Picks and Pans Review: Tug of War
Since his days with the Silver Beatles, Paul has always heaved-ho toward the sentimental and cute. But with a slightly cynical John Lennon on the other side pulling just as hard for the experimental and unpredictable, they collaborated on extraordinary music. In recent years, though, there hasn't been a counterbalance to save Paul from his most cloying self-indulgences. Some of his albums sound as if they were knocked off before breakfast. Tug of War, however, is a smashing creation that shows evidence of both perspiration and inspiration. It's certainly Paul's solidest LP since 1973's Band on the Run. He is at his best working with a collaborator, and he's got some marvelous musical co-conspirators here. George Martin, often the studio guide for the Fab Four, produced the record and steered Paul in the right direction. Stevie Wonder co-wrote one song (What's That You're Doing?) and sings a catchy, funky-sounding duet with Paul on the instant hit Ebony and Ivory. Paul also invited boyhood hero Carl (Blue Suede Shoes) Perkins to join him on the chipper tune Get It. Ringo Starr drums on a lively number called Take It Away. There are a dozen cuts in all, but most moving is Paul's tribute to Lennon, sentimental without romanticizing their friendship. He sings: "And if I said I really knew you well/What would your answer be?.../Well, knowing you/You'd probably laugh and say/That we were worlds apart." The song shows John's influence can still pull Paul the right way.
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