The Paul McCartney Alternate Archive Collection
As we all know, Paul McCartney is in the process of releasing his albums anew, including more stuff from his archives to expand the albums to multiple discs. However, most McCartney fans are concluding that the releases all fall very short of what a fan might call “ultimate”. The series started in 2010 with “Band on the Run”, and so far, “McCartney”, “McCartney II”, “Ram”, “Wings Over America”, “Venus and Mars” and “Wings At The Speed of Sound” have all followed, while the next two releases seem to be “Tug of War” and “Pipes of Peace”. The slow release schedule is a bit annoying to the fans. Interestingly, we published a schedule-in-the-works a long time ago, and so far the schedule has been followed, except that “Wings Over America” was published a little earlier than originally planned for – and the pace is a lot slower than anticipated. If “Tug of War” and “Pipes of Peace” really are up next, as indicated by the inlay cards from the previous release, a new schedule plan seems to have been made.
The releases are available in a number of formats, the most collectible ones being the deluxe editions, which are accompanied by hardcover books, various amounts of paper memorabilia and a DVD. It seems to us that much more emphasis is given to the hardbound books and paper items, whereas the extra discs seem to be treated with less care and often have short playing times.
Macca Needs to Open the Vault More for His Reissue Series, said Beatlefan’s Something New blog in April. And we agree. McCartney has used the extra space provided by the CD format and by extra discs to release B-side material, as well as rehearsal versions, demos and live recordings associated with each original album. What he hasn’t so far touched very much on, have been various different mixes of songs (including the quad mixes of “Venus and Mars” and “Band on the Run”) which could originally be found on various original releases. An extended edit of “Letting Go” and a new version of “Rock Show” were not part of the Deluxe “Venus and Mars”, but were released like an afterthought as mp3-files from Paul McCartney’s website. A version of “Junior’s Farm” was released on another site.
Granted, the extra material released on the discs is very interesting – and new to the fans – but we all feel that the discs could have been both longer, and expanded to even more discs – at least on the deluxe editions of the albums. Of course, the regular 2-disc releases are probably all the general public will bother to get, but the core fans will collect the expensive editions, the ones with a hardbound book. I think that extra discs with even more material is needed to truly fulfill the fans’ expectations when it comes to these releases.
This is something enterprising McCartney fans have taken it upon them to accomplish. Recently, we stumbled upon such a “release”, freely shared among McCartney fans. The goal here is simple: to “release” the ultimate versions of every single Paul McCartney album that will include as bonus tracks
- every released song/mix/edit
- any significant outtakes (with upgraded sound wherever possible)
This is an audio project, and will not include DVDs.
The series commenced with “Flowers in the dirt”, here is the back cover for that 4-disc album:
|Fan version of “Flowers in the Dirt”.|
The next “release” was “Venus and Mars”, which is bold, given that McCartney’s own Archives project released that title last year. The fan made version includes everything from McCartney’s own release, the extra downloads he made available online, and an additional two hours of material from the era, including a stereo downmix of the DTS-surround CD.
|Fan version of “Venus and Mars”|
Much as we like the idea behind these “ultimate editions”, we feel that they wouldn’t have been necessary, if the McCartney Archive series had delivered their true potential. And McCartney sits on the same material in better quality, whereas the amateurs have to rely of “needle drops” – transferring vinyl records to digital audio files. The exceedingly high price we are paying for the deluxe editions, especially outside the production country of USA, should be able to give us more value for the money. Some people are robbing their pension funds to be able to add them to their collections. Like one collector said, “my greatest fear is that when I die, my wife will be selling my records for the prices I told her I had paid for them”.