Tug of War is the third solo studio album by Paul McCartney, released in April 1982. It was McCartney's first album released after the dissolution of Wings in April 1981. The album was produced by former Beatles producer George Martin and was a number #1 in numerous countries.
Following the release of the solo album McCartney II, Wings regrouped in July and October 1980 to rehearse several songs which later appeared on Tug of War and Pipes of Peace. Feeling the need for direction, McCartney called upon his old producer, George Martin, to begin recording a song written for the animated Rupert Bear character (to which McCartney owned the rights), entitled "We All Stand Together", among others. The productive sessions continued until 9 December, the morning McCartney woke up to discover his old songwriting partner and fellow ex-Beatle, John Lennon, had been shot and killed the night before in New York City. Abandoning that day's session part-way through (where he and Denny Laine were recording future B-Side "Rainclouds"), both Martin and McCartney felt it was best to leave the project for the time being and start anew once they were ready.
In February 1981, two months after Lennon's death, Paul McCartney resumed his sessions, recording that month with Stevie Wonder, Stanley Clarke, Carl Perkins and Ringo Starr and laying down several songs in the process. The recordings were held at AIR Studios in Montserrat, in the Caribbean and lasted from 3 February to 2 March, ending with Ebony and Ivory and What's That You're Doing, two songs featuring Stevie Wonder.10cc guitarist Eric Stewart also became a frequent collaborator of McCartney's during this era. Further sessions that summer were also undertaken at George Martin's AIR studios at Oxford Street, London – with the producer manning the controls and giving McCartney's music the benefit of 1980s technology. The sessions were so productive that several of its tracks would be held over for the next album, Pipes of Peace, which followed in 1983. The rest of 1981 would be spent in a quiet fashion, with McCartney and Martin touching up the album and perfecting it.
In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone, music critic Stephen Holden hailed Tug of War as "the masterpiece everyone has always known Paul McCartney could make", particularly because of its vivid music and consistent songwriting.Robert Palmer was less enthusiastic in his review for The New York Times and found the album "exquisitely crafted though lyrically flawed", as he thought McCartney's lyrics were often "cliched or mawkish," but that the album "at its best, is as finely crafted as his work with the Beatles."
In March 1982, McCartney's duet with Stevie Wonder, "Ebony and Ivory", was released to great commercial success, reaching number one in many countries. Consequently, when Tug of War appeared in April, it was an worldwide number one, selling several million copies and did much to restore McCartney's critical reputation after what was viewed as a lean period for him. Tug of War was nominated for the "Album of the Year" Grammy in 1983. The follow-up single "Take It Away" was a US Top 10 entry as well.
The album was issued in the US on compact disc on 29 February 1984. In 1993, Tug of War was remastered and re-issued on CD as part of "The Paul McCartney Collection" series. There were no bonus tracks: "Rainclouds" and "I'll Give You a Ring", B-sides of "Ebony and Ivory" and "Take It Away", respectively, were omitted. In 2007, Tug of War was remastered and re-released on the iTunes Store adding a solo version of "Ebony and Ivory".