Take a Walk on the …”Wild Life” – Paul McCartney and Wings “Wild Life” Super Deluxe Edition (A Review)

 

 

Well I must say this has been quite some week for McCartney fans!

Almost a week ago I received the monster Super Deluxe box set of Wings “Red Rose Speedway” and this week I got the Super Deluxe box set of Wings’ debut album “Wild Life”.

I remember when I first discovered the “Wild Life” album in the late 1970’s I was only lukewarm on its charms. I enjoyed Side 2 but Side 1 always left me cold. Fast forward a few decades and I must say this album has really grown on me!

I like the whole thing warts and all and this new remastered box set joins the rank of the other superb McCartney Archive sets and is a must buy if you’re into McCartney or Wings music.

So, to cut to the quick, below I take a look at all the goodies inside this set:

CD One – Remastered Album:

The remaster sounds really nice, an improvement over the original CD version. Crisper and a bit louder but not overly compressed.

Actually I may prefer the Rough Mix version of the album. The “Mumbo” and “Bip Bop” rough mixes especially are better but this new remaster sounds good.

The Side Two songs benefit most on the remaster but those have always been my favorites on the album anyway. “Tomorrow” sounds great (background vocals float like a cloud) as well as “Dear Friend”. The orchestration on “Dear Friend” sounds just great!

CD Two – Rough Mixes:

This disc consists of a set of rough mixes of pretty much the entire “Wild Life” album – an alternate version if you will.

While none of these versions are dramatically different, I was surprised that I really enjoyed listening to this disc – maybe even more than the remastered album. The album comes off as relaxed and loose and these rough mixes which sound a bit stripped down just sound right to me.

Since this disc is exclusive to the Super Deluxe Edition I thought it would be fun to go through each rough mix on CD.

Mumbo – funny enough the vocal is easier to make out, what you can make out that is! No “Take it Tony” at the beginning.  I like this mix better than the finished mix. Not drastically different but sounds a bit more like a song – “Monkberry Moon Delight” meets “Oh Woman, Oh Why”

Bip Bop – vocals sound different, again easier to understand. A bit more laid back feel with less echo. Nice, again I like it a bit more than the finished mix

Love is Strange (Version) – nice and funky instrumental version. Sounds great without vocals.

Wild Life – I’ve always liked this song. The live version is my favorite but this mix is really nice. Guitars sound a bit more prominent which I like. Gives the mix a more live sound. May prefer this mix.

Some People Never Know – nice mix with weird trumpet in the middle. Not drastically different but fun

I Am Your Singer – again not drastically different but nice to have, Linda sounds a little lower perhaps

Tomorrow – terrific, almost sounds like a different take. May prefer it to the released mix

Dear Friend – haunting song, nice clean mix. Still very effective minus the orchestration. Actually makes it a bit more raw. Second favorite mix on this disc, love the drums. Plastic Ono McCartney!

CD Three (Bonus Audio):

This disc consists mainly of demos and a few outtakes from the Wild Life era. Quite a few of the demos come from McCartney’s Scotland outdoor set that’s on the DVD. I’ve highlighted some of my favorite moments from this disc below:

I Am Your Singer – lovely demo from DVD footage

Dear Friend (Home Recording II) – really nice demo very similar to studio take.

Indeed I Do – simple song reminds me of a 1963 era demo, would have made a good Peter and Gordon song if completed

When the Wind is Blowing – Great track!!! Such a beautiful piece of music. Would have stuck out on Wild Life but should have been released. One of my favorite McCartney outtakes

The Great Cock and Seagull Race (Rough mix) – ahhh the sound of the RAM sessions. Nice mix and instrumental outtake

Give Ireland Back to the Irish – love this song and it sounds great here. Nice to have the instrumental version too, first time on physical CD for instrumental

Love is Strange (single edit) – love this edit. Should have been a single at the time

The DVD:

This DVD has a lot to live up to compared to the excellent video content of the “Red Rose Speedway” set. I’d say this disc is pretty good but a bit short in content. What is here though is mostly good and in very good quality.

  1. Scotland, 1971 – Nice quality film that’s been used many times before though this is more complete. Just Paul and Linda and daughters Heather and Mary playing around while Paul and Linda sing. Nice to have with more songs.
  2. The Ball – kind of meh, seen bits and pieces in Wingspan documentary. Nice quality but just celebrities walking into “The Ball”, the Wings “Wild Life” release party
  3. ICA Rehearsals – Paydirt! This is really nice black and white footage of Wings 1972 tour rehearsal and it’s a lot of fun. Includes “The Mess”, “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” and “My Love”. Would have been nice to have all the songs filmed as there are more but what is here is great! Also starts off in color then switches to black and white so all color would have been nice too but it still looks pretty good.
  4. Give Ireland Back to The Irish (Rehearsal) – really nice color footage of Wings rehearsing this almost forgotten McCartney track. Great to have!

The Books and folio

As with the other recent sets, the hardback book that accompanies this set is a thing of beauty! Great photos, nice information on the making of the album and is quite sturdy and well made.

The main hardback “Wild Life” book isn’t quite as jazzed up with reproduced items as the “Red Rose Speedway” book but it does include great photos of master tapes and logo designs (see above photos) and great alternate cover photo shots.

There’s also a nifty folio that includes lovely reproductions of several polaroid photos and a nice reproduction of “The Ball” invitation card and a diary of activities of the time. Of course they’re well done and worth having but I really love the hardback book and will look at that often.

Oh and as with the other sets they’re also a download card that lets you have access to all of the audio in HD 24/96kHz unlimited high-resolution!

Verdict:

What can I say, this is just a terrific set! A little bit on the pricey side but everything is so well done that I’m  more than pleased.

I would have liked a bit more video content or at least more of the ICA rehearsal footage but the bonus tracks are nice and the rough mix disc is worth the price of the whole set – for me anyway! I really enjoy the alternate take on the “Wild Life” album and will play that disc often when I’m in the mood for these songs.

As usual take a gander at the set above and if you’ve never given this album a try – you must! Don’t let the negative criticism this album has received in the past stop you. It’s a fun, loose and rocking McCartney album from the 1970’s – what could be better!!!

Until next time, be well and put a little “Bip Bop” into your day!