happens to be in the music room. I had hoped to rip ahead for my vinyl series, but it didn't happen. I popped my head in the doorway yesterday with the thought that I would work on the next artist, but I saw clothes folded on top of my turntable and a suitcase on the desk where my laptop would normally sit. In other words, I'm going to have to take a break from ABCs of My Vinyl Collection.

I know some of you can't stand Paul McCartney. Hopefully the other half of the above equation will get you to stick around for the rest of the post. A few weeks ago I read at the excellent Super Deluxe Edition that McCartney's 1989 album 'Flowers in the Dirt' is up for a blowout reissue in October. Excitement is brewing because Sir Paul has promised demos from his work with Elvis Costello back in the summer and fall of 1987. You know some of their work together because they turned up as finished songs on Costello's albums 'Spike,' 'Mighty Like a Rose' and 'All This Useless Beauty,' as well as McCartney's albums 'Flowers in the Dirt' and 'Off the Ground.' Others have never had an official airing, and there might even be one or two demos, such as the rumored "Indigo Moon," that have never even made it to the bootleg stage.

What I would really like to hear, though, are the songs Costello produced for McCartney during the making of 'Flowers in the Dirt.' McCartney ended up scrapping those takes because they were considered too sparse, but I have always felt the biggest problem with 'Flowers in the Dirt' is the too-polished sound. Will any of the songs produced by Costello become extra tracks on the reissue? I'm hopeful but skeptical.

In the late '90s I lived in Washington, D.C., and I used to make frequent trips up to New York. One of my regular stops was to a record store, now sadly closed, at least in the physical sense, called Midnight Records. They specialized in bootlegs, and I got many great ones from the Brian Wilson and Elvis Costello sections. In 1998, Vigotone Records released 'The McCartney/MacManus Collaboration.' The disc included, among other things, eight demos the duo did together. I thought this is as good a time as any to give a few of these a listen. To me, these four are the best of the lot. They are sung in unison, much like the Everly Brothers or Gary and Marc from the Jayhawks, and I really like their voices together. Some of the finished songs may have missed the mark, but the demos are pretty special.

"The Lovers That Never Were" (demo)
"My Brave Face" (demo)
"You Want Her Too" (demo)
"So Like Candy" (demo)


The Swede said...

Good as 'Flowers in the Dirt' is, Macca definitely missed a trick when he opted for a more polished sounding record. His and Costello's' united voices work brilliantly on a very raw, emotional level. These demos are terrific.

Brett Alan said...

How can anybody who likes the kind of music you post here not like Paul McCartney? I was never that big on the Flowers album, but you're right that production is a big part of that. (The single version of "Figure of Eight", for example, is WAY better than the album version.)

BTW, the link for "So Like Candy" actually just goes to the first demo...

Brian said...

Hey, Bret Alan. It's never a good sign when it takes more than 24 hours for a reader to tell me when a link is wrong. Anyway, thanks for the heads up. All fixed. I know of a few readers/fellow bloggers that dislike anything having to do with the Beatles. I have mostly kept quit that I own just about everything McCartney has done. Even I realize a few of those should raise an eyebrow.

Glad you like these, Swede. May do a part two before the reissue comes out.

George said...

" the extra bed in our house happens to be in the music room."
Oh dear Brian, what a howler! The music room in this house has one armchair (plus a few records, cds, and hifi pieces. And a Scalextric set.)

George said...

And clothes on the turntable? I think your mother is deliberately provoking you there!!!

Rol said...

I have a love/hate relationship with Macca (and most of the other Beatles, except George), but I was very fond of his collaboration with Elvis, and Flowers In The Dirt is my favourite Macca album because of it. (Not that I have many of them.) That said, my favourite track isn't a Mc/Mc one, it's just Paul on his own. Put It There: it may be sentimental hogwash, but it gets me every time. Sorry, I think there's something in my eye...

Those demos do sound pretty damned good though.

Brian said...

Ma's clothes on the ol' Technics was a bit off putting, George.

Rol, Flowers is in my top three. Ram and Chaos and Creation... are right there. I happen to like Put It There too. Sentimental hogwash about sums it up.