"Coming Up" is a song written and performed by Paul McCartney. It is the opening track on his second solo album McCartney II, released in 1980. Like the rest of the album, the song had a minimalist synthesized feel to it. It featured vocals sped up by using vari-speed tape machine. McCartney played all the instruments and shared harmonies with his wife Linda McCartney.
In Rolling Stone McCartney said the song started out with just a drum track "and just built on it bit by bit". He said he did not have any idea of what the song was going to end up like. He added guitars, then bass, then increased the backing track. He then wondered what he was going to do for the vocals. It was here he used the vari-speed machine plus vocals through an echo machine.
John Lennon liked the song, crediting it for driving him out of retirement to resume recording.
Live version[edit source | edit]Edit
A live version of the song was recorded in Glasgow, Scotland on 17 December 1979 by Wings during their tour of the UK. This version had a much fuller sound and was included as one of the two songs on the B-side of the single; the other B-side was also a Wings song, "Lunchbox/Odd Sox", that dated back to the Venus and Mars sessions. Both B-sides were credited to Paul McCartney & Wings.
Columbia Records wanted to put the live version on McCartney II but McCartney resisted the change, wanting to keep it a solo album. Instead, a one-sided 7" white-label promotional copy of the Wings version was included with the album in North America.
A different live Wings recording of "Coming Up" appears on the album Concerts for the People of Kampuchea, with an additional verse that was edited out of the Glasgow version.
Personnel[edit source | edit]Edit
Chart performance[edit source | edit]Edit
In the UK, the single was an immediate hit, reaching number two in its third week on the chart.
In the US, Columbia Records promoted the live version which subsequently received more airplay than the studio version. McCartney was unaware Columbia planned to promote the live version, otherwise he might have pushed for the A-side, which he thought was the stronger version. An executive from Columbia Records explained the switch by stating "Americans like the sound of Paul McCartney's real voice."
In the US, "Coming Up" reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies. Although the live version received more airplay, Billboard listed the A-side on the Hot 100 for the first 12 weeks on the chart, including three weeks at number one, before switching to the more popular B-side for the remaining nine weeks on the chart.
|UK Singles Chart||2|
|US Billboard Hot 100||1|
|Canada RPM 100 Singles||1|
Music video[edit source | edit]Edit
"Coming Up" is also well known for its music video, with Paul McCartney playing ten roles and Linda McCartney playing two. The "band" (identified as "The Plastic Macs" on the drum kit) features Paul and Linda's imitations of various rock musician stereotypes, as well as a few identifiable musicians. In his audio commentary on the 2007 video collection The McCartney Years, McCartney identified characters that were impersonations of specific artists: Hank Marvin (guitarist from The Shadows), Ron Mael of Sparks (keyboards), and a 'Beatlemania-era' version of himself. While others such as author Fred Bronson have suggested that there are other identifiable impersonations in the video, such as Andy MacKay, Frank Zappa, Mick Fleetwood and Neil Young, McCartney said the other roles were simply comic relief.
The video made its world premiere on Saturday Night Live on 17 May 1980.