In the late nineteen eighties Paul McCartney set out to top his previous 1986 album Press To Play and started thinking really big. The next album would have to be something special because he planned to follow it up with a major worldwide tour – something he had not done since the Wings Over The World tour of over a decade before.
In preparation Paul began to put together a tour-ready band that would help him with the album as well as be available for the tour. Guitarist/bassist Hamish Stuart (formerly with the Average White Band) came on board as did Robbie McIntosh (formerly a guitarist with The Pretenders). British session drummer Chris Whitten was also added and Paul’s wife Linda was on board for her usual keyboard contributions and backing vocals.
In 1987 Paul began a very fruitful songwriting collaboration with Declan Patrick MacManus, known artistically as Elvis Costello. Four songs that were a product of this “Mac ‘n’ Mac” team-up were present on the new album which would be titled Flowers In The Dirt. Elvis’ contributions to the record were not limited to his songwriting either. He shares the lead vocal with Paul on their track “You Want Her Too” and provides some harmonies and keyboards on other tracks. Paul later stated that he really enjoyed his partnership with Elvis, finding that many aspects of his personality were similar to John Lennon’s.
Paul hired a team of producers including Mitchell Froom, Neil Dorfsman, Trevor Horn and a few others. After nearly a year and a half of recording and perfecting the tracks, one of the Mac n’ Mac numbers, “My Brave Face,” was released as the lead single on May 8, 1989. The album release followed on June 5th and subsequently topped the U.K. and Norwegian album charts and peaked at number 21 on the U.S. Billboard album chart as well as receiving a Grammy nomination for best engineered non-classical album. After releasing a follow up single (“This One” in the U.K. and “Ou Est Le Soliel” in the U.S.), the band finally kicked off the highly anticipated Paul McCartney World Tour which ran from September 26, 1989 through July 29, 1990.
While the tour was taking place Paul put out a few other related releases including a VHS tape titled after one of the tracks on Flowers In The Dirt called “Put It There.” The video featured just under an hour of footage from the actual recording sessions for Flowers In The Dirt. Fans of the album were treated to demos and unfinished versions of many of the tracks as well as discussion between Paul, Elvis Costello and others in the band. Unfortunately Put It There (released to DVD in limited quantities in 2003) has been out of print for quite some time.
For this week’s BROW I have rounded up an early version of the Mac ‘n’ Mac composition “That Day Is Done” that was included on Put It There. The premise of the song is that of a man and his futile attempt at communicating with his lover while he is dead and at his own funeral. Is this some sort of nod towards the earlier and legendary McCartney “death clues?” I’m really not sure. I only know it’s a great song. It includes Elvis Costello on harmonies and Nicky Hopkins on piano (Nicky also played piano on The Beatles’ electric version of “Revolution”). Since the recording is incomplete on the video (only including the second verse and following chorus) I have created a hybrid by filling it in with the finalized version from Flowers In The Dirt. You’ll note the Put It There section is sandwiched in between the first verse with chorus and the instrumental break, which is at a slightly slower tempo but still works out okay as a nice segued mix of this great track. More McCartney/MacManus compositions on TheBeatlesRarity can be found here or here.
The music of The Beatles make great holiday gifts! Here are some Amazon links to read more on, or purchase, some music related to this post:
1) Flowers in the Dirt original 1989 CD, used or new copies available
2) Paul McCartney’s Get Back World Tour 2005 DVD featuring concert footage of Paul McCartney’s 1989/90 comeback World Tour
3) I Wanna Be Santa Claus – 1999 CD of holiday tunes by Ringo Starr.