I could’ve never predicted the success of my Paul McCartney Hidden Gems piece but then again, Paul is still selling out arenas and stadiums around the world, still recording critically-acclaimed and relevant albums and he’s still trending in the social media networks on a regular basis. Just look at his recent incident: being turned away from Tyga’s after-Grammy party. It was big news for days following the awards and most ignored the fact that McCartney was also in the company of heavy-hitters Beck and Taylor Hawkins!

So here, then, is my second installment of some of my favorite Hidden Gems in the Paul McCartney collection. I am focusing here on songs that have been officially released but have, perhaps, been forgotten or are too often ignored when listing McCartney’s finest moments. Once again, I’ve sequenced them for a perfect playlist so … enjoy!

1. Nothing Too Much Just Out Of Sight (McCartney)

(Available on  The Fireman’s 2008 Electric Arguments)

When McCartney and Youth started collaborating as The Fireman back in 1993, they specialised in atmospheric, moody electronic instrumentals. One could never guess McCartney was behind such pieces as “Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest” or “Palo Verde”. By the time they got around to making 2008’s phenomenal album, “Electric Arguments”, McCartney decided he’d improvise some lyrics and vocal melodies on the spot and create songs that were more complete. The album was recorded in 13 single day sessions spread over the course of a year. One song per day. “Nothing Too Much Just Out Of Sight” recalls Captain Beefheart’s “Sure ‘Nuff ‘n Yes I Do” and features McCartney’s screaming blues voice. Though by no means a traditional McCartney rocker, it works powerfully as a raw, guttural blues jam pulled from the depths of his soul. One hates to gossip but, was this aimed at Heather Mills?

 

2. Rode All Night (McCartney)

(Available on the Deluxe Edition of 1971’s RAM)

This could possibly be the most cathartic jam of Paul’s entire solo career. Some have said it’s Paul channeling his inner-Velvet Underground and the track features only Paul on electric guitar with Denny Seiwell on drums. Seiwell is explosive on the track with many flourishes and fills that only seem to push McCartney even further into his release. “I don’t feel sick, don’t feel so bad anymore. Got over it…” sings McCartney, seemingly making peace with the last rather hard years of his life: parting ways with his Beatles brothers and all the financial and legal problems that came with it. Interestingly, Paul later re-wrote and polished-up this song into “Giddy” which he gave to Roger Daltrey for the Who frontman’s third solo album, “One of the Boys”. This track has become one of my favorite running/workout songs with its triumphant and healing cries: “Rode all night till I finally hit the day!”

 

3. Your Way (McCartney)

(Available on 2001’s Driving Rain)

A little respite from the rather loud and aggressive first two songs, here’s a 2001 number that sounds like an early-Wings track with a little country and western twist. This is the cute and romantic Paul on an album filled with a lot of grey, sad songs following Linda’s passing in 1998. He returns to the “Venus and Mars” imagery that served him so well on his 1976 album. It’s one of those tracks whose appreciation depends greatly on one’s appreciation of McCartney. Its vibe is mellow and sweet and the jump in octaves from the first to second verse is pure McCartney.  Lyrically? No great shakes, as he’d say, but the song cannot help but fill me with warmth and joy.

 

4. Daytime Nighttime Suffering (McCartney)

(Available on 1979’s Back to the Egg as a bonus track)

This was first released as the b-side to the disco-flavored “Goodnight Tonight”. It’s one of those McCartney songs built from a few unfinished, incomplete songs put together like “Band on the Run” and side two of “Abbey Road”. Here, he reminds us all to appreciate the work and pain we put women through sometimes with very little appreciation – a song for the mothers, loving wives, big sisters, etc. Thematically, a little bit “Lady Madonna”-like. The song never got the love and attention it deserved and is, to this day, forgotten by most except the most passionate McCartney fans. Its inclusion on 2000’s Wingspan collection was a brilliant decision – the song deserves to be heard!

 

5. Little Woman Love (Paul and Linda McCartney)

(Available on the Deluxe Edition of 1971’s Ram)

This song first appeared as the b-side to 1972’s “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. Yup, you read that right – Paul recorded his own take on the popular nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. “Little Woman Love” is, musically in this instance, a little bit “Lady Madonna”-like filled with love and sexual innuendo. The song was recorded during the Ram sessions and later, McCartney played it live with Wings as a medley along with the reggae-tinged “C Moon”. There are some Macca songs that make me wish I could really play piano and this is most definitely one of them – that riff! It’s important to note the song also features the legendary Milt Hilton on double-bass. Two minutes of pure joy!

 

6.  Single Pigeon (McCartney)

(Available on 1973’s Red Rose Speedway)

I won’t lie to you, despite its mixed reviews, “Red Rose Speedway” is quite probably my favorite Wings album. Each and every track from the album could find itself on my list of favorites but one well-kept secret I absolutely can’t get enough of is “Single Pigeon”. The song tells the story of a pigeon on a Sunday morning that’s just been thrown out by his lover following a “fight about Saturday night”. Like the White Album’s “Rocky Raccoon” or “Honey Pie”, Paul tells us a simple story and draws us in through the charm and loveliness of the melody and sweet harmonies. An exercise in “less is more”, the song is just as sparse in its arrangement as it is short in length. An absolute gem!

 

7. Write Away  (McCartney)

(Available on 1986’s Press to Play)

The ‘80s were brutal on most rock icons of the ‘60s. McCartney’s no exception. Most of the album Press to Play from which this song is taken is not very good. Marred by overproduction and an insistence on playing nearly everything on keyboards instead of instruments, the album is truly a time capsule of the era. “Write Away” is one of those songs you’ll never find on a list of Paul’s hidden gems but – if you ask me? It is ripe for re-appraisal with its addictive ‘80s dance beat and great soulful vocals from the man himself. So take out your Vuarnet sunglasses, oversized sweatshirts and crimp your hair … it’s the ‘80s and we love it!

 

8. The Lovers That Never Were

(McCartney/McManus) (Available on 1993’s Off the Ground)

Of the many songs Elvis Costello and Paul McCartney wrote together in the late ‘80s, this one is by far my favorite. Yes, I’ve heard the unreleased demos but this song speaks to me very directly. Being a great lover of unrequited love stories, this song had me at the title but not only are the lyrics fantastic, Paul’s piano and vocals are also at their very best.  When he gets to the line: “So you must tell me something, ‘I love you’… say ‘goodbye’ or anything!” I get goosebumps, every single time. Interestingly enough, Paul’s never played this song live but Costello did on at least two occasions on his 1987 tour, shortly after the song was written. Vocally, it may just be an acting job, but McCartney sure sounds desperate and at a loss, like the McCartney of “Things We Said Today” and “For No One”. Epic!

 

9. “Free Now” (McCartney)

(Available on 2000’s Liverpool Sound Collage)

This track closes out McCartney’s most experimental album, Liverpool Sound Collage, which is also credited to his Fireman partner, Youth, and Super Furry Animals. He was commissioned to compose and record some ambient music and sounds for an art exhibition – this resulted in this album which was nominated for a 2001 Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album. “Free Now” starts off with the voice of George Harrison guiding the Beatles during the “Think For Yourself” sessions for Rubber Soul and then loops and plays around with McCartney singing about being “free now”. The drums are thunderous and the track sounds pretty much like nothing else in his catalogue. This is the track you play when people dismiss Paul as just a pretty face that writes silly love songs.

 

10. “(I Want To) Come Home” (McCartney)

(Available as a single and from 2009’s Everybody’s Fine soundtrack)

How could such a great, classic-sounding song remain such a well-kept secret? Written for the film “Everybody’s Fine” starring Robert DeNiro, this is one of the many finally sculpted gems in the McCartney crown on which he plays every single instrument (save for the orchestral overdubs, of course). A lovely lyric and subtle vocal, it’s a relief they didn’t get a Celine Dion or Mariah Carey to overdo it. It’s straight from Paul’s heart to ours. “Came so close to the edge of defeat, but I way in the shade keeping out of the heat…” Who says this man isn’t as strong lyrically as he is musically? Superb!

 

Which is YOUR favorite McCartney gem? Let me know in the comments below!

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About The Author

Max Comeau
Blogueur - RREVERB

Intensely passionate about music, Max is in constant search for new sounds yet he never tires of his idols whom he calls his “Pillars”. A musician himself, he released, as singer-songwriter, an album with The Calm in 2007 and, this past June 2015, released his first solo album, “You”. Max has also written a few plays and adaptations which he staged with his theater troupe in the early 2000s. He is thrilled to be part of the RREVERB team to further explore the great classics, as well as the newer classics-to-be, whether ‘en français’ or in English.