Paul McCartney Archive Collection - Flowers In The Dirt*

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Sean Murdock, Sep 18, 2015.

  1. Glenn Christense

    Glenn Christense Foremost Beatles expert... on my block

    Yes indeed, and I would sticky note your "loving a more sparely-produced"comment to apply to much of Paul's 80's output, John's output post his Imagine album,, and George's output post Living in the Material World up until Cloud Nine (which sounds dated now but has more snap than most of George's albums so I give it a pass .:p)

    I've mentioned in other threads that if you really listen to say...Rubber Soul, there isn't really much going on as far as instrumentation or effects,etc., yet nothing sounds stripped down or lacking anything.
    The ex Fabs could still write some great songs but they slathered most of the songs in the eras I mentioned with needless extra instrumentation and reverb, etc. etc.

    I guess when you have 24 or 32 or 64 tracks available, and all kinds of effects at your fingertips, the temptation is to fill up those tracks with something , and utilize that effects rack. :D

    I love the stripped down versions of MOST of the songs by the three that I have heard.

    I'm looking forward to the Flowers reissue because of the McCartney /Costello things but otherwise I wouldn't be foaming at the mouth with excitement for a remaster of the album.
  2. revolution_vanderbilt

    revolution_vanderbilt Forum Resident

    New York
  3. Glenn Christense

    Glenn Christense Foremost Beatles expert... on my block

    I think Paul was wary of having anyone perceived as a new musical partner with a (semi) equal status.
  4. theMess

    theMess Forum Resident

    Kent, UK
    I could not agree more; I much prefer some of the earlier alternative mixes of the 'PTP' album for that same reason, so I can imagine that I will love the '1988 band demos'. Another example is the demo of 'Sweetest Little Show', released on the 'POP' reissue; it is a really decent song and performance, whereas the studio take was always a song that I skipped.
    Lewisboogie and Glenn Christense like this.
  5. czeskleba

    czeskleba Forum Resident

    For McCartney, "My Brave Face" was not really that big of a hit. It actually fared worse on the US charts than "Press" did. The current narrative is that FITD was a big comeback, but from a commercial standpoint it really wasn't. Despite having a ton more promotion than PTP, as well as a worldwide tour to back it up, it only did marginally better chartwise. And at the time it received mixed reviews.

    In retrospect, I think he would have had a much better chance of a hit if he'd try to do something different, rather than following what everyone else was doing. George's two 1987 hits came out of nowhere, and at the time sounded unique. The Jeff Lynne sound did become omnipresent over the next few years, but in 1987 it was something new and different. Young record buyers didn't want to hear McCartney trying to sound like Phil Collins or writing songs that sounded like they came from the pen of Dianne Warren.
  6. johnny moondog 909

    johnny moondog 909 Forum Resident

    Dianne Warren, Phil Collins !!! Brutal !!!! Brutal !!! Love it....

    McCartney with all the talent in the world can't distinguish his Hey Jude's from his Bip Bops.

    Harrison with less ability vocally, & less prolific in volume, had better judgement about his best stuff, & putting his best foot forward.
  7. Glenn Christense

    Glenn Christense Foremost Beatles expert... on my block

    Yes sir. I started a thread years ago, (now long dead I think) where I posted several John Lennon early takes and I much preferred most of them to the released versions. Ditto many McCartney (like the PTP album you mention) and Harrison songs. The production reduces the enjoyment of the actual songs themselves, rather than enhancing them in many cases.
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  8. Glenn Christense

    Glenn Christense Foremost Beatles expert... on my block


    And it wasn't just young people. Please include me in that group back then.

    I remember reading an interview with Phil Collins years ago where he mentioned he would like to have a crack at producing an album for Paul.
    I thought, good lord
  9. Glenn Christense

    Glenn Christense Foremost Beatles expert... on my block

    Exactly.I can admire the craft of something like "Sweetest Little Show" but there should be a pre listening warning for diabetics, the song is so sugary as officially released.

    Geez, the stacked harmonies at the end of the song sound like something that Up With People or Mary Tyler Moore with a chorus backup would have sung on a variety show.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017
  10. MsMaclen

    MsMaclen Well-Known Member

    New York
    I want to jump in here to say, as is always the case, there seems to be a lot of personal taste being reflected in the comments here. Like a previous poster, the timing of when I grew up apparently left me relatively desensitized to the "80s sound." Paul's 80s stuff has always sounded normal-to-fantastic to me, and BTTE through OTG is my favorite period in his solo career. Many of the tracks listed here as unlistenable are among my favorites from that time. Actually, That Day is Done took a while to grow on me because I found it relatively sparsely produced! However, it eventually became one of my all-time favorites from Paul and, as much I agree with Paul about Human League sounding cool, doing something like that on TDiD would have been a disaster, if that's what he meant.

    In contrast, the Spector production on the John and George albums sounds unpleasant and dated to me. As much as I love albums like ATMP, the production keeps me from listening to them as much as I otherwise would. However, I recognize that this is completely a matter of personal taste.

    I totally agree that an amazing thing about Rubber Soul is what it managed to accomplish with minimal "trickery," and it's one of my two all-time favorite albums as a result. I can tell the difference between a record like that and Paul's 80s records, but the particular production styles on the latter don't turn me off the way they do for others, and sometimes enhance the records for me. Note also that with RS, the production style is relatively minimal, but the songs are very reflective of contemporaneous styles (on the UK version -- folk rock, R&B, harmony groups, country/western).

    I don't think the production on FITD was a major reason it wasn't a bigger hit. If anything, I find it has less of the "80s sound" than most of the contemporaneous hits from then, including stuff from Paul's peers like Elton. The Wilburys' stuff has a more "raw" feel in terms of the songwriting, but it still has the Lynne sound, which is also frequently deemed "over-production" (I completely disagree of course -- I love Jeff's style).

    It's always been a mystery to me why singles like MBF weren't bigger hits. I really don't know, but if anything, I think the problem may have been that they were too *unreflective* of the style of the time, while simply not being as strong as more timeless classics like Handle With Care. Incidentally, Off the Ground is my favorite Paul album, and it is largely independent of most contemporaneous influences; however, it still didn't produce any major hits, which is another mystery to me, since I think C'mon People is one of the best songs he's ever written. I guess sometimes pop music success just comes down to a lucky combination of factors.

    In any case, I'm really enjoying this renewed focus on my second-favorite songwriting collaboration of Paul's career.

    P.S. an "officially" released Return to Pepperland, maybe on a PTP reissue as suggested, would fill a gaping hole in my life. :righton:
  11. albert_m

    albert_m Well-Known Member

    Atl., Ga, USA
    I have not heard it as a comeback, but as a return to form.
    johnny moondog 909 likes this.
  12. Glenn Christense

    Glenn Christense Foremost Beatles expert... on my block

    Here's what was popular the week "My Brave Face" was released in the US, not that it really answers your question.

    1 1 FOREVER YOUR GIRL –•– Paula Abdul – 12 (1)
    2 2 REAL LOVE –•– Jody Watley – 11 (2)
    3 5 ROCK ON –•– Michael Damian – 11 (3)
    4 4 SOLDIER OF LOVE –•– Donny Osmond – 10 (4)
    5 6 PATIENCE –•– Guns N’ Roses – 8 (5)
    6 7 WIND BENEATH MY WINGS –•– Bette Midler – 13 (6)
    7 12 I’LL BE LOVING YOU (FOREVER) –•– New Kids On The Block – 9 (7)
    8 9 EVERY LITTLE STEP –•– Bobby Brown – 10 (8)
    9 3 I’LL BE THERE FOR YOU –•– Bon Jovi – 13 (1)
    10 15 CLOSE MY EYES FOREVER –•– Lita Ford & Ozzy Osbourne – 13 (10)

    11 11 ELECTRIC YOUTH –•– Debbie Gibson – 9 (11)
    12 19 BUFFALO STANCE –•– Neneh Cherry – 9 (12)
    13 14 EVERLASTING LOVE –•– Howard Jones – 11 (13)
    14 22 SATISFIED –•– Richard Marx – 4 (14)
    15 20 WHERE ARE YOU NOW? –•– Synch – 26 (15)
    16 21 THROUGH THE STORM –•– Aretha Franklin & Elton John – 7 (16)
    17 8 AFTER ALL –•– Cher & Peter Cetera – 12 (6)
    18 10 LIKE A PRAYER –•– Madonna – 11 (1)
    19 13 SECOND CHANCE –•– .38 Special – 16 (6)
    20 24 CRY –•– Waterfront – 8 (20)

    1989: All Charts
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  13. johnny moondog 909

    johnny moondog 909 Forum Resident

    My Brave Face was a significantly bigger hit than Handle With Care MS MacLean.

    Although neither lit world on fire. Maybe in the UK Handle did a little better. They were both excellent commercials for the respective albums, with good videos. At that time many people like me, would hear the song on radio or see the video & say great when's the album.

    The days of the single being separate from the album were long gone. In most cases. The singles chart numbers don't reflect popularity in the same way as a 1967 non LP single. There was resistance from radio by 1988 to play older acts like former Beatles. On video rotation where they needed more product for 24 hour MTV, I think they did better.
  14. Darrin L.

    Darrin L. Forum Resident

    Maybe he was inspired by Mary Tyler Moore's interpretation of "With a Little Luck"...

    Mary Tyler Moore Performing "With a Little Luck",…:
  15. theMess

    theMess Forum Resident

    Kent, UK
  16. HadgeTunes

    HadgeTunes Active Member

    New York, NY
    Featuring a very young Michael Keaton and (extremely uncomfortable) David Letterman.
  17. Darrin L.

    Darrin L. Forum Resident

    Yea...let's be honest and not get sucked into revisionist history. It was a mediocre album that was moderately successful. I'm not much of a Costello fan and find most of their output lackluster, if not downright embarrassing, and cringe-inducing (You Want Her Too, Don't Be Careless Love). IMO, their best collaboration, "Back On My Feet" was relegated to download. "My Brave Face" was not a hit song, because it was not hit song material. It just comes off as forced and contrived, unlike the effortless hits of the past. Plus, just a stupid title/theme for a pop song. I imagine the majority of the audience had no idea what it was tryimg to say, or convey. There really was no song on the album that was single material.
    daveidmarx and JonUrban like this.
  18. johnny moondog 909

    johnny moondog 909 Forum Resident

    Exerting remarkable extra sensory skills, I am willing my inbox to tinkle with offers of Playboy To A Man & dinkle with offers of Tommy's Coming Home... Then it will beep in rhythm for So Like Candy

    CAPITOL announces
    Replacement tracks for the 1989 album, Paul McCartney Flowers In The Dirt.

    1 So Like Candy
    2 Playboy To A Man
    3 Tommy's Coming Home
    Will replace, Oui est le soilel, How Many People & Rough Ride. USA customers may pay $2.00 & replace a 4th song Motor Of Love with Flying To My Home. Original non LP "B" side to the lead single My Brave Face.

    Simply go to any North American Capitol/Universal kiosk with original CD, cassette, or LP, insert into machine & wait for new upgraded copy. Replacement tracks will appear as 10,11,12 on upgraded copy.

    Kiosks are conveniently located at 1,455 locations in the USA at Walmarts, Best Buy, ( check local listings ) for additional locations.

    Capitol Ombudsman & former excecutive VP of operations & Artist Repertoire Joe Smith said.

    "We ( Capitol ) decided to offer this free upgrade to care for our customers & restore the album to the way Paul ( McCartney) & Elvis ( Costello ) originally intended.

    Ring, ring, ring,
    Skywheel likes this.
  19. Lewisboogie

    Lewisboogie Forum Resident

    I think they are (were) equally challenged in that way. Past a few solid tunes on most Harrison albums, one finds some dreck. Plodding music, square-in-circle lyrics -- and we know he had some fine tunes in his back pocket. (I hope someday we can find out how many more there were.)
  20. Brian from Canada

    Brian from Canada Well-Known Member

    Great White North
    I disagree.

    Look at that list of what was hot in the same week closely. Of the top 20, only three solo acts had not debuted in the previous 5 years: Bette Midler, who's hit single comes from an extremely popular film; Madonna, who was unstoppable on MTV at the time, and who's song was also featured in a very controversial Pepsi ad on television; and .38 Special. Of the three duets, Peter Cetera was relatively new, having just broken out his solo career, which leads you to two… both of which were new combinations cashing in on the newness of the pairings.

    In that world, a new Paul McCartney would get relatively little MTV and Top 40 radio circulation — leaving him to general press releases that would reach out to fans already interested in his music. However, the Travelling Wilburys would match that new act concept and get boosted by the names inside… for one LP; when the followups came, the music business wasn't interested.

    Paul's only real hope would have to be to fall out of popularity and get a "come back" — but when the industry moved that way with its renewed interest in Eric Clapton (who had a comeback in 1989 too!) and Tony Bennett, Paul's album Off The Ground was just an average release. By 1995, the industry had changed views: "Free As A Bird" was not played by the BBC, and Rolling Stone magazine told its readers that The Beatles and Led Zeppelin getting back together was less important than the debut Green Day. When Paul finally does have a great LP again, Flaming Pie gets relegated to adult contemporary instead of Top 40, with VH1 carrying the promotion instead of far more influential MTV, and even his own record company is more interested in the newer acts as it was promoting Spice World much more than Flaming Pie.

    Sound had nothing to do with it. New acts were the push — with the few striking back up the charts coming up with narratives that changed them completely. For example: Elton John had dumped the costumes only 2 years before, and teaming up with Aretha was because his last charting single had a successful dance beat. Even then, it was fickle; David Bowie became a band member and Tin Machine quickly dissolved into disaster.

    The only other way to do it was to come up with a single that was unbelievably catchy… and that is extremely hard to do even at the best times.

    Two things about Cloud Nine need to be pointed out, though:
    1. Harrison's last release was 5 years previous and his last hit single 6 years previously, so 'coming back' put the focus on him, and
    2. Cloud Nine has his friends' fingerprints all over it — and wouldn't have happened without Eric Clapton pushing George back into the studio.

    Cloud Nine and Volume One had amazing talent that was, for the most part, all getting renaissanced at the time: Clapton's Journeyman in 1989 was a return to form after poor releases in the 80s, Elton John had gotten big notice for dumping the costumes for 1988's Reg Strikes Back and would get his first #1 single from Sleepless ("Club At The End Of The Street"). Tom Petty's Full Moon Fever would make him a household name after a long absence. Roy Orbison would have a hit single with Jeff Lynne. Heck, even Ringo Starr was getting a renaissance in 1992 with Time Takes Time.

    Whereas Paul McCartney had just one mis-step: Press To Play. 1984's Broadstreet went gold, 1985's "Spies Like Us" went top 10 in the US, and 1988's Choba B CCCP was beloved by critics. Unless Paul did something wildly different, it was just the same old McCartney putting out catchy pop hits — and would remain so really until 1999 when he shocked the critics by not putting out a sappy album right after the passing of Linda.

    In fact, if you look at the way Paul's albums have been received, the best received ones are narrative-connected: Driving Rain was helping America heal after 9/11, for example, while Memory Almost Fall was post-divorce.
    ZippyPippy likes this.
  21. Brian from Canada

    Brian from Canada Well-Known Member

    Great White North
    George, more than Lennon and McCartney, really needed someone to push him into a more energetic sound. For example: All Things Must Pass and Cloud Nine, two of his best, featured Eric Clapton heavily; both also used musicians who would become hitmakers in their own right. George Harrison, Dark Horse and Extra Texture, on the other hand, use session musicians and are mostly lifeless outside of the hit singles.
    Lewisboogie likes this.
  22. Glenn Christense

    Glenn Christense Foremost Beatles expert... on my block

    Yeah, I've posted this clip before that's why I mentioned Mary in my post. This clip was my inspiration. :D

    If anyone looks more uncomfortable than David Letterman does in this clip, I don't want to see it. :laugh:
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  23. johnny moondog 909

    johnny moondog 909 Forum Resident

    God she was hot when she was young.
    Lewisboogie likes this.
  24. Darrin L.

    Darrin L. Forum Resident

    One misstep? The Broadstreet film was a COLLOSAL commercial and critical failure that damaged his credibility and reputation, more than anything before of since. The MJ collaborations could also be considered a misstep, since they were so polarizing and the beginning of his commercial demise.
    Sean Murdock likes this.
  25. freddiebell

    freddiebell Forum Resident

    Argh. I'm not looking to pick a fight here, and everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion. But, honestly, I can't find a single thing here that I agree with. At all. It's like you are trying to build up an idea solely by tearing everything around it down to the ground. I really don't see the point.

    I wouldn't call Flowers McCartney's best album, but it's not mediocre by a long shot in my book. It's not getting the Archive Collection treatment because it stinks and we're supposed to feel sorry for him. There is plenty of good material on it, and more so if you look past the music and also at the lyrics, which are in many ways among his strongest in the post-Beatle era. Songs of maturity and changing life perspective, of looking at life as an adult rather than as an adolescent, of seeing and comprehending that life is hard, it takes effort to make personal bonds and life commitments work, and as an appreciation for the importance of the people around us whom we love and care about. Pretty much every song speaks to those core human issues, and effectively so. Are you hearing that at all? As for the music, the merits of production techniques are easy to deconstruct and criticize well after the fact. But there are reasons why they were done that way at the time. By the standards of some here, I'm guessing that Sgt. Pepper is seen as a pretty lousy album now because it sounds so very dated and of its specific time period -- if we're applying the premise consistently. I get it that it is a matter of personal taste, and each person can like or dislike the sounds as they feel it. But preferring a different sound doesn't render the music bad. It just means you'd rather hear it differently. Since you have an issue with revisionist history ... did you feel so strongly about it at the time (1989), or are you bringing that thought to the party here and now, with almost 30 years' worth of changing perspective? Again, it's fine if you feel that way. But let's not pretend that everybody felt so strongly about it back then or saw a better way forward. I remember a whole lot of McCartney fans liking what hit their ears when the album came out. I also remember a number of non-McCartney fans whom I knew personally giving it a listen and a thumbs-up, not prompted by me to that end. So there's that. Are they all wrong?

    I wouldn't say that there isn't a single on the album. "My Brave Face" works quite well, and perhaps would have been more successful if the name of a more contemporary artist were on the label at the time. Like it or not, McCartney's hitmaking days had slipped past him at that point, some twenty years after the Beatles' split, and people weren't looking at his output in that regard like they had a decade or more earlier. Pretty much every artist has a shelf life with changing generations. It was more about the name than the record at that point, given that McCartney hasn't done any better in the Top 40 since then even with what you might call stronger material at any given moment. It's a perfectly fine song, including the not-stupid title (which actually means something, in case you don't know what putting on a "brave face" refers to), with an intriguing and different message, for those willing to actually listen and think about it -- which most pop music fans weren't and aren't. But that's their fault, not McCartney's. You could say much the same thing about "This One," for what it's worth. That they didn't become big hits is less about their quality and more about the changing dynamics of the marketplace and simply who and what is "hot" at a point in time. Look at the list of hit songs, and artists, from 1989 and tell me how many of them did the same thing even a few years later, much less now. Having been a Beatle didn't exempt McCartney from that trend. It simply bought him about a decade more time.

    To bring this full circle, I respect your right to an opinion. Nevertheless, and as the saying goes, while you are entitled to your own opinions, you aren't entitled to your own facts. I'm hoping that, upon reflection, you'll come around to a more even-handed, balanced approach that invokes enough praise to make the criticism seem more legitimate and less like simply complaining. Then we've all got a basis for a useful discussion.

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