Coming Up (song)
|Single by Paul McCartney|
|from the album McCartney II|
|Released||11 April 1980|
|Length||3:49 (album/single edit)|
5:35 (full length version)
4:10 ("Live at Glasgow" version)
|Paul McCartney singles chronology|
|Wings singles chronology|
Reverse side of the picture sleeve
|McCartney II track listing|
"Coming Up" is a song written and performed by English musician Paul McCartney, released as the opening track on his 1980 solo album McCartney II. Like other songs on the album, the song has a synthesised sound, featuring sped-up vocals created by using a vari-speed tape machine. McCartney played all instruments and shared vocal harmonies with wife Linda McCartney.
The single was a hit in Britain, peaking at No. 2 on the singles chart. In the United States and Canada, the live version of the song performed by Paul McCartney and Wings in Glasgow the year prior (released as the B-side to the single) saw greater success.
I originally cut it on my farm in Scotland. I went into the studio each day and just started with a drum track. Then I built it up bit by bit without any idea of how the song was going to turn out. After laying down the drum track, I added guitars and bass, building up the backing track.
Then I thought, 'Well, OK, what am I going to do for the voice?' I was working with a vari-speed machine with which you can speed up your voice, or take it down a little bit. That's how the voice sound came about.— Paul McCartney
John Lennon described "Coming Up" as "a good piece of work" and, according to McCartney, it prompted Lennon to return to recording in 1980. Lennon later stated his preference for the studio version over the live version that was released as a single: "I thought that Coming Up was great and I like the freak version that he made in his barn better than that live Glasgow one. If I'd have been with him I would've said 'that's the one' too. And I thought that the record company had a nerve changing it round on him, and I know what they mean, they want to hear the real guy singing, but I like the freaky one."
A live version of the song was recorded in Glasgow, Scotland, on 17 December 1979 by Wings during their tour of the UK. An edited version from the performance was included as one of two songs on the B-side; the other song on the B-side was "Lunchbox/Odd Sox", a Wings song that dated back to Venus and Mars. Both songs were credited to Paul McCartney and Wings.
Columbia Records wanted to put the live version on McCartney II but McCartney resisted the change, wanting to keep it a solo album. Instead, a one-sided 7" white-label promotional copy of the Wings version was included with the album in North America.
"Coming Up (Live at Glasgow)" has since appeared on the US versions of the McCartney compilations All the Best! (1987) and Wingspan: Hits and History (2001), while the solo studio version is included on UK and international releases.
The full length version of the song with an additional verse from the 1979 Glasgow show was finally released as bonus track on the Paul McCartney Archive Collection reissue of McCartney II in 2011.
A different live Wings recording of "Coming Up" appears on the album Concerts for the People of Kampuchea, also recorded in 1979.
The music video for "Coming Up" features Paul McCartney playing ten roles (himself, two guitarists, a bassist, a drummer, a keyboard player, and four saxophone players) and Linda McCartney playing two (one female backup singer and one male backup singer.) The "band" identified as "The Plastic Macs" on the drum kit (a homage to Lennon's conceptual Plastic Ono Band), features Paul and Linda's imitations of various rock musician stereotypes, as well as a few identifiable musicians. In his audio commentary on the 2007 video collection The McCartney Years, McCartney identified characters that were impersonations of specific artists: Hank Marvin (guitarist from the Shadows), Ron Mael of Sparks (keyboards), a 'Beatlemania-era' version of himself, and a drummer vaguely inspired by John Bonham from Led Zeppelin While others such as authors Fred Bronson and Kenneth Womack have suggested that there are other identifiable impersonations in the video, such as Andy Mackay, Frank Zappa and Buddy Holly, McCartney said the other roles were simply comic relief.
In the UK, the single was an immediate hit, reaching No. 2 in its third week on the chart.
In the US, Columbia Records promoted the live version, which subsequently received more airplay than the studio version. McCartney was unaware of Columbia's move, otherwise he might have pushed for the A-side, which he thought was the stronger version. An executive from Columbia Records explained the switch by stating "Americans like the sound of Paul McCartney's real voice." The live version reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies. Although the live version received more airplay and was considered to be the "hit", Billboard listed the A-side on the Hot 100 for the first 12 weeks on the chart, including three weeks at No. 1, before switching to the more popular B-side for the remaining nine weeks on the chart.
- 7" single (R 6035)
- "Coming Up" – 3:49
- "Coming Up" (Live at Glasgow) – 3:51
- Performed by Paul McCartney & Wings
- "Lunch Box/Odd Sox" – 3:54
- Performed by Paul McCartney & Wings
- Studio version
- Live version
- Paul McCartney – lead vocals, bass
- Linda McCartney – keyboards, vocals
- Denny Laine – guitar, vocals
- Laurence Juber – guitar
- Steve Holley – drums
- Tony Dorsey – trombone
- Thaddeus Richard – saxophone
- Howie Casey – saxophone
- Steve Howard – trumpet
- "Lunch Box / Odd Sox"
- Paul McCartney – piano
- Linda McCartney – moog synthesizer
- Denny Laine – guitar
- Geoff Britton – drums
- Tony Dorsey – bass
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