Sunday, November 7, 2010

Paul McCartney & Wings • Band On The Run (Archive Series 2010)

When your team is losing 35-0 at halftime, it's time to turn to the stereogram. So I put on Paul McCartney & Wings' Band On The Run, the umpteenth reissue (albeit in "deluxe" fashion) of Macca's quintessential post-Beatles LP. Though I already had a CD reissue and the 25th anniversary reissue (which was released a year late) on both digital and vinyl media, I "needed" to get this one to add to McCartney's revered place in my LP patch. And though my purchase of this behemoth started a hailstorm of personal issues best left to the courts of the wondrous State of Washington, "that's just how true my love [is]" for this album.

Band On The Run was recorded amidst a hailstorm of issues for McCartney: his drummer and lead guitarist quit the band on the eve of their departure for Lagos, Nigeria, where McCartney decided to record the third proper Wings release; the studio in Lagos, though an EMI property, was substandard and in ill-repair; and McCartney's acne was flaring up. (Okay, I made up the last one...) And yet, this list of issues only aided in the completion of McCartney's greatest solo record, which spawned three top ten singles, including my all-time fave, "Jet," and "Helen Wheels" (which technically came out ahead of the album but was included on it here in the USA).

There's not a lot to say about this sublime record that hasn't already been said... But, let's say you're a newbie or a young 'un and you don't know a lot about it. Well, this was McCartney's proof that he could most definitely cut it without Lennon, Harrison and Starr. In fact, unlike his Beatle bros, he never featured his Beatlebuddies on his solo releases. It was his aim to put together a new band and to start from scratch, and though Wings got off to a less than stellar start, you can't argue with the greatness of their early singles like "Hi, Hi, Hi" and "My Love." (It's now 38-0.) Band On The Run was McCartney's earliest crowning achievement outside of Beatledom, and its greatness lives on unabated nearly forty years later.

That this release is on Starbucks' record label Hear Music is both comical and unsurprising. That McCartney would want to capitalize on reissue mania with an album that got the deluxe treatment barely a decade ago is also unsurprising, because this LP/CD/download is THE one to have if you have no others of his. And besides, you can buy the boring one-disc standard CD, the double CD+DVD, the 180 gram vinyl, or the deluxe 3CD+DVD plus hardbound book version. (Or you can just download it if you're one of those people...) Any guesses as to which version I chose?

I hope McCartney's partnership with Hear Music continues to spawn sweet archival reissues such as this. I'm told that Ram is coming down the pike, and that's one that could use an overhaul--it might just be the best album Wings didn't make (at least, in name). Ram on, Paul.
5/5 (Hear Music)

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