- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Tug Of War Official album.
- AIR Studios, Montserrat
More from year 1981
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A month of recording with various guests at AIR Studios on the island of Montserrat, which produced tracks to be released on “Tug Of War” and “Pipes Of Peace“. AIR Studios was owned by producer George Martin.
We decided not to be as restricted, and just write anything and then get in anyone we thought could play it. So we started a new era, working with whoever we thought was most suitable for the tune. If it was a thing that needed Steve Gadd’s particular kind of thing, we decided we’d get him, rather than just asking someone to be like Steve Gadd.Paul McCartney
AIR’s studio facility on Montserrat, a tiny British Overseas Territory in the eastern Caribbean, has passed into rock folklore. In 1977 George Martin fell in love with the island and decided to build the ultimate, get-away-from-it-all recording studio. Opened in 1979, AIR Studios Montserrat offered all of the technical facilities of its London counterpart, but with the advantages of an exotic location.
For more than a decade, AIR Montserrat played host to recording sessions by a who’s who of rock and pop. More than 70 albums were recorded there in ten years, including Hot Hot Hot by Arrow, Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms, Ghost in the Machine and Synchronicity by The Police, Elton John’s Too Low for Zero and Steel Wheels by the Rolling Stones. Duran Duran, Ultravox, Lou Reed, Black Sabbath and Eric Clapton all passed through the idyllic Montserrat studio.
From Club Sandwich N°24, 1981:
A tropical island, a well-equipped studio, friendly people, peace and quiet. The ideal recipe for Paul and assorted guest musicians to lay down some memorable tracks for the next album.
This was Montserrat, a small volcanic island of 120 square miles near Antigua in the West Indies.
On the 28 January the crew flew to Antigua by Jumbo with four tons of the band’s equipment. The airstrip on Montserrat isn’t built for jets so all the gear was transferred to two DC3s. When it arrived Trevor and John had to make urgent repairs to some amps and speakers that had been damaged in flight. Over the weekend the rest of the recording crew and staff flew in and finally, on Sunday Paul, Linda and the family arrived from New York.
George Martin and his wife have a house on the island and made everyone all very welcome and arranged all the accommodation. Air Studios, Montserrat was built by George Martin four years ago and is a superbly equipped and situated recording studio. This was to be at our disposal for a month and what a month it proved to be!
For the first week Dave Mattacks, an English drummer, worked in the studio with Paul and Denny. Linda went horse-riding when she wasn’t in the studio, or worked on her own songs on an old Wurlitzer piano at home.
On Sunday, at the end of the first week, bass player Stanley Clarke arrived from Philadelphia. They all had a great jam in the studio on Monday and laid down one track. For this session, Steve Gadd, the top session drummer in the US, had also arrived and took over from Dave Mattacks who returned to London. Another week of working in the studio with Steve Gadd produced more great tracks.
On Sunday 15 February Ringo and Barbara Bach flew in from LA with Ringo’s own drum kit. For the next few days, more tracks were aid down, one particularly memorable one was with Ringo and Steve Gadd both on drums. On Thursday Ringo, Barbara and Steve Gadd left for home.
The next day Paul had a slight ear infection from too much swimming but had recovered by Saturday when guitarist Carl Perkins arrived for a week. Paul and Carl hit it off from the start, and wrote each other a song, spending a whole morning on Tuesday in the studio reminiscing on their guitars. More good tracks were laid down.
On the following Thursday Stevie Wonder and his crew arrived with a gift of a ‘rhythm box’ for Paul. The following day Paul and Stevie laid down Ebony and Ivory with Stevie on drums and synthesiser and Paul on piano and bass. Stevie then wrote a song for Paul and the Sunday session in the studio ended at 7 am on Monday morning! Stevie left for home that day and after a day’s rest, Paul, Linda and the whole crew bade a fond farewell to Montserrat — the ideal place to make a desert island disc.
Key dates for this month:
- January 28, 1981 – Musical gear flown from London to Antigua
- February 1 – Paul and Linda and family arrive in Montserrat
- February 2 – Session work starting, with Denny Laine and drummer Dave Mattacks
- February 8 – Stanley Clarke arrives from the USA.
- February 9 – Dave Mattacks has left. Steve Gadd replacing him on drums. A day of jamming.
- February 14 – Stanley Clarke leaving Montserrat
- February 15 – Ringo Starr and wife Barbara Bach arrives from Los Angeles
- February 19 – Ringo Starr and Barbara flies back to Los Angeles. Steve Gadd leaves as well.
- February 21 – Carl Perkins arrives
- February 26 – Stevie Wonder joins the sessions
- March 3 – Paul returns to London
Last updated on November 6, 2021
Mar 01, 1981 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Tug Of War
Feb 04, 1981 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Tug Of War
Mar 01, 1981 • Recording "What's That You're Doing", "Tug Of War"
With 25 albums of pop music, 5 of classical – a total of around 500 songs – released over the course of more than half a century, Paul McCartney's career, on his own and with Wings, boasts an incredible catalogue that's always striving to free itself from the shadow of The Beatles. The stories behind the songs, demos and studio recordings, unreleased tracks, recording dates, musicians, live performances and tours, covers, events: Music Is Ideas Volume 1 traces McCartney's post-Beatles output from 1970 to 1989 in the form of 346 song sheets, filled with details of the recordings and stories behind the sessions. Accompanied by photos, and drawing on interviews and contemporary reviews, this reference book draws the portrait of a musical craftsman who has elevated popular song to an art-form.
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.
As the paperback version is out of print, you can buy a PDF version on the authors' website