The Paul McCartney Project

"Press To Play" sessions #1

March - May 1985 • For Paul McCartney

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Press To Play Official album.
Timeline More from year 1985
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

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About

From Steve Hoffman’s forums:

Snippets about making the record from Eric Stewart’s memoir:

George Martin suggested Stewart produce the album, then Steve Shrimpton, McCartney’s manager at the time, confirmed the offer. Linda then suggested he and McCartney meet to write together for the album. Paul said he’d always liked 10cc and felt they could collaborate well.

It was snowing outside when Stewart arrived at McCartney’s home studio, and the first thing he said on entering was ‘It’s so beautiful outside’. McCartney immediately started improvising with that line and it became ‘Footprints‘.

They wrote a lot very quickly (including ‘Angry‘ and ‘Stranglehold‘), but Stewart began to get a bit uneasy about the fact they didn’t seem to be completing any of it. Stewart was used to concentrating on one song and finishing it, whereas here they were going from one ‘sketch’ to another.

Then Stewart was surprised when one morning McCartney said in a matter of fact fashion that he’d asked Hugh Padgham to engineer and co-produce. Stewart didn’t mind ceding the engineering duties because he wanted to play on the tracks, but he resented sharing production with someone he viewed as a rookie in that department.

But they met up, Padgham said he was a big 10cc fan, and that he was busy anyway working with Bowie on ‘Tonight’ and wouldn’t be around for a while, and Stewart and McCartney continued as before.

The first day they worked on ‘Angry‘ and McCartney was delighted with the rough mix. ‘Tell that man of yours he’s a bloody genius,’ he told Stewart’s wife.

Then after a while Padgham turned up, brought in other musicians and Stewart began to relax with the arrangement. But as they kept working, he was puzzled that they still weren’t really finishing any more of the ‘sketches’. McCartney would work on one for a while, and then leave it to work a bit on another one, etc. He was also frustrated that Padgham ‘wasn’t coming up with any musical production ideas at all‘.

I therefore wondered if Paul was possibly getting worried about whether or not the songs were good enough and that maybe he hoped that if he left them alone for a while they might perk up when he went back to work on them later. Whatever the reason I was completely in the dark with this strange scenario going on around me‘.

The other problem was that Stewart and his wife enjoyed Paul and Linda’s friendship and he was disinclined to risk damaging that with an argument.

Stewart later found out that Padgham had told his manager that he didn’t rate any of the initial work but hoped they’d come up with something better later. ‘It’s a pity that he didn’t mention this to us earlier!

Then things got worse. Stewart was in the control room with Padgham when Paul was singing a vocal. Stewart asked Padgham to get Paul to do a verse again. Padgham pressed the talkback button and said sarcastically, ‘Do that verse again, Paul, he doesn’t like it‘. So a furious Stewart butted in and asked to speak with Paul in private. Paul cancelled that day’s session to let things cool down.

The next morning Paul’s manager called Stewart to say that Padgham had declared he would leave the project immediately unless he was given complete control over production. Stewart was hurt to find that McCartney had agreed to the ultimatum. It was added that Stewart was welcome to stay on as a musician and backing vocalist but with no other input whatsoever.

Stewart felt Padgham was blaming him for the lack of progress, rather than pushing Paul to have the courage of his convictions and start finishing the songs. He also concluded that Paul hadn’t wanted him to produce but had merely gone along with George Martin and his manager when they suggested it.

Stewart did go back to play on the tracks but was rattled when Padgham re-recorded the ‘Angry‘ track and generally ignored him. Eventually, he called Paul and explained how awkward it felt and said it was probably best if he left. Paul merely said ‘Okay’ and the phone went dead. Linda called that evening to apologise and hope that the friendship they had would remain.

We started off with ‘Stranglehold’, putting rhythmic words in, using lyrics like a bongo, accenting the words. We enjoyed the experience, then went on to write the six that are on the album… I remembered the old way I’d written with John, the two acoustic guitars facing each other, like a mirror, but better! Like an objective mirror, you’re looking at the person playing chords, but it’s not you.

Paul McCartney, about writing songs with Eric Stewart for “Press To Play”, Club Sandwich N°42, Autumn 1986

Last updated on April 25, 2020

Songs recorded


1.



3.

Footprints

Written by Paul McCartney, Eric Stewart

Recording



5.


6.

Write Away

Written by Paul McCartney, Eric Stewart

Recording



8.

Press

Written by Paul McCartney

Recording



10.

It's Not True

Written by Paul McCartney

Recording


11.

Angry

Written by Paul McCartney, Eric Stewart

Recording


12.

I Love This House

Written by Paul McCartney

Recording • Overdubs

Eight Arms To Hold You • Chip Madinger • Mark Easter

We owe a lot to Chip Madinger and Mark Easter for the creation of those session pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details!

Eight Arms To Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium is the ultimate look at the careers of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr beyond the Beatles. Every aspect of their professional careers as solo artists is explored, from recording sessions, record releases and tours, to television, film and music videos, including everything in between. From their early film soundtrack work to the officially released retrospectives, all solo efforts by the four men are exhaustively examined. Not only are John, Paul, George and Ringo's official projects

As the paperback version is out of print, you can buy a PDF version on the authors' website


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