April 1982, I remember it well. I was just finishing my sophomore year in high school and as per usual for me I was waiting with bated breath for a new album to be released.
This wasn’t just any album mind you. It was an album called “Tug of War” by Paul McCartney and it was the first album he was to release since the death of John Lennon and rumor had it that it was going to be a major return to form and well worth waiting to hear.
Not only was it said to contain some of the best songs of McCartney’s solo career but it was being produced by none other than George Martin, famed Beatles producer extraordinaire.
This was the first full album Martin had produced with McCartney since The Beatles split in 1970 so anticipation was very high that this album would be special. I was so pumped by news about the album on MTV and in various magazines that I could hardly wait to get my hands on it and give it a good spin or two (thousand lol?).
Anyway, I remember the anticipation being so high for the album that the week before it was due in the stores there was a radio special in which the entire album was played on air.
I can’t for the life of me remember what radio show it was but I do remember taping it off the air on a portable tape recorder and playing the special over and over until the record came out in the stores. Ahhh, those were the days.
I also remember that I religiously used to go to a stake out a local book store called Reader’s World each week to look at the latest issue of Billboard magazine as well as any tidbits about the upcoming album.
As I recall the album was delayed a few times so the anticipation was really building up. No McCartney album before or since was greeted with such high hopes and buzz at least for me that’s for sure.
Shortly after the album came out I remember buying an issue of Rolling Stone in which they gave the album a five star review. Five star reviews in Rolling Stone magazine was truly an occasion as the magazine spent most of the 1970’s slagging McCartney and his music off so this was really impressive to me.
Needless to say the “Tug of War” album was and still remains something very special in McCartney’s solo canon for me as it’s the one album of his solo career that brings back the most fond memories.
Of course I loved the album then as well as now so today I thought I’d share photos of five different CD issues of the album that reside in my collection.
They include: the first UK CD pressing, the first US CD pressing on the Columbia Records label, the first Japanese CD pressing, a later Capitol US CD pressing and a mini-lp style Japan CD that was made from the 1993 Paul McCartney Collection masters.
I can honestly say that all five CDs above sound really good but if push came to shove I’d have to say my favorite sounding CD is the Columbia Records version as it just has a sparkle and airiness that’s missing on the others. Actually all three of the first CD pressings of this album (UK, US and Japan) sound damn fine but the Columbia CD wins by a tad.
As for the other two CD issues surprisingly the later Capitol CD sounds damn good as well and the 1993 sounds good too but it would probably be the one that sounds the worst though not bad by any means. It sounds a bit more muted than the others but still very nice though it wins for packaging hands-down for sure.
Take a gander above at the various CD pressings of the “Tug of War” album. And anyone out there whose just getting into this album you must track down an early issue of the CD as the most recent version from McCartney’s acclaimed Archive Collection has been remixed and it really loses the air and sparkle that’s present in the original mix.
You need look no further than to compare the original mix to the remix of the song “Take it Away” as the background vocals on the original mix sound so lush that they seem to float on air but come crashing down to earth in the harsh sounding remix.
If you’re lucky enough to find the Columbia Records CD version stop there as you have the best sounding version on CD that was ever released (IMO).
It’s fun to compare the various CD versions but really any early version is a treat compared to the 2015 remix which just lacks the magic of the original mix.
Well that’s all for now. As usual take care of yourselves and until next time be safe and see you soon.