Monday, June 27, 2016


The beauty of a curated collection of an artist, especially one that doesn't follow the standard hit or chronologically ordered setlist, is the opportunity for magic moments. There are times when two great songs, from different periods, can be placed back-to-back and allow you to appreciate them, and the artist, even more. For me, that happened strongly on the final disc of this four-CD set, when the 1971 Ram album track Back Seat Of My Car moved into the opening notes of 1984's No More Lonely Nights, the under-performing ballad from the flop movie Give My Regards To Broad Street. I've always loved the first tune, it's probably my favourite McCartney song ever. The second I also like a lot, but it gets too produced in the latter half, and Dave Gilmour's guitar solo is way overblown. However, back-to-back, hair stood oup on the back of my neck.

McCartney did the job of picking the tracks himself supposedly, giving us a four-plus hour look at his entire post-Beatles career, or a cut-rate version if you get the cheaper two-disc set. I wouldn't; the bigger set is nicer, with a deluxe book and only $38 right now. Who better to do the job? Well, that's the question. Me, for one. You, for another. Really, it's going to be hard to anybody to satisfy everybody, as we all have a favourite Paul period. So that's the key with this kind of box, did he do a good job for as many fans as possible; will we find our magic moments like the one I mentioned above, and enough of them?

McCartney has included almost everyone of his major hits, for good (Jet) and bad (Ebony and Ivory, Say Say Say). The pattern is pretty much a hit followed by an album cut. There are some strange omissions, including not one track from the critically acclaimed Flowers In The Dirt album, no My Brave Face, That Day Is Done, nothing. Wags are suggesting as it's the next deluxe edition scheduled for release, McCartney wanted to create more demand. I wouldn't doubt it. One might think Picasso's Last Words (Drink To Me) would have made the list. But you have a whole lot of later-period albums to sample of course, and McCartney seems to have wanted to prove their was good stuff through them all. And he's right, there's lots.

Separated from lesser material filling up lesser albums, some of these cuts are allowed to blossom in this format, placed side-by-side with beloved hits. Little Willow from the Flaming Pie album (sometimes called "Flaming pile....") is a lovely cut following With A Little Luck. Band On The Run is followed by Appreciate from 2013's New album, and I hope it gives people a reminder to check out that excellent, under-appreciated release. And sometimes, it's just a matter that we've forgotten quite good songs in his very lengthy career, such as Every Night, Dear Boy and Good Times Coming/Feel The Sun.

On the down side, McCartney was a little too taken with his mellow work at times. There are a lot of songs on a similar theme: Jenny Wren, English Tea, and My Valentine are too sickly-sweet, especially since among the hits are Pipes Of Peace and My Love. This needs to rock more. And as much as he loves to promote his experimental side, I'll never cotton to the McCartney II synth sounds of Temporary Secretary, nor the annoying We All Stand Together frog song from his Rupert the Bear project.

I think in the end, this does what McCartney wanted, which was to put the spotlight on the later years. Not many out there will know cuts such as Queenie Eye, Winedark Open Sea, Little Willow and Don't Let It Bring You Down. I think there are some better cuts along the way than some that are here, he had no business including the horrid studio take of Coming Up, it's a rip that he used the edited single version of Venus and Mars/Rock Show which fades way too early, but if you like Paul McCartney, you're going to like him even more after this.

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