Review Highlight: Paul McCartney Archive Collection

By Gillian G. Gaar
wings-venus

WINGS
“Venus and Mars” (Deluxe Edition)
MPL/Concord Music Group (box set)
3 Stars

wings-speed
WINGS
At the Speed of Sound (Deluxe Edition)
MPL/Concord Music Group (box set)
3 Stars

These are the latest releases in the “Paul McCartney Archive Collection” of reissues, loaded up with bonus material.

“Venus and Mars” was the follow up to the wildly successful “Band on the Run,” and, like that album, hit the top of the charts. It gets off to a great start with the opening medley “Venus and Mars”/“Rock Show,” while “Listen to What the Man Said” highlights Paul McCartney’s skill at creating a song whose sound is so irresistibly sunny you overlook the somewhat nonsensical lyrics.

But the rest of the album is fairly lightweight — a box wrapped with pretty paper that proves to have little of substance inside. “You Gave Me the Answer” and “Magneto and Titanium Man” are pleasant enough trifles, but “Spirits of Ancient Egypt,” “Call Me Back Again,” and the closing medley drag things down. The remastered sound makes the album sound better however, and the 14-track bonus disc fills out the picture with B-sides and assorted rarities, such as songs from the unreleased “One Hand Clapping” film.

“At the Speed of Sound,” another #1 album on release, always had nice clean production, and the remastered version is even better. “Let ‘Em In” and “Silly Love Songs” are some of McCartney’s catchiest numbers (again, despite their lyrical inanity), while “Beware My Love” is a solid, gutsy, rocker. It’s as inconsistent as its predecessor though; it’s nice of McCartney to share the vocal duties, but while Denny Laine and Jimmy McCulloch acquit themselves well, Linda McCartney’s and Joe English’s contributions don’t add much. The seven track bonus CD has some great demos, as well as “Beware My Love” with John Bonham on drums.

Both deluxe editions also come with bonus DVDs, which are unfortunately pretty slight; mostly just excerpts from larger pieces. You get three minutes of the band in Venice, 13 minutes of Wings at Wembley, and so on, which really leaves you wanting more.

Goldmine was only given review copies of the CDs and DVDs, and not the rest of the content for the deluxe editions, which are packed in a hardback book, and also include facsimile memorabilia. Unless you want the special packaging, and the slim contents of the DVDs, the two-disc standard edition will still satisfy.

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