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Music Review: Paul McCartney & Wings – Band on the Run: Special Edition

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Written by General Jabbo

After the breakup of the Beatles and the subsequent release of two quirky, yet charming albums — McCartney and Ram — Paul McCartney decided he’d missed being in a band and Wings was born. The band’s first two albums didn’t exactly wow the critics and, making matters worse, guitarist Henry McCullough and drummer Denny Seiwell left the band, reducing Wings to a trio of Paul and Linda McCartney and Denny Laine. Undeterred, the group traveled to Lagos where they recorded Band on the Run, an album that remains a high-water mark of McCartney’s post-Beatles career, newly remastered in a two-CD/one-DVD special edition.

Much has been said about Band on the Run over the years and, for fans of McCartney, it is certainly a must-own. The title track, as well as “Jet” and “Let Me Roll it” are McCartney in-concert staples and considered classic tracks. The remaining tracks boast the same quality, from the syrupy “Bluebird” to the driving piano of “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five,” this is McCartney at his best.

Remastered by the same team that did the recent Beatles remasters, the sound is clear and detailed and avoids the modern, overly loud production found on too many CDs. This is likely the final word on this album and its sound quality is now up to par with its song quality.

Band on the Run‘s British track list has been made canon and, as a result, American fans looking for “Helen Wheels” on the main disc will not find it, but it does reside (along with its B-side, the excellent “Country Dreamer”) on the bonus CD. The disc also includes a number of live tracks from the One Hand Clapping documentary, including a spirited take on “Jet” with excellent drumming from short-lived Wings member Geoff Britton.

The third disc is a DVD that includes promotional videos for “Band on the Run,” “Mamunia,” “Helen Wheels,” as well as the entire album itself, and a “making of the album cover” documentary. The highlights of the DVD though are “Wings in Lagos,” a short series of never-seen home movies from the group’s trip to Africa and the documentary One Hand Clapping, which is available legitimately for the first time here. While the video quality in One Hand Clapping often borders on bootleg and the track “Suicide” is oddly omitted, it is still likely as good a version of this fine document of Wings in the studio as fans will see.

Band on the Run proved to skeptics that McCartney still had it after the Beatles. The remastered CD as well as the two bonus discs make Band on the Run: Special Edition an essential CD for McCartney fans.

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