For the record buying masses it was a forgettable era for Paul McCartney, releasing perhaps his most unheralded solo album to date, Off The Ground – it could’ve been called Off the Charts. Despite some high-quality leftovers from a recent Elvis Costello collaboration, and the fact that Paul and his band had just completed a very successful World Tour placing him before audiences for the first time in a decade with a very good band behind him, the album was released to both mixed reviews and solid but lacklustre commercial response. And then promptly forgotten.
Along with Wings At the Speed of Sound, Wild Life and Give My Regards to Broad Street, Off the Ground is generally acknowledged as bottom-tier Paul.
The fact that McCartney released a second disc of outtakes later in 1993 confirms my theory that Paul may have finally noticed the album contained second rate materiel and the best tracks were left as B-sides or the very much fashionable for 1993, bonus tracks. The additional CD (now sadly out of print) contained a more satisfying collection of these B-sides, outtakes, and bonus tracks. Basically another album’s worth of songs. And it’s hard to believe these songs missed the cut. They feature great energy, confident musical performances, creative vocal melodies, strong singing (with lots of harmonies) and thoughtful arrangements, filled not only with interesting guitar overdubs but also solos, orchestration, weirdly-toned synths and musical accompaniment.
It’s a mystery…..
Had some of these tracks been included on Off the Ground, the final album may be held in much higher regard, even considered one of Paul’s best solo albums.
So. brace yourselves, the songs brutally removed from the original album are:
- C’mon People, quite a nice closing track, just misses the cut. Paul may have wrote it in ’68 but wasn’t up to scratch then and not up to scratch now;
- Get Out of My Way a lightweight, inane rocker that goes nowhere fast;
- Looking for Changes is a socially conscious animal-rights-themed horror show, and is nigh on unlistenable;
- and the dreadful quartet of Winedark Open Sea, I Owe It All to You, Biker Like an Icon and Golden Earth Girl are all sad, pondering, adult-contemporary dross that had to go.
These songs have been replaced by better materiel. Thanks Macca!
Time to get seriously excited about this album. Off the Ground is now one of Paul’s most consistent albums from start to finish, clutter-free, significantly improved, resembling an unrealised masterpiece from one of most talented recording artists ever. Get up with it.
Paul McCartney – Off the Ground Redux
- Off the Ground – Opening title track. Good song. Tick.
- Long Leather Coat – Rocking barn-burner and inexplicably a non-album b-side. Fixed.
- Hope of Deliverance – Strong catchy single. This stays.
- Kicked Around No More – B-side ballad, lush track. Should’ve made the album.
- Mistress and Maid – Too-slick Costello collab, the demo was better. Good song.
- I Can’t Imagine – McCartney in great voice. A sprightly, upbeat acoustic guitar-driven number.
- Style Style – Excellent track. marvelous stuff. why the hell wasn’t this on the album?
- Keep Coming Back to Love – Nice sunny harmonies, well written little track.
- Sweet Sweet Memories – Ultra-catchy, tuneful, clever. Everything the album wasn’t.
- Peace in the Neighborhood – Harmless latin-tinged singalong. Good first take track.
- Big Boys Bickering – Playful song, injecting some much needed humour.
- Lovers That Never Were (demo) – Original Costello-featured demo, replacing the too-slick album version.
The original album artwork has also been deleted in favour of what you see above, which fares slightly better.
Thanks for sharing.
You’re welcome, much better now.