Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Paul McCartney 15: Give My Regards To Broad Street

He’d been talking about making a movie, a fantasy about a rock star, for years. (There were other films he’d planned since Wings started but they don’t matter here.) Once Paul finally finished one it got slammed, and rightfully so. While Magical Mystery Tour was considered an expensive home video, it did have decent tunes, and has aged well enough to influence the first MTV generation. However, Give My Regards To Broad Street was behind the times and hasn’t proven to be influential at all.
The music wasn’t much better—there are only a few new songs, and he chose to do brand new versions of Beatles classics and some solo songs, none of which would replace the originals. There’s a handful of Revolver-era remakes with a brass ensemble, a truly hideous version of “Silly Love Songs” surpassed in its idiocy only by its film counterpart, an extended ending to “Eleanor Rigby” and a pointless retread of “The Long And Winding Road” with a sax solo right out of Vegas. (If he was so upset with what Phil Spector did with the original, why does he keep on recording similarly embellished variations?)
As for the new material, “No More Lonely Nights (ballad)” was the first single, and a good choice for a change. Avoid the dance remix “playout version” if at all possible. “No Values” and “Not Such A Bad Boy” are Rock again, similar to late-70s Wings songs like “I’ve Had Enough”. The CD and film also included the same band members playing “So Bad” (included on the cassette, and the CD also had that plus a music-hall instrumental, “Goodnight Princess”).
If we take the three decent new songs here, a couple from the Pipes Of Peace debacle, a B-side or two and maybe some of the proposed Cold Cuts he’d been tinkering with, we’d have 45 minutes of music that would be far better than anything he used to hold up an undercooked concept. Give My Regards To Broad Street is one of those albums that you listen to every now and then just because you spent money on it. Whatever respect he regained since the end of Wings was shot out from under him. It seemed the well was running dry—which for anyone else wouldn’t be surprising after fifteen years of nonstop output—and he’d start to take more time between albums from here on out.

Paul McCartney Give My Regards To Broad Street (1984)—


  1. Here’s our most recent proposal to improve both this album and its predecessor onto a single LP:
    Side One: Pipes Of Peace/Say Say Say/Sweetest Little Show/Average Person/So Bad
    Side Two: No More Lonely Nights/We All Stand Together/Not Such A Bad Boy/No Values/Through Our Love

  2. A few years later, I heard Paul interviewed on one of those call-in radio shows where he took a few questions. One guy called and asked him why he thought the movie wasn’t a success. Paul actually answered, “Well, probably because it wasn’t any good.” Even though Paul himself disowned this box office bomb, my curiosity overcame my common sense, and I watched it. I didn’t find it as bad as much as it’s pointless. It’s really just a bunch of music video sequences connected by an almost non-existent plot featuring way underwritten characters, Paul in that ugly shirt on the album cover throughout, and a lot of padding – especially the pretentious “Eleanor’s Dream” sequence. Paul obviously had a lot of ideas, but they were all too different to cohere into a consistent screenplay.
    The low point, as you allude to, is the “Silly Love Songs” part – what the hell was Paul thinking? Michael Jackson could have sued! On the other hand, I got a kick out of seeing George Martin in the studio and Dave Edmunds performing with Paul. I also found the performances of “Yesterday”, “Here, There and Everywhere”, “Wanderlust” and “For No One” quite moving. The brief scene with “Jim”, is, I’m guessing, a touching tribute to Paul’s father. Otherwise, it’s another meaningless scene in a film full of them.
    As for the music – well, I agree that the covers of Beatles tunes don’t improve on their versions, but I like them. Paul puts enough changes to keep them from sounding like clones of the originals. The exception, as you say, is “The Long and Winding Road”. Not only did Paul hate Spector’s overproduction, but so did Martin. So why did they take the worst aspects of Spector’s version and graft them to an awful lounge lizard arrangement? It also accompanies a stupid driving sequence preceding the (anti)climax of the film, to top it off.
    The post-Beatles stuff has some rather odd choices. “Wanderlust – yes! “So Bad”— why? Did he not want people to forget “Pipes of Peace”? Too late for that, Paul. “Ballroom Dancing” – a passable idea for the movie, but also unnecessary musically. He also found a way to make “Silly Love Songs” even more stupid by removing its one redeeming feature, the catchy bassline. (Steve Lukather played on this version – is that him under that wedding cake makeup in the movie?).
    I like all of the new songs, though. Their a major step up from “PoP”. “No More Lonely Nights” is raised up a level by Gilmour – this song is what “My Love” should have been. As for the “playout” version – well, he needed something to play over the end credits. At least it’s the only 80’s production piece on the album.
    I think it rates higher than your 1 ½. You really think this is worse than “PoP”? I’d give at a 2 ½. I’d even give it a 3 if it wasn’t for “Silly Love Songs” and “The Long and Winding Road”. However, like the movie, it doesn’t have any real reason to exist. Non-fans can definitely skip it.