PAUL McCARTNEY Off The Ground – The Complete Works (1993)

Off The Ground – The Complete Works (1993)

Just turning 50, Paul McCartney was in the process of going through his Kitchen Sink phase (from about ’89 to ’95); mounting his first world tour in eons, writing with Elvis Costello, releasing a classical album, a Fireman CD, an oldies album, his Oobu Joobu radio project, an MTV Unplugged taping & CD and another official tour and live album. All leading up to his work on The Beatles’ Anthology in 1996. So, it’s during this try-anything streak of creativity that McCartney delivered Off The Ground, a “mature” album, with more adult themes and less casual whimsy than is typically expected from MC Paul. Maybe his time with Elvis Costello (Flowers In The Dirt), and the resulting good press, reminded him of the power of a purposeful song. Or, maybe, he just laid off the pot for a few years, it’s hard to tell. What’s missing from these sessions is kinda hard to tell, too. The productions are – generally speaking – smart, smoothly produced and highly arranged performances that seem to cater more to the composition than the performer, unique for PM. Even “Biker Like An Icon” is given a well-constructed band arrangement that belies the lazy lyric. Unfortunately, none it really clicked with record buyers, who were all knee-deep in post-Nirvana grunge at the time. I think the problem is that the overall instrumentation is rather generic. High quality… but not idiosyncratically McCartney. The solid “Hope Of Deliverance” was only a very minor hit and it took this Japanese variation of Off The Ground, dubbed The Complete Works, to spur sales overseas. Disc two, in general,  seems to host McCartney’s more playful material from the sessions (there’s also two Unplugged outtakes), and it’s all delivered in the album’s concise and cozy style. Not typical McCartney, but not atypical, either. Some suggest it’s better than the album proper. Wiki points out that this isn’t even really complete, as it’s missing a few b-sides and such. Regardless of the pros and cons, this is the only way to listen to Off The Ground. Listen for the double-time MacManus influence (and some sweet sweet harmonies) in McCartney’s “Sweet Sweet Memory,” below. It even trip-jams to an end.  Almost $150 @ Ebay, but there’s none to be found at Amazon.

Off The Ground (3:40)
Looking For Changes (2:47)
Hope Of Deliverance (3:25)
Mistress And Maid (2:59)
I Owe It All To You (4:53)
Biker Like An Icon (3:26)
Peace In The Neighbourhood (5:06)
Golden Earth Girl (3:45)
The Lovers That Never Were (3:43)
Get Out Of My Way (3:32)
Winedark Open Sea (5:28)
C’mon People (7:42)

Long Leather Coat (3:35)
Keep Coming Back To Love (5:00)
Sweet Sweet Memories (4:04)
Things We Said Today (3:45)
Midnight Special (4:55)
Style Style (6:00)
I Can’t Imagine (4:37)
Cosmically Conscious (4:41)
Kicked Around No More (5:24)
Big Boys Bickering (3:20)
Down To The River (3:31)
Soggy Noodle (0:28)



  • Willard
    July 20, 2011 - 08:49 | Permalink

    Search HERE

  • July 20, 2011 - 16:52 | Permalink

    Never heard this, as I’ve stayed away from his latter stuff ; (
    I like what I’ve heard so far , so Thanks –

    Hey Willard – forgot your email – have you checked the group Hidden Orchestra out? This new mix is interesting, and Joe Acheson has made 2 previous ones that are still on my ipod – he mixes HO with other music –

    Delete if you want – Cheers! CM

  • Leon
    July 21, 2011 - 21:10 | Permalink

    OK so am I the only one who unironically likes just about everything by McCartney? OK, even I draw the line at that b-side with Michael Jackson, “Ode To A Koala Bear,” but I’ll go almost anywhere else.

    Thanks for this Willard.

  • Willard
    July 22, 2011 - 03:00 | Permalink

    You might be one of the few. I love the guy, but some of his stuff is hard to swallow, even if it is easily attributable to his output volume. I was always too picky when the albums were coming out, and warmed up to them later, after realizing they were just new albums… and not earth shattering all important ALBUMS. He’s so charming, though, he’s hard not to like.

  • Art Ducko
    July 22, 2011 - 03:39 | Permalink

    Saw him on the world tour during this time & thoroughly enjoyed the show. We even got to see & hear the original Mellotron from the Strawberry days. How’s that for groovy? It wasn’t the best album to tour on, but hey, it’s Paul from the freakin’ Beatles. C’mon. This is the one guy I’d love to smoke a doobie with.

    • Willard
      July 22, 2011 - 10:47 | Permalink

      If only to get him to let his guard down. Never saw McCartney live. Would love to, but not in an arena, so I guess I never will. DID catch Harrison’s 1974 tour of the states, though.

  • Anonymous
    July 23, 2011 - 11:23 | Permalink

    Don ‘t know if it’s just that I come to post-Ram McCartney with such low expectations, but this (“Off the Ground”) really does it for me, so far. As you say, it’s mature, relatable. And indeed, it could have used a little more “bite” in the instrumentation. But you gotta take what you get, and this is okay. Maybe he did temporarily give up the pot!

    • Willard
      July 23, 2011 - 12:55 | Permalink

      One of the big knocks on McCartney is that it all comes too easy for him, and without an agitator around him (like Lennon, or maybe George Martin or Costello) he’ll resort to his simple charming self and won’t “push” the results. There are a number of albums to back that up, too. THIS album is different. He obviously spent time with the music, the band, the arrangements, etc, and the attention to detain is apparent. Unfortunately, the songs themselves have never really stuck with me. Though, I have warmed up to some in the last week. At least it’s not a ‘knock-off’ album, or one just thrown out there for the heck of it. McCartney definitely put some energy into this, regardless of its success.

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