In 1980, Paul McCartney released his first solo album since 1970’s eponymous McCartney. Cleverly titled McCartney II, it’s a so-so album at best, as a fair few Sir Paul’s albums are, and it remains noteworthy mostly because he recorded it entirely by himself while Wings was in stasis pending their breakup a year later, and because it contains “Temporary Secretary,” a wonderfully bonkers experiment in synth based electro-pop that’s held up well enough to have earned some overdue respect in recent years.
The lead-off single from that album was the kinda crappy but virulently catchy “Coming Up.” It boasted a chipmunk vocal effect that struck a lot of people as so weird that Columbia records promoted the single’s B-Side, a 1979 live version of the song performed by Wings in Scotland, as the US single, which actually worked, and the live version became the one that ended up on best-of comps. There’s a great story about John Lennon hearing the song for the first time, related by Tom Doyle in Man on the Run:
Lennon was being driven by [personal assistant] Fred Seaman through Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, when he first heard “Coming Up” on the radio. “Fuck a pig, it’s Paul,” he exclaimed, before turning up the volume and nodding along. “Not bad,” he decided at the song’s conclusion. He asked Seaman to buy him a copy of McCartney II and set up a new stereo system in his bedroom specifically so he could listen to it. The next day, “Coming Up” was still rattling around John’s head. “It’s driving me crackers,” he told Seaman, before venturing the opinion that even if its parent album was patchy, at least Paul was back trying to do something eclectic and experimental.
“Fuck a pig, it’s Paul”: The immortal words of one of popular music’s most politically aware and sensitive bards.
That McCartney album is credited by some sources as one of the factors that motivated Lennon to get off his ass and record the music that would find its way onto Double Fantasy, his last album of new music released in his lifetime. But lest anyone think all was hunky-dory between Lennon and McCartney, Lennon also had some sharp words about the cringeworthily goofy “Coming Up” promotional clip—in which a video-composited McCartney played every instrument (except Linda McCartney’s backing vocals) in a band called “The Plastic Macs,” a dig at Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band—saying that it must have been a dream come true for McCartney, who always wanted to be the only member of the band.
Trainspotters will note that in addition to portraying his own younger self in that video, McCartney also pays homage to Ron Mael of Sparks, Hank Marvin of The Shadows (easily mistaken for Buddy Holly), and Andy Mackay of Roxy Music, among others. In 1980, that was a difficult technical feat which won that video a lot of attention. Now, of course, such compositing techniques are far more effortless, and director Adam Harding has used them to pay ridiculous homage to (or make fun of?) that classic McCartney video with Melvins drummer Dale Crover, in a hilariously stripped-down way. “Bad Move” is Crover’s first solo video, from his first full length solo album The Fickle Finger of Fate on Joyful Noise. (Yes, he did a solo E.P. in 1992 as part of a KISS parody the Melvins did. And then there was last year’s six minute $100 record/art object Skins…) In Crover’s video, he plays three members of his band, sharing his stage with Acid King bassist Dan Southwick in costume as The Birthday Party’s Tracy Pew (!!!), and producer Toshi Kasai as keyboardist—well, I honestly can’t say who that’s supposed to be.
Bonus! Here’s the first audio track to be released from Fickle Finger, the surprisingly airy and trippy “Little Brother.”
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘Rockshow’: The absolute zenith of Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles career
This Melvins rehearsal tape from 1985 features drummer Dale Crover’s pissed-off mom
David Yow and Adam Harding talk to DM about the new Dumb Numbers video ‘Unbury the Hatchet’