For old fogies like me, we remember Paul McCartney’s Band on the Run as the first “proper” album from the ex-Beatle. His previous records, either by himself or with Wings, certainly had a moment or two apiece, but for Beatle fans, they seemed like aimless noodling. Except for “Maybe I’m Amazed” and the opening of “Uncle Albert,” – nothing suggested his royal Beatle genealogy. As Rolling Stone commented at the time, Paul seemed to be producing material that was “deliberately second-rate!”
Then with Wings, he had a bit of a streak. First, the single “Hi, Hi, Hi.” Then, from Red Rose Speedway, the pleasantly schmaltzy “My Love.” It appeared Paul was taking himself seriously – at least part of the time.
Then came Paul re-teaming with producer George Martin creating his first bona fide post-Beatles classic, “Live and Let Die,” for the James Bond film of the same name. The best thing to come out of the whole Roger Moore era Bond may be the Oscar-nominated song. “Live and Let Die” is a great song that blends terrific production flourishes (dig the Bernard Herman-like orchestration!) with rhythmic dynamics (ska break!). More than any other song in his solo career, this song made Paul cool again. Heck, Guns and Roses covered this song. What can be cooler than that? His second solo hitmaker career begins with “Live and Let Die.”
Then came the album Band on the Run. Run has been re-released in a myriad of configurations that fans can buy. As Paul’s recent appearance on Saturday Night Live shows (here is a clip of the title track), this was his most inspired and enduring material. This may be because Band on the Run had an accessible immediacy – perhaps because so much of it was played by Paul himself – along with some very catchy, hook-filled songs. Band on the Run has aged surprisingly well (as these collections evidence).
Side one of Band on the Run, with “Jet,” “Bluebird,” “Mrs. Vanderbuilt,” and the “Yer Blues” inspired monster riff of “Let Me Roll It,” might be the best single side of music Paul put together since being a mop top. Songs with melodies that Rock! No “Ebony and Ivory” sappiness here. Just great guitar, tight arrangements, and killer bass riffs – all from one of the finest vocalists in rock and roll history.
These bonus packages are terrific, offering videos, outtakes, and behind the scene pictures that will make many nostalgic for those crazy early seventies. You can even learn who all those celebrities were on the album cover!
The remastered Band on the Run CD – can also be purchased on its own. It sounds excellent and makes a case for Band on the Run being Wings/Paul’s best complete work all by itself. The deluxe packages are where the fun is -buy them if you can!
McCartney live is one of the best tickets out there. Fans pay thousands to get up close. With these Band on the Run special editions, you can get up even closer – albeit in a slightly different way – seeing behind the creative scenes – all for a fraction of a ticket.
Beatles and Sir Paul forever!