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1984: Give My Regards To Broad Street

The film was a flop, and the album was not top either. But even at one of McCartney's least interesting albums, still something beautiful can be found. Give My Regards To Broad Street contains mostly covers of earlier Beatles songs and, remarkably enough, new recordings of songs from it's two predecessors, Tug of War and Pipes of Peace.

As on those two albums, old Beatles buddy Ringo Starr plays along again on many songs. But on the Beatles covers you won’t hear him.  
Ringo wasn't happy to get involved with it. We had some songs in the film where we wanted him to drum on them, but he didn't want to attempt a new version. I can see it from his point of view, actually, because it would have been, 'Did I drum good on version A or version B?' and he didn't even want a comparison.”
Paul McCartney




And Ringo has a point. Because it is exactly the first thing you will do when listening to Give My Regards To Broad Street: compare. But do not expect any surprises. Almost all covers are virtually identical to the original, new arrangements are absence. The biggest difference from the original is that the old versions sound more passionate, more powerful, even in the case of slow ballads like Yesterday, For No One, or Here There and Everywhere. On Broad Street it all sounds very, very smooth. The same also applies to the re-recorded songs from Tug of War and Pipes of Peace, like Wanderlust and So Bad (of which the original was only one year old). A pleasant exception is Ballroom Dancing, which in the new version sounds a bit fresher and rougher.

Video: Ballroom Dancing

The only cover that had something of a new arrangement is Silly Love Songs, the only remake on the album of a Wings song. It sounds a little more funky with an added thumb-slapping bass solo. But Silly Love Songs lacks the power of the original as well.

Video: Silly Love Songs




Interesting is Paul's solo version of The Long and Winding Road. Especially because of his harsh criticism of the way in which producer Phil Spector produced the song for the album Let It Be. In McCartney’s eyes he completely messed up the song. So this is McCartney's chance for revenge, the chance to show how he intended the song. Remarkably, he mostly use the same arrangements as Spector, as McCartney also did during the Wings World Tour in 1976. But there is a difference: the orchestra and especially the choir are much less prominent. And that makes the new version much more subdued than the sometimes bombastic original. The feel has become more jazzy, which is further enhanced by the sax intro and the sax solo halfway.

Video: The Long and Winding Road
Alongside the instrumental Eleanor's Dream there are three new tracks on the original LP. No Values and Not Such A Bad Boy are somewhat heavier rockers. Not his best work, but on the album they sound refreshing between all the older songs. And as mentioned before, even McCartney's least interesting albums contain something beautiful. In the case of Broad Street it’s the hit single No More Lonely Nights, with this great guitar solo of Pink Floyd's David Gilmour:
I found it quite amazing doing No More Lonely Nights with Paul McCartney. In one three-hour session with a band we learnt it and put it down, and Paul played piano and sang the lead vocal live, and I put the guitar solo down, bang. 
David Gilmour 
Video: No More Lonely Nights




And then there is the film. Which is not really worth seeing. The story is thin and let's face it, McCartney is not a great actor. The original idea was a TV special with a series of video clips. And, in retrospect, they should’ve stick by that concept. Anyway, if you watch the movie with that approach, as a series of video clips, it is quite nice. Because there’s a lot of music to enjoy; more than at the time fitted on the LP.

Video: Paul promoting Broad Street


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André Homan

André Homan is a Dutch writer and journalist.

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