To coincide with Paul's 'Freshen Up' tour coming to the US, he announced last month that four titles from his catalogue - Wings Over America, CHOBA B CCCP, Paul Is Live and the newly remixed Amoeba Gig - would be back in stores from Friday 12th July. Last month, we discussed Wings Over America with Paul. Today, we're revisiting one of his quirkier releases: CHOBA B CCCP. Sometimes referred to as "The Russian Album", CHOBA B CCCP has quite the story behind its release...
PaulMcCartney.com: Do you remember why you wanted to do an album purely for your Russian fans?
Paul: Yeah, so first of all it was to do a rock’n’roll album …because I fancied doing that and I’ve always loved rock’n’roll. This morning, before I came here, I was listening to my jukebox and I’ve got a lot of early rock’n’roll stuff on there.
So, it’s incredible for me listening to that music now as it takes me back to being a teenager, you know. I remember me, John and George …before we met Ringo even, we would be sitting around and listening to these records. Now, they’re so nostalgic and it’s interesting to hear them because you have a whole different perspective as you’re making records yourself. You hear them and they’re quite rough. They’re rough and ready in a really cool way. They're not bad rough, they’re great rough! That's actually very hard to achieve and the people making those records, that was the best they could do, and we just loved those things. That was where we formed our musical tastes during those years, listening to those kind of things. Like what did I hear this morning… 'Sweet Little Sixteen’ and ‘Maybelline' by Chuck Berry. ‘Twenty Flight Rock’ by Eddie Cochran and ‘Keep a Knockin’ by Little Richard. All of those things, like ‘Searchin’’ by The Coasters! A lot of these things we used to do live in our early days.
Now, I was at a point when I was wanting to make this album, “The Russian Album”. I wanted to tribute those songs, and just have the fun of playing them, because I love them so much. So, I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll do that’. And just get together a bunch of guys, as I didn’t have a regular band at the time. I thought I’d just get together a bunch of guys who I know are good and we’ll have fun and we’ll just play these songs. We’ll rehearse them very briefly and then we’ll just crack on and do them. And not spend much time on it.
So that is what we did and then the thing was: ‘What are we going to do now? How are we going to release these?’ Well, the normal way would be to go through your record label and just do the ordinary thing. But I fancied doing something different ...as I often do! Because it's fun, and what I was trying to do was have the fun we had when we heard these things as kids. It was just fun. As time goes by, you get your job and unless you’re lucky, like us, your job can be sort of boring. And, as you know, I’m always trying to put fun in to it. Even when were just doing a campaign, I’m like: ‘Let’s do something mad! Let's go on the roof! Let’s go somewhere!’ So, it’s not just the ordinary thing we're churning out again.
So, with this album I thought, ‘What if we got it manufactured in Russia?' I thought that would just be the funniest thing because naturally you’d just expect it to get released in the UK, America, Europe and the Russian fans might have to import it, as they had to with all of The Beatles stuff. So, I thought it would be great to sort of switch it round and, well, just get Melodiya, the state owned record label, to manufacture it. I thought that would be cool. Just the idea that there's Russians working the machines, making this thing is kind of a glamorous idea! So, my manager at the time had to get in touch with Melodiya and say, ‘Guess what, Paul McCartney wants to do this thing with you…!’
PM.com: Did you have Melodiya records in your record collection or was the label something you’d heard about?
Paul: No, I think it was something I'd read about. I knew Russia had this label. So, I thought that would be good! Then the idea was everyone else had to import it from Russia. I thought that was a real naughty idea!
PM.com: Really switching it around…
Paul: Really switching it around! And so now it wouldn’t be the Russian fans importing it, it would have to be the Americans, the UK, the West. And I just thought it was cheeky!
PM.com: It’s a really nice, fun idea!
Paul: Yeah! We managed to pull it off, we did it! I knew it wouldn’t be a big chart-topping thing, but I knew it would be a collectible. People would be like, ‘Have you heard about this?!’ Word of mouth, you know. A crazy little Russian release. So that’s how it all came about!
Here's a pub quiz fact for you: CHOBA B CCCP is Russian for 'Back In The USSR'. (Ten points to Gryffindor if you already knew that!) CHOBA B CCCP received a wider release after the initial Russian pressing, but - keeping in with the spirit of having fun - Paul decided to reissue that original version of the album this time round. It was a lot of fun trying to proof-read the Russian text!
What are your favourite tracks from CHOBA B CCCP?