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How to build your own 'singles box' in a Paul McCartney 7-inch 'stravaganza

Macca has just released an 80-disc collection of his 45s, and it's already sold out. So maybe you should make one of your own?

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The official 7-Inch Singles Box in all its pristine glory.

The official 7-Inch Singles Box in all its pristine glory.

Paul McCartney

The 7-Inch Singles Box

(MPL/Capitol)

You’ve seen the adverts already, of course. A crate of 80 individually numbered Paul McCartney singles, spanning the career from “Another Day” to the present day, 65 of them recreating original releases and sleeves from around the world, more that were never before released on 7-inch, and some that have never been more than LP tracks in the past. A bonus test pressing selected at random. A limited edition of 3,000 copies, $600-and-change… and it sold out in less time than it takes to find that copy of “Jet” you misfiled a few years ago.

What to do?

Well, the 15 unreleased ones… you’re either going to have to whistle, or wait until buyers start to break up their boxes and unleash the contents upon the ranks of hungry Maccadom. You know how much you desperately need a bespoke coupling of “Who Cares”/“Fuh You,” and you’ll never sleep until you get your hands on the single edit of “Love Is Strange.”

Or you could say to yourself… “Well, maybe I don’t, and maybe I can,” because they’re not real 7-inchers not like “Jet” and the one with the frogs, and when you look deeper into the box’s contents, you realize that not only have MPL invented some new singles, they’ve also ignored some old ones. (Thankfully, not including the one with the frogs. That’s here and it’s as great as you remember.)

Now, if you’re one of the lucky 3,000, you already know how fabulous the real thing looks — a redwood pine and birch wooden packing crate that oozes class and distinction. A 140-plus-page booklet full of color and facts and a fab Macca foreward. And every single bar the test pressing in a picture bag, pristine and period-perfect, the vinyl clean, the labels unscuffed… everything, in fact, that your personal collection of McCartney singles probably isn’t.

And let’s pause there for a moment, while you run and count how many of them you actually own. Maybe even more than you thought? It’s odd how that happens. In casual conversation, “Yeah, I didn’t mind some early Wings, and the one with the frogs was stellar.” But in reality… Fact. Between 1972 and 1979, Paul McCartney and Wings were probably the most consistent and successful singles band in the world. And why? Because they made great singles. Although maybe not $600 worth…. So, let’s do it ourselves!

Let’s build a Paul McCartney Singles Box!

You will need:

• 1 (one) inch-deep cardboard 7-inch mailer

• 4 (four) 8"x7” squares of strong cardboard

• 1 (one) 7"x7" square of strong cardboard

• Packing tape

And then you just stick them together in an even-sized box shape, remembering that the mailer serves as the lid (and the back of the box), and the smallest piece of cardboard is the bottom.

 

Let’s design a Paul McCartney Singles Box!

You will need:

Whatever you think looks good. Or you could just go cheap and copy the real thing, then paint it according to taste — the illustrated example is titled “distressed rusty metal.”

And, if you're not careful, you'll end up with this.

And, if you're not careful, you'll end up with this.

  

Let’s fill a Paul McCartney Singles Box!

And this is where the fun starts.

First, a reiteration. For all the attention that is paid to Paul McCartey’s album discography, and rightfully so for a lot of them are terrific, there was a period throughout the 1970s when, usually in the company of Wings, he never put a foot wrong in the singles market.

Even early on, when he had yet to settle upon an identity (Is he Paul? Is he Paul and Linda? Paul & Wings?), his releases were never less than exemplary. His solo debut 45, 1970’s “Another Day,” remains one of the strongest songs he’s ever written; “Uncle Albert” was fun, “Back Seat of My Car” was sweet, “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” was controversial and “Mary Had a Little Lamb” was a genius riposte to everyone who said he ought to keep his nose out of politics. If you don’t already possess that run, you should.

It was the double a-side “Hi Hi Hi”/“C Moon” that ignited McCartney’s true golden era, however, with a sequence of releases that bears comparison with even the most die-hard Beatles fan’s conception of that band’s finest salvo.

“My Love,” “Live and Let Die,”“Helen Wheels,” “Jet,” “Band On The Run,” “Junior’s Farm,”“Letting Go”… on and on it went. And if you throw in a few extracurricular odds, the picture grows even brighter — “Walking In the Park With Eloise” (absent from the MPL box until a make-believe single towards the end of the package), “Mrs Vandebilt” (included in its Dutch picture sleeve), “Seaside Woman” and Percy Thrillington. That latter pair are also missing, but this is our box, not his. We can include whatever we like!

You can make your own booklet, too!

You can make your own booklet, too!

“Silly Love Songs,” the live “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Mull of Kintyre”… and then we remember the B-sides! Increasingly, as time passed, McCartney simply took another track from the same album as the A-side. But on the occasions that he didn’t… "Oh Woman Oh Why," “Sally G,” “Country Dreamer,” “Girls School,” “I Lie Around” and the live “The Mess” could all have withstood double A-side treatment. And then there’s the TV theme “Zoo Gang,” which arrived on the B-side of the U.K. “Band On the Run,” but is inexplicably replaced in the official package by its U.S. album track flip, “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five.” How strange.

The classics kept coming… “With a Little Luck,” “London Town,” “Old Siam Sir” (present twice, as a U.K. A-side and a U.S. flip), “Goodnight Tonight.” We, like the MPL crate, could probably live without the Rockestra 45, but McCartney 2 spun off “Coming Up” and the lovely ‘Waterfalls” (surely the only song by an ex-Beatle to warn against chasing polar bears), and the official box finally rights one of the greatest wrongs in McCartney’s singles discography, by placing “Temporary Secretary” on 7-inch, as opposed to the super-scarce 12-inch promo that literally won’t fit into our package. Ho hum.

So, we’re 32 singles into Macca’s box set; and anything up to 36 in our’s, and we’ve only just hit the 1980s. But we’re also moving into a weird period, where only the truly dedicated could be guaranteed to pick up every one of his new 45s, while the rest of us just bought the ones we liked. Or rested content with the version on the album.

Well loved and worn - some classic old singles

Well loved and worn - some classic old singles

The one-offs continued flying, of course, but Macca’s penchant for novelty songs was maybe heading a little off-piste. The one with the frogs, of course, was impeccable... But while “Wonderful Christmas Time” would have been an undeniable highlight of a Beatles’ festive flexidisc, maybe it should have stayed there. Likewise, his duets with Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson (only one of the latter is included in the real box) were more impressive for the performers than the performances. Include or exclude at will.

There were some goodies, of course. “Tug of War,” “Take It Away,” “Pipes of Peace,” even “Spies Like Us,” if you can erase the accompanying video from your mind. ’No More Lonely Nights” was a gem, and “Press” heralded one of his best solo albums ever — the single utilized the “video mix” as opposed to the album, and it was worth grabbing for that.

But now the albums were bleeding 45s, the 45s were more likely to be CDs and cassettes, and, as we drive into the 1990s, even the official box starts skipping around, sometimes provocatively so. “Hope of Deliverance” and “Off the Ground” are both omitted from the Sainted Eighty, but we do get the singles shed by Tripping the Light Fantastic, boringly retreading a brace of old Beatles songs, but compensating with non-LP B-sides. Except one of them, a none-too-stellar “C Moon,” is then repeated on the flip of the very next single in the sequence, “All My Trials,” and one starts to wonder just what is going on?

The 7-Inch Singles Box is not, and does not claim to be, a complete collection of all Paul’s singles. But it comes so close that it could have been, and there’s another reason to do-it-yourself. You’ll still have the same duplication, but you won’t sacrifice another, more deserving, single to make way for it. And you won’t have to puzzle over the discs that never were, unless you want to replace the relevant offenders with their other format counterparts.

The '80s and beyond... more than expected!

The '80s and beyond... more than expected!

McCartney’s last physical 7-inch single was 2019’s “Home Tonight,” and our homemade box necessarily ends there (the real thing continues on for two more 45s). But here’s a surprise: If we’re really thorough and hunt out everything (but let's draw the line at his later collaborations... Yusuf, Jimmy Fallon et al), we wind up with, give or take, 80 singles, and a box that tells the full story of Mac on 45, without having to make things up.

Of course, we don’t get the shiny sleeves and the squeaky-clean vinyl, the 21st century remastering and the gorgeous book. But we don’t have digital remastering either, and a few creases and crackles never hurt anybody. Besides, there are a few options if you want to go the modern route on occasion — Best Buy’s 2014 mail-away exclusive of “Letting Go,” for example, or the 2001 yellow vinyl coupling of "Maybe I'm Amazed"/"Band On The Run."

So that’s it. Anything up to 3,000 people have the real, official, Paul McCartney 7-Inch Singles Box. But no more than one have your’s, and I think I know which version I’d rather hear. Just so long as you included the one with the frogs.