Music

Paul McCartney & Wings: Band on the Run (Special Edition)

Christel Loar

The 2010 Band on the Run reissue is the first release in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection, and the remastered sound is superb.


Paul McCartney & Wings

Band on the Run (Special Edition)

Label: Concord
US Release Date: 2010-11-02
UK Release Date: 2010-11-01
Amazon
iTunes

Sometimes, music fans have to ask themselves some very serious questions, things like "Do you really need another copy of this album?" If you're a Paul McCartney fan and the record is the Wings' classic Band on the Run, then the answer is probably, "Yes. Yes you do."

One of the things that is often mentioned as key to Band on the Run's success is the duress under which it was created. Still in legal battle over the dissolution of Apple, and coming off of disappointing reviews of his post-Beatles work, McCartney was looking to get away and record his next album with Wings in an exotic location. He chose studios in Lagos, Nigeria. Practically on the eve of departure for Africa, Wings' lead guitarist Henry McCullough and drummer Denny Seiwell quit the band. This left McCartney, his wife Linda and Denny Laine. The three, along with engineer Geoff Emerick, arrived in Lagos in August. Unprepared for the appalling studio conditions, not to mention the heat, the trio nevertheless persevered. They even endured a mugging at knife point in which the thieves stole the demo tapes, thereby forcing the band to record the entire album from memory. This probably contributes greatly to the spontaneous, energetic feeling that pervades the album. Despite the hardships of its recording process, Band on the Run went on to become a commercial and critical triumph It was number one on the US album chart three separate times, won a Grammy and sold more than 7 million copies worldwide.

The 2010 Band on the Run reissue is the first release in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection, and the remastered sound is superb. The sound on the previous, 25th Anniversary, remaster was pretty good, but this is noticeably superior. McCartney personally supervised the process, working with the same team who did the recent remastering of the Beatles' catalog at Abbey Road. Not being a technical expert, I can't give you the science behind it, but I can say that the sound is somehow deeper and rounder than on the 25th Anniversary Edition. Comparing the two side by side, there's a slightly thin sound to some tracks on the previous discs, a sense of narrowness or confinement. There's a greater depth to the Archive set, particularly to the bass lines, because this is McCartney, after all.

The Archive Collection's Band on the Run Special Edition, which is the basis for this review, features two CDs and one DVD. The first disc is the remastered album with its original nine tracks (this is also available separately as the Standard Edition). Listeners may not be able to pinpoint any differences during the title track, but at some point during the irrepressible joy that is "Jet", even non-audiophiles with recognize that this sounds bloody fantastic. All of the rockers sound great, but the softer tracks like "Bluebird" benefit, as well. There are several details and flourishes in the arrangements that I swear I'd never noticed before, but I won't go quite so far as to say this is like hearing the album for the first time. However, it may be similar to finally hearing something on good equipment, that you'd always listened to on your old car stereo cassette player before.

The second disc contains nine bonus audio tracks, many of which are taken from the previously unreleased One Hand Clapping television special which featured studio performances recorded at Abbey Road in 1974, the standout being a mesmerizing take on "Let Me Roll It". Also included are newly remastered versions of the single "Helen Wheels" (which was on the US release of the album) and its B-side "Country Dreamer", and "Zoo Gang" (the B-side to the UK single "Band on the Run", also featured as a bonus track on the 1993 re-release of Venus and Mars ).

The Band on the Run DVD, or "Bonus Film", as the packaging calls it, contains nearly an hour-and-a-half of rare footage from the period. In addition to behind-the-scenes looks at the famous cover shoot, films of the band in Lagos (where the album was recorded), the album promo clip and the aforementioned One Hand Clapping TV special, in which the band performs 15 songs, there are original promotional videos for "Band on the Run", "Mamunia" and "Helen Wheels".

The Band on the Run Special Edition, is, indeed, rather special. The Paul McCartney Archive Collection is also reissuing the album in several other formats, including a Deluxe Edition with three CDs and one DVD and a two-disc180 gram vinyl version. Both the Standard and Deluxe Editions are available digitally, as well. The physical form of the Deluxe Edition does include many more extras than the Special Edition, but most of those are really for the hardcore Macca completists: a 120-page hard bound book, downloadable high bitrate versions of the tracks, expanded track information, a new McCartney interview about the album and the Band on the Run audio documentary that was originally released on the 25th Anniversary Edition. For those who are just interested in the remastered musical content, the Band on the Run Standard and Special Editions are, themselves, deluxe.

9
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Television

'Tiger King' and the Post-Truth Culture War

Tiger King -- released during and dominating the streaming-in-lockdown era -- exemplifies in real-time the feedback loop between entertainment and ideology.

Books

Ivy Mix's 'Spirits of Latin America' Evokes the Ancestors

A common thread unites Ivy Mix's engaging Spirits of Latin America; "the chaotic intermixture between indigenous and European traditions" is still an inextricable facet of life for everyone who inhabits the "New World".

Film

Contemporary Urbanity and Blackness in 'New Jack City'

Hood films are a jarring eviction notice for traditional Civil Rights rhetoric and, possibly, leadership -- in other words, "What has the Civil Rights movement done for me lately?"

Books

'How to Handle a Crowd' Goes to the Moderators

Anika Gupta's How to Handle a Crowd casts a long-overdue spotlight on the work that goes into making online communities enjoyable and rewarding.

Music

Regis' New LP Reaffirms His Gift for Grinding Industrial Terror

Regis' music often feels so distorted, so twisted out of shape, even the most human moments feel modular. Voices become indistinguishable from machines on Hidden in This Is the Light That You Miss.

Reviews

DMA's Go for BritElectroPop on 'The Glow'

Aussie Britpoppers the DMA's enlist Stuart Price to try their hand at electropop on The Glow. It's not their best look.

Film

On Infinity in Miranda July's 'Me and You and Everyone We Know'

In a strange kind of way, Miranda July's Me and You and Everyone We Know is about two competing notions of "forever" in relation to love.

Music

Considering the Legacy of Deerhoof with Greg Saunier

Working in different cities, recording parts as MP3s, and stitching them together, Deerhoof once again show total disregard for the very concept of genre with their latest, Future Teenage Cave Artists.

Music

Joshua Ray Walker Is 'Glad You Made It'

Texas' Joshua Ray Walker creates songs on Glad You Made It that could have been on a rural roadhouse jukebox back in the 1950s. Their quotidian concerns sound as true now as they would have back then.

Music

100 gecs Remix Debut with Help From Fall Out Boy, Charli XCX and More

100 gecs' follow up their debut with a "remix album" stuffed with features, remixes, covers, and a couple of new recordings. But don't worry, it's just as blissfully difficult as their debut.

Television

What 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Taught Me About Unlearning Toxic Masculinity

When I first came out as trans, I desperately wanted acceptance and validation into the "male gender", and espoused negative beliefs toward my femininity. Avatar: The Last Airbender helped me transcend that.

Interviews

Nu Deco Ensemble and Kishi Bashi Remake "I Am the Antichrist to You" (premiere + interview)

Nu Deco Ensemble and Kishi Bashi team up for a gorgeous live performance of "I Am the Antichrist to You", which has been given an orchestral renovation.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.