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Unplugged - The Official Bootleg
1. Be Bop-A-Lula:
Though covered by the Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis, John Lennon and now – for the first time – Paul McCartney, these musicians and the many others who have recorded ‘Be Bop-A-Lula’ willingly tug their forelocks to the inimitable original, taped in Nashville on 4th May 1956 by it’s co-composer Gene Vincent, backed by his Blue Caps. One of the hardiest of all rock and roll perennials, it remains a classic period piece. This was also the first record that Paul ever bought.
2. I Lost My Little Girl:
Historic is the word – ‘I Lost My Little Girl’ was the first song composition by a bright-eyed boy-scout from Allerton, Liverpool; written at 14, towards the end of 1956/early 1957, a few months before he would team up with the Quarry Men to skiffle his way around Liverpool. Not only was Unplugged Paul McCartney’s first public performance of his song in more than 30 years – listen for the authentic Buddy Holly hiccup – but this is also its first commercial release.
3. Here, There and Everywhere:
First recorded by The Beatles over three days in June 1966, issued two months later on Revolver, but never performed live by the group, nor it’s writer Paul McCartney in the 25 years since – until now. Owing much to its great beauty, ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ remains every inch a ‘standard’ in the music publishing sense, miles above it in all others.
4. Blue Moon of Kentucky:
Though he has never before released it on records, McCartney followers in the right place at the right time will recall this one cropping up during Wings’ initial (1972) low-key jaunts around British universities and European cities. Though written by Bill Monroe at the end of 1946 – at which time, plucking his mandolin and backed by his Blue Grass Boys, he taped the first recording – the best know version was cut by an echo-drenched Elvis Presley in only his second Sun Studio session, 6 July 1954. Ray Charles, the Tornados and Al Kooper are among those who have since committed it to disc.
5. We Can Work It Out:
From the days when albums were albums and singles were singles comes this classic McCartney song, taped by The Beatles expressly for the seven-inch medium in a couple of quick sessions while making Rubber Soul in October, 1965. (The original harmonium part is translated here to the accordion by Wix.) Live, The Beatles only performed the song during their final British tour in November/December 1965; this version is Paul’s first return visit.
6. San Francisco Bay Blues:
A good decade before Scott McKenzie famously warbled the attractions of the Bay Area, folk singer/guitarist Ramblin’ Jack Elliott was performing this one around the clubs and the studios. Composer Jesse Fuller recorded his own version in 1960, since when it has entered the canon of many a trouper, from Tom Rush to Richie Havens, Peter, Paul and Mary…and now – assisted by a fine slide guitar contribution from Robbie McIntosh – Paul McCartney.
7. I’ve Just Seen A Face:
Recorded in one mightily industrious June 1965 afternoon session at Abbey Road – which also saw the start and finish of the raucous “I’m Down” – “I’ve Just Seen A Face” is a too-frequently overlooked Beatles track nestling comfortably alongside “Yesterday” and other fine numbers on the Help! Album. But Paul’s fondness for his song has ensured its resurrection once before now, as one of the five Fab Four tunes he performed during Wings’ lengthy 1975/1976 world tour.
8. Every Night:
Another unfairly overlooked song, this one first saw the light on Paul’s debut solo album, McCartney, taped at the beginning of 1970 when, masquerading as one Billy Martin, he was secretly darting around North London studios overdubbing hither and zither. The first two lines of “Every Night” had been around for some years before Paul polished off the remainder on a Greek holiday in 1969. Ten years on, it featured in Wings’ final touring repertoire.
9. She’s A Woman:
Unplugged saw Paul McCartney’s first public performance and recording of this Beatles track since the group quit touring in 1966. Two years before, it sold by the million as the reverse side of “I Feel Fine,” which shot to number one worldwide at Christmas 1964. Once again, that was a start-to-finish-less-than-four-hours recording, from October sessions for Beatles For Sale.
10. Hi-Heel Sneakers:
Written by Robert Higgenbotham, “Hi-Heel Sneakers” has attracted plenty of interest since Tommy Tucker took the first version into the charts in early 1964. (It was still in the US top twenty the week that April when all top five places were occupied by The Beatles). Its success prompted Sugar Pie De Santo’s “answering” song “Slip-In Mules” and charting covers by Jerry Lee Lewis, Stevie Wonder, Ramsey Lewis and Jose Feliciano. Again, never before recorded by Paul McCartney.
11. And I Love Her:
Merit-ranking Paul McCartney’s ballads would be one of life’s most difficult tasks, but it’s a fair bet that “And I Love Her” would claim a high place on most people’s lists. Featured in the movie/album A Hard Day’s Night, it was recorded by The Beatles at the end of February 1964, when they had a “spare” week between returning from the USA and the start of film shooting. Until Unplugged, Paul had not sung this since then.
12. That Would Be Something:
Written in 1969 and the second of three Unplugged tracks that were first introduced on McCartney in April 1970. That original was very much a home-made recording. Paul plugging a mike straight into a four-track, singing and playing acoustic, tom-tom, cymbal, electric guitar and bass, and he has neither publicly performed nor re-recorded it until the welcome taping of this countryish, extended and generally re-arranged version.
While, in the recording sense, “Blackbird” was every bit as solo as “That Would Be Something” – his vocal and acoustic guitar tracks being all that was needed – Paul’s original version first appeared on The Beatles (the “White Album”) in November 1968, five months after recording. Another “just-so” McCartney ballad, it was revived for Wings’ world tour and so can be found on Wings Over America.
14. Ain’t No Sunshine:
With Hamish handling the soulful vocals, Paul wields the brushes, Wix plays bass and Robbie switches to piano on this recording, by no means Paul’s first occupancy of a drum-stool (there’s the Band On The Run album, for starters…) Author Bill Withers had the original hit with a Grammy-grabbing version that broke into the US top ten the week “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” sat at number one, in September 1971. Many covers followed: the Temptations, Michael Jackson (he, not Withers, enjoyed the British hit), Isaac Hayes, the Shirelles, even jazzers Roland Kirk and Lionel Hampton.
15. Good Rockin’ Tonight:
Paul McCartney’s first release of the rockabilly number which stole the A-side of Elvis Presley’s second Sun single in September 1954, recorded with Scotty Moore and Bill Black at the label’s legendary Memphis studio. But Presley’s was not the song’s first recording; author Roy Brown and also Wynonie Harris had scored R&B hits with it in 1948, and nor was it the last, with Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, Georgie Fame and even Gary Glitter since adding it to their recorded repertoire.
16. Singing The Blues:
In the days when the British media liked nothing more than to contrive “pop” rivalries, Guy Mitchell’s US recording and Tommy Steele and the Steelmen’s chirpy homegrown cover of “Singing The Blue” were pitched against each other in January 1957 and, ultimately, both took the song to number one. (In the US, the “battle” was between Mitchell and Marty Robbins, both correctly accentuating the tune’s country feel, as written by Melvin Endsley.) Other versions have followed, from Burl Ives to Johnny Burnette, the Mills Brothers to Jerry Lee Lewis, and Dave Edmunds (a 1980 UK hit) to this first release of the song by Paul McCartney.
An instrumental rendition of a song from the 1970 McCartney (which also included a version with lyrics). The composition dates back to spring 1968, written in India when The Beatles were studying TM under the Maharishi; when they returned, Paul routined a demo with The Beatles, but the song did not surface publicly until McCartney. This is the first subsequent version. – Mark Lewisohn.
Live Recording and Mixing: Geoff Emerick;
Assistant Engineers: Peter Craigie, Gary Stewart & Eddie Klein;
Monitor Engineer: Gary Bradshaw;
Band Technicians: John Hammel, Keith Smith & Sid Pryce;
For MTV: Joel Gallen – Producer;
Bruce Gowers – Director;
Design: Mike Ross/ Normal Service, London;
Photography: Eugene Adebari;
Paul McCartney: Lead vocals, acoustic guitar, drums on “Ain’t No Sunshine.”
Linda McCartney: Vocal harmonies, harmonium and percussion;
Paul ‘Wix’ Wickens: Piano, accordion, shaker, vocal harmonies, acoustic bass guitar on “Ain’t No Sunshine.”
Blair Cunningham: Drums, percussion on “Ain’t No Sunshine.”
Hamish Stuart: Lead vocals on “And I Love Her” and “Ain’t No Sunshine,” acoustic bass guitar, vocal harmonies, six string guitar on “Ain’t No Sunshine.”
Robbie McIntosh: Acoustic six and 12 string guitars & dobro, vocal harmonies, piano on “Ain’t No Sunshine.”