It was 35 years ago today (October 22nd, 1984) that Paul McCartney released the soundtrack to his doomed full-length feature, Give My Regards To Broad Street. The movie, which opened the following day, was panned by critics and all but brought an end to McCartney being a force on the American Top 40. The album stalled at Number 21 — a full six spots lower than the previous year’s Pipes Of Peace set — and marked McCartney’s second straight studio album to miss the Top 10.
The one success to come out of Broad Street was its theme song, the George Martin-produced “No More Lonely Nights,” which featured Pink Floyd‘s David Gilmour on lead guitar. The song hit Number Six on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at Number Two on the magazine’s Adult Contemporary chart. In Britain the single soared to Number Two. “No More Lonely Nights” also snagged Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations.
Due to the the poor performance of Give My Regards To Broad Street, a second single from the set — “Ballroom Dancing” backed with “Wanderlust” — was set for release in Britain in January 1985, but was scrapped in the wake of the movie bombing.
The film, which was written and produced by McCartney, focuses on a fantasy that his master tapes are stolen and sold to bootleggers by a hapless former criminal the former-Beatle had taken under his wing. In a ridiculous flight of fancy, due to the album not being delivered on time, McCartney now runs the risk of losing his empire. Broad Street, which was labeled by critics and fans as an ego trip and bloated home movie, featured serval large musical production scenes — including a 1950’s-era ballroom knife fight, a space age alien break dancing section, and even a classically scored Elizabethan dream sequence — within a movie that’s essentially all a dream sequence.
Among the actors supporting McCartney were Ringo Starr, Bryan Brown, Tracey Ullman, and Sir Ralph Richardson in his final role. Also appearing were Linda McCartney, Barbara Bach, George Martin — and many of the musicians that appeared on the album, including Led Zeppelin‘s John Paul Jones, Dave Edmunds, 10cc‘s Eric Stewart, Chris Spedding, along with Toto‘s Steve Lukather and Jeff Porcaro.
A sticking point for many fans was the fact that for the soundtrack, McCartney re-recorded a half-dozen Beatles classics — something McCartney felt he had every right to do: [“I thought of that; I didn’t think long on it. I did think ‘Oh, you’re re-doing Beatles songs. Sacrilege. Wow. Hey, man, heavy.’ But then I thought, that’s not true. They’re my songs. I mean. . . you mean, I can’t sing ’em ever again? And I thought that was a more unreasonable approach than ‘You, you’re not allowed to sing those songs.’ I couldn’t find one single reason why not — except for good taste, or something, and I don’t think that’s the true.”] SOUNDCUE (:22 OC: . . . think that’s true)
Dave Edmunds appears in the movie and played guitar on three tracks. He told us that in between takes, McCartney and the band would kill time just jamming on the soundstage: [“We did a lot of it — just doing, y’know, ‘That’s All Right (Mama),’ and whatever came into our heads. Just old ’50s, ’60s rock stuff. I’m not keen on the post-Beatles stuff of Paul’s, to be honest. I’m just not taken with it at all.”] SOUNDCUE (:11 OC: . . . it at all)
Toto’s Steve Lukather and the late-Jeff Porcaro helped re-record McCartney’s 1976 chart-topper “Silly Love Songs.” About a year later Lukather realized that being tapped for the movie was a dream come true — all wrong: [“We were all excited to do it and then they put us in these ridiculous outfits with the makeup and the hair — it was, like, a nightmare. And we had a 6 a.m. call, y’know, and then you have to get into all this gear. . . It’s funny, we thought, ‘We’re gonna be in a movie with Paul McCartney!’ All of a sudden we’re all dressed up and unrecognizable. But in-between tunes — we were set up playing live, so the amps and everything was on — so, in-between takes we’d jam and hang out. Listen, I just look back at those days, going, ‘Wow, I can’t believe it was that long ago, first off — and such a wonderful experience.'”] SOUNDCUE (:25 OC: . . . a wonderful experience)
With word leaking well-before its opening weekend that Broad Street was a stiff, McCartney went into overdrive to promote what was clearly a sinking ship — often showing a rare, defensive attitude to reporters: : [“A lot of what you said was wrong. It’s taken over $1.4 million, it’s in the Top 20 of the American films, the reviews have been about 50 percent good — 50 percent bad. I think making a film like this with music and plot, trying to mix the two is a very difficult genre. And people, I think, don’t realize how difficult it is to do that. And the people that liked it weren’t expecting too much, so that the kind of, slight plot that it has — my fault, ’cause I wrote it — it really didn’t get in the way of the music. I think personally, that it’s okay, y’know? And the more you see it, the better it is.”] SOUNDCUE (:33 OC: . . . better it is)
Give My Regards To Broad Street, which was produced by 20th Century Fox for a reported $9 million earned back a measly worldwide gross of only $1,393,501.
The soundtrack to the film proved to be McCartney’s final album in a five-album deal with Columbia/CBS.
To date, since returning to the road in 1989, McCartney has never performed “No More Lonely Nights.”