Liner notes

Initial copies of Choba B CCCP had sleeve notes by Andrei Gavrilov.

Paul McCartney – Choba B CCCP original sleeve notes

The following is an approximate translation:

In the world of modern popular music (we consciously combine pop and rock in this concept), there is, perhaps, no more famous musician now than Paul McCartney. A member of the legendary Beatles, he works very hard, constantly releasing records, performing at numerous concerts with a variety of performers. Therefore, unlike his former colleagues in the quartet, G. Harrison and R. Starr, he is always in the spotlight of the public and critics.

In recent years, McCartney has often been reproached – and, in general, rightly – that his new recordings have already become so coldly professional that the lively breath of rock, so characteristic of the Beatles, has long been felt in them. The Beatles could afford to hit the wrong chord, get a little out of tune with their voice, even get confused in the lines of the verse – all this gave their songs an immediate charm. McCartney has everything checked out, like on a computer. By the way, this is why many preferred his live recordings to studio ones – during live performances, sometimes the crazy atmosphere of the early sixties suddenly reappeared, when the Beatles played in very dubious institutions in Hamburg or the Liverpool Cavern, offering listeners not skill and experience, not the precision of the arrangements and the filigree of the performance, but the enthusiasm and youthful arrogance. By the way, at one of the Moscow International Film Festivals, a documentary film Wings Over The World was shown about Paul McCartney’s tour with the group Wings in a number of Western countries. In it, the lively atmosphere of the spontaneous immediacy of concerts is conveyed very well.

At the same time, Paul McCartney never shied away from experiments, although he did not focus on them. So, at one time he released an instrumental version of his album Ram, recorded several orchestral compositions, wrote a number of songs for his younger brother Mike McGear, completely different from what is usually considered to be “McCartney’s production. In 1980, his ten-minute play ‘Secret Friend’ was released with an uncharacteristic, almost electronic sound. Everyone remembers his duets with Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, his collaboration with Elvis Costello.

So McCartney’s new experiment – recording old rock and roll – in principle, should not surprise anyone. It just looks like it’s not just another experiment. Sooner or later, musicians return to the “roots”, to the “origins” of their genre. 13 years before that July day in 1987, when McCartney gathered musicians in the studio to record the songs included in this record, John Lennon did the same, and the first version of his Rock ‘N’ Roll disc was called, by the way, Roots. The need to return to the songs that made McCartney a musician prompted Paul to record the tunes he heard as a child.

In an interview with New Musical Express, he himself spoke about it this way: “When we got together to record these songs, we just wanted to play, just sing, shake the old days, get ready to record a long-playing album. I needed the carefree atmosphere of a coffee shop, you know – “come on, bring an instrument, maybe we’ll sit down and play – like that. (…) And I just told the guys: ‘Kansas City’ in the key of G, a little carelessly, showed where to pause in the middle, and how to end – and that’s it. And then: “…two, three, four, and…” And they began. Well, and with a nod showed who to join with the solo. They played great. No one had time to think – that’s the secret. Two takes was our maximum, and then only if the first one did not suit us at all. We recorded 18 songs in one day. And 18 more for the next one!(…) The guys kept asking: “Are we going to play your songs?” And we played “I Saw Her Standing There’, but most of all I wanted to play old, prehistoric rock. I only thought about it. And we started with ‘Twenty Flight Rock’, then ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy’, a little bit of Fats Domino, Sam Cooke and etc. We even dared to play ‘It’s Now Or Never’ from the Elvis repertoire. (…) We recorded 18 songs in a day, and I thought, hell, that’s how the Beatles usually recorded. Often it is thanks to mistakes that a piece of music becomes outstanding. If in a friend where something was wrong, we left it, did not touch it, so that the record would have its own characteristic aftertaste. When you try to fix something, you can only spoil everything. The musicians worked hard, nobody’s conceit interfered. We played and didn’t think about whether the drummer tapped the third measure correctly or not.”

In recording these songs, Paul McCartney was assisted by the excellent guitarist Mick Green, whom the New Musical Express columnist Roy Carr put on a par with Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, the famous pianist Mick Gallagher, bass player Nick Garvey and drummers Henry Spinetti and Chris Whitten.

‘Kansas City’ appears on the disc performed by Paul McCartney for the third time. ‘Kansas City’, like ‘Lucille’, is a tribute to McCartney’s old friend, one of the acknowledged “Kings of Rock ‘n’ Roll” Little Richard. Little Richard also owes his phenomenal success to the song ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy’, one of the first recordings in history aimed at the black population, but became a super-hit due to the huge success of the white listeners.

‘Twenty Flight Rock’ at one time became the decoration of the famous film about rock and roll The Girl Can’t Help It. It was performed by the legendary Eddie Cochran, who died in a car accident shortly after. His songs still have a huge impact on young musicians. So, for example, the group “The Stray Cats” was created in the eighties, according to its musicians, largely due to the fact that they fell into the hands of an Eddie Cochran record. His compositions included in his repertoire Rod Stewart, groups “The Who”, “Sex Pistols” and many others.

In the late fifties and in 1960, Cochran came to England on tour with his friend, singer and composer Gene Vincent, who also starred in the film The Girl Can’t Help It. It is to Gene Vincent that we owe the existence of a rock interpretation of the famous lullaby from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. By coincidence, Vincent performed several times in England in the early sixties with the little-known band The Silver Beatles (when Pete Best was still the drummer) and Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, where Ringo Starr was the drummer. Vincent’s most famous song ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula’ was included on the record Rock ‘N’ Roll by John Lennon.

Lennon’s disc also included the composition of the outstanding American singer and composer Sam Cooke ‘Bring It On Home To Me’, presented in this disc performed by Paul McCartney. Sam Cook died in 1964, but the popularity of his songs is steadily growing. They are sung by Tina Turner, the Rolling Stones, the Hermans Hermits, the Animals and many others have recorded them.

It’s rare to see a Duke Ellington song on a rock and roll record. Paul McCartney’s ‘Don’t Get Around Much Anymore’ is just about the only example.

There have been many outstanding musicians in rock and roll, but no one has determined the development of the genre with such inevitability as the famous Elvis Presley. The CD features songs from his repertoire: ‘That’s All Right (Mama)’ and ‘Just Because’. The latter was also recorded by John Lennon.

If Presley and the Beatles occupy the first two places in terms of the number of Golden Discs, then the third place belongs to the excellent American pianist and singer Fats (“Fat Man”) Domino. ‘Ain’t That A Shame’ is another crossover between Lennon and McCartney’s rock and roll records. For those who have Lennon’s album, it will be especially interesting to compare different interpretations of this blues.

Singer and guitarist Bo Diddley had a very big influence on the development of the guitar style in rock music. Paul McCartney, who started out as a guitarist, included Diddley’s little-known ‘Crackin’ Up’ on his record.

Paul McCartney’s acoustic guitar will be featured on the album’s final piece, the famous song ‘Midnight Special’, credited to the legendary blues singer Lead Belly.

When Paul McCartney gave an interview, an excerpt from which was given above, he did not yet know how he would dispose of the recorded songs. Now the fate of eleven of them has been determined – they are included in the disc, prepared “specially and exclusively for Soviet listeners.

Later pressings of Choba B CCCP featured sleeve notes by Roy Carr, translated from English into Russian. The following is a translation back into English:

When I was young I asked my Dad if people wanted peace. He said to me, ‘Yes, people everywhere want peace – it’s usually politicians that cause trouble.’ It always seemed tome that the way The Beatles’ music was admired in the USSR tended to prove his point that people the world over have a great deal in common.

In releasing this record exclusively in the Soviet Union, I extend the hand of peace and friendship to the people of the USSR.
– Paul McCartney

There comes a moment when wildly strumming an imaginary guitar in front of a wardrobe mirror is no longer enough. The motivation for anyone purchasing an instrument on impulse is usually the determination to re-run those songs learned from records worn-out by repeated playing. To decipher and master precisely what magic spark it takes to communicate in such a devastating manner. The possibility of fame and fortune don’t really come into it.

Initially, Elvis Presley wanted to be Dean Martin, Paul Simon wanted to be Elvis Presley and Paul McCartney – it would appear – was stricken very early in his youth with a Little Richard fixation.

In time they – and others so bedevilled – eclipsed all those stylists who’d originally transfixed them. Nightly marathon sessions amid the spit and sawdust of Liverpool’s Cavern Club or the Star-Club in Hamburg are where the likes of Paul McCartney learned their skills. Competing with the jukebox and winning, or being able to keep the most unruly customers satisfied was the survival test. Original material was, in the beginning, included with extreme caution.

The Beatles’ initial success was as much down to the spirited cover versions as it was to Lennon and McCartney’s prolific output. However, as their own songs took precedence, the cover versions were soon confined to sound checks and the occasional encore.

The fact remains, no matter how mega any artist becomes, very little coaxing is required to get them to knock out those songs that first prompted them to finally gave up their day job.

July 1987. The third week in July and Paul calls upon two teams of likeminded British musicians to see if it is still possible to make sparks fly and record in precisely the same spontaneous manner as when Elvis, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry or, for that matter, The Beatles knocked out more hits than Muhammad Ali dispatched contenders.

20 July: The dynamic guitar artistry of Mick Green (the first in a line of great UK players that include Clapton, Beck and Page) was employed, together with hard-hitting support from everyone’s favourite pianist, Mickey Gallagher and drummer Chris Whitten from Julian Cope’s band.

A fact often forgotten is that foremost Paul McCartney is a guitarist – only switching to bass when (the late) Stuart Sutcliffe resigned thus making The Beatles a Fab Foursome. So, for the 21 July session held in Paul’s private recording studio, McCartney took over the role of guitarist (check out his work on ‘Crackin’ Up’). Mickey Gallagher remained on piano while The Motors’ former bassman Nick Garvey played anchorman and that in-demand drummer, Henry Spinetti knocked out the back beat.

Run-throughs were brief – Paul much preferred to capture that elusive spontaneity that can only ever be achieved with one-take gambles. And, on the third day, while the studio desk was still smouldering, the 14 tracks contained in this very exclusive collection were mixed down for what was originally a vinyl-only release in Russia.

Here then, is Paul McCartney and his Friends in their natural element – a happier bunch of rock ‘n’ roll musicians you’d be hard pressed to find.

Kansas City/Lucille

First up, is Little Richard’s frantic arrangement (in preference to Wilbert Harrison’ slower 1959 original) of Kansas City. As with the second Little Richard classic included (Lucille), this depicts Paul at peak performance and sets the upbeat mood for most of the album.

With a voice that easily takes the strain, Paul comes close erasing the echo of that fresh-faced moptop who once so vigorously hollered Long Tall Sally as to almost make one forget Little Richard’s original. It’s doubtful if The Beatles ever surpassed that 1964 shakedown in terms of uninhibited celebration. And that’s what the results of Paul’s ‘one-take sessions’ amount to – a truly spontaneous celebration of style and content.

Little Richard’s influence pervaded The Beatles’ songwriting to the extent that such hits as I Saw Her Standing There and I’m Down were composed as a tribute to his unique style. It must be said, Little Richard was always the most genuinely outrageous of all rock’s seminal stars. An indefatigable performer, he refused to compromise his stance. The self-proclaimed ‘King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ or the ‘Queen of Scream’, Little Richard’s greatest hits may have sold in the millions, but it wasn’t uncommon (in the mid-50s) for his songs to be banned on radio, only to have them instantly replaced by sanitized white cover versions by the likes of Pat Boone. Even ‘Public Enemy Number One’ Elvis Presley was considered much safer than Little Richard when, in 1956, it came to exposing Young America to such songs as Rip It Up, Ready Teddy, Long Tall Sally and Tutti Frutti.

It’s obvious that Paul has a particular fondness for Kansas City – this being his third outing with the song on disc. Kansas City first appeared on Beatles For Sale, while a less-than-hi-fi treatment surfaces on the historic Star-Club tapes. Third time around, it’s nailed firmly to the floor – being infinitely grittier and electrifying. Both this opening track and Lucille (with its thundering guitar riff) reminds the listener that Paul’s friendship with Little Richard goes right back to pre-Beatlemania marathons at Liverpool dance halls and Hamburg drinking clubs.

‘Twenty Flight Rock’

Almost thirty years after his tragic death in a car crash Eddie Cochran still notches up hit singles in the UK. Always one of the most popular of all US rock visitors to Britain (his tours with Gene Vincent are legend) covers of Cochran’s greatest hits have successfully served everyone from The Who through to Rod Stewart and even The Sex Pistols. However, ‘Twenty Flight Rock’ – sung by Eddie in the most endearing of all rock ‘n’ roll movies, The Girl Can’t Help It – is probably his most elusive hit. Again it’s all down to perfect timing and it’s because of this that Paul’s spot-on treatment succeeds where all other covers have previously failed.

Lawdy Miss Clawdy

The story of how, in 1952, white women in New Orleans would visit local record shops and ask for Lloyd Price’s locally-recorded Lawdy Miss Clawdy on the pretext of buying it as a gift for their ‘black maid’ or ‘housekeeper’ has become not just a part of rocklore but an indication as to how music (if not Southern society) was becoming integrated.

Lawdy Miss Clawdy is a pivotal song. It may have become No. 1 Rhythm & Blues Record in both the bestselling charts of such prestigious US music business magazines as Billboard and Cashbox, but more importantly it became one of the first million-selling ‘crossover’ hits: a black oriented record that sell to white fans.

It was Lloyd Price who later persuaded a young Little Richard to send a demonstration tape of his songs to Specialty Records’ boss Art Rupe in Hollywood. The rest is history. Songs like Lawdy Miss Clawdy were tailor-made for the McCartney treatment.

Bring It One Home To Me

One can never underestimate the continued importance of the late Sam Cooke: stylistically, not only did he exert a direct influence on Otis Redding, Smokey Robinson, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye and Al Green, but he also made a significant impression on ’60s British Beat Groups. It wasn’t just that Rod Stewart modeled his entire style on Cooke, but that acts such as Herman’s Hermits and The Rolling Stones secured worldwide hits with Sam’s songs.

Bring It On Home To Me was the most frequently covered, with The Animals’ version the most acceptable. It says much for this pleading Gospel Blues that both John Lennon and now Paul McCartney shortlisted it for their respective from-the-heart rock ‘n’ roll compilations.

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

If ever a song was US government issue by default, it has to be Duke Ellington’s Don’t Get Around Much Anymore. Those opening lines … “Missed the Saturday Dance/Heard they crowded the floor/Couldn’t bear it without you/Don’t get around much anymore” … vividly capture the plight of a million GI Joes a million miles from home, crouched in a fox-hole with a spring-crank portable gramophone and fresh out of clean socks. It was to rival both You’ll Never Know and I’ll Walk Alone for World War Two ‘Our Song’ popularity. Updated, Paul’s arrangement may well be straight to the point, but the original sentiments remain the same.

I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Someday/Ain’t That A Shame/I’m In Love Again

It’s interesting to note that through their individual styles couldn’t be more diverse, when recording their innumerable hits at Cosmo Studios in New Orleans, both Little Richard and Fats Domino employed the very same band of musicians.

The living embodiment of the Crescent City’s rich cultural heritage, Fats Domino has been scoring million-selling hits worldwide since 1949, to the extent that he has amassed more gold record awards than any artist other than Elvis and The Beatles.

There is a timeless consistency common to Domino’s repertoire that attracts successive generations and, without question, Paul McCartney’s understanding of the Fat Man’s special qualities, rendering him the most genuinely skillful of the Big Man’s life-affirming music.

Be it the way he eases comfortably into the brisk characteristic 2/4 New Orleans beat of the confidence-boosting I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Someday, handles the singalong rolling blues ‘Ain’t That A Shame’ or knowingly defuses the pent-up frustration of I’m In Love Again with one of the greatest of all catch phrases, “Oowee, baby, oowee”, McCartney is in his element.

That’s All Right Mama/Just Because

Paul sings Presley – and two songs from the birth of the legend when Elvis was signed to Memphis-based Sun Records. Owner/producer Sam C Phillips had insisted that if he could discover “a white man with the negro feel”, he’d become a millionaire. He felt that in 19-year-old Elvis Presley he had found such a person.

Paul’s ‘one-take sessions’ have much in common with how Phillips initially recorded Elvis live in the studio. As such, these two tracks come much closer to faithfully recreating the atmosphere synonymous with the legendary Sun Sound rather than concentrating on merely duplicating the sound and nothing else.


This George Gershwin song was integrated into rock ‘n’ roll by that most notorious of rock’s outsiders, Gene Vincent. Stateside, Vincent was never afforded the same kind of God-like status he enjoyed in France and Britain due to the fact that his uncompromising rough-edge working class image was out of favour in an environment where squeaky-clean Fabian and Frankie Avalon dominated. As with Little Richard, Paul’s friendship with Vincent stems from those days when The Beatles took second billing to the American rocker.

‘Crackin’ Up’

Named after its Mississippi-born creator – singer/guitarist Bo Diddley – the ‘Diddley Beat’ is the most unique of all rock’s many blues-based rhythms. A highly distorted hard-edge mix of heavily amplified guitar and pounding jungle drums, the rhythm is said to have derived from both the trademarks’ knock and the barbershop term “shave and a haircut – six bits!”

Not only were Elvis’ early stage antics copied from Bo Diddley’s Apollo Theatre appearances but, together with Chuck Berry, it was Bo Diddley who defined the sound of such Swingin’ Sixties British Beat Groups as The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Yardbirds and Mick Green’s band The Pirates.

In the hands of McCartney and his musicians, this obscure B-side is transformed from underground status to a major league performance.

Midnight Special

Midnight Special is public domain and anyone personally rearranging the song has the legal right to claim a composer credit. The legendary blues artist, Leadbelly first claimed it sometime between 1918 and 1925 when serving time for murder in Harlem – an all-black Texas prison.

The prison, which no longer exists, was located near Sugarland just outside of Houston and the words in the song, “Let the Midnight Special shine its ever-lovin’ light on me,” refers to the prison myth that if the light of that train from Houston shone on an inmate he would be freed.

Paul’s easy-action version retain elements of its original blues roots by way of his nimble acoustic guitar pickin’.

Roy Carr
New Musical Express
London, May 1988

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