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The Unknown Paul McCartney: McCartney and the Avant-garde Paperback – 7 Nov 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Reynolds & Hearn Ltd; 1st edition (7 Nov. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903111366
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903111369
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 15 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,340,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From the Publisher

Undertaking extensive research for this book, Ian Peel interviewed many of McCartney's intimate musical associates from this less-familiar side of his career, including:

Super Furry Animals - on their carrot chewing percussion and electronic sound collage collaborations.

Youth - the three-times BRIT-nominated producer speaks in depth for the first time ever on his two albums of techno ambient and chill-out recorded with McCartney as The Fireman.

Nitin Sawhney - on McCartney's first tentative steps into drum & bass, holed up in Sawhney's London bedsit.

Richard Hewson - breaks a 20-year silence on the Thrillington project and pseudonym.

David Vaughan - the renowned psychedelic artist and organiser of 60s 'happenings' airs his strong views on Carnival of Light, The Beatles' most legendary unreleased track.

Other interviewees include Yoko Ono, bassist Herbie Flowers, Gong's Daevid Allen, Frank Zappa's guitarist Mike Keneally, JJ Jeczalik (Art of Noise) and members of Wings.

From the Author

The book covers all eras of McCartney's creative life:

1960s: This is the first McCartney/Beatles book to examine in detail the avant-garde influences that weighed into their music, examining artists such as John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, the late Delia Derbyshire and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Max V. Matthews (who made the first ever computer music in 1957). To say nothing of Ray Cathode (George Martin's electronica alter ego).
The Unknown Paul McCartney also looks at how the influence of these early 20th century composers resonates across modern pop music as a whole.

1970s: I look above the mullets and drug busts and examine the more credible side of McCartney's music in the 1970s. The work of Percy 'Thrills' Thrillington - his bizarre easy listening alter ego - comes under the microscope for its most detailed analysis to date. Wings guitarist Laurence Juber tells of freaking out David Bowie with radio/dialogue/funk jams. The avant-garde act of vegetable chewing in a Brian Wilson/Beach Boys session also comes out of the hazy mists of time.

1980s: Although critically his most reviled period to date, the '80s saw McCartney begin to play with synthesizers, samplers and remixes. While tracing the story of a Beatles' first faltering steps into 12" singles and New York clubs, I find time for one of the most in-depth histories of remix culture ever to appear in print.

1990s: It may not get covered in the mainstream press but the 90s have been McCartney's most avant-garde period to date. I cover his secret jam sessions with Yoko Ono, ambient sound collage with the Super Furry Animals, pure white noise and chainsaw recordings for an art gallery installation, and guitar/poetry performance with Allen Ginsberg.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

An authoritative account of the little known of side of Paul McCartney and a fascinating study of his extra curricular activities which are known of to only the most avid Beatles collector.Its also where a knowledge of other musics comes in handy as names like John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen are not really household ones.
Lennon has usually been seen as the avant gardist because of Revolution No 9 and the Zapple records but it would seem McCartney had his own ideas long before.
Not even that many Beatles fans are going to "get it"-and some of this music is not easy to find as the Fireman and the Liverpool Sound Collage are deleted with Twin Freaks only available on CD from Russia!
More available to the masses is Qui est la Soleil-a track on Flowers in the Dirt-to show what the Fireman things sounded like
But really you only have to think of Beatles ideas which were translated by George Martin-himself no stranger to the weird end of music when he cut a single under the name of Ray Cathode the same year as Love me do.
In the field of the avant garde and ambience its McCartney who was able to make it work in ways Lennon could never have done.
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It seems that while conquering the pop charts, first as a member of the Beatles, then with Wings, Paul McCartney has led a bizarre double life. This book reveals how the man who wrote "Hey Jude" and "Silly Love Songs" has also recorded bizarre sound collages, mixed guitar feedback with chainsaws, and become perhaps the only musician of his generation to have an underground ambient/techno/dance hit.
While touching on McCartney's avant-garde musical roots with John Cage and Stockhausen, you are also taken on a journey through the genesis of what we know today as House, Trance, Ambient and other dance sub-genres. With interviews from many of the people who worked with Paul in his experimental recordings, we get a sense of the interest and growth of a style of music that only rarely pokes its collective head into the mainstream.
Indeed, at times the focus seems to drift from McCartney entirely, but it serves to show that his interests in music outside what he's usually known for are deep and far-reaching.
If you think you know Paul McCartney and his music, this book may surprise or even shock you. It helps to fully round out the image of a composer who may yet emerge as one of the seminal figures in 20th century music, even beyond his work with his three buddies. As such, this book needs to be on the shelf of every serious McCartneyphile.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Look at Paul McCartney's 'Other' Side. 14 July 2003
By Louie Bourland - Published on
When it comes to the Beatles, many would say the John Lennon was the most 'avant-garde' Beatle because of his work with Yoko Ono. However, Paul McCartney was quite an 'avant-garde' Beatle as well, sometimes moreso than Lennon. During the last decade, Mccartney's experimental side has shown up more frequently with his two albums released under his Fireman pseudonymn as well as his nearly non-musical "Liverpool Sound Collage" from 2000.
In his book "The Unknown Paul McCartney", Ian Peel goes in deep to reveal a not-so-well-known side to Paul's musical personality.
It is a fascinating revelation to Paul's experiments and fascinations with avant-garde music. Many of his unusual musical experiments such as the tapeloops The Beatles "Tomorrow Never Knows" all the way up to The Fireman albums, "Liverpool Sound Collage" and his forays into orchestral music are explained in full detail in this book. It is wonderful and eye-opening.
Ian Peel has done some excellent research in compiling the information for this book. After reading this book, you will no doubt have a greater appreciation for Paul McCartney's more experimental musical side. Also, one may listen to his avant-garde work with a different set of ears. Excellent book!!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Paul McCartney Goes Too Far 17 April 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Ian Peel methodically tracks McCartney's experimental music work going back to Revolver and detailing many half-forgotten, odd Wings tracks, B-sides, and side projects. Not just about his avant-garde career but looking at his musical career beyond its pop context. It would have been better had it explored the fascinating dynamic of his simultaneous experimental/avant garde work with his classical composing, which is not given much space. Only other hesitation to five stars is at times it is too laudatory where more critical writing might have been more appreciated. Still, quite an achievement. This book goes very far (Paul McCartney Goes Too Far was the title proposed for a Beatles era experimental Stockhausen/Cage inspired work he never finished) toward giving more appropriate weight to what Paul was up to all those Wings years outside of the pop spotlight.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Macca Topples Over The Unknown Edge 27 July 2003
By Michelle Hensley - Published on
Being a self-confessed 'McCartney can do no wrong' fan, more books like this would help me prove my point. Macca has always been a little more complicated than people give him credit for. His side interests have always fascinated me. The author covers some general history of the avant garde scene, enough to show you Macca just didn't dabble, and he was in rather deep. I especially enjoyed the interviews with the Fireman producer, and the member of Super Furry Animals (sorry, don't recall their names). The only complaint I have is that the author tends to jump back and forth some, but it's a rather quick read that any Macca fan should make. Another suggestion - pick up the UK edition, it has a much cooler cover.
6 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Avant Garde isn't the word for Paul 20 July 2003
By Candace Scott - Published on
I love Macca as much as anyone, but this entire "Avant Garde" trip he's been on the past five years has reached its limit with the publication of this book. What began with the ridiculous Barry Miles book reaches its dismal heights here. All of this is a result of Paul feeling insecure and discarded after John's death. He quite rightly decries those few cretins who proclaim, "Paul contributed nothing to the Beatles, he merely booked the studio." That balderdash is refuted by the fact that most of the Beatles truly great songs were penned solely by Paul. A list, you ask? How about Here, There and Everywhere, Yesterday, Let it Be, Eleanor Rigby, Hey Jude, For No One, to name but a few.
Paul can never attain John's status. For one thing, he's alive and John is not. Macca should count his considerable blessings that he's not a martyr and he should get over the fact that a large segment of intelligent, discerning Beatles fans will always prefer John's style and John's songs. John was the Avant Garde pioneer of the group, Paul wrote beautiful, catchy melodies. They complimented one another to a degree never seen before or since in popular music. McCartney can never win in any posthumous competition with Lennon and all of these self-serving books merely addresses his own insecurities.
I adore Paul, but enough is enough. The book is a waste of time and merely rehashes everything from the Miles book. Anyone who seriously buys into the clap-trap that the lyrics to C Moon are as great as I am the Walrus or Come Together needs to get some therapy.
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