Thursday, October 24, 2019

"Stranglehold" by Paul McCartney

Song#:  2931
Date:  11/15/1986
Debut:  97
Peak:  81
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  McCartney's sixth solo-billed studio album, Press to Play, did not get off to a great start. The LP's first single, "Press," was not a significant hit. It failed to get close to the Top 10 stopping at a low #21.  McCartney needed a follow-up single to do well in order to push album sales and this track was selected for the task. Unfortunately, it performed even worse only spending a minor few weeks near the bottom of the chart. A third single, "Only Love Remains," would actually be a hit at AC getting to #9, but it failed to reach the Pop chart. Without a significant hit to promote the album, it stopped at #31 and failed to reach gold-level sales. It was McCartney's first post-Beatles studio album to not get a sales certification. The disappointing results of the album sparked McCartney to work extra hard on his next effort, which he would not have ready until the summer of '89.

ReduxReviewPress to Play wasn't an album that was full of viable singles. Besides "Press" there wasn't much in the way of radio-friendly material. It probably wasn't the case, but I kind of feel that by this point McCartney still wanted to experiment a bit, but had an attitude like "hey, I'll record what I want and I'm sure something will stick and it will be a hit as usual." Not necessarily complacent, but perhaps figuring that whatever he did would be received with open arms and without question. I'm sure his management had a bunch of yes-men that concurred, which never helps. While the album was certainly an interesting one in his catalog, it wasn't one with commercial prospects. The first single faltered and then this jazz-rock-blues track fizzled big time. And it should have. It wasn't even close to being single-worthy. The single that the UK got instead of this one (see below) was an even worse candidate, although it was a more interesting listen. I think McCartney learned after this album that not everything he did would lead to gold and if he wanted to continue to compete with the popular artists of the day he was going to have to raise his game and not rely on his legendary status. It would take him nearly three years to complete his next album, so it seems he did take a step back to reorganize. Did it pay off? Tune in when this blog finally gets to '89! In the meantime, we are stuck here with the messier side of McCartney.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This single was only issued in the US and Canada. In other territories the second single from the album was "Pretty Little Head." It didn't perform any better only getting to #76 in the UK. "Only Love Remains" would be the common third single. It didn't reach the US Pop chart, but it did get to #34 in the UK.  2) The 80s were the decade of the event/charity song thanks to "Do They Know It's Christmas" and "We Are the World." After Press to Play and before his next album in '89, McCartney would contribute to three charity-based singles. The first was a remake of The Beatles' "Let It Be." Organized by the UK tabloid The Sun, the single was to benefit victims of a ferry that capsized after leaving the docks in Zeebrugge, Belgium, killing 193 people. The song featured a long list of musicians including McCartney, Kate Bush, Boy George, and Kim Wilde. It was released as being by Ferry Aid. The song reached #1 in the UK. Next was the 1988 single "Children in Need," which was organized by the BBC for their charity of the same name. The single was listed as by Spirit of Play. McCartney was the only superstar to work on the song. He produced it and played bass. The indie-released song didn't get a lot of attention and only peaked at #72 in the UK. Finally, a few Liverpool artists including McCartney, Holly Johnson (Frankie Goes to Hollywood), and Gerry Marsden (Gerry & the Pacemakers) got together to record "Ferry Across the Mersey" as a benefit for the victims of the Hillsborough Stadium disaster prior to an FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. Masses of people trying to get into the stadium for the match caused a backup and it ended up with a giant crush of people where 96 died and over 700 were injured. The single would reach #1 on the UK chart. Marsden wrote the song and it was originally recorded by him and his band the Pacemakers in 1964. It would be a hit the UK (#8) and the US (#6).


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