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MINING THE FILM AND VIDEO ARCHIVE
More from our exhaustive exhumation of the vault
TUG OF WAR
Anniversaries, schmanniversaries. So it's 25 years since the release of Sgt Pepper, this much we know. But did you also know that it's ten years since Tug Of War? Now that's what one might call a quick decade.
But ten years it is, and a fine reason to pull out of the archive the promotional video for the album's title track. It wasn't the first single to be taken from the LP (that was 'Ebony And Ivory'), nor was it the second (take a bow 'Take It Away'). It was the third, and rock history tells us that videos made for third singles tend not to be noted for their excessive production budgets. But, as usual with Paul's stuff, it's a good promo, comfortable on the eye and certainly interesting to re-view.
The original plan was for some existing fly-on-the-wall studio footage of Paul in the AIR Studios control room to be intercut with vintage, library clips of yer actual tug-of-war competitions. As the promo's editor Alex Denholm kindly reminds though, the first rough cut was OK but showed too little of Paul to closely identify the singer with his music. A second edit boosted the Macca quota but, again, sages decreed that the balance was, well, unbalanced.
So director Maurice Phillips took a camera crew into AIR Studios to record Paul miming to the song, and be joined here and there by Linda. It didn't have to take long, not least because they were busy recording the follow-up album Pipes Of Peace, so he grabbed an acoustic, sat on a high stool and lip-synched it straight off, humorously pretending his guitar was a violin for the closing string sounds.
Along with action showing Paul mixing it with the AIR control room team of George Martin, Geoff Emerick and Jon Jacobs, archive clips of muddied men in flat-caps partaking in tug-of-war contests, and mighty King Kong tugging a bunch of cavemen into a river, this new material was then put into a third edit and approved for broadcast, coinciding with the single's release in September 1982.
SGT PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND
We've said it before but it's worth repeating: contrary to expectation, not all of Paul's promo videos have been made to "promo" a single. In fact, his very first solo clip, back in 1970, was for 'Maybe I'm Amazed' and that was very much but nothing more than a McCartney album track.
Hop 20 years on, to 1990, and the exercise was repeated, this time for Tripping The Live Fantastic, that fun-filled jamboree bag of live and soundcheck cuts from the World Tour. Releasing singles from a live album is not necessarily the best way of drawing its existence to the attention of TV viewers. Advertising helps, but so too do videos - which are a form of advertisement anyway. To plug Tripping, then, a promo was made for 'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'.
The rock solid (and solid rock) core of the clip was original film footage shot somewhere in America for the Get Back movie, directed by Aubrey Powell, the man in charge of the second unit. (Richard Lester, of course, ran the first.)
The ingredients: a huge open-air stadium packed to the gills with fans, clear-skied night-time USA, real wind — no machines necessary here - tousling the hair of the on-stage musicians, one of the most famous rock songs of all time, a tight band playing their socks off and a dazzling display of sky-bound fireworks. But this wasn't the clip distributed to TV.
What happened instead was that the good people from a London animation agency called Snapper were given a chance to pretty up the picture, cut down the length (few promos last seven minutes as this most certainly would have done if shown uncut) and make it suitable for MTV viewing.
So Snapper snapped into action, superimposing some typically freaky (now there's a word that's gone out of vogue) 1967 oily light slide effects, cutting the three-minute jam section down to way less than one and generally punching up the dynamics.
It was a job well done, as anyone who got to see it will tell you.