Pipes Of Peace

Paul McCartney

Capitol, 1983

http://www.paulmccartney.com

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/16/2007

There’s something about Pipes Of Peace that is so endearing, it is almost like a guilty pleasure. It may not be as good as its predecessor Tug Of War, but it’s obvious that both Paul McCartney and producer George Martin wanted this album to be just as impressive. 

The first four songs certainly are right up there in terms of quality, but then it completely falls apart in the four songs that come next. Even three bonus tracks tacked on to the re-release can’t make up for such a glaring fumble.

Let’s start with the good news. As far as the original track listing is concerned, Pipes Of Peace begins and ends on some incredible high notes. The two songs leading the charge are the title track and the hit duet with Michael Jackson, “Say, Say, Say,” which is marginally better than their previous attempt “The Girl Is Mine.” The harmonica is used to great effect here and seemed to be all the rage in 1983, since it was also featured in Culture Club’s huge smash “Karma Chameleon.”  bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250

Back then, the combination of Jackson and McCartney was electric, though they weren’t immune to the occasional misfire. Case in point is “The Man.” With misplaced guitar solos and a ridiculous, happy Disney tone, this song is an utter failure. When they make the “dramatic” announcement, “This is the man!” I couldn’t keep from laughing out loud.  The tepid ballad that had come before it says it all, “So Bad.”

Then, if you can believe it, things get even worse with the next two tracks, “Sweetest Little Show” and “Average Person.”  “Sweetest Little Show” continues on in the same syrupy vein that makes you want to gag. Forget about “Say, Say, Say”, because by this point of the album, I was banging my head against the wall asking, “Why, why, why?”

Listening to such an infuriating mess made me want to ram that acoustic guitar down McCartney’s throat.  As if all that wasn’t enough, there’s canned applause thrown in.  Talk about an act of desperation. 

As for “Average Person,” we are left having to endure Paul and his background vocalists attempting to sound like kazoos. That’s all I needed to hear to be totally convinced Paul McCartney has completely lost his mind.

Thankfully, the fun instrumental piece “Hey Hey” attempts to put things back on track.  The colorful pastiche of “Tug Of Peace” is also rather catchy with its terrific percussion, while the closing tune “Through Your Love” is arguably his best solo ballad in years.  The bonus track “We All Stand Together” also helps to erase the bad aftertaste of the middle section of the album, but it’s next to impossible to eliminate such an indelible memory altogether. 

I’m still not sure what Paul and George attempted to achieve with such preposterous material, but alas, the blemish is there and there it will forever stay. McCartney may be the Beatle with the longest track record and the most albums, but sometimes quantity doesn’t equal quality.  Oh well, at least he’s still ahead of Ringo.

Rating: C+

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© 2007 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol, and is used for informational purposes only.