What can you really say that hasn’t already been said about Paul McCartney? This isn’t some “rock critic” trying to dissect the now 46-year solo career of the greatest (still living) pop musician of all time; this is simply an assessment of a very fine, albeit flawed, comprehensive compilation of the man’s works, picked by him.
I plumped for the 4-disc, hardcover book edition of Pure McCartney and it is, indeed, quite a treasure trove that goes from 1970’s McCartney all the way to 2013’s New. Of course, I find it flawed because aside from some glaring omissions which are personal favorites, he did leave off several essential tracks (certainly “My Brave Face” or “This One” from 1989’s Flowers In The Dirt should have been here or “Hope Of Deliverance” from 1993’s Off The Ground could have found a spot). Nonetheless, according to the press release:
‘”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. Maybe to be enjoyed on a long car journey or an evening at home, or at a party with friends. So we got our heads together and came up with these diverse play lists from various periods of my long and winding career. The word career is a bit misleading because to me it has been more like a musical adventure than a proper job. It pleases me, and often amazes me, that I ve been involved in the writing and recording of so many songs, each of them so different from the others. But on my next long car journey this will be the soundtrack for the ride, and a great ride it has been coming up with these songs. So jump in your hot rod or relax in your hot bath and give these ditties a spin and remember that if half of the pleasure we had in putting this collection together communicates itself to you, we ll all be riding high!”
And let’s face it, if you’re like me, and you love McCartney, you’re going to dig this gathering – and the casual manner the songs flow. And for what the cost of this set is, 67 songs are an absolute steal. Interestingly, it’s not in chronological order, which makes it more of a thrill ride as you shift from the various phases of McCartney’s Wings and solo career. To sum up the highlights from each disc and to be fair, the first one does open with “Maybe I’m Amazed” – all parts played and sung by Paul, and still one of the most powerful and heartfelt things he ever committed to tape. But then you get “Jet”, “Listen To What The Man Said”, the epic and brilliant “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”, “Another Day” and the classic album track “Let Me Roll It” (his dead-on perfect and loving imitation of Lennon) amongst others.
Disc 2 includes “My Love” (still, to me, the greatest love song of all), “Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five”, “Hi, Hi, Hi”, “Waterfalls”, “Band On The Run” and – back to back, two of my all-time favorites, “Junior’s Farm” and “Mrs. Vandebilt”, which I give him very high marks for having included. Disc 3 may be the weakest but does have two of Tug Of War‘s best tracks, “Here Today” and “Wanderlust”. Disc 4 is the most mixed bag but brings out some of the heavy hitters: “Goodnight Tonight”, “With A Little Luck”, “The Back Seat Of My Car”, the heartstopping opus “Venus And Mars”/”Rockshow” and the completely looney and brilliant “Temporary Secretary”.
So you can look at it this way – if you’ve had a casual curiosity about the post-Beatles career of Paul McCartney and never added any of his works to your collection, this is the ideal place to start. Or if you’re like me, this is a very nice addition (especially since I haven’t bought any of his solo albums since Tug Of War. Or, to paraphrase the man himself, “oh, it’s Paul McCartney – shut up”. And buy it. Really.
I should add – not that this is any surprise – there is a single disc version and a vinyl box set available, as well as MP3, depending on your preference of media.
(Oh, and since Paul DID leave off – inexplicably – three of the best songs in his illustrious solo career/with Wings which are three of my favorites, I’ve included them below as my protest!)
ESSENTIAL LISTENING – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Pure McCartney is available now