You Gave Me The Answer - 'Amoeba Gig'
Regular visitors to PaulMcCartney.com will be aware that over the past month we’ve been talking with Paul about the reissues of four “live” titles. If you missed Paul talking about including Beatles songs in the set for Wings Over America – click HERE! If you’d like to know why Paul wanted to release the album CHOBA B CCCP for his Russian fans – click HERE! And if you’d like to read about Paul discussing those Paul Is Live conspiracy theories – click HERE!
Today we publish the fourth and final Q&A in this live series with Paul – Amoeba Gig…
PaulMcCartney.com: What was it like taking over the Amoeba Music store in Hollywood? That must have been such an exciting show!
Paul: Well, the idea originally came from Scott, my manager. He said that the night you’re playing in Los Angeles, the night you’re going to be there, The Police – the band – are also in town playing at the big Dodgers stadium… or somewhere. He said if you’re going to get noticed, you might want to do something unusual. So, I went, “Oh great, that’s my kind of thinking!” I’m not sure if he suggested it, but the idea came up to play this great, iconic record shop in Los Angeles on Sunset Boulevard. And I knew the shop as I’ve been there to buy records and It’s one of those that pride themselves in having anything you want. And on vinyl, lots of old vinyl. So, because of that, because it’s got such a great vibe, I said, “Can we play there?” And the answer was, “Yeah, you can! There are certain groups, mainly up and coming, that play there. Just like a showcase thing. But there is a little stage, a very little one!” Again, I like that kind of stuff. We often do that, going back to the roots and playing in a small venue. It was great fun there, because you’re on the stage and in front of you there’s all these racks of records. Like a record shop! And my first thought was, people are just going to steal them! So, I did announce, “Please, no shoplifting!”
PM.com: That’s on the album notes!
Paul: That was my first thought. You know, I’d be tempted!
PM.com: And the idea was to publicise your 'Memory Almost Full' album, which had just been released?
Paul: Yeah, sometimes you do things for a combination of PR and fun, and I like to try and do that. You know, I don’t just want to show up and shake a thousand hands. That’s not my idea of fun. But, to just show up with something like this and create a bit of a stir… Which it did. These days you can announce last minute. But for this, we announced a couple of days before. “Aye, he’s going to be playing…!” “Woah, he’s going to be performing at…?!” You know? And the word gets around, and that’s pretty exciting for everyone. Well, not exciting for the people who can’t get in – but that's the nature of the beast! So yeah, we went in and did it and really enjoyed it, which I think you can hear in the recording. And Ringo was there. I hadn’t seen him in a little while, so it was great to have him come to the show and he enjoyed himself. I think towards the end I sort of mention him …but he’s gone! [Laughs] So, I had to go, “Ringo’s left the building. He left early to avoid the crush!”
PM.com: And so now, with 'Amoeba Gig' you’re putting out the full show? And on the vinyl version fans also get the soundcheck recording of ‘Coming Up’?
Paul: Yeah. And, you know, I mean many people may not know this, but I love to give value for money. That was sort of what George Martin always used to say and talk about: it’s good value for money. That sort of hit a nerve with us because we remembered, particularly when we were first recording in Abbey Road. We remembered recently having been the people who had bought the records, not made them. And if you ever got cheated, you hated the artist or the label. I once bought a record by Little Richard and I thought, “Wow! A new record by Little Richard!” And I got it home… and it was actually by the Buck Ram Orchestra! And in one of the tracks Little Richard was a guest. Through the whole album was this other stuff I didn’t want to listen to. And just this one little thing, so I thought, “God, that’s a real cheat”. I remember Phil Spector telling us in the early days that he used to think we wasted our material by putting two good songs on a single. He said, "You shouldn’t have two, you should just have one.” We said, “No, no, no value for money. You know, it should be an A-side and a B-side. And it's great!” And he said,"No! No, you should just put the backing track of the A-side on the B-side”. And we just thought that’s cheating. So, I’ve always loved the idea of giving people extra little things they haven’t got. And it’s a nice thing for me too – a lot of the songs, I haven’t heard for years. And we’ve just listened through on this remastering session and there’s a couple of soundcheck things there off the 'Paul Is Live' and 'Amoeba Gig' sessions, which I’d only heard the day we did them.
PM.com: When you were improvising with your band?
Paul: Yeah, it was an improvisation and suddenly there it is on record. So, it’s good for me. It gives me a little kick!
PM.com: Do you and the band still improvise at soundcheck?
Paul: Yeah, we do! We’ve got millions of them! And fortunately, there’s a guy in our team called Jamie, who logs them. And he tells me we’ve actually got thousands! Some of them are really good and occasionally I'll pick one out and work on it. For 'Egypt Station', I picked one out, though we didn’t finish it. I picked one out and we’re kind of making a track around this riff from the soundcheck jam. ‘Cause it was like, “That was a good little riff!” But because they’re improvised they’re instant and then they’re gone.
PM.com: That's part of the beauty of music. But it’s also sad when something great happens and it’s not captured so it gets lost…
Paul: Thankfully our stuff is captured because these days you can record just about anything that moves! So, our sound desk captures it and the guys there will make a note of that track: “That was kind of good!” And sometimes one of our security guys, Mike will say, “Hey boss, you know that song you did the other day, did you make that up?” I go, “Yeah!” And he’ll go, “Wow!” Because some of them are really good and they could fool you into thinking that’s a real song. When you pull it off, it’s nice. It’s a little treasure trove! And one day we will have to put together an album, or something, with a selection of these songs that we’ve gathered. Because they are from all around the world!
So, with Paul having just finished his latest Freshen Up tour leg with a sell-out show at Dodger Stadium in LA and the four live albums, it’s been quite the summer of live! Let us know if you’ve seen Paul play live and in which city. You never know, maybe Paul improvised a new song in your city that might one day become your new favourite song!
Stay tuned for next month’s ‘You Gave Me The Answer’ where Paul will be discussing Linda McCartney’s Wide Prairie which is also being reissued this summer to coincide with her Retrospective exhibition opening in Glasgow. You can find out more about the Linda McCartney Retrospective by clicking HERE!