PAUL MCCARTNEY – Press to Play (1986)

Review by: Charly Saenz
Assigned by: Francelino Prazeres de Azevedo Filho


Welcome to the Rock Superhero Bashing Circus! Well, as you might know “Press To Play” is usually indicated by some reviewers (oh those are terrible.. Oops) as Paul’s nadir. Oops again: I used to despise this album. But my fellow reviewer has given me the opportunity to explore this album under a new light; mostly in the darkness of my room, to be honest – just the music, and no videos. Those really didn’t stop playing back in the day. That wasn’t good.

“Stranglehold” is an extraordinary start. It’s strong and luminous, slightly bluesy. I feel some good 90s vibe here, even a bit of Lloyd Cole. There’s a double bass quality in the rhythmic base and the sax touches are totally engaging.

I changed scenery for the second song “Good Times Coming/Feel The Sun”. Had to step out in the street on a cold threatening night, so I mounted the Fiio DAC and the Sennheiser cans on my head and I connected the DAC to my Android phone. BOOM! POW! Well, all those Batman 1966 onomatopeias. After the goofy start, it really blew my mind. You know sound counts, this is mostly a finely recorded album, no matter what they say.

I’m back in the computer and I launch the next song, “Talk more talk”, on the Yamaha amp. This one is a tad more annoying in the production department. The song itself is interesting (the guitar work is indeed very detailed) but it goes nowhere. Still, hardly offending. “Footprints”, instead, is one FINE Macca-style song. Extremely joyful details (some remind me of the future “Driving Rain” but everything was a little more guitar-rocking there). There’s a cracking detail in Paul’s otherwise still beautiful voice.. Is this when he starts to show the signs of age? “Press(ed) to play”..

About that song, and let’s forget the video clip, it’s probably the weakest in the lot. Paul what were you trying to achieve? This album has no hits (Will you count the bonus track, “Spies like us”? Well that video was.. slightly funny) and this is for the best: “Press” is really awful with the extremely tiring electronic drum, the echo vocals. No, please: “Never like this”.

Save your breath, then we have another little gem, “Pretty Little Head”, that could have been considered an A-HA (or even Tears For Fears) song as it begins. Here the electronic drums roll deliciously over the keyboards, and there’s that feeling that Paul is on the loose, experimenting.. The “African” voices are exquisite; the intertwined guitars and of course the effect-laden synths. It might be a little long; but I won’t complain, Paul is having fun.

As if he was paying the debts for “Press”, he scores high again with “Move Over Busker” (“Busker”.. Wasn’t that a movie with Phil Collins?). An engaging number, with more traditional sound, and a line that is certainly closer (specially in the second part) to a good rock and roll circa 1958, if you clean up the make up, that is. It rocks better than, say, “Take it away”.

Well in the end, you know, this wasn’t the awful album I’ve grown to despise. There is no such thing as bad production per se; it’s all in the numbers, “Press” ain’t a great song anyway and it tainted the whole set as a single, but a good electronic drum can be put to good use as we all know. For completists, “Angry” ain’t a particularly great song and “However Absurd” is a weird ending, but a good effort, anyway.

And the melodies, the hooks are there, Macca brand. Oh by the way did I mention “Only Love Remains”? 100% Macca ballad of any era, and it’s really good.

This is how you do it, and it’s 1986 so it’s worth a lot. Go and buy it before the fools and the critics find out and all the “Press To Play” CDs start to dissapear from the record stores. We still have CDs right?…

WINGS – Wild Life (1971)

Review by: Charly Saenz
Album assigned by: Jonathan Moss

Image result for wings wild life cover

This is a dish served cold, I mean a revenge review. Most critics seem to hate this album. This is free music, mate. A lo-fi, indie-flavored affair that surely was learned by heart by the likes of Stuart Murdoch. Now it sounds more interesting? This might as well be one of the best albums made by Paul Mc Cartney.

Be it the trance hard rock of “Mumbo” or the magnificient repetition in “Wild Life” (“Wild life, the animals in the zoo?” – Raw poetry, and a little bluessy brother to the epic “1985”).. How can you dare love “Ram” as a creative, slightly off-key album and diss this first love affair with Wings as a piece of unfinished music? Also you have british Reggae! in 1971! If you listen to Bo Diddley’s version you’ll know that “Love Is Strange” NEEDED this treatment. 

The album was recorded mostly on first takes – what doesn’t prevent the listener to get a fantastic wrapping sound (well you had some efficient engineers there like Alan Parsons himself), completely bass-driven, mostly acoustic with the piano up front, and also Denny Laine with his still shy guitar. And Linda! She did sing most of “I Am Your Singer” and she quite nails it (I’d love to listen to a Camera obscura cover of this) and fits the general “farm” vibe.

“Some People Never Know” is probably the masterpiece of the album, a classic hooks-galore Macca ballad, with some great percussion in the end. The details; this is a Beatles level song. “Tomorrow” is deceitfully simple and has beautiful vocal lines, and it ends in a soulful crescendo.. 

Just eight songs, including a glorious ending with “Dear Friend”, Paul playing his most charming voice, piano tempting fingers, lazy violins, drowsy cymbals, and more… A fully rounded magic mini opera, supposed to make peace with Brother John.. So be it.. 

And Good Night.


Written by: Blob Nalyd Ph.D 

Today we’re taking a nice little stroll through the world of post-Beatles decrepitude! Imagine, it’s 1982, three million in the U.K. are unemployed, there’s a flipping gas crisis, and the world is seen permanently through beer goggles… 
But hark! A hit single arises from the flames like a beacon of hope! Many ex-hippies shake their heads in disgust, then continue on with their macrobiotic diets. Roger Waters is in tears, understandably.

Are we ready? Okay now, put on your hearing aids, dads! 

The song is “Take It Away” (my thoughts exactly!), from “Tug My Finger, I’m Paul McCartney, Bitch!”… wait, no, that’s not right… 
aw, who gives a shit, really?

My, my, this is some real easybeat for the teenyboppers! You can just shake your head or jerk your calf muscles spasmodically – it really don’t matter, ’cause no one on the record’s got rhythm anyhow!
But oh man, it’s got a hook! Smooth as whipped butter! I gotta sit down now, ’cause I’d shit myself standing!


Ringo Starr? Who the fuck is that??

In the lyric, this song seems to address all manner of self-descriptive somethingsomething impresario something band put on a show something, someone got my coke stash? Take it away, let’s play ’til the lights go down, then smack my ass silly!
Frankly, this song fails to grab my interest, as the postmodern aesthetic within seems to be invisible… 
Dear God, it’s almost pre-modernist! Throw some autotune on there, granny!

Fortunately, it seems George Martin really saved the day once again on this one, adding a nice, tight little horn chart for the coda followed by… A GOD DAMN FADEOUT!!!???…

(sounds of McCartney II eight-track being smashed to bits) 



Bob Marley – Get Up, Stand Up
Derek Bailey – (career span)
Paul McCartney – Take It Away
John Lennon – #9 Dream
Paul Simon – (Take Me to the) Mardi Gras


A YEAR IN MUSIC: PAUL MCCARTNEY – Tripping the Live Fantastic (1990)

Review by: Roland Bruynesteyn

The 1989-1990 world tour was Paul McCartney’s first one since Wings. The 80’s had started great, with some solo hits hits with Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, but Press to play did not help move things forward. Flowers in the dirt was a big improvement, and not surprisingly, Paul had still enough appeal to get people to see him live.
No doubt they came for the Beatles songs mostly, but even if you take into account that Paul wanted you to like his newer songs and he mixed them with his older repertoire on purpose, most of the new songs do in fact stand up to his older work: there’s no big difference in quality between, say Jet and My brave face in my opinion. At the same time, he goes back even further in time, by including some older rockers (Ain’t that a shame, Kansans City).
Anyway, the biggest appeal of the album is the live performance of many Beatles songs that had never been heard in a live context by concert goers, and mostly had never been played live before. Although some synthesizer sounds (The Long and Winding Road…) and the generally slick production make it sound somewhat dated, on the whole this is a very strong performance. Some little things do annoy me a little: the silly jokes (“Here’s a song you probably never heard, that Bobby wrote this morning, actually”, before starting Got to Get You into My Life, interludes like If I Were Not upon This Stage). And Ebony and Ivory is just not a good song, no matter how deep the message is…
But as a live performance this set the template for future Paul McCartney tours and cd sets and proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt that Paul McCartney is not just a great composer; he’s a great entertainer as well.