It was 38 years ago today (June 28th, 1980) that Paul McCartney's “Coming Up (Live At Glasgow)” began its three-week run on top of the charts. The song was recorded live by McCartney and Wings during their final tour on December 17th, 1979 at the Apollo in Glasgow, Scotland. The live version was actually only intended as the B-Side of the studio version of “Coming Up” — which was the lead single and opening cut from McCartney's 1980 solo set McCartney II.
Although the modern-sounding gimmicky studio version was a smash overseas, U.S. disc jockeys flipped the single over for the normal voiced-live McCartney version — which resulted in Wings' sixth and final chart topper and McCartney's first Number One single of the 1980's. Despite Wings receiving co-billing, “Coming Up” also marks the final time McCartney topped the charts as a “solo” act. His final two Number One's were duets with Stevie Wonder (“Ebony And Ivory” – 1982) and Michael Jackson (“Say Say Say” – 1983).
Incidentally, shortly before his death, McCartney's former partner John Lennon went on record saying how much he loved McCartney's originally studio version of “Coming Up.”
By the time of “Coming Up's” release, McCartney's proposed world tour had been sidelined by the former Beatle's infamous pot bust the previous January, which landed McCartney in a Tokyo jail for 10 days. Wings lead guitarist Lawrence Juber recalled that with Wings still together — but with McCartney also pursuing a solo career — it was a strange time to be scoring a Number One hit: “The shame of it was, that if we had continued — he would've been touring the States with a Number One record, 'cause 'Coming Up' was Number One. But the fact that there was this conflict, this dichotomy between Paul as 'Paul' and Paul as 'Wings,' as the band, it was most epitomized by 'Coming Up.' Because in England, the studio. . . Paul's McCartney II version came out. In America, nobody wanted to play the McCartney II version.”
Since returning to the stage in 1989, “Coming Up” has remained a constant part of McCartney's setlist. Although over the past few tours it's been relegated to soundcheck run-throughs, McCartney did perform “Coming Up” live during his July 15th, 2009 appearance on the marquee of New York City's Ed Sullivan Theatre during his appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman.
The recent expanded reissue of 1970's McCartney album features three additional songs from Wings' final show from December 17th, 1979 in Glasgow: “Every Night,” “Hot As Sun”,” and “Maybe I'm Amazed.” Both the live, studio, and original extended unreleased version of the studio “Coming Up” are included on the deluxe McCartney II reissue.