Archive for Paul McCartney

Shaken, Not Stirred – James Bond Theme Songs

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , , , on October 7, 2012 by 30daysout

Last week, producers of the new James Bond movie Skyfall dropped the epic theme song from the movie, by British singer Adele. When it comes out in the United States Nov. 9  (Oct. 16 in the U.K.), Skyfall will be the 23rd James Bond movie since 1962, and each has had its own theme song.

Some of the world’s biggest artists performed these songs, including Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Nancy Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Paul McCartney, Madonna and Alicia Keys. Which one is your favorite? “Skyfall” certainly measures up to some of the better songs from years past – so let’s take a listen to that one first.

Aside from Adele, which theme songs from James Bond flicks are the best? Let’s pick a handful of our favorites:

The best known song from all the Bond films may also be one of the best: Shirley Bassey sang the theme from 1964’s Goldfinger. This was the Welsh singer’s only U.S. Top 40 hit.

Flip the coin and you get Matt Monro, a British singer who was a huge international star in the 1960s. He cut the title song for 1963’s From Russia With Love, but it didn’t run over the opening credits, as has become the tradition. Instead, an instrumental version ran at the beginning and Monro’s vocal version was heard on a radio in the film and over the closing credits.

OK, so you may have noticed something else up there in the From Russia With Love clip – it starts out with a shot of Bond through a gun barrel, or an eyeball. That iconic opening actually comes from the first James Bond film, Dr. No, from 1962. That little ditty you hear over it was composed by Monty Norman and arranged by the great John Barry – it was the first true James Bond theme song. It’s followed by a highly stylized main title sequence, usually both created by Maurice Binder, but in this case Binder only designed the gunbarrel sequence. Robert Brownjohn is responsible for the title sequence in From Russia With Love.

MP3: “James Bond Theme” by Monty Norman Orchestra

MP3: “From Russia With Love” by Matt Monro

One of my favorite James Bond movies when I was a kid was Thunderball, from 1965. Bond took it to a new level in this one, with some of the coolest gadgets in and out of the water. Shirley Bassey actually cut the first song for this movie, something called “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” but the movie’s producers yanked it at the last minute because the song doesn’t have the movie’s title. So they wrote up a new one and got newcomer Tom Jones to cut it. Here’s Jones doing the song on some TV show back in the day.
By the time they got to You Only Live Twice, the producers of the Bond series were chucking out most of Ian Fleming’s novels and coming up with plots of their own. This fifth Bond movie, from 1967, is Sean Connery’s last Bond film from that decade (he would later return in 1971 with Diamonds Are Forever and the off-brand Never Say Never Again, from 1983). Anyway, here’s Nancy Sinatra doing “You Only Live Twice.”
We get out of the 1960s and into the 1970s with certainly the most acclaimed Bond theme song, “Live And Let Die,” by Paul McCartney & Wings from 1973. What can you say about this one – it’s tuneful, it’s exciting, and it was a HUGE hit on the radio. To this day, it’s a showstopper for Sir Paul whenever he plays live – he whips out the coolest pyro this side of KISS every time he plays this song. If you haven’t yet caught McCartney live, you have a chance in November when he plays a handful of U.S. and Canadian dates.
McCartney’s success inspired the Bond film producers to use more rock and pop stars to do their theme songs, with varying success. We like Duran Duran’s “A View To A Kill” (1985), Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better,” the first Bond song to be titled differently than the film it’s in (The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977), and Tina Turner’s “GoldenEye” (1995), written by the Edge and Bono.
MP3: “A View To A Kill” by Duran Duran
MP3: “Nobody Does It Better” by Carly Simon
MP3: “GoldenEye” by Tina Turner
One more – probably the best of the bunch; let’s go with Shirley Bassey’s “Diamonds Are Forever,” from 1971. This was Connery’s return to the Bond role after his one-movie retirement (do you remember who played in only one Bond movie after Connery? George Lazenby, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969) and Bassey’s second Bond theme after “Goldfinger.” Shirley would do one more Bond theme song, “Moonraker” in 1979; she is the only artist to perform three theme songs from James Bond pictures.

Old Guys and Rock & Roll

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2012 by 30daysout

Paul McCartney, at age 70, is a textbook example of how old guys can still rock.

It used to be very true that rock and roll was not made by old people. “Old” used to mean people over age 30. So what happened?

Bob Dylan (age 71) just released Tempest to glowing reviews – it should appear on the upper reaches of the Billboard album charts in a few days, but probably not at No. 1. Paul McCartney (age 70) is currently performing close to three-hour sets on his “On The Run” tour, which began last summer in New York City. Roger Waters (age 69) and Rod Stewart (age 67) are also touring, while relative youngster Bruce Springsteen (age 62) can’t be dragged off a stage for anything.

Paul Simon (age 70), Crosby, Stills & Nash (average age 69) and the Beach Boys (average age 70) have live DVDs and/or CDs from recent tours. Van Morrison (age 67) is about to release his 34th studio album, Born To Sing: No Plan B, in early October. Mark Knopfler (age 63) and ZZ Top (average age 60) have strong new albums out, Neil Young (age 66) is readying a new album and tour, and the Rolling Stones (average age 68) keep threatening to do something to celebrate their 50th anniversary. And you can’t stop Willie Nelson (age 79)!

So what gives? Is there something in the water?

Well, pretty much all of these guys mentioned above are big draws on the concert circuit so one can cynically say that the lure of the big bucks is enough to get these codgers out of their rockers. Nobody makes money off albums any more, so each of these acts will go on the road to support an album if they haven’t already. Hell, Dylan’s been touring constantly since the early 1980s.

You think maybe it’s an indication that music being produced today somehow doesn’t measure up to those classics of the past? Perhaps – nothing sends concertgoers to the restrooms/beer vendors faster than “a new song off our latest album.” Even superstars like McCartney and Dylan know better than to populate their concerts with new material.

And it’s tempting to say worthless stuff like “do you think we’ll be paying to see Bon Iver or Green Day live in 15 years?” Because unless you are a total idiot, you know the answer is yes. It may not be Bon Iver or Green Day specifically, but it could be that Weezer reunion or the surviving members of Mumford and Sons or the remnants of Radiohead.

Because it’s not necessarily about who is playing, but what they’re playing. It’s rock and roll, and despite what smartasses over the years keep saying, it’s not dead.

It’s pretty damn old, and it’s not pretty (take a close look at the cover of the latest issue of Rolling Stone). But rock and roll is still alive because we want it to be. The footsoldiers of rock and roll are sticking around because we want them to – the audience changes more than the artists, and as we discover new acts we like, we also go back and appreciate the past. My kids know more about the Beatles and the Stones and the Who than I ever did, when I was a teenager and those boys had brand-new songs on the radio every day.

Women seem to know better, they know when it’s time to fade away – although you can make a pretty good case for rockers like Joan Jett and Bonnie Raitt being here for quite a while. Pop artists are another thing entirely: Madonna has well overstayed her welcome and the decline of Katy Perry, Britney Spears, et. al. won’t be pretty.

Perhaps it’s best just not to think about these things. We’re all going to get to the end of the trail – literally and figuratively – one day. Rock and roll is here to distract us from that brutal truth, to keep us dancing until we can’t any more.

So. The Rolling Stones may tour next year? Don’t know about you, but I’m gonna buy a ticket. For a few hours, I’m gonna be young again.

Happy Birthday, Paul!

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2012 by 30daysout

Sir Paul McCartney is 70 years ago today.

One of the greatest songwriters and singers in rock and roll, Sir Paul McCartney turns 70 today (June 18). With the Beatles and later as a solo performer and bandleader, McCartney created some of the best (and worst) music in rock and roll history. He isn’t as cool today as he was in the 1960s or in the early part of the 1970s, but even at the twilight of his career McCartney is still a formidable talent.

In 1965 McCartney wrote “Yesterday,” which the Guinness Book of World Records says is the most covered song ever. It has been covered more than 3,000 times and in the 20th century alone the song was performed more than 7 million times.

Here you have a handful of tunes to represent Sir Paul’s long and fruitful career. McCartney may be rather unfairly judged by his output over recent years, but most of this shit rocks. Happy birthday!

MP3: “Yesterday” by Frank Sinatra

MP3: “Goodbye” by Mary Hopkin

MP3: “Blackbird” by Billy Preston

MP3: “Hey Jude” by Wilson Pickett

MP3: “Maybe I’m Amazed” by The Faces

MP3: “Smile Away” by The Krayolas

MP3: “Let It Be” by Aretha Franklin

MP3: “Michelle” by Iggy Pop

MP3: “On The Wings Of A Nightingale” by the Everly Brothers

MP3: “All Together Now” by Jim White

MP3: “Come And Get It” by Badfinger

MP3: “Give Ireland Back To The Irish” (alternate version) by Wings

MP3: “Every Night” (live) by Wings

MP3: “Scrambled Eggs” by Jimmy Fallon (feat. Paul McCartney)

MP3: “I Saw Her Standing There (Take 9)” by The Beatles

MP3: “The Fool On The Hill (Take 4)” by The Beatles

MP3: “Yesterday” (live, 1965) by The Beatles

MP3: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (live, 1989) by Paul McCartney

Video Du Jour: Paul & Linda McCartney

Posted in News with tags , , on May 21, 2012 by 30daysout

Vintage video for “Heart Of The Country,” off the 1971 album Ram, which gets the deluxe remastered treatment this year. The album will be released tomorrow in a number of different formats.

Paul McCartney official Ram store

Things the Grammy Awards Taught Us

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on February 13, 2012 by 30daysout

This is the future of music?

The last time I watched a Grammy Awards telecast all the way through was when John Denver was the host, and the Eurythmics were the hottest band on the planet (that would be 1982, punk). Until last night – I watched from beginning to end, and learned a great deal in the process.

If you were an alien who just dropped in from another planet and watched the Grammy Awards to see what music is all about, the first thing you would gather is that rock and roll is best performed by old guys. The old guys who bookended the show – Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney – peaked long ago as master songwriters but they’re still both dynamite live performers.

Dave Grohl is an old guy too.

Even though Springsteen’s new song “We Take Care Of Our Own” sounds like about 10 other Springsteen tunes, his rockin’ performance managed to stoke a little excitement for the rest of the telecast to come (and, Bruce hopes, his new album which conveniently comes out soon).

And you can’t go wrong with McCartney doing a Beatles classic; or classics, in the form of “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End” from the Beatles’ Abbey Road album. Sir Paul’s voice has lost a lot of its old bite and he is a clever performer who knows how to manage his limitations.

Which he did by playing the tune backed by his crack touring band (and the awesome drummer Abe Laboriel Jr.) and, next, by turning “The End” into a superstar guitar duel featuring McCartney, his band’s guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray, as well as guests Springsteen, Dave Grohl and Joe Walsh. Everyone acquitted themselves well except for maybe Springsteen, who looked like he ran out of gas after his first solo. Maybe next time invite Glen Campbell to play.

Mike Love, left, hypnotizes you to believe he's standing next to Adam Levine.

Another thing I learned is that the Beach Boys’ 50th anniversary reunion tour may be entertaining mainly for singer Mike Love’s crazy antics. Probably the most clueless man in rock, Love is the musical equivalent of actor Nicolas Cage – a true head case. The only thing older than that merch-table ball cap was Al Jardine’s comb-over … but the Beach Boys actually sounded all right. Probably that’s because Brian Wilson’s backing band is also a crack unit and all the Boys had to do was sing. (Perhaps the lesson here is if you’re an older rocker get yourself a smokin’ band – like Bruce, Paul and Brian.)

I also learned that rhythm and blues has changed a little. Where R&B used to mean Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and Smokey Robinson, it now means Chris Brown. Don’t know if the guy can actually sing – he didn’t last night – but he does a mean backflip. And I hear he has a left hook that would do Ike Turner proud. Otis did win an award though, as the title of a rap song.

This pretty much sums up the entire night.

One more thing I learned is that true talent will always save the day. Thanks, Adele. You deserve every award you get, if only for exposing the likes of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and especially Nicki Minaj as the frauds they are.

So the big lesson we can carry away from Grammy Awards 2012 is that you don’t “get” music by watching stupid TV shows. You need to listen – with your ears, with your brain and with your heart. And only then will you find the music. I think Dave Grohl said that.

As a bonus we’ve added the best moment from last night’s Grammy telecast: a TV commercial from Chipotle that features a neat little story and cool music (Willie Nelson singing Coldplay’s “The Scientist”). Like Chrysler’s Super Bowl ad with Clint Eastwood, this will prove to be the most memorable moment from an otherwise overhyped and bloated affair.

YouTube: “Back To The Start” Chipotle ad

Bonus No. 2: This guy from SPIN snuck into the Grammy Awards, sort of

Bonus No. 3: Houston Press fills us in on just who this “Paul McCartney” guy is

Free Live Paul McCartney concert on Thursday

Posted in News with tags , , , on February 7, 2012 by 30daysout

Paul McCartney will peform an intimate concert from Capitol Studios in Hollywood on Thursday, Feb. 9. You can stream it for free on iTunes – it’s to help promote his new album Kisses On The Bottom, a collection of love songs that comes out today.

The concert begins at 10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST here. From the news release: Kisses On The Bottom is a collection of standards Paul grew up listening to in his childhood, including two new McCartney compositions  “My Valentine” and “Only Our Hearts.”  With the help of Grammy Award-winning producer Tommy LiPuma and Diana Krall and her band— as well as guest appearances from Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder, Paul’s new album is a deeply personal journey through classic American compositions.

The CD will be available at a Starbucks near you – or from iTunes, which will carry a specially mastered (for iTunes) version. You probably already know if this is for you – but if not, here’s a video taste:

Paul McCartney official website

Link to Thursday’s live show (connects to iTunes)

Here We Are Again: Happy New Year!

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2011 by 30daysout

Here’s hoping you had a fine 2011 … and that you will experience a great 2012. See you in the new year.

MP3: “Happy New Year Baby” by Johnny Otis & His Orchestra

MP3: “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year” by Lee “Scratch” Perry & Sandra Robinson

MP3: “New Year’s Resolution” by Otis Redding & Carla Thomas

MP3: “Queer For The New Year” by Blowfly (Not Safe For Work!)

MP3: “New Year’s Resolution” by Donovan

MP3: “Funky New Year” by the Eagles

MP3: “Corrido de Auld Lang Syne” by Little Bobby Rey & Band

MP3: “Sing The Changes” (live) by Paul McCartney

MP3: “The Great Hank” (live) by Robert Earl Keen

MP3: “Party At Ground Zero” by Fishbone

MP3: “My New Year’s Wish For You” by Franklin MacCormack

MP3: “Happy New Year” by ABBA

MP3: “Happy New Year Blues” by Mary Harris

MP3: “Happy New Year” by Lightnin’ Hopkins

MP3: “The End’s Not Near” by Band of Horses

MP3: “Happy New Year” by the Twins

MP3: “Auld Lang Syne” by Chris Isaak

MP3: “New Year”s Eve” by Tom Waits

YouTube: “New Year’s Day” by U2

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