Written by General Jabbo
It’s been nearly 40 years since that other band Paul McCartney was in before Wings called it a day. During that time, he carved out one of the most successful solo careers of all time. It was also during this period that McCartney followed his old band’s lead and made promo films for many of his hit singles. Those films comprise the bulk of The McCartney Years.
With three DVDs and over 400 minutes of material, The McCartney Years is an exhaustive look at the solo career of Paul McCartney. The set contains over 40 promo films from “Maybe I’m Amazed” from 1970’s McCartney to a seldom seen “Band on the Run” clip that oddly features The Beatles instead of Wings to “Fine Line” from 2005’s Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. The films have been restored from the original prints with remastered audio as well as new 5.1 Surround Sound mixes.
Viewers can choose to watch the videos chronologically, or in playlists selected by McCartney, who offers insightful commentary on a number of tracks. For instance, we learn that the Plastic Macs band name from the “Coming Up” video was a take-off of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Plastic Ono Band. Each menu on the DVD also includes a rare video from the McCartney archives that plays while the viewer makes his or her selection.
The set also includes the documentary, Creating Chaos at Abbey Road, McCartney’s Superbowl performance and his performance at Live Aid. Disc three features parts of three concerts, Rockshow, which captures a Wings 1976 performance, MTV Unplugged and his 2004 performance at the Glastonbury Festival – all available on DVD for the first time.
While billed as a definitive collection, The McCartney Years is far from complete. Many promo films are missing, most notably from 1979’s Back to the Egg LP. Also, none of the three concerts on disc three are complete, giving the impression that it is a teaser disc for a later release of complete versions of these shows. Most troubling though is that all of the videos have been remastered to 16:9 widescreen. This is an issue because many of the videos were not shot this way originally and some of the shot is lost as a result.
Nevertheless, these issues don’t take away from the overall enjoyment of the collection. The videos look and sound great and the amount of picture lost from the widescreen conversion likely will not bother most fans. It is a treat for an artist of McCartney’s stature to open the vaults like this and present a collection such as The McCartney Years. One can only hope that this will lead to further archive releases down the road.