Paul McCartney's "Unplugged (The Official Bootleg)" album story...
Paul McCartney's album "Unplugged (The Official Bootleg)", released in May 1991 in the UK by producers Joel Gallen and Geoff Emerick, was one of the first albums in the history of world musical creativity, which was released in an acoustic interpretation.
In the 1990s, the so-called “off” albums, featuring an acoustic style of performance, became a real explosion in rock and rock and roll circles, they seemed to gain a monopoly on the MTV channel and on many radio stations. But initially, the bands approached the creation of this type of album with a trick: it was an easy way to create new hits from shortened excerpts of recordings of old songs.
The "Unplugged" album marked Paul's debut on his own solo career after playing in a band for a long time. After several albums released by Paul, he became, perhaps, the ideal embodiment of the musical image of the singer, in the compositions he managed to realize the old hits so simply and tastefully, replaying them in his own creative way, that the peculiarities of the sound and timbre of the voice captivate listeners to this day, without leaving indifferent lovers of the classics of the genre.
Background of the album
At the turn of the 80-90s, the first experimental music in the history of music called "Unplugged" appeared on the popular MTV channel.
The peculiarity and uniqueness of the show was that the artists performed their compositions only using ordinary instruments: drums, guitar and piano. The literal translation of the adjective "unplugged" sounds like disconnected, in this case we are talking about the fact that during the performance there were no sound amplifiers that are usually connected to the guitar to increase the sound effect.
Thus, the sound of the songs performed on the TV show turned out to be alive and real, which the audience immediately liked. With the development of a new musical program, albums of famous performers with the same name began to appear at that time, they were released in a limited edition, designed for a narrow circle of true connoisseurs of this style. Also, popular artists began to adhere to this style even during concerts, drawing huge crowds of people.
Among those who were among the first to play on the show were Jethro Tull, performing as part of three members of the legendary rock band (Ian Andreson, Dave Pegg, and Martin Barr), they performed two of their most famous songs on the program.
After the band's acoustic debut, other representatives of various genres of rock, country and rock and roll began to come to TV shows.
Paul McCartney first appeared on the show in 1991. Subsequently, the artist admitted that participation in the show was a breath of fresh air for him and even a new stage in his creative life. A few months before Paul was invited to the show, he was on a world tour in which he had to play a huge number of songs at countless concerts. Most of the compositions were played using sound amplifying devices, which prevented McCartney from giving his best and singing live.
Paul McCartney enjoyed this musical experience so much that his acoustic "Unplugged (The Official Bootleg)" is released just 2 weeks later. It is noteworthy that the artist was one of the first to record songs in an acoustic version. After McCartney, "disconnected" albums began to appear on store shelves under the authorship of Nirvana, Kiss, Bon Jovi, Bob Dylan and other cult artists of the genre.
“This is where we started,” Paul McCartney himself said after the release of an acoustic album recorded at a concert, referring to the influence of the cult band The Beatles. Indeed, if you listen to excerpts from the recording, you can see that the roots of the performance and the characteristic features of the performance are closely connected with the group, but the listeners and fans liked the compositions so much that the album caused a real stir and popularized the well-known TV show “MTV Unplugged” at that time. At a rehearsal for a TV show, an interesting incident once happened: one of the managers turned to Paul: “Can I ask you to sing a song from your album again?” To which he replied: “Of course, which one?” The manager said, "Blackboard." And so the name of one of the songs on the album was born, we are talking about "Blackbird."
It is worth saying that after the peak of Paul McCartney's popularity, after his performances at concerts in 1989-1990, the singer gathered huge crowds of admirers of his songs, which served as an impetus for new creative research, and an unusual and even completely opposite version of performance appeared.
For the TV show, the figure of McCartney with an acoustic performance of his favorite old and modern songs has become a key one, before that none of the guests dared to apply such a musical style, it was too risky.
A notable fact of McCartney's performance on the show was the singer's refusal to use all sound amplifying devices connected to several types of guitars that McCartney used in his songs; along with the fact that other participants in the acoustic show performed songs with additional amplification of the sound, which made their voices somewhat false, and their performances were dry and insensitive, McCartney caused a resonance among everyone, since for the singer it is a difficult and responsible step to abandon the usual comfortable additions to the musical professional life. For McCartney, such an action was truly an outlet, because before participating in the show, he spent a whole year on tour with a huge number of concerts, sharpened by technical devices, huge crowds of people and the lack of personal return to the process of performing his favorite soul-stirring music. Microphones were placed close to the singer, and separately placed near the guitar itself, in order to catch every string sound born right from under the master's fingers.
But in 1991, the album caused a wide public outcry, and in addition to England and the USA, where he had been in high positions for a long time, the compositions were listened to all over the world due to the individuality of the album.
Due to the fact that Paul McCartney was loved in musical circles, the experimental album was approved by the majority of fans. Initially, the release of the album was supposed to be in small quantities, and the cover design was very similar to the album “Back in the USSR”, later the album cover was creatively modified and made more unique.
In the album itself, oddly enough, you can see a few songs by McCartney himself: mostly there are recordings of the singer's covers of famous songs in the style of rock and roll, country, blues, rock. McCartney's performance forces us to reconsider the rather monotonous performance by representatives of the genres of the 1950-70s, and to see a bright individuality in McCartney's interpretive versions.
Just a few months after release, the album took a respectable 7th place in the UK music charts, which is a good result for the debut and experimental style of the album, in America the album reached 14th place. The album managed to keep its results in the charts for 3 whole weeks. Success was the best in almost 10 years of Paul McCartney's career.
It is worth noting that the vinyl record was released by the Hispa Vox label, the largest song recording organization, which indicates the high value of the album. Moreover, the description of the album inside the record was written in Spanish.
Less than a year later, McCartney is touring Europe acoustically performing songs from the album, his performances are causing a stir and almost worldwide recognition.
Thus, the album became one of the first recordings of the "live" television show MTV Unplugged. In total, the album includes 17 songs performed by Paul McCartney, his wife Linda McCartney and Hamish Stewart. The rest of the musicians took part in the recording of the album through the acoustic accompaniment of piano, bass and drums.
And on the TV show itself, Paul performed several songs that were not included in the album, among them were songs by Elvis Presley and The Beatles.
On average, the album's songs are about 2.30 minutes long, and the mood of the songs is romantic and lyrical, which gives McCartney's voice grace and incredible beauty.
Songs included in the album
The composition is a cover of a song by the classic representative of rock and roll - Gene Vincent. Under the performance of McCartney, the melody has acquired a fresh and multifaceted look: a playful and melodic performance fills the song with a subtle romantic touch. The croaking in McCartney's voice, the cyclical change of high and low tones, the incendiary guitar solo in the middle make the composition come alive.
"I Lost My Little Girl"
One of the most intimate and valuable songs of the album, written by McCartney at the age of 14, dedicating it to his dead mother. After so many years, the singer decided to touch on the deep desires of his soul, realizing them in the text, and he did it brilliantly. Despite the fact that the composition is very short and lasts only 1:45, every second of it is filled with love, and the very mood of the song is quite optimistic, which also speaks of the unusual style of presenting even the most exciting topics.
"Here, There and Everywhere"
One of McCartney's favorite songs performed live. John Lennon was recognized as the author of the composition along with Paul, although it was McCartney who wrote most of the song, which was reflected in the acoustic performance and full dedication to the lyrical mood of the song. A special style of the composition is given by the use of different keys throughout the song.
"Blue Moon of Kentucky"
The original song was written back in 1946 by Bill Monroe, who performs in the country style. McCartney adds to the solo composition the zest of his individual performance and vision of songs almost 50 years old. The cover will turn out bright and very fresh.
"We Can Work It Out"
The famous song of The Beatles, McCartney wrote most of the text himself, devoting lines to his complex and tragic love relationships, and John Lennon brought a philosophical and optimistic look to the last verse of the song, which made the song completely unique.
"San Francisco Bay Blues"
The composition, written by McCartney's idol Bill Monroe, the general mood and sound of the song is very reminiscent of "Blue Moon of Kentucky", but this song has more guitar solos, and very little emphasis on the text component.
"I've Just Seen a Face"
The song that Paul McCartney wrote while still in The Beatles was dedicated to the singer's aunt, she really loved to listen to this melody. Boyish enthusiasm, the spirit of hooliganism, a quick succession of guitar strikes and voice accompaniments fill the composition with freshness and incendiary energy. The softness and simplicity of the song was added by the absence of a bass guitar.
The debut song of Paul McCartney, which was born in 1970 in Greece, where the singer went to rest and be filled with future creative urges and inspiration.
The lyrical mood of the composition is connected with McCartney's experiences related to the breakup of the group, each line of the song and the low key of the composition are filled with deep sadness and despondency, but at the same time, the song has a stunningly beautiful sound.
"She's a Woman"
Being released in 1964, the composition became one of the most unusual for The Beatles, high notes, alternating acoustic and bass guitars, the focus of the lyrics on a simple attitude towards immoral things, make the song actually, if we talk in today's way, a hipster melody. In the world charts, the song took a good 4th place for a long time, and later several interesting covers were recorded on it.
Hi Heel Sneakers
A cover recorded by McCartney of a 1963 Tommy Tooker song. The blues, as a rather unusual style for McCartney, made it possible to take a fresh look at the singer's interpretation of the standards of solo music performance. Very incendiary, in the spirit of Presley and with a twinkle. And the guitar solos are a masterpiece.
"And I Love Her"
A love song dedicated to McCartney's lover at that time - Jane Asher. Perhaps one of the most tender and sweet compositions of the group's creative path. The song is played in different keys, with unexpected transitions from E to F chords, creating a feeling of polyphony and complete immersion in the melody. Although the song is not particularly bright, with explosive and exciting interruptions, its sincerity and tenderness make the song one of the most beloved.
"That Would Be Something"
A classic McCartney song that vividly expresses his ideas, mood and direction in 1970. The composition itself is short, the lines are often repeated, and one can understand that in the composition McCartney addresses his mother, he misses her: "That would be something, to meet you in the falling rain, momma." It cannot be said that the performance is purely depressive, the melody is filled with lively notes and interesting transitions.
No less famous is the song "The Beatles", written by Paul McCartney. The idea to create a text dawned on McCartney's mind when he listened to the compositions of Johann Bach, which cannot but surprise, because the musical direction of guitarists is very far from the classics. The song contains incredible combinations of different keys, and the masterfully composed and perfectly combined play of opposite chords fills it with grace and kindness at the same time.
"Ain't No Sunshine"
McCartney's cover of a Billy Withers song released by the musician in 1971. Even Michael Jackson sang the song, it is so unusual and exciting. McCartney's version is striking in that for the first time the singer does not play the guitar, does not sing, but plays percussion instruments - the drums. This is a truly unique approach to expressing the musical performance of a singer positioning himself as a guitarist and vocalist. An excellent addition to the composition for drums was the piano.
Good Rocking Tonight
The authorship of the song belongs to Roy Brown, who wrote the composition in 1947. Success in its performance was achieved by the well-known Elvis Presley, who released his version in 1954. McCartney's performance is a classic example of incendiary rock and roll that makes you want to dance to. The singer's brilliant transition from sad moods in music to upbeat and really bright ones. McCartney has a similar style of performance: laid-back, lively and even professional.
"Singing the Blues"
Popular song released by Melvin Endsley in 1956. McCartney's unique interpretation of the song was brighter and more perky, and on the MTV show he played it brilliantly. Immersion in music, masterful guitar playing and clear voice captivate the audience and do not leave indifferent.
Paul McCartney's solo composition, released by him in 1968 at the beginning as part of a group, and in 1970 reissued and finalized already in the singer's individual album. The sad mood of the song is transmitted to the listeners, a short and very simple text clings to the soul, makes you think about ordinary everyday things. McCartney's compositions are unique precisely for this: the opportunity to look at life and the world differently, in a different, more important quality.
We can better understand the characteristics of McCartney's early influences not only from his performance of bluesman Jesse Fuller's signature song "San Francisco Bay Blues" (a Quarrymen favorite), but even from the introduction, in which McCartney lets listeners know that the first version of the tune he was introduced to , was the folk legend Ramblin Jack Elliott. The covers of Bill Monroe's classic "Blue Moon of Kentucky" and Jimmy Reed's hit "Hi Heel Sneakers" also highlight the musical world to which the young McCartney opened his ears in the early years of his career as a musician.
Despite a slow version of the blues "That Would Be Something", McCartney's deep 1970s version, McCartney still finds time to add a few Beatles tunes to the set list. And in this context, songs like the elegant ballad "Here, There and Everywhere" and "I've Just Seen a Face."
Speaking about McCartney's performance style, one cannot fail to note the skill of his reincarnation: he can play sad, lyrical compositions, and he is no less chic in the performance of incendiary blues, which makes him an unsurpassed and brightest representative of the genre.
The album itself was not popular, like the rest of the solo compositions released by McCartney at the peak of his polarity. It is difficult to find the full version of the album in electronic form on the Internet, but vinyl records are still in demand: the album "Unplugged (1991)" will become a real storehouse for a real guitarist, and lately, every year, the album has become a rarity, which makes it especially valuable.