Jul 262011

A while ago I got flamed for my support of the Live at Glassgow version of Paul McCartney‘s “Coming Up” being the better version (over the one-man band take), but you guys were up in arms over my support of the Wings Over America version of “Maybe I’m Amazed.” Truth is Faces did the best version of this song, IMO.

Last month there was a contest to see who could do the best cover of this song. (Damn, I wish I’d had time to put my version together for submission!)

Here’s the deal: Paul needs the Hall’s help in selecting a winner. Visit Paul’s YouTube page to judge the entrants for yourself. Share your favorite links to specific videos and your comments in this thread. Paul’s reading. He cares about what you have to say.

And remember: If you can’t say anything nice


  58 Responses to “Maybe I’m Amazed by Your Live Version”

  1. misterioso

    jungleland, I apologize for not putting out the flames, ’cause I have always been a fan of the live Coming Up. You are right about the Faces cover of Maybe I’m Amazed, it is rock solid. I am less enthusiastic about the WOA Maybe I’m Amazed, since I much prefer the studio version. I don’t remember but I hope you had my back when I spoke up for the McCartney lp (which is now out in a deluxe 2cd edition!). I think I’ll pass on the Maybe I’m Amazed cover project, though, life is too short…

  2. saturnismine

    Wow. It’s like a mash-up of the McCartney version, “Song of the Baker” and [take your pick of] a Rod Stewart solo tune.

  3. saturnismine

    OH…and yeah…the live Coming Up kicks the studio version’s ass all over creation. Sorry I wasn’t around for *that* debate.

    Who were the stiffs posting in favor of the studio version?

    come on…out with it!

  4. Interestingly enough, Pulp had a similar contest via YouTube this past spring.

    I am a stiff in favor of the studio version of “Coming Up.” I love the weird production, the pinched vocal. A bit of of an outlier in Paul’s discography, and yet a hit! And it still kinda swings, thanks to McCartney’s inherent musical ability. The live version sounds rushed and hacktastic, the work of a band clearly running out of steam and inspiration. (“Some people may question how much steam and inspiration Wings had in the first place. Your thoughts, sir?” — Sean Hannity)

  5. tonyola

    I am the “stiff” who “flamed” about “Coming Up”. I’ll say now what i said then. On the live version, Paul’s voice is hoarse and unpleasant when he reaches high. Also, the arrangement is too rushed and the players are struggling to keep up – particularly during the instrumental breaks. It’s certainly not one of those rare songs that are improved by live performance. So there. Tppppppth.

  6. I thought Wings got better as the went on. I listen London Town and Back to the Egg more than and McCartney solo album.

  7. misterioso

    There are a number of clips from this same Paris concert around. Tremendous stuff. I quite like this one of Around the Plynth. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grR1u61dL5w&feature=related

  8. saturnismine

    “struggling to keep up:” they sound pretty tight to me.

    “certainly not…improved by the live performance.”

    the millions of consumers who scratched their heads or reacted with indifference upon hearing the studio version but who helped the live version rocket to number one beg to differ. so do the execs who decided to print a *one sided* single and include it with the album in the hopes that it would actually…you know…sell.

    unlike you, sir ‘ola, i’m not saying i’m “certain” of what’s right or wrong in this case, but i most *certainly* am saying that beyond RTH, the deck is stacked against you.

  9. tonyola

    I know what I hear, and I am certain of my opinion. As to what the millions of consumers want to listen to, what do I care? They made Wings’ aimless “With a Little Luck” a number one song too. And I’m not the only one in this thread who think the live version of “Coming Up” is inferior.

  10. saturnismine


    I see.

    You know what you hear and that makes you right.

    I just threw my hands up in the air and am giving up.

  11. tonyola

    Suits me. You shouldn’t listen to “stiffs” anyway.

  12. tonyola

    And where did I ever claim I was “right”? You said that, not me. I did say that I was certain of my opinion. Be careful where you throw those hands.

  13. misterioso

    tonyo, I am with you philosophically but not on the merits of the recordings. God knows you are right not to give a damn how many people like a record. But I love With a Little Luck, absolutely love it. What I wouldn’t give to have heard Paul and John singing that together.

  14. tonyola

    Well, everyone has a favorite that other people can’t stand, right? Most people think that “Mr. Moonlight” is the worst Beatles song ever. I kind of enjoy it because John sings it as if he means every word. The Beatles could have turned it into a dumb goof but they perform it straight-faced.

    “With a Little Luck” is pleasant-sounding, but to me it wanders all over the place – especially the album version.

  15. saturnismine

    relax, Tony.

  16. saturnismine


    i hit ‘post’ too quickly, thought about leaving it at that, and then decided to say more.

    you never said you were “right,” tone, but you did say that the live version “certainly” isn’t an improvement on the studio song. pretty hard to wriggle out of that one.

    You think the live version’s too fast, and mccartney’s voice is hoarse.

    I think it sounds lively and sweaty and must’ve been a blast to see live, and that the studio version is slow, limp, and uninspired sounding.

    I’m certain of this ^^^.

  17. BigSteve

    I’ve never understood the Moonlightophobia. I love that track.

    I just listened to the two versions of Coming Up, Believe me listening to McC is always a chore for me, but I did my RTH duty. I agree the tempo sounds rushed on the live version, and the horns add nothing. Paul’s rough vocal sounds affected, like it was overdubbed in the studio to make it seem spontaneous.

    The studio version is at least interesting, with its clockwork rhythms. The effected vocal ends up sounding more real than the rockier live version. I like the way perhaps the greatest bassist in rock history holds back and plays mostly plunky root notes until the last third of the song when he does that discoish octave stuff.

    Of course the masses preferred the arena version to the one that sounds like a glorified demo. I don’t begrudge them that. I’m just glad we can hear the home version before he amped it up.

  18. 2000 Man

    I think you guys are comparing an old turd to a fresher, but still old turd. They’re both turds when all is said and done.

  19. saturnismine

    2k, you’ve done it again.

    BigSteve, your analysis of the two versions only confirms my own tastes.

    But what are you hearing that makes you think McCartney’s voice is overdubbed? I don’t hear that at all.

    And I only understand the notion that the live one sounds rushed if we place it in comparison with the studio version. On its own, it sounds just fine. Perhaps I think this because I heard the live version first, and more, and then bought the album, and was stunned to hear the canned, stilted qualities of the much slower studio version.

    I grant that we can like or dislike the tempo of one or the other, but objectively speaking, I hear no horn players “struggling to keep up.” In fact, they nail their parts.

  20. misterioso

    The thread has taken a detour, so I am just following the signs. Mr. Moonlightophobia explained: 1. It’s a dumb song; 2. The organ solo sounds like a joke; 3. The backing vocals are pure corn; 4. Lennon performs it as if he thinks the song isn’t a joke but I’m not sure about the rest of the band; 5. “Leave My Kitten Alone” kicks its sorry ass and should have been there instead.

    That said…tonyola is right about Lennon’s vocal and against all better judgment I sometimes find myself getting carried along with the song just on the strength of his singing. In some ways, I like the Anthology alternate take better–no organ, at least, though the “guitar solo” is just as jokey.

    I remember when I bought Beatles ’65–this would have been in the early 1980s, mind you–the woman at the record store said, “Oh, that has Mr. Moonlight on it, that’s one of my favorites.” You just never know.

  21. The Beatles were actually fairly faithful to the original version of “Mr. Moonlight” by Dr. Feelgood & The Medics. The only real change they made was to replace the guitar solo with that syrupy, gooey organ. “Moonlight” isn’t a great song by any means but I’d rather hear it than “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” or “Octopus’s Garden”.

  22. saturnismine

    Big Steve wrote of the live version: “the horns add nothing.”

    I write: maybe that’s because there are horns on both versions. Are you sure you did your homework?

    Also, if you youtube around for other live versions of Coming Up, McCartney’s voice sounds pretty much the same on all of them.

  23. misterioso

    Well, yes, but I’d rather suffer a sharp blow to the head than hear “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.”

  24. saturnismine

    Mr. Moonlight has grown on me over the years.

    When I first heard it as an 8th grader, I thought it was silly. And the organ sounded like it was straight out of a Hoover commercial.

    But I like (not love) it now. It’s not just Lennon’s “I really mean it” vocal (that’s easy to point out). I like the drone-y quality of the chorus vocals.

    But I also like the creation-myth quality of the lyrics:

    “from your beam you made my dream…from the world you made my girl.”

    Not bad.

    And somehow, the sounds they chose really do invoke a nocturnal scene.

    So, despite the fact that the arbiters of RTH have decreed that the song sucks, I have, what I hope are substantial reasons of my own for living the remainder of my life on the peripheries of RTH rectitude on this particular point. It sucks being wrong, but others have already laid down the law. I hope that I can somehow survive out here in the wilderness.

  25. I think that’s Macca writing songs that are at the very top of his range. He’s straining. So he’s pushing his vocals a little more than normal. Not quite his rock growl, but something all together different. Take a listen to “Figure of Eight” from Flowers in the Dirt for another example.


  26. BigSteve

    I’ve probably heard the live version of Coming Up much more than the studio version too. That was the hit version that played on the radio. My sense of the tempos was based on listening to the two of them last night for the first time in many years. I actually listened to the live one first though, and the tempo felt rushed to me even then. So I wasn’t from comparing it to the studio version when I heard it last night. I will admit, however, that tonyola had probably planted the seed in my ear about the tempo issues.

    As far as both versions having horns, I thought the horns on the studio version were synth horns. They sure sounded that way to me last night, very different from the horn section sound on the live one. Please don’t make me do my homework over, perfessor. Wasn’t McCartney II recorded at home with no backing musicians?

    I wasn’t serious about Paul vocals being overdubbed on the live version. Maybe they were, but I was just being snarky, because I don’t trust the guy, especially when he’s in his “look at me rocking out” mode.

  27. BigSteve

    Also let me say that I love the organ sound on Mr Moonlight. It may be corny, and the backing vocals may be “pure corn,” but I don’t see how that’s necessarily a negative. And how can you resists the thunk of that Arabian drum?

  28. saturnismine

    Yeah…but it’s a choice, a way of singing, not a worn out voice.

  29. saturnismine

    never trust Macca when he’s “rocking out”!

    everything’s so affected on the studio version that it’s hard to tell. But it sounds like a soprano sax and an oboe to me. late 70’s synth horn sounds are pretty easy to spot, and these don’t sound like those.

    at any rate, synth or real, they occupy the same space in the song as the live horns, which is the real reason why i didn’t get your comment about the live horns “adding” (or not adding, as it were) anything to the song.

    paul’s like most other musicians: he plays ’em faster live.

    but he’s unlike a lot of other musicians in his ability to make these faster versions work. there’s a good youtube of “listen to what the man said” from the kingdome in ’76 that is also faster, but it actually works better.

    studio: weed.
    live: adrenaline

    re. Mr. Moonlight: i’m with you, Steve. It sucks being flat out wrong, doesn’t it?

  30. Face it, sat, in the bizzarro world of RTH it’s cooler to like the studio version. All tastes aside, it’s just cooler.

    For the record, I prefer the studio version.

  31. Face it, anyone who doesn’t agree with saturnismine on this point: stating that you like “Mr. Moonlight” more than most Beatles fans and don’t see why it’s ranked so high on lists of Worst Beatles Songs is a cooler position to take. All tastes aside, it just is.

    For the record, I think “Mr. Moonlight” is not half as bad as a good 2 dozen Beatles songs, and I like the organ sound.

  32. I haven’t heard either version in years, but on which one does Linda make the greater contribution? Perhaps that’s the worst version.

  33. saturnismine

    yeah…I know….but as 2k suggested, that’s a pretty inconsequential one: turd vs. turd.

    But simply stating that ““Moonlight” isn’t a great song by any means,” coming down so definitively against it, as if that’s that?

    What on earth kind of a stiff could think such a thing?

    ; )

  34. saturnismine

    oh…Linda’s on both in equal measure, I suppose.

  35. BigSteve

    For comparison’s sake, here’s the Hollies version of the song, cut around the same time as the Beatles’:


    It’s more of a standard beat group thing, but I like the way they break into bluebeat intermittently.

  36. misterioso

    If your intention is to make the Beatles’ version sound much better by comparison, you are succeeding.

  37. tonyola

    A stiff who also said that he still enjoyed the song, that’s what.

  38. I agree. I was just pointing it out.


  39. saturnismine

    : D

  40. saturnismine

    you enjoy songs that “aren’t great by any means?”


  41. tonyola

    For the same reason people like junk food. Not great like a nice prime rib or Maine lobster, but still tasty as a guilty pleasure. As if you really had to ask that question.

  42. saturnismine

    no…i really had to ask.

    I tend not to enjoy things I think “aren’t good by any means.”

    So do most people I know.

    So you’re saying that Mr. Moonlight tastes good, even though it’s not good for you.

    Your powers of persuasion are off the charts, Tone.

  43. tonyola

    Erk. The Hollies did some fine covers. This isn’t one of them.

  44. BigSteve

    According to Wikipedia, the Merseybeats recorded it too. I can’t find a youtube of it unfortunately.

    But isn’t it interesting that, of all the songs out there at the time, this one was recorded by three different English beat groups? They all must have heard something in the song that many Beatle fans don’t.

    (Music trivia footnote: Merseybeats bassist Johnny Gustafson would go on to play bass with Roxy Music in the Stranded/Country Life/Siren era.)

  45. tonyola

    You can hear the Merseybeats version of “Mr. Moonlight” at 2:32 in this clip. Neither it nor the Hollies version quite matches the Beatles’ cover.

  46. alexmagic

    Since we’re all over the place with nested conversations, I’ll break off on my own:

    -I like the original studio version of “Maybe I’m Amazed” much better than all live versions.

    -I like all (McCartney, anyway, I’m not familiar with any covers) versions of “Coming Up” but prefer the studio version because of how it fits in with the rest of McCartney II. But I’m sure he wrote it with those faux-horn parts with the intention that he’d be able to replace them with the real thing if he ever took any of the McCartney II material on the road.

    -saturnismine led a great live version of “Junior’s Farm” just about this time last year.

    -“Leave My Kitten Alone” is indeed great and one of the highlights of the Anthologies. Amazing that a Lennon vocal of that caliber backed by the full band sat without an official release for decades.

    -I specifically enjoy “Mr. Moonlight” because of John’s vocals, but I get that it comes up so often in Worst Beatles Song discussions. The backing vocals are weird and give the whole thing a drunken, underwater vibe that don’t match up with how much John goes for it when he’s on his own. I think hearing outtakes like “You’ll Be Mine” probably give more context for the sound of them capably goofing off in the studio and what they were going for on Moonlight.

    -“A Taste of Honey” is the least essential Beatles song released on one of the albums/singles.

  47. tonyola

    I don’t know what the others thought, but I suspect John genuinely liked the original “Dr. Feelgood” version of Mr. Moonlight. He said repeatedly in interviews that he loved off-the-wall rock and roll and R&B singles.

  48. saturnismine

    Agreed on “Kitten.” I feel the same way about “If you’ve got Trouble,” which, by the way, also has a drone-y overtone, with the one note guitar line and the single note “oh” backing vocals. Even on these standards and R&B type tunes, they were starting to become druggy by ’65.

    and that’s why I like the backing vocals in “moonlight.”

    Alex, when you say that part of the problem with them is that they “don’t match up” with the lead vocal, do you mean they don’t have the same approach? i think they provide a nice contrast to the lead vocals, and work well with the backing track. i dig ’em, see?

    you wrote: “saturnismine led a great live version of “Junior’s Farm” just about this time last year.”

    shucks. not worthy. that song’s deceptively tricky. fwiw, if you want an mp3 of our performance of it that night, i’ll send it your way. “saturnismine” is a yahoo email address. hit me up!

  49. saturnismine

    They’re very close in arrangement and approach, the Feelgood version and the Beatles version, much like the similarities between Buddy’s version of “Words of Love” and the Beatles version of the same.

  50. Two things:

    1) “Mr. Moonlight” kicks ass. Lennon’s vocal is tremendous, the chord changes and lyrics are inventive, and the playing is superb. I’m certainly not hearing any drunken slop. And for those that own Beatles ’65, more power to ya! “Moonlight” is better on that Lp than it is on “Beatles for Sale” because, from what I understand, Capitol’s Dave Dexter added a bit of reverb and compression to the master tape. Weak song? I don’t think so.

    2) As far as “Coming Up” is concerned, I’m not a fan. Shlock. Gimme “Junior’s Farm” and “Helen Wheels”. No defense is necessary for either of those winners.

    Nice job sticking to your guns, Tony!

    E. Pluribus

  51. misterioso

    Lennon’s vocal is tremendous: check. The lyrics are inventive? What the?

    You know why Moonlight is better on Beatles ’65? ‘Cause the U.S. releases were put out the way the Beatles really wanted them. (It’s a joke: saturnismine can explain.)

    Anyway, it still is weak, but I’ve enjoyed the discussion.

    But EPG: Junior’s Farm is better than Coming Up? Duh. Junior’s Farm might be the best solo Mac song and is one of the great solo Beatle records. Period.

  52. Yeah, it’s lyrically inventive. It’s a little different than the usual stuff that was served up during the early sixties, which is probably why it appealed to Lennon.

    I get the joke. It’s not funny.

    Have a good one,
    E. Pluribus

  53. saturnismine

    the lyrics to “mr. moonlight” are cool.

  54. hrrundivbakshi

    Mr. Moonlight, come again please

    Here I am, on my knees, begging if you please


    I will say this: the moment Lennon & Co. sing the second of those two “please”s:

    “here I am, on my knees, begging if you PLEAAHSE!”…

    … is one of my fave singing car-wreck moments.

    Come on, guys. If MM hadn’t been sing by the greatest band in rock history, you’d totally shine it on. It’s a mediocrity at best. Though I do “like” that cheeseball organ, in a snarky, know-it-all kind of way.

  55. mockcarr

    I guess if laughing at that dead thud stop, the Tex Boil-style organ, and overwrought five-note one syllable words in Mr. Moonlight was the reaction they wanted from me then it’s fine, but I like over 200 Beatles songs better I would imagine. For that kind of effect I would rather listen to You Know My Name (Look Up The Number), which is at least somewhat more Beatles-driven idea of having a goof, rather than a cover.

    Beatles 65 has insane amounts of reverb on the second side. I Feel Fine and She’s A Woman are drenched in it, which makes the latter sound raunchy enough to forget the awkward lyrics a little more.

    I don’t like the busy BS horn crap on any version of a McCartney song. Any version of Coming Up he sang WITHOUT that would have to be better. The otherwise excellent Listen To What the Man Said was irreparably ruined for me by that SNL finalesque sax tweedling. I’ve actually only dabbled in Wings albums for fear of soprano saxes chasing me out of the room.

    I’ve loved that Leave My Kitten Alone song for many years, it’s good to have a cleaner version from the Anthology, but I have to admit I feel a lot less cool since no one has to go hunting up a bootleg anymore to hear it like I did.

  56. “Tex Boil-style organ”: BRILLIANT!

  57. alexmagic

    Re: the backing vocals not matching up, they hit my ears like at least one of them, if not all three, are putting on some kind of flat accent. Someone down a bit from here in the thread noted that it’s the “please(s)” specifically. It’s just such a weird contrast when John is swinging for the fences in his full, unrivaled, throat-ripping rock voice on the intro and verses.

    He sounds like he’s going for a pretty earnest delivery that might lead listeners to expect complimentary support (like Please Mister Postman or, to stick with examples elsewhere on the album, the amazing middle eight in No Reply or maybe What You’re Doing). Instead, they go with a style that reminds me more of what you get on You’ll Be Mine or even You Know My Name, which makes me think they were at least having a little fun recording it like that.

    Like I said, I still enjoy the song, but I get why that combo of the organ and backing vocals throw people off. And it’s all worth if just for the opening.

    I’ll definitely shoot you that e-mail at some point soon!

  58. misterioso

    “You’ll Be Mine”?

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