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LISTEN TO A PREVIOUSLY UNHEARD, ACOUSTIC VERSION OF PAUL MCCARTNEY “CALICO SKIES”

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Paul McCartney has released a previously unheard, acoustic version of ‘Calico Skies’ – listen the track Here.

The original ‘Calico Skies’ featured on McCartney’s 1997 album ‘Flaming Pie’ – his second-highest-charting album of the last 25 years.

The ‘Calico Skies [‘In The World Tonight’ Campfire Acoustic]’ version features on a new boxset containing unreleased demos, outtakes, and rehearsal tapes from the album’s recording sessions. Also containing a newly remastered version of the album, the boxset is released today.

The acoustic version of ‘Caico Skies’ was first recorded on February 25, 1997 when a hurricane struck in the US where McCartney was staying at the time.

Speaking about the making of the track, McCartney told NME: “I wanted to write something acoustic in the vein of Blackbird, something simple that would stand on its own and which you wouldn’t have to put drums on or an arrangement – and if anyone said ‘give us a song’, you could just do it.”

Speaking about the story behind the song, Paul added: “We were in America and they’d just had a big hurricane – Bob, I believe –  and it’d knocked out all of the power so there was no light, everything was candlelit, all the cooking had to be done on a wood fire. And we like all that enforced simplicity. It’s very primitive.

“So, we had a few days of that and because I couldn’t play any records, I spent a lot of time on my acoustic guitar, making up little bits and pieces and ‘Calico Skies’ was one of them. It’s just a simple little song to play to people when you’re sitting around in candlelight, powerless after a hurricane. It’s a primitive little powercut memory.”

McCartney also recently released a new EP featuring a remastered version of ‘Beautiful Night’ with Ringo Starr.
The EP is part of the re-release of ‘Flaming Pie’, which also features a 1995 demo of the track, an alternate ‘Run Through’ recording, and ‘Oobu Joobu Part 5’ – a medley of Beautiful Night-themed chat, alternate mixes and interview recordings of McCartney and Starr speaking about the song.


“GOODNIGHT” THE SONG GIVEN TO RINGO STARR

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“Goodnight” the White Album track would prove to be so tender, so emotionally charged and so delicate that Lennon decided he was not the right man to bring the song home and instead gave the song’s lead vocal over to Ringo Starr.

Talking about The White Album, John made it clear how he saw things. He wanted the new record to “get on with rocking because rockers is what we really are”. Lennon made no secret of his desire to be more authentic, adding: “You can give me a guitar, stand me up in front of a few people. Even in the studio, if I’m getting into it, I’m just doing my old bit… not quite doing Elvis Legs but doing my equivalent. It’s just natural.

“Everybody says we must do this and that but our thing is just rocking. You know, the usual gig. That’s what this new record is about. Definitely rocking.”

That didn’t mean that the album was without tenderness, however, and one such track which saw Lennon open himself up was ‘Good Night’, a song he wrote for his son Julian. Lennon told David Sheff in 1980: “‘Good Night’ was written for Julian, the way ‘Beautiful Boy’ was written for Sean… but given to Ringo and possibly overlush.”

 

Speaking in 1968, Ringo Starr noted that it was such a diversion from Lennon’s usual sound that most people thought it was McCartney who had written the song. “Everybody thinks Paul wrote ‘Goodnight’ for me to sing, but it was John who wrote it for me. He’s got a lot of soul, John has.”

It was a sentiment that McCartney himself reflected at the time, “John wrote it, mainly. It’s his tune, uhh, which is surprising for John— ‘cuz he doesn’t normally write this kind of tune. It’s a very sweet tune, and Ringo sings it great, I think,” he continued, a departure for Lennon meant the song had a “very sort of lush, sweet arrangement.”

‘Good night’ is one of the more touching moments on The White Album as Ringo sings out the beautiful lyrics which reflect on fatherhood and offer up sweet dreams to all those who hear it.
“I think John felt it might not be good for his image for him to sing it, but it was fabulous to hear him do it, he sang it great,” said Paul remembering one of the early sessions of the track back in 1994. “We heard him sing it in order to teach it to Ringo and he sang it very tenderly.

John rarely showed his tender side, but my key memories of John are when he was tender, that’s what has remained with me— those moments where he showed himself to be a very generous, loving person.

“I always cite that song as an example of the John beneath the surface that we only saw occasionally… I don’t think John’s version was ever recorded.”

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FLAMING PIE 2020 AVAILABLE TOMORROW

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Paul McCartney, in the years leading up to Flaming Pie, he reunited with former bandmates George Harrison and Ringo Starr for the Beatles’ historical Anthology multi-media project, and the experience reignited something. He even teamed up with his old group’s producer, George Martin, again. Flaming Pie ended up hitting No. 2.

Two decades on, an expanded Archive Collection edition resurrects the released material along with home recordings, demos and acoustic versions for a more sentimental journey through this nostalgic.

The five CDs not only chart the evolution of the songs found on the finished Flaming Pie, they also document McCartney’s history through the years, especially in the excerpts from his 1995 radio show Oobu Joobu, which collected everything from unreleased solo tracks and rare Beatles cuts to interviews and songs by some of his favorite artists during its four-month run.

Like Anthology, the program jump-started McCartney to revisit his past and form the basic foundations of Flaming Pie. All that becomes more clear in the Archive Collection, which paints a wider portrait of the original LP, remastered here, and just how much of a throwback it really is. Listening now, Flaming Pie sounds like a rebirth for McCartney, who hadn’t made an album this good since Tug of War – though he’d eventually top both with 2005’s Chaos and Creation in the Backyard.

The best songs – “The World Tonight,” “Young Boy” and “Calico Skies,” plus a pair of Starr collaborations, “Really Love You” and “Beautiful Night” – are seeped in nostalgia, more than usual for McCartney. He was approaching his 55th birthday when Flaming Pie was released, and its tone reflects both the calm that comes with age and a comforting settling into the past. The additional tracks show you how he got there.

The early versions work best as fly-on-the-wall moments – like a phone ringing in the background during the recording of one song – rather than blueprints for the finished LP, though there are some of those here too. The B-sides and rough mixes fit better with the album’s overall polished sheen, serving as a more guided road map to the sessions and era. (Jeff Lynne, fresh from the Beatles’ “Free as a Bird,” also co-produced some of the tracks.)

The Oobu Joobu sections mostly focus on Flaming Pie stories and songs but aren’t necessarily essential to the set. Same goes for an hour-long walk-through of McCartney’s studio that begs for visuals. Still, they provide background to the project for those looking to connect some dots.

The extended version of McCartney’s 10th solo LP benefits from a combination of time and historical perspective. It now sounds like a much-needed jolt by an artist who had grown stagnant over the years – not just in the immediate years proceeding the Beatles’ and Wings’ respective breakups, but also in the decade and a half leading up to Flaming Pie. It’s not a great McCartney album, and no amount of extras can make it so. But by returning to the same ground that made him a legend in the first place, Flaming Pie found, and still finds, new relevance in a celebrated past.

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THE BEATLES SONG JOHN LENNON AND PAUL MCCARTNEY RECORDED IN JUST ONE DAY

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The duo Lennon-McCartney began their career being able to write pop tunes with a flick of the wrist. Later, as they matured, Lennon-McCartney delivered texturally rich and lyrically deep songs that beguile and delight the audiences. What’s more, they were capable of writing them pretty damn quickly too.

One song that got some speedy treatment was ‘The Ballad of John & Yoko’ which saw Lennon-McCartney finish writing and recording the song in just one day. “It doesn’t mean anything. It just so happened that there were only two of us there,” said John in 1969.

“George was abroad and Ringo was on the film and he couldn’t come that night. Because of that, it was a choice of either re-mixing or doing a new song — and you always go for doing a new one instead of fiddling about with an old one. So we did and it turned out well.”

With EMI owning Abbey Road studios, it allowed the band to block out the studio for weeks at a time, leaving the opportunity for spontaneous sessions glaring for any Beatle who wanted it. It meant the duo were able to get all the tracks down for the song, with Macca taking on drum duties as well as his usual bass.

Ringo remembered in the Beatles’ Anthology, “‘The Ballad Of John And Yoko’ only had Paul — of the other Beatles — on it but that was OK. ‘Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?’ was just Paul and me, and it went out as a Beatle track too. We had no problems with that. There’s good drums on ‘The Ballad Of John And Yoko’, too.”

“It’s something I wrote, and it’s like an old-time ballad,” said John in the same 1969 interview. “It’s the story of us going along getting married, going to Paris, going to Amsterdam, all that. It’s ‘Johnny B. Paperback Writer.’”

The track goes on to provide a key insight into the life of John, “I wrote that in Paris on our honeymoon,” said Lennon speaking with David Sheff in 1980. “It’s a piece of journalism. It’s a folk song. That’s why I called it, ‘The Ballad Of…”

The chorus to sing “Christ, you know it ain’t easy, you know how hard it can be. The way things are going, they’re gonna crucify me.” It was a deliberately provocative angle, “John came to me and said, ‘I’ve got this song about our wedding and it’s called The Ballad Of John And Yoko, Christ They’re Gonna Crucify Me,” remembers Paul back in 1988. “I said ‘Jesus Christ, you’re kidding, aren’t you? Someone really is going to get upset about it.’ “He said, ‘Yeah, but let’s do it.’ I was a little worried for him because of the lyric but he was going through alot of terrible things.”

Lennon was clearly aware of the offence it could cause and sent a memo to Apple Records’ plugged, Tony Bramwell saying: “Tony – No pre-publicity on Ballad Of John & Yoko especially the ‘Christ’ bit – so don’t play it round too much or you’ll frighten people – get it pressed first.” Still, the song was duly banned by some radio stations in the US and the UK, with some just opting to bleep out the word “Christ”.

It’s clear that John was trying to spread a message about his own life, trying to express his own frustrations and the foreshadowing he saw. It’s a powerful piece and one that works within the duality of life. It also allowed one of the final times Lennon and McCartney truly collaborated on a song.