Monday, November 15, 2010

Paul McCartney & Wings Band On The Run reissue review

Wings - Band on the Run
Paul McCartney & Wings
Band On The Run
1973
Album rating: **** 1/2
Bonus CD rating: ****
Bonus DVD rating: **** 1/2

In 2009, the Beatles catalogue was reissued and remastered for the first time since the albums were first issued on CD in 1987. This year, John Lennon’s solo albums and most of Apple Records’ acts albums have gotten the remaster/reissue treatment. Now, it’s Paul McCartney’s turn. However compared to the other Beatle-related reissues, McCartney’s reissues are being released by Macca’s MPL label and his new record label since 2007, Hear Music (which are associated with Starbucks. Yes, the coffee place). MPL and Hear Music have started “The Paul McCartney Archive Collection” with 1973’s Band On The Run. The albums have been released in four different versions. I bought the deluxe edition, which includes two CDs and a DVD. If you already own Band On The Run and are wondering if you should repurchase this new version, read this please.

First, I’ll start with the original album on the first disc. From what I’ve read, Band On The Run has been reissued a few times before on CD. The first time was 1987, then 1993, and then in 1999 for a special 25th anniversary edition. Before this, I’ve owned the 1987 master. Before I overwrote the old tracks with the new tracks on iTunes, I did a bit of a sound comparison. The 1987 masters aren’t bad at all. In fact, they are quite loud. When I heard the 2010 tracks, those are a bit louder. Still, I transferred the album. Overall, the album sounds great. I haven’t discovered anything new like I did with the Beatles reissues last year (which are required to get no matter who you are. Those old versions from 1987 were butchered compared to the new ones, although they aren’t particularly bad). I can say though that when you listen to the album, it feels like you’re in the studio with Paul, Linda, and Denny. There’s also a lot more emphasis on the bass playing. One thing that threw me off was that the song “Helen Wheels” was missing from the first disc. Instead, it’s on the second disc. Just as I figured, the US and international version of the album include the song as the eighth of ten tracks. This new reissue is following the UK release, which doesn’t have the song. If you use iTunes, this can be simply fixed after changing some info around without getting rid of your song count for the original album (read below for more info on how to do this, that is if it really bothers you). Aside from this, the new remaster album is still great. I just wish that they kept the fans from the US in mind.

The second disc has ten songs on it. One of them is “Helen Wheels”, as mentioned before. Another song on the disc is “Country Dreamer”, which is just alright. Also, there’s the song “Zoo Gang”, which Wings recorded for the short lived TV series of the same name. “Zoo Gang” previously appeared as a bonus track on Venus And Mars. I did another sound comparison, since I own Venus And Mars (as well as everything else Paul made with Wings except Wings Over America, which I do have on vinyl). The two tracks sound exactly the same. They are both just as loud. I mean, that was just from one brief listen. The other songs are a few songs from the 1974 documentary One Hand Clapping. The DVD actually has some great material on it. The DVD runs for some 90 minutes. First, you got the original promo videos for “Band On the Run”, “Mamunia”, and “Helen Wheels”. The first two aren’t anything amazing, although the first video does have is an artsy video with Beatles pictures in it. “Helen Wheels” is nothing much either but the picture looks really good. They did a fine job remastering that one!

However, the real treat on the DVD is the full-length 50 minute 1974 documentary, One Hand Clapping. Excluding bootlegs, the documentary has never been released. The quality of the video for the documentary is just alright. Still, it’s a golden nugget for die-hards. The documentary is of Wings rehearsing with their new line-up in 1974. At that time, Paul hired guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and drummer Geoff Britton. You get to see the band play Wings songs old and new, even unreleased. You also get to hear a bit from each member. As most of you probably know, I’m an avid fan of Jimmy McCulloch and just seeing how young he was in this is amazing. This also the first time I’ve heard anything from Geoff Britton, since he was only in the band for about six months. The DVD also includes a promotional video for the album and a 15 minute feature of the day the album’s iconic album cover.

Should you get the new Band On The Run reissue, although you own it already? It depends what kind of fan you are of Paul. You can get the single disc version but this deluxe edition is a real treat and it’s not expensive. If you are a die-hard Beatles fan or Paul fan, go and get this now. Also, there’s more to come from the Paul McCartney Archives Collection. With the album came a small paper showing pictures of future releases. These are the six albums that are pictured: McCartney, Ram, Venus And Mars, Wings At the Speed of Sound, Wings Over America, and McCartney II. No release date is given. I don’t think I’ll repurchase Venus And Mars and At the Speed of Sound unless they offer something that grabs me. Ram is my all time favorite album by Macca. I already own McCartney but my copy is scratched up just a bit. I do have Wings Over America on vinyl but it’s a bit scratchy. I’d love to buy it. Stay tuned for more McCartney!

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