The 1980’s was a tough decade for Paul McCartney’s career.
It started out okay for him with the release of the experimental one man show “McCartney II” album in 1980 (which contained the number 1 smash “Coming Up”) then a couple of years later hit a high point with the commercially and critically acclaimed “Tug of War” in 1982.
But his career began to take a major drift into the abyss with his successful duets with Michael Jackson (“The Girl is Mine” and “Say Say Say”) which angered many long-time fans with whispers of being a sell-out then headed straight into the crapper with the commercial and critical flop of the movie “Give My Regards to Brad Street” in 1984.
While the lovely song “No More Lonely Nights” rightfully hit the Top Ten in late 1984 McCartney’s commercial viability took a major slide shortly thereafter and by 1987 McCartney seemed to be adrift as he lost his sense of what direction he should take his music and how to remain relevant.
Truth be told I’ve always loved this era of McCartney music and the trio of albums produced by George Martin (“Tug of War”, “Pipes of Peace”, “Give My Regards to Broad Street”) are among my favorites of his solo career.
All of them encompass my high school listening years and while there are some low points on the records and they are slickly produced nonetheless they are all uniformly excellent albums and ones I frequently travel back to for some listening sessions each year.
This brings me to the point of this blog post. In 1989 Paul McCartney was on the verge of an historic comeback to the concert stage and wanted to release an album before the tour that he felt was a strong piece of work that could restore him critically and commercially as well as provide him with strong songs to put in his live show.
One of the main things of interest for this album was McCartney’s songwriting collaborations with punk rock darling Elvis Costello which really peaked my interest in the album.
McCartney had released a superb song co-written with Costello in 1987 called “Back on My Feet” as the flip side of the lovely “Once Upon a Long Ago” UK single so I was really excited to see what else the two could come up with as this song had become a personal favorite potentially making this upcoming album something really special.
When the album, called “Flowers in the Dirt”, finally arrived in early June of 1989 I was certainly not disappointed as I felt that it, along with “Tug of War”, was his some of McCartney’s best work of the decade.
This well-crafted album featured several strong songs including the very Beatley first single and Costello co-write “My Brave Face” as well as “Figure of Eight”, “We Got Married”, “Put it There”, “This One” and “Distractions” which to this day remain some of my all-time favorite gems in McCartney’s solo canon.
Today I thought I’d share some of the various original CD pressings I own of the album including photos of the longbox that came with the first US CD pressing as well as a PDO CD pressing I found of the disc sometime last year in a used bin – I just love how the artwork really shines on the disc of the PDO pressing.
The Japanese 2-disc special 1990 tour issue of the “Flowers in the Dirt” album (see above) is one of the highlights in my collection. The second disc of bonus material was my first exposure to some really choice bonus tracks including the terrific “Loveliest Thing” as well as the sublime live rehearsal take of “The Long and Winding Road” and dreaded by many “P.S. Love Me Do”.
This special Japanese 2 CD set was tough to track down at the time so I’m sure it’s a rarity these days but it is certainly one of the best issues of the album to ever be released.
Even with the great McCartney Archive box set reissue of “Flowers in the Dirt” from a couple of years ago (more on that set in a future blog post) some of these bonus tracks never made it to the physical discs in the box (just bonus downloads) thus making the Japanese 2-disc CD set a must have for McCartney maniacs.
The 1993 McCartney Collection CD issue is also a great disc as it sounds really good (it wasn’t really futzed with no noise as some of the others 1993 discs) and contains the wonderful bonus tracks “Back on My Feet”, “Flying to My Home” along with “Loveliest Thing” which makes this 1993 CD worth tracking down.
Well there you have it. One of the best Paul McCartney solo albums, in my opinion, and well worth checking out if you’re not familiar with it.
That’s all for now Be safe and until next time be well!