Thursday, May 24, 2012

Paul McCartney's Ram reissue review

 Paul McCartney - Ram
Paul McCartney
Original album rating: **** 1/2
Bonus disc rating: ****

The Paul McCartney Archive Collection has made a fourth entry in their collection of remasters with McCartney's (as well as Linda McCartney's) 1971 classic, Ram. Once again, it confuses me as to why MPL and the rest decided to release the remaster now as opposed to last year, which marked 40 years since Ram was release. Still, this remaster/reissue of Ram follows the remaster/reissues of last year's McCartney and McCartney II. With Ram being my favorite album by Paul, I've heard it plenty of times. So I can safely say that MPL has done it again: the remastering is very good and the bonus disc compliments the original album perfectly.

What else can I say about Ram? It's my favorite album from Paul McCartney and one of my all time favorite albums (if you would like to read my write-up on the 40th anniversary of Ram, click here). All of the songs on the album are amazing. You've got "Too Many People", which is supposedly about McCartney's former band mate John Lennon. "Dear Boy" sounds like a lost outtake from The White Album while "Monkberry Moon Delight" is my personal favorite song off the album as it is just flat out bizarre. As for hits, you've got novelty-like ditty "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey", the autobiographical "Heart of the Country", and the epic closer "The Back Seat of My Car".

As for the remastering, it's actually very good. This is a good thing because most remasters of classic albums (as well as new albums) are often too loud and are a victim of the so-called "loudness war". What's wrong with it being louder, you ask? Sometimes the sound can be so loud that some of the instruments are so distorted that they disappear from the mix altogether. Luckily, this isn't the case with these McCartney remasters or even the 2009 Beatles remasters and the 2010 Apple Record remasters. Until now, I have been listening to a 1987 CD issue of Ram. This new remaster is an improvement: I can hear things that were buried in the 1987 mix. Examples: I never noticed that there was another vocal track accompanying Paul on the first "Ram On" and there are a few things that Paul says at the end of "Monkberry Moon Delight" that were barely audible in the 1987 mix.

The second disc consists of eight tracks, clocking in at 33 minutes. I'm not sure if they could have squeezed the eight tracks with the original album but this doesn't matter: the material on the second disc is actually very good. You get "Another Day", which was a hit single for McCartney, along with its rocker B-side "Oh Woman, Oh Why". For some reason, they put "Little Woman Love" on here. "Little Woman Love" was the B-Side to Wings' rendition of "Mary Had a Little Lamb". The next five tracks are a real treat for die-hard fans: they are all previously unreleased tracks from the sessions for Ram. The first of them (and personally, my favorite) is "A Love For You". It's a really great pop track that could have easily been a hit single. From what I see, the song has appeared on a few bootlegs and a version of it ended up on the soundtrack from the 2003 film The In-Laws. "Hey Diddle" is also on here as is the blues instrumental "Great Cock and Seagull Race". "Rode All Night" is a great eight minute (!) rocker while "Sunshine Sometime" is a nice easy-listening song.

I'm pleasantly surprised by how good this remaster/reissue is. It doesn't matter if you already own a older copy of Ram: this is totally worth getting. They really did a great job at remastering a classic album and the bonus disc is bad at all. If you're a McCartney fan, you should not be disappointed.

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