“Pure McCartney” Redux – One Writer’s Opinion

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As Sir Paul McCartney celebrates his 74th birthday, he is also celebrating the release of a new, career-spanning compilation entitled Pure McCartney. Paul says, “Me and my team came up with the idea of putting together a collection of my recordings with nothing else in mind other than having something fun to listen to. So we got our heads together and came up with these diverse playlists from various periods of my long and winding career.” (See what he did there?)

While Team McCartney assembled what they believe to be the Ultimate Macca Mixtape, critics and fans are left to debate some of the 67-song collection’s inclusions and exclusions. Because, y’know, that’s what critics and fans do, right?

After giving Pure McCartney a few listens, this critic/fan applauded some of the more obscure selections (“Winedark Open Sea” is an underrated gem), shook his head angrily at others (“Press” = ugh), and wondered aloud why the album that is most represented – with EIGHT selections, no less – is Flaming Pie. A real head scratcher, that one. Sure, it’s a good record, but does more than half of it deserve to be represented on a McCartney compilation when there is absolutely zero love for Flowers in the Dirt, Wings Over America or Run Devil Run?

At any rate, after all my applauding, wondering aloud and head scratching, I thought it would be a fun and somewhat useful exercise to comb through the Pure McCartney track listing, excise some songs and add others that I felt should be included. Because, y’know, that’s what critics and fans do.

So here’s what I came up with, based on the tracks included on the four-CD version of Pure McCartney. I kept the total number of cuts at 67, and added some brief justifications for the tunes I added and subtracted. I’m fairly certain I will have tossed out some of your favorite songs and added some that you absolutely detest. Because, y’know, that’s what critics…well, you get the idea.

Disc 1 Keepers:

“Maybe I’m Amazed”
“Heart Of The Country”
“Jet”
“Warm and Beautiful”
“Listen To What The Man Said”
“Dear Boy”
“Silly Love Songs”
Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”
“Big Barn Bed”
“Another Day”
“Flaming Pie”
“Too Many People”
“New”

Disc 1 Deletions:

“The Song We Were Singing” (Yes, I know it’s about Paul and John, but it’s just not that great of a tune, sorry.)

“Early Days” (See above. Plus, Paul’s “old guy” voice is in full flower here.)

“Jenny Wren” (It’s…okay, but certainly not one of his best.)

“Let Me Roll It” (A great tune to be sure, but since Paul has been performing it live for a while, it seems a bit played out to me.)

Disc 2 Keepers:

“Live and Let Die”
“English Tea”
“Mull of Kintyre”
“My Love”
“Let ‘Em In”
“Hi, Hi, Hi”
“Waterfalls”
“Band on the Run”
“Sing The Changes”
“Every Night”
“Junior’s Farm”
“Mrs. Vanderbilt”

Disc 2 Deletions:

“Save Us” (A rote rocker. Much better live.)

“Bip Bop” (Even for Paul, this one was lightweight and silly.)

“Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five” (A tough one to cut, but I’ve grown a bit weary of it, I guess.)

“Calico Skies” (Not bad. Not wonderful.)

“Appreciate” (One of the more minor tracks on New, methinks.)

“Arrow Through Me” (Nice enough, but since we’ll see “Baby’s Request” later in the track listing, I’d rather hear some of the more upbeat tunes from Back to the Egg.)

Disc 3 Keepers:

“Say Say Say [2015 Remix]”
“Here Today”
“Wanderlust”
“Winedark Open Sea”
“Queenie Eye”

Disc 3 Deletions:

“My Valentine” (Don’t tell Paul, but I think this one’s kinda boring. Our little secret, okay?)

“Pipes of Peace” (A lot of songs on the Pipes of Peace album were leftovers from the Tug of War sessions. This one sounds like a leftover.)

“The World Tonight” (Did I mention there were too many damned songs from Flaming Pie here?)

“Souvenir” (Well, did I?)

“Dance Tonight” (A decent enough stomper, but a little melodically deficient and lyrically lacking.)

“Ebony and Ivory” (Just no.)

“Fine Line” (This one sounds a lot like the title track from Flaming Pie.)

“Press” (Which rhymes with “clattering mess.”)

“Beautiful Night” (Three songs from Flaming Pie on Disc 3? Really?)

“Girlfriend” (There were better selections that could have been made from London Town. Stay tuned.)

“We All Stand Together” (Just no, part two.)

Disc 4 Keepers:

“Goodnight Tonight”
“Baby’s Request”
“With a Little Luck”
“Only Mama Knows”
“The Back Seat Of My Car”
“No More Lonely Nights”
“Venus and Mars/Rock Show”
“Temporary Secretary”
“Junk”

Disc 4 Deletions:

“Coming Up” (The “Live at Glasgow” version – aka the hit version – kicks the twee little studio reading to the curb.)

“Too Much Rain” (A sweet little number, but as you’ll soon see, there were better – and sweeter – ones that didn’t make the cut.)

“Good Times Coming/Feel the Sun” (Oy, that dated ‘80s production…)

“Little Willow” (Almost kept this one in, but opted to save “Junk” instead.)

“Don’t Let it Bring You Down” (It’s a slight tune from London Town, which is a pretty slight album.)

“Great Day” (But not a great song.)

“Hope For the Future” (Meh.)

New Additions:

“C-Moon” (It’s cute, it’s reggae, and as an added bonus, it’s obvious that Paul and Linda were stoned out of their gourds when they recorded it.)

“Coming Up” (Live at Glasgow) (Catchy as hell, innit?)

“Daytime Nighttime Suffering” (The B-side to “Goodnight Tonight” has long been a favorite of Macca fans.)

“Eat at Home” (Remember when John Lennon called “(Just Like) Starting Over” his “Elvis Orbison” homage? Well, “Eat at Home” is “Elvis Holly.”)

“Ever Present Past” (The best thing on Memory Almost Full.)

“Fabulous” (The CD B-side to “No Other Baby,” it’s a fab hip shaking cover that deserves to be heard.)

“Get on the Right Thing” (A criminally ignored Red Rose Speedway rocker.)

“Getting Closer” (Sure, the lyrics are completely dorky, but musically it’s a power pop gem.)

“Girls’ School” (It rocks, and the bulk of the lyrics are adult movie titles strung together. Need I say more?)

“Helen Wheels” (One of those “How the heck could they have left off this one?” moments.)

“I Want to Come Home” (Paul’s finest late-period ballad. A non-LP track, so many are unfamiliar with it. They shouldn’t be.)

“I’m Carrying” (A gorgeous London Town number.)

“I’ve Had Enough” (A rockin’ London Town number, although it could have used some beefier production.)

“Magneto and Titanium Man” (There’s never been enough mentions of this cute ditty from the Venus and Mars record.)

“This One” (From Flowers in the Dirt. ‘Nuff said.)

“Monkberry Moon Delight” (Paul at his most lyrically unhinged.  Awesome.)

“My Brave Face” (Perhaps the most glaring omission on Pure McCartney.)

“One More Kiss” (A sadly ignored, sweet little tune from Red Rose Speedway that could have been a single.)

“Sally G” (The flip side to the wonderful “Junior’s Farm,” and a charming country weeper in its own right.)

“So Glad to See You Here” (A searing Rockestra-played cut from Back to the Egg. Paul sings the hell out of it.)

“So Bad” (This has always been my go-to song from Pipes Of Peace.)

“Take it Away” (Another surprising omission.)

“You Gave Me the Answer” (In the vein of “Your Mother Should Know” and “Honey Pie.” Old-timey and lovely.)

“You Want Her Too” (The third “must hear” cut from Flowers in the Dirt is this grand duet with Elvis Costello.)

“Young Boy” (Eight damn songs from Flaming Pie, and they leave off one of the best ones?)

“Hope of Deliverance” (One of Paul’s early ‘90s singles that has gotten a bit lost in the mists of time.)

“Not Such a Bad Boy” (From the ill-fated Give My Regards to Broad Street film/soundtrack album, this is may well be the best McCartney “potboiler” of the ‘80s. It rocks quite righteously.)

“Mary Had a Little Lamb” (Well, we took out “We All Stand Together,” so we had to add a little something for the kids, right?)

Happy birthday, Paul!

3 thoughts on ““Pure McCartney” Redux – One Writer’s Opinion

  1. I think you completely missed the mark on this one. IMP, this was not meant as a compilation of greatest hits, nor was it an album designed to include tracks that he thinks you or I might like. To me this project was personal. Why were certain songs included? Perhaps he has fond memories of writing ithemPerhaps another one helped get him though Linda’s illness or John’s death. Why did he omit certain songs? Maybe they caused him pain. Maybe out of anger.Maybe the mood struck him Maybe the mood . him to leave it out. I don’t need to know why and it’s none of my business. What I do know is that I listened to 4 straight discs of perfectly sequenced , glorious Paul McCartney music lost in daydreams about why he wrote each one.
    Additionally, it’s affordable. The four disc, deluxe set with the books come in under $40.
    Lastly, Calico Skies is a song that manages to grief and beauty in a way I haven’t heard before.

  2. 10 songs I would have liked on the 4 CD compilation

    1) Give Ireland Back To The Irish – single, 1972
    2) Get Out Of My Way – from Off The Ground, 1993
    3) Once Upon A Long Ago – single, 1986
    4) Somebody Who Cares – from Tug Of War, 1982
    5) The Mess (Live) – B side of single My Love, 1973
    6) Little Lamb Dragonfly – from Red Rose Speedway, 1973
    7) Anyway – from Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, 2005
    8) Monkberry Moon Delight – from Ram, 1971
    9) Oh Woman Oh Why – B side of single Another Day
    10) Young Boy – from Flaming Pie, 1997

  3. You and I agree that PURE MCCARTNEY could have been a WHOLE lot better, and there’s little point in me quibbling with your additions and deletions. However, we both noticed how weak the 3rd disc was. You left only five, and while I wouldn’t have picked the same five, I would have changed just as many. That McCartney was involved in picking the track list is yet another demonstration that he is not a good judge of his own material–that’s not an indictment, just an observation that he is too close to it to be critical.

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