Monday, June 13, 2011

Paul McCartney reissues out now

Music Review

Concord Music Group continues its Paul McCartney Archive Collection reissue campaign today with release of two albums from the rock legend - McCartney and McCartney II - that serve as bookends to his time leading Wings. 

Both were remastered at Abbey Road using the same team who handled the complete Beatles catalog. Sir Paul - who turns 69 on Saturday - personally supervised the project. 

Released in April 1970, barely a month before The Beatles' swan song Let It Be, McCartney hit No. 1 in America. A solo album in every sense of the word, he played and performed everything on it, save for some harmonies from wife Linda.

For the unfamiliar, it has a low-key, acoustic guitar-based "no frills" vibe and contains several instrumentals. A few are interesting; others, not so much. "Teddy Boy" (originally recorded by the Fab Four) is still charming. Songs that would later become staples in the Macca cannon like "Every Night" and "Maybe I'm Amazed" (which didn't actually chart here until the 1976 Wings Over America version) remain classics. 

On the 2-disc (2 CD) Special Edition, the bonus disc includes two live versions of "Maybe I'm Amazed." The first, from the 1973 TV documentary special "One Hand Clapping," is more intimate, featuring him on Fender Rhodes with Wings. The second is a rare and slightly longer band take, from the infamous Live at Glasgow, Dec. 1979 concert recording that produced the U.S. No. 1 single "Coming Up."

Here, Disc 2 also includes "Every Night" and "Hot as Sun" from that Scottish gig. There are also previously unreleased outtakes of "Suicide" and cool, rockin' instrumental "Don't Cry Baby," plus whimsical demo "Women Kind." 

The three-disc (2 CD, 1 DVD) Deluxe Edition includes a bonus DVD featuring rare and previously unseen footage, a 128-page hard bound book containing exclusive and unpublished photos by Paul & Linda McCartney, original album artwork, downloadable hi-res audio versions of the remastered album and bonus audio tracks, an illustrated history on the making of the album, and expanded track by track information for the two audio discs as well as detailed historical information on the film content. 

Starting with The Album Story, the DVD has a brief audio interview from McCartney interspersed with various graphics. The end of the Beatles and the album's theme (home life with Linda and the kids) are touched upon and there are some nice home movie clips and photos. From there is the video for "Maybe I'm Amazed," live London '79 Hammersmith Odeon performances from "Concert for the People of Kampuchea," a bit from "One Hand Clapping" and curiously, a pair of songs from "MTV Unplugged" in 1991.
Released in 1980 and peaking at No. 3, McCartney II also finds Macca handling everything himself and in an adventurous mood. Inspired by New Wave, he dives headfirst into keyboards and synths on the weird "Temporary Secretary" and "Front Parlour" (one of a few instrumentals). Standouts here include the laconic rock groove of "On the Way," jaunty "Nobody Knows," lovely ballads "Waterfalls" and "One of These Days" and of course "Coming Up." 

The 2-disc (2 CD) Special Edition has the live version of the latter (all verses and ad-libs intact), strange B-Sides and alternative versions, notably "Wonderful Christmastime" and "Blue Sway" with orchestration.  

Like the McCartney album, this 4-disc (3 CD 1 DVD) Deluxe Edition has the extras mentioned above. Among the hour-long DVD material is "Meet Paul McCartney," a 25-minute British TV interview with playwright Tim Rice, where technical details of the album and creative process are discussed. There's a "Coming Up" Special, where the mulitple characters in the video are explained, along with live, rehearsal and behind the scenes footage of the tune. The rare music video for "Blue Sway" and "Christmastime." 

Each remastered album and bonus audio content is available as 2-disc 180-gram audiophile vinyl editions with MP3 downloads of all audio. The special and deluxe versions of McCartney and McCartney II are available digitally.

I'd recommend the special or deluxe editions for diehard Macca enthusiasts. 

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