Paul Is Live, Paul McCartney’s third solo live album, was recorded in 1993 during his New World Tour.
The tour visited Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, UK, and the USA, and was in support of McCartney’s Off The Ground album.
The majority of the recordings on Paul Is Live were from the US leg of the tour, mainly from Boulder, Charlotte, and Kansas City.
McCartney and engineer Geoff Emerick began selecting songs for the album in June 1993, during a break in the New World Tour.
There were also a handful of songs unavailable elsewhere, although of dubious quality. ‘Robbie’s Bit (Thanks Chet)’ was written and performed by guitarist Robbie McIntosh, and was a Chet Atkins-style instrumental performed while the stage set was adjusted for an acoustic segment.
The other three new tracks were all credited to McCartney. The 41-second ‘Welcome To Soundcheck’ contains no music; instead, crickets buzz and a helicopter flies overhead while McCartney speaks the title.
‘Hotel In Benidorm’ and ‘A Fine Day’ were both improvised pieces, recorded at soundchecks in Boulder and New York respectively. Aware that the songs were little more than throwaways, the liner notes for Paul Is Live carried the disclaimer: “Tracks 22 and 24 were improvised at soundcheck and therefore may not be suitable for people of critical disposition.”
The cover of Paul Is Dead was modelled on The Beatles’ Abbey Road.
On 25 July 1993, McCartney returned to Abbey Road with Iain Macmillan, the photographer who took the celebrated shot of The Beatles on the world-famous zebra crossing.
They had planned to shoot McCartney on the crossing once again, then add in elements from the 1969 original. That idea was abandoned, however, and instead the 1969 shot was digitally manipulated.
The sheepdog on the cover is Arrow, whose mother was Martha.
There had been this rumour, Paul is dead… In 1992, I went back to Abbey Road to record an album; it was a live album, so I called it Paul Is Live. So that’s when I went across the crossing with our old English sheepdog called Martha. I still go back to Abbey Road to this day.
Financial Times, 2019
There are several other differences between the 1969 and 1993 images, which appear to refer to ‘Paul is dead’. The Volkswagen Beetle’s number plate, which originally read LMW 28IF, was taken by some fans to mean “Linda McCartney weeps”, with “28IF” (incorrectly) referring to McCartney’s age in 1969 had he lived. On Paul Is Live the number plate was amended to “51 IS”.
On the Abbey Road cover, McCartney was out of step with the other Beatles. This was said to indicate that he was dead while the others lived. On Paul Is Live he put his left foot forward, in contrast to the 1969 photograph.
Similarly, on Abbey Road he was seen holding a cigarette in his right hand, which supposedly meant that he was an imposter. On the 1993 cover he was holding the lead with his left hand.
Other differences include the removal of The Beatles, police car and taxi. The digital retouching was done by Erwin Keustermans.
The vinyl version contained two discs, with printed inner sleeves, and the CD edition contained a fold-out poster with a collage of tour photographs.
Paul Is Live was released three years after the triple album Tripping The Live Fantastic, and although the two albums have only one song in common (‘Live And Let Die’), the 1993 release was seen by many as superfluous. It was McCartney’s lowest-selling live album, peaking at number 34 in the UK, and 78 on the US Billboard 200.
A video, titled Paul Is Live: In Concert on the New World Tour, was also released in 1993, and was directed by Kevin Godley and Aubrey Powell. It included a controversial feature containing graphic footage of animal testing.