The soundtrack for Give My Regards To Broad Street was recorded in London at AIR, Abbey Road and CTS studios between December 1982 and July 1984. It was produced by George Martin, with arrangements by Martin and Paul McCartney.
McCartney had wanted all the music in the film to be recorded live and on camera. However, to ensure the performance time was not wasted with multiple unsuccessful takes, Martin insisted that the backing tracks were pre-recorded in the studio, over which the session musicians performed their parts live – a technique The Beatles’ had previously used for the Our World performance of All You Need Is Love.
This method made cinematic history: it was the first time two sets of 24-track recording equipment – one for the pre-recorded tracks, another for the live performances – had been synchronised to cameras. The soundtrack album contained a number of different recordings than were heard in the film, and were likely created from composite mixes made from the two sets of recordings.
A number of unreleased completely live recordings were made on set, featuring McCartney, guitarists Dave Edmunds and Chris Spedding, and Ringo Starr on drums, playing a set of mostly rock ‘n’ roll classics. Starr reportedly refused to appear on Beatles songs, although it is rumoured that they did nevertheless perform versions of Hey Jude, The Fool On The Hill and Band On The Run.
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. From my point of view, I’m looking at a song. I’m looking at one of my songs. I don’t want to be ashamed of anything I’ve written.
Interestingly, the arrangement for The Long And Winding Road was largely similar to the version on the Let It Be album. McCartney’s antipathy towards Phil Spector’s heavy orchestration of the song has been well documented over the years, but in 1984 it was evidently less of an issue.
The song was at least given a proper bass guitar part, with Herbie Flowers proving a more competent player than John Lennon had been on the original. However, McCartney’s eagerness to rework the song unfortunately extended to adding a lengthy saxophone introduction.
For this film we wanted to do a new version of The Long And Winding Road, but you’re faced with the reality of then having to do The Long And Winding Road and improve on The Beatles’ version and it’s not that easy. It isn’t an easy thing to do. It’s a bit of a daunting prospect, but it’s silly never to play it again. That’s how we thought until we said, ‘But this is crazy, come on. It’s my song. I like it. George [Martin] wants to record it. He’s happy about doing it. So let’s do it.’
The soundtrack also contained a version of Yesterday which featured an acoustic guitar and brass backing, and was slightly slower than The Beatles’ 1965 original. In the film, meanwhile, the song was busked by McCartney in London.
One or two people wandered up and looked a bit funny at me. You know, like, ‘Aren’t you Paul McCartney?’ I said, ‘Are you kidding? Yesterday, jinga jinga, all my troubles seemed so far away, jinga jinga.’ You know, I am doing this ridiculous version of Yesterday. I really enjoyed that. If what you do is play a guitar, then the most basic form of that is to be on the street as a busker. It’s real live music and you are actually there, nose to nose with your audience.
The cover artwork for Give My Regards To Broad Street contained various stills from the film, and was designed by John Pasche, Annie Carlton and Sandra Leamon. The photography was by Terry O’Neill and David Dagley.
The album was released simultaneously in the US and UK on 22 October 1984, on vinyl, cassette and the emerging compact disc format.
The vinyl version carried a disclaimer stating: “This record is longer than usual but due to the available playing time on a vinyl disc some editing of the sound track has been necessary in order to retain full volume and dynamic range. Even longer versions exist on cassette and compact disc.”
In late 1984 most McCartney fans were yet to own compact disc players, and many complained at having to purchase the album in multiple formats: one which they were able to play easily, and another which contained extra material but which either necessitated expensive new technology or was of inferior sound quality.
McCartney was evidently keener to take advantage of the greater capacity offered by non-vinyl formats, and several of his subsequent albums contained bonus tracks or longer versions.
The compact disc and cassette versions of Give My Regards To Broad Street contained two bonus tracks – Good Night Princess and a reworked version of the Pipes Of Peace song So Bad. There were also longer versions of Good Day Sunshine, Wanderlust, Eleanor’s Dream and No More Lonely Nights (Playout Version).
In June 1993 the album was remastered and reissued with two bonus version of No More Lonely Nights: an Extended Version which had previously appeared on the 12″ single, and a Special Dance Mix which had been included on 1984 promotional singles.
Although the film Give My Regards To Broad Street was a critical and commercial failure, the soundtrack album fared much better in many countries. In the United Kingdom it topped the albums chart for one week in November 1984, and spent a total of 21 weeks on the chart.
It fared slightly less well in the US, peaking at number 21 on the Billboard 200, although it was certified gold. It was a top 10 hit in Japan, Norway and Sweden.
No More Lonely Nights was issued as a single ahead of the album, and reached number six in the US and number two in the UK. Different versions were released on 7″, 12″ and 12″ picture disc in both countries, containing a variety of mixes of the song as well as the album’s re-recording of Silly Love Songs.
Just weeks after the album’s release, McCartney released We All Stand Together, the soundtrack to a brief animation featuring Rupert the Bear. The song had been recorded in late 1980 and became a top three hit in the UK, but was not released in the US.
McCartney purchased the rights to Rupert the Bear the day after news broke of The Beatles’ split in April 1970. The transaction was arranged by his new company McCartney Productions Ltd, but it was another 14 years before the project saw the light of day. It had originally been conceived as a full-length animation, but time and financial restraints meant it was just eight minutes long.
The animation was shown in cinemas immediately prior to Give My Regards To Broad Street. Although popular with children, the song marked another low point for McCartney’s standing among critics, which had already taken a battering with the release of the Give My Regards To Broad Street film.