“Red Rose Speedway” Super Deluxe Box Set by Paul McCartney and Wings (A Review)

 

 

 

Well, here it is!

The long awaited, by McCartney fans anyway, re-release of Paul McCartney and Wings 1973 album “Red Rose Speedway”arrives in stores today and is filled to the brim with treasures any McCartney/Wings fan will cherish.

“Red Rose Speedway”, McCartney’s fourth solo album after leaving The Beatles, hit the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts in June of 1973 and also yielded the No. 1 smash “My Love” , a song McCartney plays in concert to this very day.

McCartney’s solo work up until this time had taken a critical drubbing and with “Red Rose Speedway” he began to earn some respect among critics – though not overwhelmingly that’s for sure – and from this point on his solo career skyrocketed into one of the most successful second acts in rock history.

The McCartney Archive reissue of “Red Rose Speedway” which comes out today is being released in four formats: a 2 LP set of the original album plus bonus tracks, a 2 LP set of the reconstructed 1973 2 album version that never came out, a 2 CD set and a 4 CD/Blu-Ray/DVD Super Deluxe set with books and reproductions of assorted mementos.

I received a copy of the Super Deluxe box set last night and today have had a chance to really dig in and listen and watch the contents of this truly excellent set!

So let’s take a closer look at the contents of the set to see what goodies lurk inside:

Remastered CD (CD one)

The first CD is the remastered album as it came out in 1973. “Red Rose Speedway” has always been one of my favorite McCartney records from the first time I heard it in the late 1970’s.

Songs like “Big Barn Bed”, “Get On the Right Thing”, “Little Lamb Dragonfly” and even the eerie and odd Loup (1st Indian On the Moon)” have long been on my personal favorite McCartney playlist and have gotten lots of spins throughout the years.

This new remaster, much like most of the remasters in the McCartney Archive releases, sounds terrific and is highly recommended. Time will tell if it’s the best digital version out there but on first listen it sounds great!

It’s certainly not overly compressed and has a nice punch and clarity but also has lots of dynamics as well. If you’ve never heard his album, this new remaster is a great way to discover this music as it sounds wonderful.

Reconstructed Two Album set (Disc 2):

Originally McCartney was going to release “Red Rose Speedway” as a double album but his record company at the time, EMI, supposedly talked him out of it as his record sales had lagged with his previous release, 1971’s “Wild Life”.

This second CD in the set reconstructs what that double album lineup would have included and is filled with several unreleased McCartney gems. Even though the double album probably wouldn’t have sold as well as the single LP version this reconstructed album is actually quite a nice listen.

There’s certainly more variety of styles and as an album it would have been a bit more interesting so it’s nice to be able to hear it as it might have been released and gives a nice alternate way of hearing this material.

Highlights of this disc:

Night Out – weird pretty much  instrumental. Actually a really nice rocker. Was supposed to be first track on the double album version. Sounds great compared to bootleg versions.

Best Friend – terrific song from a live performance. I’ve had this on boots for years but it sounds so much better here. Wings circa 1972 live are just great!

Tragedy – one of the best McCartney solo outtakes. A great performance and this version with sitar is the best by far. A cover song but such a great track!

1882 – live version. This is great! A bit depressing perhaps but great vocal, nice slow rocker. Possibly too dark a subject for the album but nice song worth and worthy of inclusion for sure

Bonus Audio (Disc 3)

This disc features the tracks that were released as singles  around the time of “Red Rose Speedway’s release as well as more outtakes and rough mixes of songs included on the final album.

This is my favorite of the three discs because I love rough mixes and I really love the outtakes included on this disc.

Highlights of this disc for me:

Get on the Right Thing – love this, love the extended vocal coda

Little Lamb Dragonfly – interesting has a scratch vocal from Paul with incomplete lyrics, highlights the lovely strings near the end

1882 – studio take. A really nice version. The live take may be a bit better but this studio take is really quite good.

Jazz Street – great instrumental track, Should have been on the album. Rocky and a bit weird, love it!

Live and Let Die – Group Only, Take 10 – This is really fun without the orchestra present and is a really nice alternate version of this well-known McCartney classic.

Bruce McMouse film (DVD and Blu-Ray discs):

This almost legendary film was made by Paul McCartney and has been talked about for years in books about his career but mysteriously shelved.

The film lasts approximately 52 minutes and basically consists of a live Wings concert circa 1973 with the added addition of a mouse and his family who live beneath the stage!

McCartney introduces the story at the beginning and throughout the film the mice pop up and even interact with the band onstage.

The animation parts of the film don’t mesh well with the concert footage and the bands interactions are more than cheesy but the concert footage itself is fantastic and is really the only good quality film from this era of Wings live that I’ve ever seen.

Luckily the songs (listed below) in the film are mainly complete and this film is a treasure trove for McCartney fans who want a glimpse of the powerhouse early Wings could be in a live setting.

Big Barn Bed – studio version over concert footage
Eat at Home – live version, beautifully filmed, great sound interrupted by cartoon
Bip Bop – terrific live version!
The Mess – live, another fantastic performance, live soundtrack with visuals from different shows as well as,staged filmed concert
Wild Life – live with animal footage, terrific live version better than the studio track.
Mary Had a Little Lamb – live, lovely version with Mac family farm footage
Blue Moon of Kentucky – live, wow young Wings were sooooo good live
I Am Your Singer – live, great!!! Again better than studio version
Seaside Woman – studio track
My Love – live, another nice live take!
Maybe I’m Amazed – live, blistering live take! What superb vocals!!!
Hi Hi Hi – live
Long Tall Sally – live

The DVD and Blu-Ray of this film are in a separate fold out insert that also contains reproductions of original sketches from the film.

DVD contents:

All video aspects are original and not letter boxed.

James Paul McCartney TV special looks like it comes from the original video master, has slate at the beginning and looks as good as it’s ever going to look, really nice.

“Live Live and Let Die” from Liverpool is grainy black and white and monitor sound but nice.

BBC Newcastle interview is nice, great quality from film.

“Hi Hi Hi” and “C Moon” a bit grainy but good.

First three “Mary Had a Little Lamb” videos good, not perfect but good. Fourth Mary noticeably better quality (from video probably not film) as the others. Has speed issues though and slows down for a few seconds then speeds back up.

“My Love” –  very good better than the Mary videos.

The Books:

Last but not least you get two books with this set.

The first one is a lovely hardback book filled with photos and information about the making of the album as well as reproductions of lyric sheets and photos and other mementos that came from the era.

This book really takes you inside the production of this album and the times in which it was made and also really brings you inside McCartney’s world as the photos and reproduced memorabilia really give you a flavor of what it was like to be there with Wings in 1973.

The books in these McCartney Archive sets have gotten better and better with each release and this one in particular is probably one of if not the best in the series.

The small photo booklet, filled with images from Wings trip to Morocco, while well done and looks great probably won’t be viewed all that much by me anyway. It’s nice to have but nothing earth shattering.

Conclusion:

Encased in a superb over-sized box, the “Red Rose Speedway” Super Deluxe box set is one of the most impressive and attractive of all the sets McCartney has released as part of the Archive collection –  truly a work of beauty!

The main thing that surprised me about this set was the live material from the film and the audio discs. I’ve always been lukewarm about early live performances of Wings but after seeing the Bruce McMouse film I’ve had a change of heart – Paul McCartney and Wings sounded incredible live!

If you are a McCartney fan and have the chance to get this Super Deluxe set I can’t imagine you’d be disappointed in any way. It’s hands down one of the best reissues of the year!

Plus, I almost forgot, you get the remastered album and the bonus tracks as a free download in HD 24/96kHz unlimited high-resolution with this set!!! This is great because you can get the highest quality sound with no added compression – the CDs have added limiting. I haven’t downloaded them yet as the link wasn’t working but hope to soon.

If you can only afford the 2 CD version definitely go for that one as you get most of the music and this terrific group of songs is well worth seeking out and enjoying!

Next up – the “Wild Life” Super Deluxe box set! (coming soon) …

 

 

 

 

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