PAUL McCARTNEY Unplugged (1991) + Bonus Unreleased Live Tracks

Unplugged: The Official Bootleg (1991)
A Surprisingly Essential Treat

Believe it or not, Unplugged is one of Paul McCartney’s best albums. I’d place it in my own Top 5 McList, as it offers a well executed cross-section of oldies, obscure solo material and a few Beatle songs not ravaged by time and repetition. Since this album was recorded over two decades ago, Paul’s voice is in stellar form (as are the band’s harmonies) and he has adeptly rearranged some admittedly overly familiar material with surprising new twists. The idea of McCartney covering a moldy rocker like “Be-Bop-A-Lula,” frankly, makes me shiver. But here, the laid back acoustic vibe and Paul’s casually intimate reading is just plain fantastic. The set list boasts some cool choices, including material from his first solo album (“Every Night,” “That Would Be Something” and “Junk”) – all completely forgotten songs on McCartney’s massive world jaunts. Listen to the smooth reworking of A Hard Day’s Night‘s “And I Love Her” – reportedly the first time PM ever played the song for a live crowd – as Paul transforms the ‘a love like ours’ refrain. If you don’t like this one… you just don’t like Paul McCartney. Amazon‘s got it. Don’t forget to get Unplugged – The Rehearsals, in the archives.

Be-Bop-A-Lula (4:05)
I Lost My Little Girl (1:46)
Here There And Everywhere (3:16)
Blue Moon Of Kentucky (4:22)
We Can Work It Out (2:48)
San Francisco Bay Blues (3:29)
I’ve Just Seen A Face (3:01)
Every Night (3:25)
She’s A Woman (3:39)
Hi-Heel Sneakers (4:09)
And I Love Her (4:17)
That Would Be Something (4:02)
Blackbird (2:10)
Ain’t No Sunshine (4:05)
Good Rockin‘ Tonight (3:43)
Singing The Blues (3:47)
Junk (2:27)

Biker Like An Icon EP (1991)
With Three Unreleased Unplugged Tracks

The single, “Biker Like An Icon” comes from Off The Ground (we’ve got Off The Ground – The Complete Works in the archives, which contains two of these live cuts). The three live tracks are all outtakes from Paul McCartney’s “Unplugged” sessions for MTV, and includes a cool cover of The Beatles’ “Things We Said Today.” The original Unplugged was great… these outtakes only make it better.

Biker Like An Icon (3:29) – From Off The Ground
Things We Said Today (live) (3:48) – Previously Unreleased
Mean Woman Blues (live) (2:58) – Previously Unreleased
Midnight Special (live) (4:41) – Previously Unreleased


  • Anonymous
    August 4, 2009 - 01:05 | Permalink

    First to say this one is AWESOME. Willard Rules.

  • Capt. Willard
    August 4, 2009 - 01:17 | Permalink

    Thanks… but McCartney did all the work.

  • Art Ducko
    August 4, 2009 - 02:14 | Permalink

    I've always loved how 'Junk' winds the album out. One of McCartney's best melodies.

  • Capt. Willard
    August 4, 2009 - 03:03 | Permalink

    Yes it is… even though the other Beatles never let it get past the demo stage when McCartney introduced it at some of the last sessions.

  • Wayne
    August 5, 2009 - 09:51 | Permalink

    I concur that this is most excellent when herbally enhanced. Oh yes. It *will* be mine. Schwingggg!

  • Pete
    August 5, 2009 - 16:55 | Permalink

    Run Devil Run is excellent, also. I think Paul lost his editor when the Fabs broke up — and it may have been an internal self-editor. When he's good, he's excellent; and yes herb helps.

  • Hugo
    August 6, 2009 - 04:47 | Permalink

    I grew up listening to Ram and Venus and Mars, and still like them both quite a bit for mostly nostalgic reasons. Bought the 45 of Hi, Hi, Hi with my bus boy tips, cranked it up and wore it out (wish I still had it, that song really kicked ass for its time.)

    Seems like for every two or three really good tunes he puts out comes a dump truck full of pure crapola. Wish he could stay more consistent…

  • Quark
    August 6, 2009 - 18:01 | Permalink

    Macca is an enigma! Capable of great and quirky songs like Every Night, Uncle Albert, Junk, Maybe I`m Amazed, and also total unbelievable CRAP like Mull of Kintyre, and as for the `Press to Play` album, it is (along with `Nigel Kennedy plays Hendrix`), an album that I find totally Unlistenable! and must be one of the worst albums ever made.
    He needed Lennon to throw out the La-La-La`s.

  • MoreLove
    August 14, 2009 - 18:14 | Permalink

    Love this, Willard. It has the vibe. Just wondering — what are the other top 4 McCartney albums for you? I'm hard pressed to name more than two that I even listen to (Band on the Run, Venus and Mars, but I now include Unplugged). I'd rather listen to a compilation album (Wingspan) that includes Uncle Albert and Too Many People than listen to Ram all the way through.

  • Capt. Willard
    August 14, 2009 - 18:57 | Permalink

    Hard to say concretely. The first four months after Ram came out I couldn't stand it. It wasn't long before I considered it his best work, by far. Band On The Run is probably his crowning achievement, maybe his most popular album. But, I don't need to ever hear it again. It's played out for me. I still enjoy McCartney and Wild Life and like some of Back To The Egg and Tug Of War. Flaming Pie had some decent stuff and, though no one else on earth likes it, I still enjoy about half of Press To Play. His latest Fireman album has some incredibly cool stuff on it… maybe his best album in years. So… I don't know… I'd have to re-listen to some of them again and see how they've settled in. But those are some of the stand outs for me.

  • MoreLove
    August 15, 2009 - 13:55 | Permalink

    Never heard Press to Play. Some of Flaming Pie + Some of Driving Rain + Some of Chaos and Creation + Some of Memory Almost Full makes a pretty good album. Throw in some of Flowers in the Dirt as bonus tracks and I'm sold. The point is that the guy's output is a patchwork of gold and shit. And I own most of it!

    Thanks for the site — I love it.

  • Capt. Willard
    August 15, 2009 - 15:02 | Permalink

    Yep… that about sums Paulie up. Since I grew up with the early ones, they hold a little more sway with me. Later ones are, at best, a patchwork. As for Press To Play, I'm not sure why it's so universally ignored. It was produced by Hugh Padgham and had a unique, heavily produced drum sound that was new for a PM LP. Except for the 45, "Press," I liked it. Maybe I'll post it and see what it is people don't like about it. Thanks for commenting.

  • Willard
    July 24, 2011 - 11:42 | Permalink

    Search HERE

    • Mr. W
      July 25, 2011 - 13:13 | Permalink

      Loving your generosity – looking forward to hearing
      Many Thanks

  • July 25, 2011 - 12:39 | Permalink

    Hey Willard, I believe the Official Unplugged disc is incorrectly named.

    I believe the non-vocal version is actually “Singalong Junk.”

    • Willard
      July 25, 2011 - 13:26 | Permalink

      You’re right… but you’ll have to take it up with Sir Paul. On the CD art, he titled it simply, “Junk.”

  • Dave
    July 25, 2011 - 12:59 | Permalink

    I’ve never heard “Press To Play” but my recollection at the time of it’s release was reviewers heralding it as a return to form and Macca’s most focused work in nearly a decade. Bear in mind his previous release was “Pipes Of Peace…..” – which I actually liked a lot, at the time. Gimme a break, I was 16 when it was released and it was the first of Paul’s albums I owned. Lightweight but generally pleasant. The duets with Jacko have not aged well at all but that’s pretty much a given, right?

    • Willard
      July 25, 2011 - 13:32 | Permalink

      Hi Dave. I think you might be mixing it up with another release. Or, maybe read the one guy who really liked it. The album was kicked in the balls pretty consistently on more continents than one. Which I’ve never understood. I don’t think it ranks with his best, but it’s got a number of cool tracks. Pipes Of Peace wasn’t a bad album. You’re right though. Lightweight and the uber-commercial stuff doesn’t hold up as long. You’re also backing up one of my long standing beliefs about people almost always preferring the first thing they owned by an artist. I’ve got a young pal who actually defends Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut. But… the important thing you mentioned is that you haven’t heard Press To Play. So, I guess we’ll have to rectify that. Thanks for commenting.

  • July 25, 2011 - 17:42 | Permalink

    Delightful Stuff! Thanks W!

  • Rick
    July 25, 2011 - 18:58 | Permalink

    Thanks for this one. Should be interesting.

  • Dave
    July 25, 2011 - 19:51 | Permalink

    Well, I was a Rolling Stone subscriber at the time, so at the very least, I am sure I read this: Hardly a kick in the balls, I would say.

    Wikipedia (yeah, yeah, I know….) goes on: “Press To Play itself appeared in September to the most positive reviews McCartney had received in years and stunned everyone by being his weakest-selling album of his solo career.”

    So, while in 25 years I’ve never gon out of my way to hear it, I always assumed it was one of Macca’s more worthy releases. Who knew…?

    • Willard
      July 25, 2011 - 20:35 | Permalink

      Well, I stand corrected. I guess I was confusing his sales with his press. I’ll need to re-write tomorrow’s post. ‘Course, I always hated the single, “Press,” but I listened to it today and it wasn’t as monstrous as I remembered. I need a new mental hard drive.

  • Dave
    July 25, 2011 - 20:51 | Permalink

    Looking forward to that post, either way!

  • July 26, 2011 - 03:22 | Permalink

    Press To Play is one of my absolute fave Mc discs. At the time of release, it was the first cassette I bought to play in my first car.

    So yes, objectivity is out the window, but I like it anyway.

    • Willard
      July 26, 2011 - 11:15 | Permalink

      HA! I know how car tapes go. Just posted one of my favorite car tapes last month, The Original Texas Playboys.

  • Horst
    July 26, 2011 - 07:02 | Permalink

    LOL, I thought that I was the only person on earth who liked Press to Play. That and Flowers in the Dirt are two of my Paulo favorites.

    • Willard
      July 26, 2011 - 11:14 | Permalink

      Interesting. So YOU thought everyone disliked it, too?

  • jeff
    July 26, 2011 - 22:13 | Permalink

    Thanks for all of the Macca. I haven’t heard any of this, have been developing a new appreciation here lately, and look forward to some dazzlement.

  • Sean
    July 27, 2011 - 16:01 | Permalink

    Hey, Band on the Run is great but this is the Macca LP I play most. Thanks for the rehearsal stuff. My friends all seem to feel just like I do about this disc so that offering them your share of the rehearsals just made me a bit of a hero.

    • Willard
      July 27, 2011 - 18:55 | Permalink

      Thanks for the thanks. I got ’em from Reggie, the hero-maker.

  • Gerald Fisher
    July 28, 2011 - 10:37 | Permalink

    “…I’ve got a young pal who actually defends Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut…”

    The Final Cut wasn’t my first Pink Floyd album, and I’m not young, but I liked/like it. :)
    It’s my favorite Floyd album, with Animals coming in second.

    I doubt if I understood what Rogers meant it to be about, back then. It’s definitely quiet, compared to The Wall.

    • Willard
      July 28, 2011 - 10:43 | Permalink

      Always exceptions to the rules, of course… if there are any rules. Just curious. What was your first PF album?

  • Gerald Fisher
    July 28, 2011 - 11:08 | Permalink

    I’m not certain, but it may have been “The Soundtrack from the film More’. I think they showed it (or part of it) on some PBS station and I liked what I heard. I know I had ‘Meddle”. and I may have had ‘A Saucerful of Secrets’. So long ago and memory so shot. :)

    I never owned ‘The Dark Side Of The Moon’. I didn’t like what I’d heard on the radio, though I’ve heard it all in the years since and I think it’s a fine album now.

    I’m pretty sure I bought ‘Wish You Were Here’ solely because of Roy Harper’s lead vocal on “Have A Cigar”.

    Animals was the first Floyd album I really loved. :)

  • Gerald Fisher
    July 28, 2011 - 11:14 | Permalink

    Actually maybe it wasn’t “More”. They showed some videos that looked similar to the psychedlic sequence from ‘2001, A Space Odyssey and the music was by Pink Floyd, I don’t remember what album it was from, but whatever it was, I went out and bought it. I was smoking plenty of ‘herb’ back then and my recollection is hazy. :)

  • Willard
    July 28, 2011 - 11:44 | Permalink

    So you had all those albums, and even had a long term interest in Floyd, but you still perfer The Final Cut to all of them…

    I gotta know why? Does the storyline hit close to home, or something?

  • Gerald Fisher
    July 28, 2011 - 13:47 | Permalink

    Honestly, I haven’t listened to it in a few years…I don’t even know if I have it now. I’ll try to find it and listen again. The songs don’t stand out that much individually, but the album as a whole was emotionally moving to me. I don’t remember why. That’s a poor endorsement for an album; I liked it, but I don’t remember why I liked it. ;) (I liked the jet plane! :) ) I know the album was important to Roger Waters, but only from what I’ve read about it in recent years. Gilmour thought it sucked…and plenty of other people did too.

    ‘The Wall’ was a great album and it has many songs I love, but it didn’t affect me like ‘The Final Cut’ did. It was supposed to be a soundtrack or sequel to (or leftovers from) ‘The Wall’, but Roger Waters changed the theme (and again, I only know that from what I’ve read since). At the time, it felt to me like a (sad…quiet…solemn…moving) coda to ‘The Wall’.

    By the way, thanks for the McCartney unplugged. :)

    • Willard
      July 28, 2011 - 14:15 | Permalink

      Everything’s important to Roger Waters. Cool, I was just curious. And since it runs against the grain of my highly scientific theory on the subject, I was wondering if there was a specific reason – like maybe you lost dad in the war or something. I guess that’s how impossible it is for me to imagine liking that album. But I get it… it had an emotional impact and you liked it. Don’t need much more detail than that. Plus… I’m always up for a re-visit to the Island Of Hated LPs. It’s been a good 15 years since I’ve heard The Final Cut. Seems like everytime I go back the Island, those awful albums aren’t as bad as I remembered.

      Oh… and a side note. I’m reposting some stuff in the next few days. One of them is Roger Waters’ conceptual suite for the film, When The Wind Blows. If you don’t have it, it might be up your alley. Never know. But, the reason I bring it up now is because when I originally wrote it – last year sometime – I put in a dig at The Final Cut. So… since it’s being posted in the next day or so – and we’ve been talking about it – I didn’t want you to think I was diggin’ at you, either. It’s just one of my regular rants.

      Thanks for the insight.

  • Don
    May 3, 2013 - 23:22 | Permalink

    Thank you sir. You are much too kind!

  • James
    July 10, 2013 - 22:54 | Permalink

    Link down again.
    Could you please restore again?

  • Anonymous
    January 16, 2014 - 23:34 | Permalink

    many tanx!

  • Anonymous
    December 9, 2015 - 14:17 | Permalink

    Thank you

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