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A case for reevaluating Paul's (and the rest of The Beatles') post-Beatles careers
4 May 2012
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meanmistermustard said "it got me wondering if Paul has really helped himself in how people have viewed his output in the beatles."

 

Exactly right.

Macca achieved enormous commercial success with his '70s hits – so on one level, who can criticize? – but many of those hits seemed facile and/or syrupy.

He did start off well with "Maybe I'm Amazed" and "Live and Let Die," but then…

And as meanmistermustard has pointed out, the Beatle stuff he very occasionally trotted out was beautiful but hardly hard rock.

There IS a reason why it took forever for him to get into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame.

Fortunately, he's written so much extraordinary material both pre- and post-Beatles that IMO he will come to be seen as the greatest tunesmith ever.

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4 May 2012
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Before I got into the Beatles, I was more of a songs- person than album person. And up today, I would much rather have one brilliant song on an album than twenty good ones. The good ones, you forget. Brilliant songs, never. I would cut off a few years of my life to be able to write something like "Instant Karma", "Dream#9" or "Working Class Hero", for example. I haven't listened to all of John's solo work, but those songs that I have heard are either amazing, pretty ok or indifferent.

I think it's partly because John was so dismissive of his own work that people find easier to praise him, if that's makes any sense. Paul never was effulgent in praising himself, but he always had a good selfesteem. Not that there's anything wrong with that! Songs like "No More Lonely Nights", however, have kept me from digging too far into his solo career. Of course not all of his songs are soppy Love Songs, but the fact is, a lot of them, especially those that did well in the charts(at least I'm under this illusion, someone may enlighten me) are like that. And that's not necessarily a bad thing either, since they often have beautiful melodies ( soppy ballads, that is) but it's just not my thing. For that matter, I don't understand why Love by Lennon is so highly regarded.

Perhaps it's a pity that I have heard so many "poppy songs" from Paul since he has written some awesome songs that I love, Little Lamb Dragonfly, Maybe I'm Amazed, Let Me Roll It, and I'm certain there are a lot of them I have yet to hear. But I don. 't have enough time to go through his x number of albums to find a few songs of his that I'd like. Because clearly his overall style is in conflict with what I generally listen to. And that is why I find it a bit odd that his work should be compared to John's; after the Beatles split up, and some time before that, they began to drift apart artistically, same goes for George, would you compare Iron Maiden to Elton John? What's the point?

Although I agree with most of you that Paul is a great "tunesmith", songs acquired the status of an anthem are often those with meaningful, shocking and provoking lyrics considering the time they were written in. It's not like "Blowin' In the Wind" has the most outstanding chord structure or arrengement ever, yet the words clearly move a lot of people. And John has made a lot of songs like that, where as Paul has Hey Jude. I'm not saying that it's particilarly fair to put certain person on a pedestal for a few songs of "revolutionary" lyrics, but do I understand why people would do that. Heck, I do it as well.

4 May 2012
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This thread came up in the "unread posts" section. I composed my reply before realising the last post was two weeks ago. Apologies.

paulsbass said

The Walrus said

I'm not as well versed in Paul's solo career as John's, but I do own a copy of Wingspan. Frankly I think there's very little of merit on there, songs like My Love, C Moon, Junior's Farm, Another Day and The Back Seat Of My Car should not be appearing on greatest hits collections. There's a lot of forgettable tracks, then some good ones like Admiral Halsey, Bluebird, Too Many People and Man We Was Lonely. I also like Band On The Run, Live And Let Die and Jet. The only really exceptional track is Maybe I'm Amazed.

Paul has had a late-career rediscovery of his touch, just like John, George, Dylan and Bowie. However, I don't think his early solo stuff and his Wings career represented a dramatic decline from the late Beatle days. His contributions in 67 were generally fairly weak (fortunately that was balanced out by John peaking higher than any other songwriter peaked before or since that year), though there were exceptions. In '68 he wrote Hey Jude, Mother Nature's Son, I Will and Blackbird, as well as Helter Skelter and Back In The USSR, but the latter two received a lot of help from the other Beatles. He contributed a good number of excellent songs to the Get Back sessions, but he also contributed a load of rubbish. On Abbey Road, the medley is his main contribution and probably the best thing he ever did. Anyway, I think Paul's contributions to Sgt. Pepper, MMT, The White Album and Get Back/Let It Be are roughly on the same level as his early solo stuff, a few gems but a lot of poor songs.

John IMO had an excellent solo career.

 

See, this is the stuff that gets thrown at Macca on a regular basis…

I won't comment on it any further, it just makes me angry.

To each his own (still funny how someone would think of "My love" or "Back seat of my car" as forgettable while calling "Man we was lonely" a good song…).

Nothing wrong with different opinions and serious discussions, but how can you take someone seriously who claims that 67 Paul was generally "weak" – while he was the driving force of the best band in the world and made about 80% of one of the most important, acclaimed, creative, successful albums of all time…

See, Macca is one of my favourite songwriters. Behind John, Dylan, Bowie and Mercury by a noticeable distance, but ahead of the chasing pack containing the likes of George, Noel Gallagher, Brian May, Jagger/Richards, Ray Davies, Win Butler and Jack White. His contributions to Rubber Soul and Revolver were fantastic, probably as good as John's, and he kept popping up with further gems throughout the next four years at least. I'd quite happily go to a desert island with a double or triple album of songs written by Paul and no other music.

I am not throwing stuff at him, I genuinely believe he never again produced a whole album of quality music with the Beatles or immediately afterwards on the level of Rubber Soul and Revolver. A big part of that is that John stopped writing so many songs (largely because of his drug use) so he had to write songs of lesser quality to fill up the two Beatles albums for that year. In '67 and '69 he could easily have contributed half (or even a whole album in 69) of great music but in both years he had to write about an album and a half.

Pepper and 67. Getting Better and Fixing A Hole are nice enough songs but not outstanding, She's Leaving Home is very good musically but the lyrics aren't as good, When I'm Sixty-Four and Lovely Rita aren't very good at all. The Pepper songs are very creative and improve the album but standing alone aren't shining examples of creativity that could never be matched elsewhere. Similarly, Paul's contribution to ADitL. John's Pepper work (ADitL and Lucy aside) also isn't great. I understand the album was revolutionary etc. but that doesn't make it any better now. From MMT, I think The Fool On The Hill is a great song, and Your Mother Should Know is better than it is often made out to be, but the rest of Paul's stuff for that album is on the same plane as Lovely Rita. As for the singles, Hello Goodbye has some charm, and Penny Lane is brilliant. Compared to '66 or even '65, Paul's average song comes out a lot worse in '67 IMO and is at a level that a fair number of songwriters have reached rather than 5 or 6. Iif he'd only needed to write 6 or 7 then that would be different.

'68, every criticism levelled at Paul can be levelled at John. They both wrote a fair amount of rubbish. Paul wrote more songs, which naturally means he wrote more bad songs.

Let It Be is underrated and Paul's contributions are strong, but not on the godly level of 65 and 66. Abbey Road, I don't rate Oh! Darling or Maxwell's Silver Hammer much but the medley is godly. Put Let It Be in for Maxwell and Paul's contribution there is as good as any album ever.

As for those two songs, I think they're pretty good examples of stereotypical Paul songs, utterly drenched in sap and overproduced which ultimately removes the emotion it is meant to add. The Back Seat Of My Car's outro could have saved it but it isn't tight enough. Man We Was Lonely is much more intimate and emotional (it's just that emotion is weariness).

I'll admit that I don't know much about Paul's solo career. However, as I said, I have listened to Wingspan a fair bit. Either his song choices were dreadful or he spent a decade making largely unremarkable music. I cannot afford to go out and buy all his albums from that period and listen to them. However, I do like your YouTube links (except Give Ireland Back To The Irish which manages to make John's songs on the matter sound like Blood On The Tracks) so I might well buy Flowers In The Dirt and Off The Ground. I have also enjoyed several of Paul's more recent albums, especially Chaos And Creation. However, my post dealt largely with Paul's immediate solo career because that seemed to be what Michael was talking about. I did mention Paul's later career revival though.

I apologise if my lack of knowledge about Paul's career with and immediately before and after Wings offended you or made you angry, though I do think judging it on his greatest hits collection is fair game if that collection is of the quality of Wingspan.

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4 May 2012
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Im not a fan of wingspan and can see why people may take a step back from going in to the depths of Pauls catalogue, for some reason it just doesnt work as a listenable collection of songs if played the whole way thru. There is a large number of the 'nice' songs. And why not include Here Today on the second cd yet put on the drivel that is The Lovely Linda or Bip Bop (tho thankfully not the version on Wild Life). I get why both are there but both are pretty dire pieces of music.

Having said that i think the same could be said with the numerous collections of Johns greatest hits.

"Well, probably we'll sell less records, less people'll go to see the film, we'll write less songs, and we'll all die of failure" (John Lennon 8/64)
4 May 2012
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Some of the tracks from Tug of War were rehearsed by Wings before they split but its a poor reason if that is it – but that still leaves a number of other tracks. There are better songs on nearly all the albums they represent; Girlfriend from London Town, Bluebird from Band on The Run  being just 2 examples of poor song selection. Decent songs but not going to make folks want to investigate more.

At the time of release i remember there was a story that it was Pauls way of trying to get a bit of respectability for his solo career which is why there is no Say, Say Say, Ebony and Ivory or We All Stand Together.

"Well, probably we'll sell less records, less people'll go to see the film, we'll write less songs, and we'll all die of failure" (John Lennon 8/64)
4 May 2012
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I dislike the lyrics and backing vocals for No more Lonely Nights, I do like the arrangement. But I certainly wouldn't want to a hear an albumful of those


"Well, in contrast to IM and EJ Paul and John worked together as the most successful songwriting duo of all time, so there's your point."

Well, both Johns worked together. I don't see them compared nearly as much. And anyway, your point is my point. As long ass they were working together and directly influencing each other, it's justified to compare their works. But as John puts it, Beatles are the Beatles, separately, they are separate

 

"Wow, it really looks like Paul's solo work isn't the only music you haven't heard enough of. Check out some Beatles albums first! If you want Paul anthems Past Masters I and II are the most obvious choices, plus White Album, Sgt. Peppers, Abbey Road, MMT, Please Please Me.

All great album, you'll like them!

I just have to assume that you are not familiar with all these albums after reading that comment.

BTW, "Silly love songs" is an anthem to quite a lot of people, you'd be surprised!"

 

Uhm, I think we had sort of  an misunderstanding here. What I mean by anthem is a song bearing some similarities to national anthems, songs that begin to determine certain era or major events, songs that are chanted, songs known across the borders etc. The reason I mentioned Hey Jude is that for many people (you could add Yesterday, perhaps, and All You Need Is Love) it presents the "Beatles", it's in the song books, it's in the radio, it's the song that everyone joins together to sing in Paul's concerts. And of course, it seems to bring comfort for many because of its inspiring lyrics. It's not one of my favorite songs from Paul to be honest though

a-hard-days-night-george-5I wish there was a Beatles album I haven't heard but unfortunately, there isn't. It is glaringly obvious, however, that Paul has tons of master pieces. There are just too many Beatles songs of his that I like, even some of the more obscure ones such as Wild Honey Pie or Maxwell Silver Hammer. But I don't think those qualify as anthems, really. Unless you think anthems are just very popular songs; nearly all of the Beatles songs are. It might be that I have a biased opinion of what "anthem" means but I can blame my outlandishness for it a-hard-days-night-john-6

 

It's certainly a surprise for me that Silly Love Songs should have an anthem quality to it, although there is some charm to it, what is its message? You can never love too much, reminiscent of the sixties hippies? Perhaps it means something like that to the people of UK and USA, I have to take a note for that. But, anyway, I can't really think of a post-Beatles song Paul has written that would have the same kind of status as Imagine has. Few songs have, of course. And John's death certainly "added" to its legend. Besides that, I would name "Give peace a chance" and "Power to the People" as "anthems" that John wrote, maybe "Working Class Hero" for the more rebellious ones 

 


"Paul had the bigger output and was way more adventurous and diverse and open for new ideas and directions.

I like him for his albums which are not always consistent but almost never disappoint.

So while more young, rebellish folks might put John's poster up their wall Paul touched a lot of hearts with his music, and minds as well.

Who are we to judge who touched more…"

 

I don't exactly agree with you Paul being more adventurous; certainly not while in the Beatles. After the Beatles, John basically concentrated his effort on writing emotional, biographical song as well as political ones. For one reason or another, he didn't like writing songs about fictional characters. He used to write those during the Beatles, but he just stopped, George is pretty much the same (at least he says so)

I agree with you that it's impossible to judge who has touched people's hearts more; John and Paul just had a different way of doing that and John is sanitized because of his death. It's hard to estimate how his popularity would have turned out to be had he had the chance to write more songs (I'm dying to hear how finished versions of Real Love and Free As A Bird would have sounded like)

I'm sorry that my way of quoting is a bit odd…

5 May 2012
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I never said thata-hard-days-night-george-4I just said that in my opinion John wasn't less creative than Paul. I just finished reading "Many Years From Now" and it certainly dwells on Paul's avant garde tendencies more than enough. And he's the master mind behind Sgt. Pepper's, that's for sure. Although I think A Day In The Life could be equally good, if not better, without Paul's "middle verse". I realize I'm in the minority, though. As for White Album, besides the external design, I don't think there's really a concept to it. Just a bunch of (great) songs put together

John didn't do Helter Skelter, a song that I admire and which has had a great influence on metal, but he did do Happiness Is A Warm Gun, The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill ( Paul thinks it's an animal rights song, I'm not sure), I'm so tired and Walrus from MMT, for example, all pretty experimental songs for pop genre. It's likely that John was influenced by Paul, or influenced by his friends(and Yoko), but I don't see why that takes away from John. Paul could have used his background in the Beatles songs, but usually he didn't. Apparently he didn't do that much after he quit the Beatles, either, although I'm sure there are some exceptions. Not that John experimented as much in his solo career as he did in the Beatles; although "dream 9#" is pretty imaginative 

I don't think John was really a rebel, even if he fancied himself as one

I'm not sure if you got my point about comparing John and Paul, I mean that if people knew no connection to these two people, they wouldn't even think of comparing them, because their style doesn't have that much in common. The reason IM and EJ do not get compared to each other is because they are from different genres. John and Paul are, as well, though I suppose the both of them belong to the vast realm of "pop music". It might be meaningful to compare some singular songs, say, "Love" to "Maybe I'm Amazed", both the most famous love songs for their respective wives. However, if you look at their whole career, they went down very different paths. It's because their identities are so closely glued to the Beatles that we keep comparing them all to each other, I find it pretty sad. None of them was really able to shook off the Beatles tag, I hope one day they will

5 May 2012
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paulsbass said

The Walrus said

Pepper and 67. Getting Better and Fixing A Hole are nice enough songs but not outstanding, She's Leaving Home is very good musically but the lyrics aren't as good, When I'm Sixty-Four and Lovely Rita aren't very good at all. The Pepper songs are very creative and improve the album but standing alone aren't shining examples of creativity that could never be matched elsewhere. Similarly, Paul's contribution to ADitL. John's Pepper work (ADitL and Lucy aside) also isn't great. I understand the album was revolutionary etc. but that doesn't make it any better now. From MMT, I think The Fool On The Hill is a great song, and Your Mother Should Know is better than it is often made out to be, but the rest of Paul's stuff for that album is on the same plane as Lovely Rita. As for the singles, Hello Goodbye has some charm, and Penny Lane is brilliant. Compared to '66 or even '65, Paul's average song comes out a lot worse in '67 IMO and is at a level that a fair number of songwriters have reached rather than 5 or 6. Iif he'd only needed to write 6 or 7 then that would be different.

I won't go into detail, let's just agree we don't agree on that period and the quality of Paul's work (although it DOES astound me that you don't like the orchestra crescendo and the brilliant piano work on ADITL plus his nice middle part, and let's not forget the transition with the Aaahs! ;-).

Fair enough, you like the "kids and grannies" songs. Not remotely my cup of tea, but you're entitled to waste your time listening to them if you like (joking).

I don't mind Paul's middle contribution to ADitL, but I think it enhances John's parts on either side more than anything. I put the orchestral touches down to Martin in my head, and the piano to John (which to be quiet honest might be massively unfair, I just like imagining John playing piano there).

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16 August 2012
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GeorgeTSimpson
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I think every solo album paul ever did is better than at least the first five beatles albums

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16 August 2012
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What is it you have against the first five albums George? There are some incredible gems within those 5 albums such as No Reply, Youre Going To Lose That Girl, I Saw Her Standing There, It Wont Be Long, If I Fell, Im A Loser, Its Only Love, What Youre Doing, And I Love Her, Any Time At All, All Ive Got To Do, You Really Got A Hold On Me, I'll Follow The Sun, I've Just Seen A Face, Anna (Go To Him), There's A Place, Im A Loser… I could go on.

I dont think they are the best beatle albums but by no means are they awful.

"Well, probably we'll sell less records, less people'll go to see the film, we'll write less songs, and we'll all die of failure" (John Lennon 8/64)
16 August 2012
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I'll jump in here with my thoughts on George's solo work…

 

I think that while he had a pent-up pile of songs by 1970, the pickings get very slim shortly after that.

While there are a few gems scattered throughout his catalogue, George's post ATMP works quickly devolve into somewhat synthetic-sounding collections of pleasant nice-guy songs.

Cloud Nine was a wonderful comeback, but I'm not sure if I consider it more of a Jeff Lynne/pre-Wilburys thing rather than an organic career resurgence.

'Brainwashed' was a fine album to close out on, though.  He seemed to have found his voice again.

E is for 'Ergent'.
16 August 2012
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In terms of commercial impact, there's no doubt Paul McCartney's post-Beatles career was tremendously successful, and he produced a number of memorable songs during that period.   But somehow, they never really had the impact of The Beatles.  Then again, how do you follow up an act like that?   Paul Simon ran into the same problem when his first solo songs (very simple in their production) were compared with the landmark Simon & Garfunkel stuff he did in the 1960's. 

You listen to a tune like "Silly Love Songs" and it's exactly what it sounds like -- it's Paul saying "look, I'm not trying to be deep, I'm just trying to say what's on my mind -- and that's I'm in love with my wife and the world needs more of this kind of feeling".   And more power to him for releasing it.  It's a good little tune that you can dance to and sing along to.   Nothing more… and it doesn't try to be.   It doesn't have the gut impact of "Hey Jude" or "Yesterday" -- or John's "Imagine" -- and it's not meant to.   In fact, in my opinion, of all of Paul's solo releases, only "Maybe I'm Amazed" really has that Beatle magic.  

Likewise, John's post-Beatle output had some real high points, like "Instant Karma", "Woman", and several other songs -- but the only song that really had the impact of a Beatles tune was "Imagine".   That song probably stands alongside any Beatles release in terms of its effect on listeners.   But John didn't have the same commercial ear as Paul, and that was becoming apparent in the latter days of The Beatles, which is why Paul began to dominate the singles' market from 1967 onward. 

In my opinion, the reason George had such enormous success with ALL THINGS MUST PASS is that the album had the feel of a Beatles record, with its lavish production and just the overall feel of the record.   Subsequent releases, like LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD, were much simpler records, in terms of their production and styling, and that's part of why they didn't have the same impact.  Plus George got AWFULLY preachy. 

And then there's Ringo, who actually got off to a very fast start with two immediate hit singles ("It Don't Come Easy" and "Back Off Boogaloo") and a really enjoyable album (RINGO) which had a Beatly feel to it (no doubt because all three ex-Fabs contributed songs and performed on those songs).    His later releases, especially when he descended into that disco crap of the mid-1970's, were pretty bad. 

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16 August 2012
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Another major factor in the relative inferiority of the solo albums: no George Martin.

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16 August 2012
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So he produced 3 McCartney tracks throughout the entirety of the 1970s, big deal. We were referring to ALL of the Beatles' solo careers. And if "Teaming up with Martin was the key to the success of…" etc., aren't you kind of illustrating my point?

"Ram" and "Band on the Run" are excellent productions indeed. But maybe George Martin might've taken Paul aside while recording "Wild Life" and "Red Rose Speedway" to inform that the material was generally subpar.

(I still haven't heard "Tug of War", but I look forward to doing so someday!)

I just want to play. I’d like to think I could work opposite Sinatra, B.B. King, the Beatles, or a polka band... - Jazz musician Rahsaan Roland Kirk, 1967
16 August 2012
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Tug Of War is overall a very good album but Ebony and Ivory has aged very badly, its biggest draw probably being Here Today but there are some other fantastic songs eg The Pound Is Sinking, Ballroom Dancing & Wanderlust.

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16 August 2012
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Vonbontee said, "I still haven't heard "Tug of War"

 

What a coinkidink. I exercised to it this very morning. Hadn't heard the album from beginning to end in a long while.

Rolling Stone (everyone's favorite magazine here on the Forum) gave it 5 stars when it came out ("masterpiece").

I thought it deserved 4 stars, and that's still what I think.

Stevie Wonder co-wrote one of the songs (not one of the better ones IMO).

I thought he'd co-written "Ebony and Ivory" but he just co-sings.

"Ballroom Dancing" is a dorky song but with tremendous production, so in the end it's quite listenable. (The whole album features great production.)

"The pound is sinking" is interesting because it's a series of musical and lyrical non-sequiturs. I think McC quite frequently has bits of songs he doesn't know what to do with, so he stitches them together (or attaches them to someone else's song fragment a la "Day in the Life" "We Can Work It Out" "Abbey Road Medley), sometimes to great effect, sometimes not.

"Wanderlust" is similar to "Dear Boy": different melodies that all come together at the end. I get a kick out of that.

"Get It" with Carl Perkins is enjoyable.

"Here Today" (for Lennon) is a standout.

"Take It Away" "Somebody Who Cares" "Dress Me Up as a Robber" are also keepers.

The title song has some good parts but doesn't come together.

All worth a listen.

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16 August 2012
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Into the Sky with Diamonds said

"The pound is sinking" is interesting because it's a series of musical and lyrical non-sequiturs. I think McC quite frequently has bits of songs he doesn't know what to do with, so he stitches them together (or attaches them to someone else's song fragment a la "Day in the Life" "We Can Work It Out" "Abbey Road Medley), sometimes to great effect, sometimes not.

This is very true- a lot of his songs don't seem medley-based, or like unrelated segments stitched together, but when you think about it they really are. Band on the Run, Picasso's Last Words, Live and Let Die, Back Seat of My Car, Uncle Albert (many of the songs on Ram in fact), the Speedway medley, Treat Her Gently/Lonely Old People, Momma Miss America, the Pound is Sinking as you said, and countless songs with the Beatles. I think he gets little licks or segments in his head which he plays about with and then affixes them as he sees fit, maybe changing the lyrics to keep a consistent theme.

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16 August 2012
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Yeah, even things like "You Never Give Me Your Money" is a little medley unto itself. When it works, it's good; when it's bad, it's like that "Speedway" medley (I don't like it; you're free to disagree)

I just want to play. I’d like to think I could work opposite Sinatra, B.B. King, the Beatles, or a polka band... - Jazz musician Rahsaan Roland Kirk, 1967
16 August 2012
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Paulsbass, I don't like the early beatles rock'n'roll songs so I prefer many of paul's solo songs, but, definitely not all (sorry for writing that). I actually love help!, I don't know why I wrote five albums, I meant four

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16 August 2012
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40

vonbontee said
Yeah, even things like "You Never Give Me Your Money" is a little medley unto itself. When it works, it's good; when it's bad, it's like that "Speedway" medley (I don't like it; you're free to disagree)

Have to disagree with you there, my friend. Although I'll admit sections are stronger than others (the lyrics to "Hold Me Tight" are abysmally lazy). The "Hands of Love" section is the best bit.

SHUT UP - Paulie's talkin'
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