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Paul McCartney: Put It There
cast: Paul McCartney, Hamish Stuart, Linda McCartney, Robbie McIntosh, and Elvis Costello

director: Geoff Winfor

65 minutes (E) 2002
D.V.D. UK DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Thomas Cropper
By the end of the 1980s, the spark seemed to have gone out of Paul McCartney. After a string of mediocre records he seemed unable to recapture the bite and verve of his work with the Beatles and his early solo career. Middle age, it seemed, had finally caught up with Sir Paul.
   However, the 1990s saw a bit of a comeback. As a new generation of music lovers rediscovered the Beatles the energy returned to his music enabling him to explore new avenues and recapture former glory. In 1989 we saw the first signs of recovery in his album, Flowers In The Dirt. For the first time we saw the occasional haunting reminder of McCartney at his best: a note here, a chord there, transporting us back to the 1960s. There was a new writing partnership too, with Elvis Costello who wrote three songs, a collaboration that reminded him in many ways of working with John Lennon.
   This signalled a new start for McCartney. There would be a world tour and a film, Put It There, chronicling the making of the album, would accompany the release. The film would feature footage from the studio - some new songs, some old - interspersed with interviews with McCartney covering the usual topics of working with Lennon, the Beatles reuniting, the environment and his future plans. As such, this is very much a re-launch vehicle: a re-branding of an old favourite. "We've concentrated more on the songs on this one - probably a bit more than we normally would do," says McCartney at the start. "We didn't want to get stuck on tour in America somewhere plugging an album we weren't happy with." It nods towards some disappointment in the past, but promises better things to come. The mixture of new material with performances of old favourites such as The Long And Winding Road, and some Elvis songs, indicates a return to basics.
   So how good was this new material? Reading some old reviews of this album you came up against the same old 'it's not as good as the Beatles...' mantra. Of course, it's not as good as the Beatles. Each album consisted of the best of three artists; John, George and Paul and, as result, they could always iron out the weak songs. With that in mind it's not hard to see how these might have fitted with a collection of songs he might have taken to recording sessions. A note here, a chord there really sets the memory back and a few songs such as My Brave Face, This One and Put It There, stand up with anything in his back catalogue.
   As a film, Put It There makes ideal company for the album and that, perhaps, is its major drawback. Like all 'making of the album' type films it's difficult to judge this on its own merits. At their worst these can be nothing more than an extended commercial for the album and, even when at their best, they are still, by necessity, a part of a promotional programme. Put It There is better than most. Studio footage echoes back to some of the film from the Let It Be recordings. McCartney's running commentary adds some interesting insights into each song and it's always good to see him perform the old hits. If you haven't got the album it might be hard to see why you'd want this, but if you've already got it - and you liked it - then this makes a fine companion.

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