More from year 1995
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From Club Sandwich Spring 1995:
To quote a British wartime radio catchphrase, it’s time to ”pin back your lug-holes” and listen to something fresh, new and very exciting from Paul McCartney. A RADIO series… with a difference, coming your way soon. Eddy Pumer, the producer of the series, hints at what’s to come…
Summer 1981. There I was, in my office at Capital Radio in London, sitting and chatting to one of the record industry’s top promotions men Joe Reddington, thinking that he had developed a speech impediment. I had to ask him to repeat himself again and again. “Oobujoobu, Oobujoobu,” he kept saying.
Joe was Paul McCartney’s promotions man at the time, and I assumed that he’d come to see me about a new McCartney record that was coming out. This was normally why he’d visit: to push into my hand an advance pressing of Paul’s next single or album, so that we could bring it to our listeners as early as possible.
Not this time, though. Joe had come along to explain that Paul had an idea for a radio show, and that Oobu Joobu was its title. Paul was looking for someone to help produce it and I was flattered to hear that my name had been put into the frame.
A meeting – Joe, me and Paul’s then manager, Stephen Shrimpton – was arranged. Just as well: I was dying to know what on earth Oobu Joobu was about. When we met, though, I discovered that Oobu Joobu was something of a mystery to them too.
A couple of weeks later I received a note with a list of one-line titles – reggae hi-lite, world music, live spot, record collection, studio rehearsal and many more. Today, almost 14 years on, with the radio series ready to be unveiled, these elements remain vital to Oobu Joobu.
With this list in hand I took down all of the much-played Paul McCartney albums from my shelf and started listening to them again – this time, so to speak, with new ears. What I heard made me realise as never before just how wide are Paul’s musical tastes. There were subtleties I’d never appreciated before.
Several new McCartney albums and a world tour or two later I was introduced to Paul at his studio. He had with him a huge collection of records, including some fabulous examples of reggae music. We started to go through his collection, Paul telling me a great story about a shop in Jamaica called Tony’s Record Store. Apparently, Tony is about as wide as he is tall – seven foot – and he told Paul that he had some reggae records composed by Lennon-McCartney, including one titled ‘Poison Pressure’. “But we never wrote a song called ‘Poison Pressure,'” replied Paul.
Paul bought the record and eagerly took it home to find out what it was. Of course, one listen quickly proved what he already knew – that ‘Poison Pressure’ wasn’t composed by the Lennon-McCartney but by another duo of that name. As Paul said to me, “There are a lot of Lennon-McCartney s out there!”
Anyway, we carried on chatting about Oobu Joobu, and the type of music Paul wanted to air in his radio series. We talked about everything from a 1920s recording of Pablo Casals playing Saint-Saens’ Swan, to the Burundi tribe of Africa and Eddie Cochran – just a small sample of Paul’s diverse musical taste.
Then Paul played me an unreleased tape of Stevie Wonder and him rehearsing ‘Ebony And Ivory’. It was fascinating to eavesdrop on these two master musicians developing a song and crafting out a number one record.
All the while, Paul was expanding on his ideas for Oobu Joobu. It was then that I said to him, “This really is 70 millimetre stuff!” and he promptly replied “Hey! Oobu Joobu – Wide Screen Radio!” which just about sums up the tremendous scope of ideas and material Paul wants to cram into this, his first ever foray into creative radio.
I was even more excited by our next session: I went along to watch Paul put together the jingle package for Oobu Joobu. When he finished recording the main theme he invited Linda and the studio crew to do some chanting. What a buzz that was! The session finished quite late, with Paul putting down the theme’s final touches – brass and guitar licks – before mixing it down.
You’ve probably heard this stuff before: Paul watches a Bach concerto one evening on television and sees the trumpet and trumpeter he realises will grace and uplift a new song he has on the blocks, ‘Penny Lane’. Paul reads an article about The Who and is inspired to have the Beatles record the wondrous and raucous ‘Helter Skelter’. Paul reads a tear-jerking newspaper account of a runaway girl and writes the majestic ‘She’s Leaving Home’.
To the list can now be added this latest item: Paul hears a production of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Cocu on BBC radio and, close on 30 years later, unveils a radio series – his first, no less – called (not coincidentally) Oobujoobu.
Surprised? Well, there were some clues for us all…had we known what to look for.
For a start, there was the word “pataphysical” dropped into ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ (on the last-recorded Beatles album, Abbey Road). This was no made-up word – at least, it wasn’t made up by Paul. The science of “pataphysics”, invented by Jarry for Faustroll, one of his literary creations, could best be defined as “the science of imaginary solutions”, and followers of Jarry’s work formed the College de Pataphysique to preserve the science and ensure that its author was never forgotten.
So, “Joan was quizzical, studied pataphysical science in the home” was no nonsense line.
And remember Rupert And The Frog Song? This award-winning McCartney film was produced and directed by animator supreme Geoff Dunbar (he’s since worked with Paul again on ‘Once Upon A Long Ago’ and Daumier’s Law), and Paul was drawn to Geoff because of Ubu, a film Dunbar directed in 1980 based on Alfred Jarry’s fictional character.
Paul’s interest in Ubu can be traced back to Monday 10 January 1966. The Beatles were between albums, between tours and enjoying their first real break away from work. At 7.30 that evening, whilst driving from London to Liverpool, Paul switched on the car radio, to what was then known as the BBC Third Programme, and heard an hour-long production of Ubu Cocu, also called Ubu Cuckolded, a play which only came to light after Jarry’s death in 1907. The broadcast captured Paul’s imagination so much that he soon went along to London’s newest bookshop catering for the “underground” and ordered a copy. This happened to be Indica Books, a venture run by Paul’s friends Miles, Peter Asher and John Dunbar, which Paul had help finance and set up. (It was also here, in Indica’s downstairs art gallery, that John Lennon met Yoko Ono later the same year.) Then, in the summer of 1966, Paul went with Miles to the Royal Court theatre in London to see a new production of Ubu Roi, designed by David Hockney and starring Max Wall as Pere Ubu.
“But just who was this Alfred Jarry chappie?” you might be asking. (But probably aren’t.) Born in 1873, Jarry was one of the founder writers of the modern movement which led to Surrealism, Dadaism and the Theatre of the Absurd. Ubu, a man of immense greed and selfishness, was Jarry’s most famous creation, and first appeared in Ubu Roi in 1896. Ubu Enchaine and Ubu Cocu followed, but Jarry – who haunted the cafes of Bohemian Paris – then died early, aged just 34, having drunk himself to death on absinthe. (Clearly, not a case of absinthe making the heart grow fonder.)
Now, almost 90 years after Jarry’s death, his muse strikes again with Paul McCartney’s Oobu Joobu, inspired in every sense by that pataphysical “science of imaginary solutions”.Mark Lewisohn
LOS ANGELES- “Oobu Joobu.”
While these words may seem like nonsense to most, to Paul McCartney they represent the fruition of 20 years of work on what has become the most fascination and intimate radio series ever created.
On Memorial Day, the former Beatle’s 13-part multigenre, nationally syndicated series, “Oobu Joobu,” kicks off with a two-hour program via Westwood One Entertainment.
This first-of-its-kind series, which is only being distibuted domestically at this point, wraps up with a three-hour Labor Day special. Over the summer, 11 hour long shows will air.
The series, directed by McCartney and executive-produced by London based musician/producer Eddy Pumer, includes never-before heard McCartney recordings and rehearsals; Beatles soundchecks and parodies; discussions with great artists like Brian Wilson; selections from McCartney’s record collection; and even recipes from Linda McCartney.
While WW1 has not begun signing up affiliates because the series is still being completed, the network anticipates inking more than 200 stations in all radio formats, according to Norm Pattiz, chairman of WW1.
So far, it’s a hit with advertisers; Pattiz says it’s already “sold-out.” “This is the kind of thing that we had to be involved with because it’s a history-making series,” says Pattiz. “I love it because it’s wildly creative and breaks lots of rules. To me, it’s the height of creativity.”
The series slightly resembles WW1’s famed “The Lost Lennon Tapes,” but with the addition of the artist himself talking about the music.
“It’s like being a fly on the wall in the private life of Paul McCartney,” says Pumer. “People never hear the makings of final product, only the final product. On ‘Oobu Joobu,’ you hear it as he was making it.”
‘UBU COCU’ TO ‘OOBU JOOBU’
The title, “Oobu Joobu,” was inspired by a production of Alfred Jarry’s “Ubu Cocu” on BBC Radio in London almost 30 years ago.
“Paul explained to me that he wanted to do a tiny, little late-night show, then it evolved into this,” says Pumer, who was hired for the project in 1981 after Joe Reddington, McCartney’s independent promotion man at the time, ran the idea past him. Pumer was then working as a producer at London’s Capital Radio.
He has also worked as a record producer with artists such as Duane Eddy and was a member of the British band Fairfield Parlour, aka Kaleidoscope.
“Paul’s original idea was to do eight shows; he had this figure of eight in his head, which came up later as a song,” says Pumer. “I asked him to give me a piece of paper with a few ideas, and what I got was this list with things like ‘reggae,’ ‘live,’ ‘rock,’ ‘world,’ ‘studio rehearsal,’ and a drawing-an aerial view of a studio. These were his ideas.”
Pumer, who calls the series McCartney’s “best-kept secret,” says the singer has been working on “Oobu Joobu” for approximately 20 years, often putting the idea on the back burner to tour or record another album.
McCartney was on vacation and could not be reached at press time.
“THE RUDE TAPES”
“Oobu Joobu” is clearly the most riveting radio special ever made. Listeners are able to experience an artist’s most vulnerable moments by practically eavesdropping on him in the midst of the creative process.
The show accomplishes this sense of intimacy not only by airing McCartney’s home recordings, but also by his talking about the inspiration for his songs.
“We called them ‘the Rude tapes,'” says Pumer of the four-track recordings created at McCartney’s home studio/dubbed Rude. “There’s nothing rude about them at all. They are the most exciting things to listen to. These are Paul creating songs.”
Some of the recordings include out takes from sessions with Stevie Wonder while working on their hit, “Ebony and Ivory.” There are also tapes of the early stages of McCartney’s “We All Stand Together” from the movie and video “Rupert The Bear.”
In addition, McCartney’s soundcheck of “I Wanna Be Your Man” at Giant Stadium in New Jersey in 1993 is featured on the series, seamlessly segued from the Rolling Stones’ version of that Lennon/McCartney song.
Other previously unheard McCartney material included on “Oobu Joobu” includes portions of unreleased songs he wrote called “Atlantic Ocean” and “Love Mix.”
Among many other artists, there are songs recorded with Billy Joel’s band and produced by Phil Ramone. There are even home recordings of Linda McCartney messing around in the studio. For instance, she sings a reggae version of the McGuire Sisters hit “Sugartime” and an unreleased song of here own titled “New Orleans.”
Bill Porricelli, Director of Promotions at McCartney’s music publishing company, MPL Communications Inc., says the artist has approximately 250 hours of rare and unreleased material and could easily come up with more radio series.
However, there are no plans at this time for future shows or even international distribution of “Oobu Joobu,” according to Porricelli.
In addition, Pumer says McCartney hinted at releasing an album of the early stages of his songs at some point.
Another highlight of the series is a segment where Wilson and McCartney simply talk about music. Each artist discusses his love of the other’s songwriting abilities.
“Originally I thought Brian would simply say something brief to Paul, but Brian goes on about how he just flipped out over the lyrics of ‘Long and Winding Road,’ and then he sings a bit of ‘Hey Jude’ and he starts messing with it. Paul does a scat on ‘California Girls,’ too. They mess around with three or four songs.”
Wilson also plays a bit of the Beatles’ “She’s Leaving Home.”
“Oobu Joobu” also gives listeners further insight into McCartney’s musical tastes. The artist shares some of his favorite selections from his record collection, ranging from reggae albums he picked up in Jamica to classical recordings to world music.
BREAKING FORMAT BARRIERS
Because of the various musical genres on the series, Pattiz anticipates nearly all formats will be interested in “Oobu Joobu.” However, he does expect some radio programmers to be a bit hesitant at first about breaking away from their station’s regular formats.
“We had the same problem with “The Sound Of Motown,’ which broke format barriers, too,” says Pattiz. “They said that show couldn’t be aired on top 40 radio stations, but it was.”
“There are no set rules or format for this,” says Pumer. “There may not be a guest for each one, just people coming in and out and snippets of songs here and there and Paul tooling around in the studio.”
Stevie Wonder appears as a guest on the two-hour debut show. Some of the other artists featured on the series include Carl Perkins, Chrissie Hynde, Little Richard, Kim Basinger, Elvis Costello, Jeff Beck, John Entwistle, Pete Townshend, and Mike Myers.
On one of the shows, McCartney even duets with Perkins on “Honey Don’t,” which was written and recorded by Perkins and covered by the Beatles.
For comic relief, McCartney mimics Bugs Bunny doing “Yesterday” and parodies “Let It Be” and “Hey Jude.” The substitute lyrics on the latter go like this, “Hey Jude/Don’t be a prat,” and are sung in a heavy cockney accent.
What won’t be heard is conversations with any of the other Beatles. “Oobu Joobu is Paul, not the Beatles,” says Pumer. “His contribution to music is really incalculable.”
Last updated on April 13, 2022
Setlist for the concert
Oobu Joobu Intro – Unreleased McCartney track
Take It Away – Studio outtake
Talk About The Radioshow – Chat
Biker Like An Icon – Soundcheck
Oobu Joobu – Rehearsal
Oobu Joobu / Good Rockin' Tonight – Partial/Chat
Lucille – Paul & Little Richard versions edited together
Little Richard's Story / Tutti Frutti – Little Richard
Oobu Joobu / Cook of the House – Linda's recipe
New Orleans / Oobu Joobu – Unreleased Linda McCartney song
Oobu Joobu / I Wanna Be Your Man – Paul talks about 1st Rolling Stones' single
I Wanna Be Your Man – Soundcheck at the Giant Stadium
Oobu Joobu / Story About Paul's Father – Chat
Flight of the Bumble Bee – Classical: Wynton Marsalis
We Can Work It Out – Soundcheck/Rehearsal
Oobu Joobu Superman Jingle / Reggae Story – Chat
Butter Cup – Winston Scotland – 7" single.
Ou Est Le Soleil? – Home recording & finished version
Atlantic Ocean – Unfinished song (partial)
A Fairy Tale – Bonus track: Paul at the piano telling a story to his children. M
Welcome Back / About Alan Crowder – Jam
Oobu Joobu / Don't Get Around Much Anymore – Studio outtake
Papa's Got A Brand New Bag – James Brown
They Call My Baby Baby – Soundcheck Jam
Boil Crisis / Oobu Joobu Jingle – Part of an unreleased song from the rude corne
C Moon – Rehearsal
Put It There – Rehearsal
My Dad – From TV Show, Chet Atkins
Oobu Joobu Jingle / Paul About Buddy – Chat
That'll Be The Day – Buddy Holly record
It's Now Or Never – Jam
Green Sleeves / Talk About Rainforests – Jeff Beck (partial) / Chat
Once In A Lifetime – Talking Head record
Cumberland Gap – Improvisation
Chants – Two women from The Burundi Tribe
Oobu Joobu Intro / Ebony And Ivory – Rehearsal with Stevie Wonder
Oobu Joobu Outro / Credits / Tutti Frutti