Paul McCartney & Wings - Band on the Run (Paul McCartney Archive Collection) Review

It's an argument that will rage on forever. Which of the Fab Four had the better post-Beatles career? There are a good number of music lovers that will side with John Lennon. Lennon, despite the fact that his output was cut short much too soon, had a few songs that will live on forever ("Imagine," "Instant Karma") and a couple fantastic albums. George Harrison on the other hand produced what many say is the best solo album ever released by a former Beatle. The sprawling All Things Must Pass is a true gem of a record that spread across six sides of vinyl upon its initial release. It's not easy creating such a memorable album with that much content. There are even a few Ringo Starr fans. The former Beatle with the biggest amount of quality post-Beatles output though would probably have to be Paul McCartney; although longevity alone can be attributed to this fact. Still, despite all the silly love songs that littered his solo projects, McCartney still produced a number of quality and memorable tunes and even gave us some top notch albums.

One of the most renowned McCartney albums was his third release with his self assembled band Wings, Band on the Run. It was an album that certainly gave McCartney’s post-Beatles project a plethora of hits. And though it’s not McCartney’s finest solo effort (the whimsically beautiful Ram that predated Band by two years wins that award), it is an album full of memorable pop gems that is undoubtedly a fan favorite. From the splendid, though overplayed, title track to the ambitious and criminally underrated album closer “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five,” Band on the Run is one of the most cohesive and enjoyable Macca solo projects from the 1970s.

Though a 25th Anniversary Edition of the album was released in 1999, 2010 marked yet another remastered release of the record. This time the release is apart of the Paul McCartney Archive Collection which will eventually feature each McCartney solo album. The amount of extras you’ll receive with this release will depend upon which version you purchase. There’s the single disc remastered version, the three disc collection that features a disc of bonus tracks and b-sides and a live DVD, the four disc collection with a picture book and an audio commentary disc and lastly the awesome looking repressed vinyl edition. One of the first things you may notice about the remastered album itself is that the worthy rocker “Helen Wheels” is missing. There’s a reason for this. The original British release of the album did not feature “Helen Wheels,” though the American release did. In Britain the song failed to receive any kind of notoriety, where as in the US it became a top 10 single. Seeing as how the only form of Band on the Run I’ve ever been familiar with has always featured “Helen Wheels,” it’s quite odd to listen to the album with the song omitted. If you have the three disc set, both “Helen Wheels” and its b-side “Country Dreamer” are featured on the bonus disc. That’s why it’s really hard to recommend the single disc version of this set, especially when you can still find the previous remastered release of the album with the song included.

The DVD that comes with the three disc version is another joy. Stuffed full of music videos, an album promo, the making of the famous album cover and the One Hand Clapping TV special that was shot at Abbey Road Studios in 1974 but never aired, this is a DVD with so much interesting and enjoyable footage it may very well be worth the price of the set itself. The more and more you dig into this set, the more you realize that a lot of care went into the project. Still, for those who dished out good money on the 1999 25th Anniversary re-release, the only real enticing improvement on this most recent re-release is the DVD. For those who are still holding on to your old Band on the Run 8-tracks and cassette tapes on the other hand, this is the perfect opportunity to make the change.


"Band on the Run (Paul McCartney Archive Collection)" is on sale November 2, 2010 from Hear Music.

Tyler Barlass • Editor

Tyler is passionate about Music, Sports, Beer, Comic Books, Food, Cocktails and other seemingly unrelated things.


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