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Wait... Off The Ground Is Good!

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Posted by B J Conlee

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      I'm 38 and fell in love with The Beatles in 1999/2000.  It was only 10 years ago that I began digging into their prospective solo albums and I started with RAM (my personal favorite "Beatles' solo album" though I concede ATMP is probably the most epic, sorry PM).  Over the years, I've come to admire not only Paul's music but his character, etc. I've delved into all the albums, even Press to Play, but I always ignored Off The Ground.  And it's fucking good!

      It's not groundbreaking in any way, it's just a collection of well-crafted, catchy songs.  The main thing working against it, in my opinion, is its bland early/mid-90s production.  It's caught in this era between the worst of 80s/early 90s pop cheese and the grunge/mid-90s  stripped down approach.  I can't help but wish this album had been recorded a few years later, with a leaner more live-sounding production.  Can we get Giles Martin to re-master this album? Cut the reverb, dial the drums back, add some Billy Preston-style keys and you have a pretty killer record. 

       

      JK

       

       

       

       

       

        Glad you enjoy it. Personally, I just don't think most of the songs are that great, with a couple exceptions. They're not bad exactly, just kind of meh by Paul standards. But as they say, your mileage may vary.

          McJagger wrote:

          I'm 38 and fell in love with The Beatles in 1999/2000.  It was only 10 years ago that I began digging into their prospective solo albums and I started with RAM (my personal favorite "Beatles' solo album" though I concede ATMP is probably the most epic, sorry PM).  Over the years, I've come to admire not only Paul's music but his character, etc. I've delved into all the albums, even Press to Play, but I always ignored Off The Ground.  And it's fucking good!

          It's not groundbreaking in any way, it's just a collection of well-crafted, catchy songs.  The main thing working against it, in my opinion, is its bland early/mid-90s production.  It's caught in this era between the worst of 80s/early 90s pop cheese and the grunge/mid-90s  stripped down approach.  I can't help but wish this album had been recorded a few years later, with a leaner more live-sounding production.  Can we get Giles Martin to re-master this album? Cut the reverb, dial the drums back, add some Billy Preston-style keys and you have a pretty killer record. 

           

          JK

           

           

           

           

           

          I like Off the Ground a lot, especially the second half from Golden Earth Girl on. I agree that the production could be better though.

            I think the main problem with Off the Ground was that Paul was working basically with a new band.  Paul was trying to make the album "Off the Ground"sound "live" and Paul / Linda and his new Band...Robbie McIntosh (electric guitar), Hamish Stuart (backup vocalist and guitarist), Paul "Wix" Wickens (keyboards etc), Blair Cunningham (drums) at that point had not spent enough time jelling together as a Band to pull it off.  In my opinion, Paul and the Band had generally good songs on Off the Groundbut the songs (and Paul's vocals in some cases) sounded too bland.  I've listened to a lot of Paul's Youtube Channel and when you listen to many of the Off the Ground Songs, they sound so much better "live" once the Band started touring.  Hamish Stuart was, in my opinion, Paul's best back up vocalist and when you hear Paul and Hamish harmonizing, many of the songs sound terrific.  Even the lead single "Hope of Deliverance" (the studio version) is "day and night" better on the "live" version of the same song.  The live version of Hope of Deliverance is a faster paced song and Paul's live version (with Hamish's back up vocals) make a big difference.   The  studio/album version only peaked at #18 in the UK and didn't make the Top 30 in the US.  The live version done later by the Band at the live show (the Ed Sullivan Theatre in NYC) would have, in my opinion would have done much higher on the charts.  The same was true with other "Off the Ground" Singles that did poorly in general.  As a listener, I think of a song like Peace in the Neighbourhood that I didn't like on the album but I loved the "live" version from the same Ed Sullivan Theatre "Live" Show.  Paul was much more relaxed once he got used to his new Band.  Other Off the Ground "live version" songs like "I Owe it All to You", "Looking for Changes", "Get Out of My Way" and "C'mon People" and the title cut "Off the Ground" were way, way better than what you heard on the album.  For that reason, the album "Off the Ground" should have done much better in overall sales.  As I said, the album as a whole sounded too bland and too middle of the road in sound for my taste.  As I said, the songs themselves were on the whole good but the production and performance wasn't up to Paul's normal standards.  Again, this is my opinion only.

            The other part of Paul's Discography that goes totally unnoticed is that Paul later came out with a 2nd Album on top of the original Off the Ground called Off the Ground...The Complete Works.  In this case, Paul has 5 or 6 individual and "additonal" songs that are superior to most of the songs that made the original album. This is why I have proposed to Paul a new project/album called "Leftovers and Rarities"where he can focus on all the good songs (or B-Sides) that never made it on original albums.  In the case of "Off the Ground" songs like "I Can't Imagine", "Sweet Sweet Memories", "Keep Coming Back to Love", "Kicked Around No More", "Long Leather Coat", and "Style Style" that didn't make the original Off the Ground "tracklist" are better than several of the original songs in my opinion. 

              B J Conlee wrote:

              I think the main problem with Off the Ground was that Paul was working basically with a new band.  Paul was trying to make the album "Off the Ground"sound "live" and Paul / Linda and his new Band...Robbie McIntosh (electric guitar), Hamish Stuart (backup vocalist and guitarist), Paul "Wix" Wickens (keyboards etc), Blair Cunningham (drums) at that point had not spent enough time jelling together as a Band to pull it off.  In my opinion, Paul and the Band had generally good songs on Off the Groundbut the songs (and Paul's vocals in some cases) sounded too bland.  I've listened to a lot of Paul's Youtube Channel and when you listen to many of the Off the Ground Songs, they sound so much better "live" once the Band started touring.  Hamish Stuart was, in my opinion, Paul's best back up vocalist and when you hear Paul and Hamish harmonizing, many of the songs sound terrific.  Even the lead single "Hope of Deliverance" (the studio version) is "day and night" better on the "live" version of the same song.  The live version of Hope of Deliverance is a faster paced song and Paul's live version (with Hamish's back up vocals) make a big difference.   The  studio/album version only peaked at #18 in the UK and didn't make the Top 30 in the US.  The live version done later by the Band at the live show (the Ed Sullivan Theatre in NYC) would have, in my opinion would have done much higher on the charts.  The same was true with other "Off the Ground" Singles that did poorly in general.  As a listener, I think of a song like Peace in the Neighbourhood that I didn't like on the album but I loved the "live" version from the same Ed Sullivan Theatre "Live" Show.  Paul was much more relaxed once he got used to his new Band.  Other Off the Ground "live version" songs like "I Owe it All to You", "Looking for Changes", "Get Out of My Way" and "C'mon People" and the title cut "Off the Ground" were way, way better than what you heard on the album.  For that reason, the album "Off the Ground" should have done much better in overall sales.  As I said, the album as a whole sounded too bland and too middle of the road in sound for my taste.  As I said, the songs themselves were on the whole good but the production and performance wasn't up to Paul's normal standards.  Again, this is my opinion only.

              The other part of Paul's Discography that goes totally unnoticed is that Paul later came out with a 2nd Album on top of the original Off the Ground called Off the Ground...The Complete Works.  In this case, Paul has 5 or 6 individual and "additonal" songs that are superior to most of the songs that made the original album. This is why I have proposed to Paul a new project/album called "Leftovers and Rarities"where he can focus on all the good songs (or B-Sides) that never made it on original albums.  In the case of "Off the Ground" songs like "I Can't Imagine", "Sweet Sweet Memories", "Keep Coming Back to Love", "Kicked Around No More", "Long Leather Coat", and "Style Style" that didn't make the original Off the Ground "tracklist" are better than several of the original songs in my opinion. 

              Nice to see you back BJ, hope you had great holiday and I sent you PM a few weeks ago.  Paul and the OTG band recorded the album FITD together, only change was Chris Witten was the drummer on FITD. This band did a world tour together in 1989-1990 so I think they had plent of time to "jell" before making OTG in 1993. FITD was just an overall better album than OTG which had its moments but the fairly usual  IMO McCartney clunkers.

                My favourite tracks are Hope Of Deliverance, Mistress and Maid, I Owe It All To You, Golden Earth Girl, The Lovers That Never Were,Get Out Of My Way & Winedark Open Sea. So that's roughly half the album but the other half is enough to put me off playing the album as a whole. Biker Like An Icon & C'mon People I find particularly irritating. From the albums post-80's glossy clinical production to the unattractive legs that dangle on the front cover, Off The Ground isn't an album that particularly appeals. To be honest I can't even remember when I last played it but it must be well over 20 years ago by now. 

                  Kestrel wrote:

                  My favourite tracks are Hope Of Deliverance, Mistress and Maid, I Owe It All To You, Golden Earth Girl, The Lovers That Never Were,Get Out Of My Way & Winedark Open Sea. So that's roughly half the album but the other half is enough to put me off playing the album as a whole. Biker Like An Icon & C'mon People I find particularly irritating. From the albums post-80's glossy clinical production to the unattractive legs that dangle on the front cover, Off The Ground isn't an album that particularly appeals. To be honest I can't even remember when I last played it but it must be well over 20 years ago by now. 

                  I agree with your post, some good songs but too many poor ones including "Cmon People" that was not only bad but long.  You nailed it with the album cover also, has to be in the running for worst McCartney album cover ever. I think BJ is also correct that songs that songs on "The Complete Works" were better than ones selected from the original album.  Delete some songs from the original release and replace them with songs from the "Complete Works" and you may have gotten a pretty solid album.

                    Yankeefan2 wrote:

                    Kestrel wrote:

                    My favourite tracks are Hope Of Deliverance, Mistress and Maid, I Owe It All To You, Golden Earth Girl, The Lovers That Never Were,Get Out Of My Way & Winedark Open Sea. So that's roughly half the album but the other half is enough to put me off playing the album as a whole. Biker Like An Icon & C'mon People I find particularly irritating. From the albums post-80's glossy clinical production to the unattractive legs that dangle on the front cover, Off The Ground isn't an album that particularly appeals. To be honest I can't even remember when I last played it but it must be well over 20 years ago by now. 

                    I agree with your post, some good songs but too many poor ones including "Cmon People" that was not only bad but long.  You nailed it with the album cover also, has to be in the running for worst McCartney album cover ever. I think BJ is also correct that songs that songs on "The Complete Works" were better than ones selected from the original album.  Delete some songs from the original release and replace them with songs from the "Complete Works" and you may have gotten a pretty solid album.

                    I don't particularly like Hope of Deliverance (though I know most fans like this one), or Looking for Changes. I think Biker like an Icon is ok though, and I really like the rest a lot, including  C'mon People. I agree with you about the legs on the cover, it would have been a better cover if they were removed and it was just the sky/landscape.

                      Yankeefan2 wrote:

                      B J Conlee wrote:

                      I think the main problem with Off the Ground was that Paul was working basically with a new band.  Paul was trying to make the album "Off the Ground"sound "live" and Paul / Linda and his new Band...Robbie McIntosh (electric guitar), Hamish Stuart (backup vocalist and guitarist), Paul "Wix" Wickens (keyboards etc), Blair Cunningham (drums) at that point had not spent enough time jelling together as a Band to pull it off.  In my opinion, Paul and the Band had generally good songs on Off the Groundbut the songs (and Paul's vocals in some cases) sounded too bland.  I've listened to a lot of Paul's Youtube Channel and when you listen to many of the Off the Ground Songs, they sound so much better "live" once the Band started touring.  Hamish Stuart was, in my opinion, Paul's best back up vocalist and when you hear Paul and Hamish harmonizing, many of the songs sound terrific.  Even the lead single "Hope of Deliverance" (the studio version) is "day and night" better on the "live" version of the same song.  The live version of Hope of Deliverance is a faster paced song and Paul's live version (with Hamish's back up vocals) make a big difference.   The  studio/album version only peaked at #18 in the UK and didn't make the Top 30 in the US.  The live version done later by the Band at the live show (the Ed Sullivan Theatre in NYC) would have, in my opinion would have done much higher on the charts.  The same was true with other "Off the Ground" Singles that did poorly in general.  As a listener, I think of a song like Peace in the Neighbourhood that I didn't like on the album but I loved the "live" version from the same Ed Sullivan Theatre "Live" Show.  Paul was much more relaxed once he got used to his new Band.  Other Off the Ground "live version" songs like "I Owe it All to You", "Looking for Changes", "Get Out of My Way" and "C'mon People" and the title cut "Off the Ground" were way, way better than what you heard on the album.  For that reason, the album "Off the Ground" should have done much better in overall sales.  As I said, the album as a whole sounded too bland and too middle of the road in sound for my taste.  As I said, the songs themselves were on the whole good but the production and performance wasn't up to Paul's normal standards.  Again, this is my opinion only.

                      The other part of Paul's Discography that goes totally unnoticed is that Paul later came out with a 2nd Album on top of the original Off the Ground called Off the Ground...The Complete Works.  In this case, Paul has 5 or 6 individual and "additonal" songs that are superior to most of the songs that made the original album. This is why I have proposed to Paul a new project/album called "Leftovers and Rarities"where he can focus on all the good songs (or B-Sides) that never made it on original albums.  In the case of "Off the Ground" songs like "I Can't Imagine", "Sweet Sweet Memories", "Keep Coming Back to Love", "Kicked Around No More", "Long Leather Coat", and "Style Style" that didn't make the original Off the Ground "tracklist" are better than several of the original songs in my opinion. 

                      Nice to see you back BJ, hope you had great holiday and I sent you PM a few weeks ago.  Paul and the OTG band recorded the album FITD together, only change was Chris Witten was the drummer on FITD. This band did a world tour together in 1989-1990 so I think they had plent of time to "jell" before making OTG in 1993. FITD was just an overall better album than OTG which had its moments but the fairly usual  IMO McCartney clunkers.

                      Thanks Yankeefan.  We had a very good Holiday and right now we're back in NJ.  We took a quick trip because we had to take care of a few things in our Atlantic City Condo.

                      Yes you're right that Hamish and Robbie were with Paul for much of Flowers in the Dirt.  I know at the time of the "Off the Ground" release Paul wanted the album to sound "live".  For whatever reason, the album and production didn't jell for the most part.  What I can't believe is how much better Paul and Band sounded at the Ed Sullivan / MTV Show that was done shortly after the release of the OTG album.  In comparison to what we hear on the album, Paul sounded much more relaxed at this live show.  The other thing is Hamish's backup- vocals were so much "up-front" in the mix for the "live" Ed Sullivan Theater show.  Overall even the songs that I liked on the album (e.g. Hope of Deliverence, Get Out of My Way) sounded so much better.  Funny thing...even a couple of songs on the album that I didn't like so much like Peace in the Neighborhood and C'Mon People sound vastly better on the "live" performance.  People who haven't seen the full Ed Sullivan Live Perfomance done on MTV should see this show on youtube.  Paul's vocals on this show were so much better than what you hear on the Off the Ground album.  Nancy here on this board posted this show a month or so ago.

                        B J, is this the one?

                        https://youtu.be/4a5kBCucRLU

                          The only song on Off the Ground that in my view suffers because of the performance is Get Out of My Way, which really feels like a paint-by-numbers rendition of a Chuck Berry outtake. It had been done with some of the raw energy we hear on Run Devil Run it might have worked, but here it just doesn't. Overall, though, I think the songwriting just isn't top tier Paul. Some of it is pretty good, especially the two Elvis Costello collaborations, but nothing here reaches the heights of Paul's best stuff.

                            NJR wrote:

                            B J, is this the one?

                            https://youtu.be/4a5kBCucRLU

                            Thanks NJR and yes..that is the "MTV Up Close" Show and Video.  I invite anybody here to take a listen.  Let me know if you think that all the "Off the Ground" songs done "live" here on this video and show aren't vastly better than the studio/album versions.  Love the work done by all the Band members including Robbie (on electric guitar etc), Hamish (on back-up vocals etc), Wix (on Keyboards etc) and Blair (on drums etc) make the songs and performance so much better.  Love the Peace in the Neighborhood "live" version so much better.  Robbie's guitar solo at the end of Peace in the Neighborhood is phenominal in my opinion.  Chack out Paul's acoustic guitar work on "Hope of Deliverance". That along with the faster pace makes "Hope" light years better imo.  What are your favorites  "Off the Ground " songs in this video.

                            Thanks again NJR.

                              ^ B J, you can call me Nancy! 

                                NJR wrote:

                                ^ B J, you can call me Nancy! 

                                I almost spit out my hot tea laughing and then started humming the song "You Can Call Me Al" - lol

                                  Yankeefan2 wrote:

                                  NJR wrote:

                                  ^ B J, you can call me Nancy! 

                                  I almost spit out my hot tea laughing and then started humming the song "You Can Call Me Al" - lol

                                  😂

                                  https://youtu.be/YeYPLhCFrP0

                                    I have a special spot for the album because Paul toured Australia on the back of it.... and it had been a long way in the making.... as it was, before he toured these shores again in 2017... 

                                    At the time, I thought the single "Hope of Deliverence" was soft. Certainly not the song of choice for the first single.... I now like it a lot more.... in fact, it's pretty good. 

                                    I Owe it All to You, Golden Earth Girl and Windedark Open Sea were by far my faves. Superior songs. I love them. Great McCartney tracks.

                                    Peace in the Neighbourhood is quite cringey.... C'Mon People might have worked if there wasn't the former on the same record.... the two of them together?.... Nah.... but, depending on my mood, I can get into C'mon People.

                                    I don't believe in evaluating an album for the songs that were left off.... the album is what the album is. 

                                    The two Costello collaborations... OK.... the album probably only needed one of them. 

                                    Biker Like An Icon... just a bit of fun. 

                                    Off The Ground... OK... terrible film clip.

                                    In retrospect, there was no real clear winner for the opening single.  And that probably hurt the album. 

                                    I Owe it All to You is probably my fave. 

                                     

                                      Yes Toris...I felt similar about "Peace in the Neighborhood" and "C'mon People upon first listens on the Off the Ground album.  But as I have said, the "live" versions are so much better than what you hear on the album.  The video that Nancy put up here on a couple of posts just above... really turned me around on "Peace in the Neighborhood"however.  Paul's vocal (at least on the MTV show) sounded so much better especially with Hamish Stuart's great back up vocals and Robbie's equally great guitar solo at the end of the song.  Wix also did a terrific piano on the track as well as Blair's nice drumming.  You could tell that the band really got into the song as well as the audience.  

                                      C'Mon People is admittedly "long" but I also liked it much better than the album version.  If you get a chance try giving the MTV/ Ed Sullivan Video a look.  I also loved the takes on "I Owe it All To  You", Off the Ground, Get Out of My Way and Hope of Deliverance.  It was a great show and one that I think Paul should release as a DVD or Blue Ray.