While legendary musician and singer Sir Paul McCartney continues to storm the globe on his “Freshen Up” world tour, three re-releases of classic live McCartney albums and one new release that's has never filled speakers before will be out Friday.
These albums cover not just the decades of McCartney's career, but several different phases of his life from the end of his days in the Beatles to the present as a preeminent touring act on his own. This look will run through these releases in order of their original release dates.
First up, from 1976, “Wings over America” documented the 1975-76 tour of McCartney's band, Wings, that was met with massive success. Primarily recorded from the LA Forum show in June of '76, this triple-LP (2 CD) set contains a ton of Beatles hits mixed in with Wings tracks that fans love, alongside solo McCartney material and even a few covers here and there. This remastered set is the same track-listing that's been released previously, with the new pressings available in both black and color vinyl (transparent red, green, and blue, in this case) versions, as well as CD, and will include the original album art and original souvenir poster.
Next up comes a live-in-studio (rather than live-in-concert) album from 1988. While the album was recorded in the UK, Снова в СССР (translated as “Back In The USSR Again”) was originally released only in the former Soviet Union. While it has since been released internationally, it's still a landmark album for any collection, being the first time a Western artist recorded an album with the intention of making it exclusive to the Soviet market. McCartney recorded nearly two dozen covers of his favorite songs from the 1950s, though less than half of those made the final recording. This release duplicates the original album, with the original 11-song track-listing, remastered and pressed to black vinyl or a slick, opaque yellow album. Also available on CD, of course.
“Paul Is Live” comes from McCartney's New World Tour in 1993. The title, of course, as well as the album art itself all plays on the long-lived conspiracy theory that Paul McCartney died long ago and was replaced. This album was recorded at various sessions on the New World Tour and includes tracks that were improvised and created live on stage, and that aren't available anywhere else. Remastered at the legendary Abbey Road Studios, “Paul Is Live” will be available is several configurations, just like the rest, including a 2-LP set in opaque baby blue and peach-white, along with the black vinyl or CD options.
This brings us to the last of the set. Title the “Amoeba Gig,” this album – presented as a CD, or a 2-LP set, with one clear, one hazy amber, aside from the black vinyl – is the first time the complete 2007 Amoeba Music secret show has ever been released to the world. Previously, a 4-song EP from the show was unleashed as “Amoeba's Secret.” Later, a twelve-track album titled “Live in Los Angeles” – which was the original four-song EP and then eight more tracks – was released in Britain and Ireland. This album, however, is the first time the full show – a full 21 tracks – is available to the world. Before this, only the few hundred lucky souls that were in the room had been able to hear these songs this way. This recording captures the intimacy of the small room, the energy of the crowd, and the passion for the music that McCartney and his band brought to the stage. Everything from “Lady Madonna” “Back In The USSR” to “Blackbird” and “C Moon” are alive and well on this album, and sound incredible.
Any one of these four albums would make an incredible gift for a McCartney, Wings, or (of course) Beatles fan. The sound quality on all of them is rich and full, with the sounds coming through like you were in the room with the players. Including all of the original artwork and inserts with the prior releases will ease your mind if you missed out on the first runs, and even if you have those, you can put the classics up for storage and listen to these newly remastered sets and take a trip back in time. And if you don't know of anyone to give them to as gifts, then get them for yourself! You'll thank you!