Tug of War (Paul McCartney album)

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Tug of War
PaulMcCartneyalbum - TugOfWar.jpg
Studio album by
Released26 April 1982 (1982-04-26)
RecordedDecember 1980, February – December 1981
StudioAIR Studios, London; AIR Studios, Montserrat
LabelParlophone (UK)
Columbia (US)
ProducerGeorge Martin
Paul McCartney chronology
McCartney II
Tug of War
Pipes of Peace
Singles from Tug of War
  1. "Ebony and Ivory"
    Released: 29 March 1982
  2. "Take It Away"
    Released: 21 June 1982
  3. "Tug of War"
    Released: 6 September 1982

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. Overall it was his 11th album since the break up of the Beatles. It was also McCartney's first album after the murder of former songwriting partner John Lennon.[1] The album was produced by former Beatles producer George Martin and was a number one hit in many countries. Some critics hailed it as a return to form for McCartney. Its remastered deluxe edition received a nomination for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package at the 2017 Grammy Awards.


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,[2] 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, McCartney resumed the sessions, recording that month with Stevie Wonder, Stanley Clarke, Carl Perkins and Ringo Starr and laying down several songs in the process. The sessions 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",[3] two songs featuring Stevie Wonder.[4] 10cc guitarist Eric Stewart also became a frequent collaborator of McCartney's during this period.[5] Further sessions that summer were undertaken at Martin's AIR studios at Oxford Street, London. The sessions were so productive that several of its tracks were held over for McCartney's next album, Pipes of Peace, which followed in 1983. The rest of 1981 was spent in a quiet fashion, with McCartney and Martin touching up the album and perfecting it.

Release, critical reception and aftermath[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[6]
Robert ChristgauB+[7]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[8]
The Great Rock Discography5/10[9]
Pitchfork Media6.7/10[10]
PopMatters7/10 stars[11]
Q3/5 stars[12]
Rolling Stone5/5 stars[13]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3.5/5 stars[14]

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", and particularly admired its vivid music and consistent songwriting.[13] 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".[16]

In March 1982, McCartney's duet with Stevie Wonder, "Ebony and Ivory", was released to considerable commercial success, reaching number one in many countries. Tug of War followed in April, and similarly became a worldwide number one. The follow-up single, "Take It Away", reached the top ten in the United States. The album went on to sell 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. Wingspan author Mark Lewisohn thought it a better album than Band on the Run.[17]

The album was issued in the US on compact disc on 29 February 1984.[18] 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".

A further reissue of Tug of War was released on 2 October 2015, as part of the Paul McCartney Archive Collection. This edition included a remixed version of the album, along with the original mix, and a series of videos.

Track listing[edit]

All songs were written by Paul McCartney, except "What's That You're Doing?" co-written by Stevie Wonder

Side one
  1. "Tug of War" – 4:22
  2. "Take It Away" – 4:14
  3. "Somebody Who Cares" – 3:19
  4. "What's That You're Doing?" (Duet with Stevie Wonder) – 6:19
  5. "Here Today" – 2:27
Side two
  1. "Ballroom Dancing" – 4:07
  2. "The Pound Is Sinking" – 2:54
  3. "Wanderlust" – 3:49
  4. "Get It" (Duet with Carl Perkins) – 2:29
  5. "Be What You See (Link)" – 0:34
  6. "Dress Me Up as a Robber" – 2:41
  7. "Ebony and Ivory" (Duet with Stevie Wonder) – 3:46
iTunes bonus track
  1. "Ebony and Ivory" (Solo version) – 3:46

2015 remaster[edit]

In 2015 the album was re-issued by Hear Music/Concord Music Group as part of the sixth set of releases, alongside Pipes Of Peace, in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection. It was released in multiple formats:[19]

  • Standard Edition 2-CD; remixed version of the original 12-track album on the first disc, plus 11 bonus tracks on a second disc.
  • Deluxe Edition 3CD/1DVD Box Set + 112 page essay book and 64 page scrapbook;
  • Super Deluxe CD/DVD 3CD/1DVD Box Set + 112 page essay book and 64 page scrapbook + limited edition acrylic slipcase
  • Remastered vinyl The albums will also be available on special gatefold vinyl editions (vinyl editions include a download card).

Digital Standard: Standard Res – without Ebooklet Standard Res – with Ebooklet Mastered for iTunes – without Ebooklet Hi-Res – 24-bit/96 kHz – with Ebooklet

Deluxe: Standard Res (with or without Ebooklet) Mastered for iTunes (with Ebooklet) Hi-Res – 24-bit/96 kHz (with Ebooklet)

Disc 1 – remixed album

Remixed version of the original 12-track album.

Disc 2 – original album (deluxe edition only)

The original 12-track album.

Bonus Audio (disc 2 for standard version, disc 3 for deluxe edition)
  1. "Stop, You Don't Know Where She Came From" (demo) – 1:44
  2. "Wanderlust" (demo) – 1:46
  3. "Ballroom Dancing" (demo) – 2:04
  4. "Take It Away" (demo) – 5:37
  5. "The Pound Is Sinking" (demo) – 2:35
  6. "Something That Didn't Happen" (demo) – 2:17
  7. "Ebony and Ivory" (demo) – 1:46
  8. "Dress Me Up as a Robber/Robber Riff" (demo) – 3:42
    Tracks 1–8 are previously unreleased
  9. "Ebony and Ivory" (Solo version) – 3:50
  10. "Rainclouds" (Co-written by Denny Laine) – 3:13
    B-side to "Ebony and Ivory" single
  11. "I'll Give You a Ring" – 3:09
    B-side to "Take It Away" single
Additional download tracks available via paulmccartney.com[20]
  1. "Take It Away" (single edit) – 4:05
Disc 4 – DVD
  1. "Tug of War" Music Video (Version 1)
  2. "Tug of War" Music Video (Version 2)
  3. "Take It Away" Music Video
  4. "Ebony and Ivory" Music Video
  5. "Fly TIA" – Behind The Scenes on Take It Away (new 18 minute documentary using previously unreleased archive footage)


Track numbering refers to CD and digital releases of the album.


Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1983 Tug of War Album of the Year[21] Nominated
"Ebony and Ivory" (Duet with Stevie Wonder) Song of the Year[21] Nominated
Record of the Year[21] Nominated
Best Pop Vocal Performance – Duo or Group[21] Nominated
"What's That You're Doing?"
(Duet with Stevie Wonder)
Best R&B Vocal Performance – Duo or Group[21] Nominated
2017 Tug of War (Remastered Deluxe Edition) Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package Nominated

Grammy Award for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package

American Music Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1983 Paul McCartney (performer) Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist[22] Nominated
"Ebony and Ivory"
(Duet with Stevie Wonder)
Favorite Pop/Rock Single[22] Nominated

Brit Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
Paul McCartney (performer) Best British Male Artist Won
Sony Trophy for Technical Excellence Won
George Martin (producer) Best British Producer Nominated


Region Certification Certified units/sales
France (SNEP)[25] Gold 289,800[24]
Japan (Oricon Charts) 237,000[C][26][27]
Canada (Music Canada)[29] Gold 50,000[28]
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[30] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[31] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[32] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone



  • A^ In the United States, Tug of War also entered the R&B chart, peaking at No. 11 there.[48]
  • B^ Until January 1987, Japanese albums chart had been separated into LP, CD, and cassette charts. Tug of War also entered the cassette chart, peaking at No. 12 and entering top 100 for 19 weeks.
  • C^ Combined sales of LP, CD, and audio cassette.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ McCartney: Songwriter ISBN 0-491-03325-7 p. 128
  2. ^ McCartney: Songwriter ISBN 0-491-03325-7 p. 129
  3. ^ The end of the Beatles? ISBN 978-0-876-50162-7 p. 184
  4. ^ Luca Perasi, Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969–2013), L.I.L.Y. Publishing, 2013, ISBN 978-88-909122-1-4, pp.213–225.
  5. ^ The Words and Music of Paul McCartney: The Solo Years ISBN 978-6-612-52441-7 p. 105
  6. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Tug of War at AllMusic. Retrieved 29 June 2011.
  7. ^ Christgau, Robert (1 June 1982). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  8. ^ Larkin, Colin (2006). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th edn). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 1257. ISBN 0-19-531373-9.
  9. ^ "Paul McCartney Tug of War". Acclaimed Music. Archived from the original on 6 June 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  10. ^ Hart, Ron (6 October 2015). "Paul McCartney: Tug of War / Pipes of Peace". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  11. ^ Strowe, Jeff (2 October 2015). "Paul McCartney: Tug of War / Pipes of Peace". PopMatters. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  12. ^ Nicol, Jimmy (October 1993). "Re-releases: Paul McCartney The Paul McCartney Collection". Q. p. 119.
  13. ^ a b Holden, Stephen (27 May 1982). "Music Reviews : Tug of War by Paul McCartney". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 17 April 2008. Retrieved 17 April 2008
  14. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th edn). New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. p. 526. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  15. ^ "Paul McCartney Tug of War". Uncut. November 2015. p. 93.
  16. ^ Palmer, Robert (25 April 1982). "Music View; PAUL MCCARTNEY'S LATEST IS EXQUISITE BUT FLAWED". nytimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  17. ^ 013 – LEWISOHN, retrieved 3 April 2017
  18. ^ Miles, Barry; Badman, Keith, eds. (2001). The Beatles Diary After the Break-Up: 1970–2001 (reprint ed.). London: Music Sales Group. ISBN 9780711983076.
  19. ^ "Paul To Reissue 'Tug of War' and 'Pipes of Peace'". Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  20. ^ "Downloads". Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  21. ^ a b c d e "Rock on the Net: 25th Annual Grammy Awards – 1983". Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  22. ^ a b "10th American Music Awards". Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  23. ^ "The BRITs 1983". brits.co.uk. British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
  24. ^ "Les Albums Or". infodisc.fr. SNEP. Archived from the original on 18 October 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  25. ^ "French album certifications – Paul McCartney – Tug of War" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique.
  26. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
  27. ^ a b "Japanese Year-End Albums Chart 1982" (in Japanese). Oricon. Archived from the original on 20 October 2016. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  28. ^ http://www.wall-of-fame.de/files/content/katalog/1910095w_beatles_paul_mccartney_cria_canada_gold_award_tug_of_war.jpg. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  29. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Paul McCartney – Tug of War". Music Canada.
  30. ^ "Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Ano A Ano: Certificados 1979–1990". Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Ano A Ano.
  31. ^ "British album certifications – Paul McCartney – Tug of War". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Tug of War in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  32. ^ "American album certifications – Paul McCartney – Tug of War". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  33. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  34. ^ "Paul McCartney – Tug of War – austriancharts.at" (ASP) (in German). Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  35. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (12 June 1982). Billboard – 21 June – 1982. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  36. ^ Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 31 October 2011
  37. ^ "dutchcharts.nl Paul McCartney – Tug of War" (ASP). dutchcharts.nl (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
  38. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (in French). infodisc.fr. Archived from the original (PHP) on 28 December 2010. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  39. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1982" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  40. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (19 June 1982). Billboard – 19 June – 1982. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  41. ^ "Paul McCartney Japanese Album Chart listings". Original Confidence. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
  42. ^ "– Yamachan Land (Archives of the Japanese record charts) – Albums Chart Daijiten – The Beatles" (in Japanese). 30 December 2007. Archived from the original on 14 February 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  43. ^ "charts.org.nz Paul McCartney – Tug of War" (ASP). Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  44. ^ "norwegiancharts.com Paul McCartney – Tug of War" (ASP). VG-lista. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  45. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (3 July 1982). Billboard – 3 July – 1982. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  46. ^ "swedishcharts.com Paul McCartney – Tug of War" (ASP). Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  47. ^ "Chart Stats Paul McCartney – Tug of War". The Official Charts Company. Archived from the original (PHP) on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  48. ^ a b "allmusic ((( Tug of War > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  49. ^ "Album Search: Paul McCartney: Tug of War" (ASP) (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  50. ^ "Austriancharts.st – Jahreshitparade 1982". Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
  51. ^ "Top 100 Albums '82". RPM. 25 December 1982. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  52. ^ "Les Albums (CD) de 1982 par InfoDisc" (in French). infodisc.fr. Archived from the original (PHP) on 29 December 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  53. ^ "UK best albums 1982". Archived from the original on 29 December 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  54. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (25 December 1982). Billboard.com – Year End Charts – Year-end Albums – The Billboard 200. Retrieved 29 January 2012.