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Paul McCartney travelled to Tucson, Arizona, to film the video for “Stranglehold“, the next single from “Press To Play“. From Club Sandwich N°42, Winter 1986/1987:
[…] For ‘Stranglehold’, he felt a ‘performance’ video with a Mexican setting would be just the job. Director Bob Giraldi (of ‘Say Say Say’ video fame) was enlisted and the search for a location began.
Mexico was impractical, for various reasons, so a small town in Arizona called Amado (near Nogales, just north of the border) was chosen instead. The venue was the Half Way Station, previously a stopping place on the old road – replaced by Interstate 19 – and more recently a derelict restaurant, just done up for re-opening. Listening to Trevor Jones, a long-time McCartney aide, it seems further refurbishment may have been necessary after the troupe left town.
“The ceiling was knocked out to get the lights up near the roof, and holes were knocked in the walls to get the best camera angles. (All fixed before we left!)”
Ah well, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. But why the Mexican flavour? Perhaps that last taco at the Holly lunch had lingered on Paul’s palate… Anyway, the flavour is discreet, onstage at least: a neon cactus, vaguely cowboy clothes, an Indian clasp at Paul’s neck instead of gent’s necktie as worn. (Mature McCartney-watchers will recall similar neckwear from the Back To The Egg sleeve.) The audience of 180 extras can’t help being a shade Mexican, of course, living so near the border.
So much for atmosphere; now on to the story – a Paul McCartney conception, by the way. A Mexican in his early teens (played by Oscar Gonzales of LA) hurries down main street, a saxophone case in hand. The final chords of ‘Move Over Busker’ are heard: oh no, the gig’s started! But what’s this? A scowling doorman won’t let him in. Quick, let’s sneak in the back way – uh-oh, nabbed again. (An echo of the young Paul outside the Liverpool Empire?) Meanwhile, the band swings into ‘Stranglehold’.
But help is at hand. Linda, the star’s wife (cue “All I gotta do is act naturally”), steps down from a pick-up truck and strides confidently towards the club entrance. Gauging the situation at a glance, she sweeps Oscar into the club. (“He’s with me”). Inside, the crowd is swaying and so are the band. Paul is on guitar, as is Duane Sciacqua – try saying that after a small sherry – who swoops in to share a mike with him on the chorus. Jerry Marotta (drums) and Lennie Pickett (baritone sax) are there from the album sessions, joined by Neil Jason (bass), Alex Foster (baritone) and Stan Harrison (alto). It’s hard to suppress a pang of regret that this isn’t really a live show. But it turns out that the onstage sweat and camaraderie were far from assumed. Say on, Trevor.
“The band were jamming all the time… the musicianship was very good. Paul does this whenever he gets the chance: rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis songs, his own stuff. Bob Giraldi wasn’t too pleased, as he was trying to direct a video and people couldn’t hear what he was saying. Phil Ramone was very pleased, as he’d put the band together”.
Back to the plot. Oscar forces his way to the front; a papier-maché creature (piñata) hanging from the ceiling is smashed in the traditional Mexican way, disgorging sweets onto those below; things are really jumping. The boy gets his sax out and plays along, catching Paul’s eye. He motions Oscar up on stage, Lennie extends a welcoming arm and suddenly the three-man horn section is four strong!
Trevor paints in some background: “Paul and Linda stayed in Arizona for three nights; then afterwards they flew back to California, where they’d been on holiday. The band were onstage at 12 noon, shooting began at 3pm and finished at four in the morning. Oscar was filmed in the street the previous day.”
The results are well suited to the song and the glimpse of Paul in ‘almost-live’ performance is a highly attractive feature. Well worth the aggravation from those noisy musicians, Bob!
Last updated on April 26, 2020
Half Way Station restaurant
This was the 1st and only concert played at Half Way Station restaurant.
Setlist for the concert
- Paul McCartney :
- Guitar, Vocals
- Jerry Marotta :
- Lenny Pickett :
- Baritone sax
- Neil Jason :
- Duane Sciacqua :
- Alex Foster :
- Baritone sax
- Stan Harrison :
- Alto sax
Album Available on Arizona Soundchecks 1990 Cactus Club Arizona 1986
Album Available on Press To Play Sessions