The Paul McCartney Project

Pretty Little Head

Album This song officially appears on the Press To Play Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1986
Timeline This song has been written (or started being written) in 1985 (Paul McCartney was 43 years old)

Related sessions

This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions


"Press To Play" sessions #1

March - May 1985


"Press To Play" sessions #2

October 1st - December 6th 1985


"Press To Play" sessions #3

April 14th-18th 1986

Other "Press To Play" songs co-written with Eric Stewart


Footprints

Officially appears on Press To Play


Move Over Busker

Officially appears on Press To Play


Angry

Officially appears on Press To Play


However Absurd

Officially appears on Press To Play


Stranglehold

Officially appears on Press To Play

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

Pretty Little Head” is a song by Paul McCartney, cowritten by McCartney, and 10cc guitarist Eric Stewart. The track is on his sixth studio solo album Press to Play. The track was McCartney’s 38th single, and his first which failed to chart, so, in an attempt to boost sales, he released his first ever cassette single. It still failed to reach the top 75.

Release

The single was released at a length of 3:50 on the 7″ release (remixed by Larry Alexander), and as a 6:56 remix (mixed by John Potoker) on the 12″ release on the same day, 27 October 1986, and an extra track, “Angry“, was added to the 12”. The cassette version was the same as the 12″, and was released on 17 November 1986. Both of these lengths are different from the album version, which has a length of 5:14. (See Press to Play).

Write Away“, the single’s B-side, is included only on the CD release of the album, resulting in the back of the single listing the A-side as “From the album” and the B-side as “From the compact disc“.

Video

A music video, directed by Steve Barron, was recorded for the song, which features a girl running away from home after she witnesses her parents in an argument; she then finds herself in a big city. The girl is actress Gabrielle Anwar. McCartney appears only in a short cameo role, which he filmed in London on 18 October 1986. The beginning of the video contains an excerpt from “She’s Leaving Home,” a Beatles song written and performed in 1967, for the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

Reception

Reviews of the song, and the album as a whole, were mixed. The song has been described as “wild, hi-tech experimentation“, and as “computer-laiden, spacey-sounding, boomey-drumming”, while Rolling Stone magazine described it as “dreamily abstract“.

From “Club Sandwich 42 – Autumn 1986“:

More eccentricity. Paul’s voice is transformed, sounding deep and unrecognisable; the only lyrics which jump out at the listener are in the chant of ‘Ursa Major/Ursa Minor’, but it hardly matters as the whole performance is charged with an otherworldly atmosphere. Paul explains how this was achieved: “I had a new studio, a new producer, a new songwriting partner, so I wanted to try something different… For a long while ‘Pretty Little Head’ was an instrumental. I drummed on it, Jerry played vibes, Eric played keyboards, so we all switched roles to send us off in a different direction.

From the “Press To Play” sleeve – These coloured diagrams by Paul show the position of the voices and instruments in the mix of each track.

Last updated on May 2, 2020

Lyrics

Hillmen, hillmen, hillmen, hillmen.
Oh, oh. Oh, oh.
Hillmen come down from the lava.
Forging across the mighty river flow. Oh, oh.
Always forever, only so you don't worry
Your pretty little head.

Ursa major….. ursa minor…..

Hillmen, hillmen, hillmen, hillmen.
Oh, oh. Oh, oh.
Hillmen bring garments, spices.
Carrying trinkets, silk and precious stones. Oh, oh.
Exotic legends,
Only so you don't worry
Your pretty little head.

Hillmen, hillmen, hillmen, hillmen,
Oh, oh. Oh, oh.
Hillmen are sworn to allegiance,
Living a life of silent dignity, Oh, oh
For your protection,
Only so you don't worry
Your pretty little head.

Ursa major….. ursa minor…..
The hillmen…..
Living in the higher reaches.

Officially appears on


Press To Play

Official album • Released in 1986

5:13 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals
Eric Stewart :
Backing vocals, Keyboards
Trevor Jones :
Assistant engineer (?)
Eddie Klein :
Assistant engineer (?)
Tony Clark :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Butler :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jon Kelly :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jerry Marotta :
Percussion, Vibraphone
John Hammel :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Howe :
Assistant engineer (?)
Hugh Padgham :
Engineering, Mixing, Producer
Peter Mew :
Assistant engineer (?)
Haydn Bendall :
Assistant engineer (?)

Session Recording:
March - May 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs:
October 1st - December 6th 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Mixing:
April 14th-18th 1986
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon


Pretty Little Head / Write Away

7" Single • Released in 1986

3:50 • Studio versionA2 • 7" mix by Larry Alexander

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals
Eric Stewart :
Backing vocals, Keyboards
Trevor Jones :
Assistant engineer (?)
Eddie Klein :
Assistant engineer (?)
Tony Clark :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Butler :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jon Kelly :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jerry Marotta :
Percussion, Vibraphone
John Hammel :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Howe :
Assistant engineer (?)
Hugh Padgham :
Engineering, Mixing, Producer
Peter Mew :
Assistant engineer (?)
Larry Alexander :
Remix
Haydn Bendall :
Assistant engineer (?)

Session Recording:
March - May 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs:
October 1st - December 6th 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Mixing:
April 14th-18th 1986
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon


Pretty Little Head / Write Away

12" Single • Released in 1986

6:56 • Studio versionA1 • 12" mix by John ‘Tokes’ Potoker

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals
Eric Stewart :
Backing vocals, Keyboards
Trevor Jones :
Assistant engineer (?)
Eddie Klein :
Assistant engineer (?)
Tony Clark :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Butler :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jon Kelly :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jerry Marotta :
Percussion, Vibraphone
John Hammel :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Howe :
Assistant engineer (?)
Hugh Padgham :
Engineering, Mixing, Producer
Peter Mew :
Assistant engineer (?)
Haydn Bendall :
Assistant engineer (?)
John Potoker :
Remix

Session Recording:
March - May 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs:
October 1st - December 6th 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Mixing:
April 14th-18th 1986
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon


Press To Play (LP version)

Official album • Released in 1986

5:13 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals
Eric Stewart :
Backing vocals, Keyboards
Trevor Jones :
Assistant engineer (?)
Eddie Klein :
Assistant engineer (?)
Tony Clark :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Butler :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jon Kelly :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jerry Marotta :
Percussion, Vibraphone
John Hammel :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Howe :
Assistant engineer (?)
Hugh Padgham :
Engineering, Mixing, Producer
Peter Mew :
Assistant engineer (?)
Haydn Bendall :
Assistant engineer (?)

Session Recording:
March - May 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs:
October 1st - December 6th 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Mixing:
April 14th-18th 1986
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon


Press To Play (1993)

Official album • Released in 1993

5:13 • Studio versionA1993 • 1993 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals
Eric Stewart :
Backing vocals, Keyboards
Trevor Jones :
Assistant engineer (?)
Eddie Klein :
Assistant engineer (?)
Tony Clark :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Butler :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jon Kelly :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jerry Marotta :
Percussion, Vibraphone
John Hammel :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Howe :
Assistant engineer (?)
Hugh Padgham :
Engineering, Mixing, Producer
Peter Mew :
Assistant engineer (?)
Haydn Bendall :
Assistant engineer (?)

Session Recording:
March - May 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs:
October 1st - December 6th 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Mixing:
April 14th-18th 1986
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon

Bootlegs


Pizza And Fairy Tales

Unofficial album • Released in 2000

4:57 • Rough mixA3

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Vocals
Eric Stewart :
Keyboards
Jerry Marotta :
Percussion

Session Recording:
March - May 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Where Footprints Never Go - Unofficial Rarities - Ultimate Archive Collection

Unofficial album • Released in 2016

6:49 • Studio versionA4 • Alternate extended remix

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals
Eric Stewart :
Backing vocals, Keyboards
Trevor Jones :
Assistant engineer (?)
Eddie Klein :
Assistant engineer (?)
Tony Clark :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Butler :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jon Kelly :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jerry Marotta :
Percussion, Vibraphone
John Hammel :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Howe :
Assistant engineer (?)
Hugh Padgham :
Engineering, Mixing, Producer
Peter Mew :
Assistant engineer (?)
Haydn Bendall :
Assistant engineer (?)

Session Recording:
March - May 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs:
October 1st - December 6th 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon


MoMac's Hidden Tracks Vol.19

Unofficial album

4:54 • Rough mixA3

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Vocals
Eric Stewart :
Keyboards
Jerry Marotta :
Percussion

Session Recording:
March - May 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


MoMac's Hidden Tracks Vol.19

Unofficial album

6:43 • Studio versionA1 • 12" mix by John ‘Tokes’ Potoker

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals
Eric Stewart :
Backing vocals, Keyboards
Trevor Jones :
Assistant engineer (?)
Eddie Klein :
Assistant engineer (?)
Tony Clark :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Butler :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jon Kelly :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jerry Marotta :
Percussion, Vibraphone
John Hammel :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Howe :
Assistant engineer (?)
Hugh Padgham :
Engineering, Mixing, Producer
Peter Mew :
Assistant engineer (?)
Haydn Bendall :
Assistant engineer (?)
John Potoker :
Remix

Session Recording:
March - May 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs:
October 1st - December 6th 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Mixing:
April 14th-18th 1986
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon


MoMac's Hidden Tracks Vol.19

Unofficial album

3:45 • Studio versionA2 • 7" mix by Larry Alexander

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals
Eric Stewart :
Backing vocals, Keyboards
Trevor Jones :
Assistant engineer (?)
Eddie Klein :
Assistant engineer (?)
Tony Clark :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Butler :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jon Kelly :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jerry Marotta :
Percussion, Vibraphone
John Hammel :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Howe :
Assistant engineer (?)
Hugh Padgham :
Engineering, Mixing, Producer
Peter Mew :
Assistant engineer (?)
Larry Alexander :
Remix
Haydn Bendall :
Assistant engineer (?)

Session Recording:
March - May 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs:
October 1st - December 6th 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Mixing:
April 14th-18th 1986
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon


Films


Pretty Little Head

1986 • For Paul McCartney • Directed by Steve Barron

Videos

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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