Press to Play's two highlights were released as singles, although surprisingly did not chart very high. This is a mystery, as both songs exemplify McCartney's gifts as a pop songwriter and performer. The first, "Press," contains a chugging beat and an enthusiastic rock vocal. "When you want me to love you/Just tell me to press!" he exclaims, "Oklahoma was never like this." Again, the song's meaning remains vague, but the beat, hot guitar riffs, and McCartney's slightly raspy vocals add to the tune's appeal. In my opinion, the video for this song is one of McCartney's best, simply showing him riding the tube and interacting with delighted passengers.
From his time with the Beatles to his solo career, McCartney has demonstrated that he is a superior ballad craftsman. Nowhere is this more evident than on "Only Love Remains," a gorgeous slow number with the singer/songwriter doing what he does best: sitting at the piano and singing simple lyrics straight from the heart. "I want you back again and again/Till the word has lost its meaning," he croons, bringing "a happy ending to our song." With his usual skill, McCartney's words beautifully imagine "when all our friends have gone and we're alone/There's nothing left to shout about/...Let tonight be the one we remember." This is a mature, deep love he is examining—after all the noise of life "love is all that stays/Only love remains." Unlike many other Press to Play tracks, "Only Love Remains" boasts a spare arrangement, giving it a timeless quality. While the song found a home on adult contemporary radio, it inexplicably never became a huge hit.
Yes, Press to Play contains synthesizers and electronic drums, two staples of '80s music. And yes, these elements date some of the songs. But as with many McCartney albums, some hidden treasures lie amongst the track list. In addition, he should be acknowledged for taking risks and trying to expand his repertoire. Press to Play, along with McCartney II, arguably laid the foundation for his future musical experiments under the name The Fireman (particularly the first two albums, Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest and Rushes). Hopefully McCartney will someday authorize the album to be released on iTunes and other online music stores so listeners can discover the avant garde side of the rock legend.
"The Cutout Bin" is going on vacation, but will return in late May with more hidden musical gems.