Is 1987 really over thirty years ago – yikes!
I remember 1987 well and it should come as no surprise that it’s the music from that year that has burrowed its way into my head more than any other event.
In 1987 some of the big albums I remember buying include U2’s “The Joshua Tree” (one of my favorites) and Fleetwood Mac’s “Tango in the Night” (one of the best Mac albums and still one I play and enjoy).
But, 1987 was also the year that The Monkees released their first new album in over sixteen years (“Pool It!”) and the year that George Harrison released a critically acclaimed and best-selling new album (“Cloud Nine”) after a five year hiatus. (I always remember years by Beatles and/or Monkees releases, sad I know, but true).
Paul McCartney (Harrison’s ex-band mate and now also ex-Wings leader) also released a new album in 1987 – a greatest hits collections entitled “All the Best!”
I still find “All the Best!” to be one of the best compilations of McCartney’s hits that he’s ever released partly because of nostalgia but also partly because I just love the song selection especially the track selection on the UK version.
You see weirdly enough McCartney chose to release different song selections for the UK vinyl and CD versions of “All the Best!” versus the versions that came out in the United States.
The UK versions of the album included a new song (“Once Upon a Long Ago”) as well as an unreleased song in the United States (a children’s song called “We All Stand Together”) which really skewed the UK version as my album of choice. I love both songs and for years “All the Best!” remained the best place to hear them.
Now 1987 was also near the beginning of a weird phase (especially in the UK) in the music industry of artists releasing multiple versions of their hit singles with exclusive bonus tracks that could only be found on that particular single.
Mainstream/Legacy artists such as Harrison and McCartney embraced this somewhat annoying record company practice and began issuing vinyl/CD singles of their songs with nifty exclusive tracks that could entice mad collectors (guilty, lol) to hunt mail order catalogs and record dealers to try and purchase them.
In McCartney’s case, the lead off single from the UK version of “All the Best!” was the new song “Once Upon a Long Ago” – an enchanting and wistful McCartney ballad that remains an underrated gem (and is pretty much MIA to this day Stateside).
For some strange reason (probably McCartney’s US label Capitol not finding it commercial enough) “Once Upon a Long Ago” wasn’t released AT ALL in the States though it did manage to crack the Top Ten in Britain.
“Once Upon a Long Ago” benefited (suffered?) from the then current multiple version trend and was released on a slew of different versions in the UK: 45 single, CD single and two 12-inch maxi-singles.
The CD single and the two 12-inch maxi-singles each contained exclusive bonus tracks available nowhere else (at least at the time) and finding these releases revealed some truly wonderful and orphaned McCartney tracks.
Songs like the McCartney/McManus (Elvis Costello) original “Back on My Feet” and the spirited workouts of fifties rock classics like “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”, “Midnight Special” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” were well worth the time and trouble to hunt down and enjoy.
Now as a collector I thought it was fun and a pain at the same time to buy these special single variations as most stores didn’t carry import CDs or vinyl though luckily my local record store was able to order most of them for me.
The rock and roll oldies later became more widely available on the McCartney album “Choba B CCCP – the Russian Album” (1991) while “Once Upon a Long Ago” was released on the CD version of “Press to Play” in 1993 as part of the McCartney Collection though not in the single length as on the UK “All the Best!”.
Still, looking back these single variations sound terrific and are loads of fun to play. I don’t regret buying them one bit and take them out every now and again for a spin on the old turntable or CD player.
Above I have included several photos of all my variations of the “All the Best!” album that I own on CD and vinyl. Note that a rare Canadian CD issue of “All the Best!” has the UK track listing which was later replaced with the USA track selection.
The vinyl issue above is a US version and sounds terrific even though I miss the UK song selection.
Anyway, enjoy this mini “All the Best!” fest and until next time,
One thought on ““All the Best!” Fest – Paul McCartney hits 1987 with multiple formats”
Wonderful post James. I’ve followed you from day one. As an American, Once Upon A Long Ago is one of my favorite lost McCartney songs. I somehow came across the U.K. All The Best at my local music shop in the 80’s. This song caps the Tug Of War, Pipes Of Peace and Give My Regards era perfectly. While I enjoyed Flowers In The Dirt, I missed the elegance of the George Martin production. Keep up the good work. Thanks from a fellow Beatles and Monkees fan.
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