Thursday, October 31, 2013

Paul McCartney - Pipes of Peace

Following 1982’s Tug of War (click here for that review), Paul McCartney released his fifth solo studio album Pipes of Peace on October 31st of 1983. Today, we will look at it to mark its thirtieth anniversary.

The multi-platinum album charted well across the globe. It reached number 38 in New Zealand, number 20 in Germany, number 15 on the US Billboard Album chart, number 13 in France, number 11 in the Netherlands, number 9 in Australia, number 5 in Japan, number 4 in Sweden and the UK, and number 1 in Norway.

Side one opens with cacophony of warfare on the title track. “Pipes of Peace”, the second single, hit number 43 in Germany, number 36 in Australia, number 23 on the US Billboard Album chart, number 11 in Canada, number 3 on the US Adult Contemporary chart, and number 1 in the UK. The lullaby ballad is a call for the end of fighting and to make the world a better place for the future generations.

“Say Say Say” is the first of two duets with Michael Jackson on the album. The two music legends collaborated previously on “The Girl Is Mine” on Jackson’s 1982 smash hit album Thriller. As the first single, this song charted at number 12 in Germany, number 10 in New Zealand, number 8 in Canada, number 4 in Australia, number 3 on the US Adult Contemporary chart, number 2 in the UK and number 1 in both Germany and on the US Billboard Album chart. I was a big fan of this one back in the day, what with its bouncy, up-tempo rhythm and amusing music video that ran a lot on MTV and other video shows. It played a lot at the dance clubs and parties on campus too. It definitely brings back good memories.

“Other Me” goes with a more stripped down sound, highlighting McCartney at the piano. This song about some self-realization has a catchy hook to it thanks to the backing drum beats

“Keep Under Cover” features snappy string and horn arrangements by Jerry Hey. For me, it has a bit of an Electric Light Orchestra feel with the fusion of classical music and rock.

“So Bad” was on the B-side to the second single. McCartney sings this love song mostly in a falsetto range.

Side two begins with the second McCartney/Jackson duet “The Man”. The two harmonize well on this mid-tempo ballad.

McCartney kicks up a little bit o‘ country with “Sweetest Little Show”.

“Average Person” has a quirky, carnival-like rhythm to it that reminds me of his earlier work with Wings in the late 1970’s. It speaks to the everyday people on the street and their aspirations, no matter how off the wall they might be.

The instrumental track “Hey Hey”, featuring jazz-fusion guitarist Stanley Clarke is next. I like the funky groove to this one - just a fun kind of jam session that goes on for just the right length.

“Tug of Peace” comes across as a mix-mash of the title tracks of his last two albums (though it really is its own song). It does have a decent beat to it and some cool guitar effects to boot.

Closing out the record is the sweeping ballad “Through Our Love”, building to a big dramatic conclusion that echoes the sounds of war at the start of the record.

Pipes of Peace is a celebration of love and humanity, two keynote subjects that song master Paul McCartney had been weaving pop songs about for a couple decades by this point in 1983. Given that the Beatles music was some of the very first pop I listened to regularly as a child, I have a natural like to Paul’s songs.


mls said...

I'm sure I bought my LP copy of this album within days of its release. To me, the standout song is the title track, particularly the beautiful McCartney goodness of the intro/outro.

Say Say Say was hard to escape around Christmas 1983. It was number one for 6 weeks running around then. Didn't the song have a disturbing video that had MJ flirting with sister LaToya? [shudder]

Martin Maenza said...

Mark, I think you are right about LaToya being in the "Say Say Say" video. [shudder indeed]

HERC said...

Don't think I ever saw the video so I am grateful for that and remain shudder free.

At the time of this album's release, I wasn't much into new McCartney music (Beatles and Wings forever!) but damned if my galpal didn't love "So Bad" - wasn't it a single or just a b-side? Took me weeks to figure out it was Paul singing - honestly had no clue. Ended up buying her the cassette of the album and didn't add the CD to my own collection until it was reissued as part of The Paul McCartney Collection about a decade later.

Any thoughts on McCartney's new New, Martin?

Martin Maenza said...

Herc, I have not heard New yet? Have you? Any good?

Like you I am an older fan (Beatles and Wings - only so so on his solo stuff).

"So Bad" was the B-side to the "Pipes of Peace" single.

Haven't seen the video? Check it out -