Til the Box Set Brought Me Down – “Fleetwood Mac Live” 2LP/3CD/45 Set

Collecting physical media is a funny thing, at least nowadays.

This seems to be the golden era of deluxe box sets (probably the only thing that really attracts $$$ for record companies) and there seems to be an abundance of them lately.

Just in the last few months there was the superb “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band” 6CD/2 Blu-Ray set (reviewed here previously), the lovely Al Stewart “Year of the Cat” 3 CD/DVD set as well as The Who’s “The Who Sell Out” a 5 CD/2 45’s box set.

“Yet another deluxe box set, “Fleetwood Mac – Live”, was released this past April (April 9th to be exact) and again this new box set grabbed my attention and after much back and forth I finally added it to my collection.

“Fleetwood Mac – Live” was originally released way back in 1980 and consisted of live material from the classic (and my favorite) line-up of Fleetwood Mac which includes Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.

I’ve always been a fan of the “Fleetwood Mac – Live” album which features live material mostly from Fleetwood Mac’s 1979/80 tour but also features some live takes from as far back as 1975 and 1977 as well. I’ve owned the original 2 CD set of this album since it came out in the 1990s and have always found it to be a good sounding collection though one I don’t reach for as much as their studio material.

I was reawakened to the superb Fleetwood Mac live recordings from this era that were released as part of the superb “Tusk” super deluxe box set that came out a few years ago so I was anxious to see how this new deluxe set would treat the “Fleetwood Mac – Live” album and what new goodies it may contain – that is until I saw the price and the format.

The new super deluxe edition that came out on April 9 consists of the “Fleetwood Mac – Live” 2 CD set remastered along with a newly remastered 2 Lp vinyl set of the album as well a bonus CD of unreleased live material plus a 45 rpm single containing demos of “Fireflies”/”One More Night”. All for the price of $99.00 – errrrr.

I’m not a fan of the mixed media format but can live with it if the price is decent but $99.00 seemed a bit too steep for me. I had bought all of the previous Fleetwood Mac deluxe sets of the studio albums from the classic line-up but none of them were quite this expensive and devoid of bonus material as this new set. For heaven’s sake I only paid $56.00 the 5 CD super deluxe set of “Tusk” which also contained a DVD as well as a 2 LP set!

So I let this new set linger in the background of my mind to see if the price would go down. As luck would have it, this week the set has finally come down on Amazon so I decided to take the plunge and add it to my collection.

(Note: Truth be told I think that the set didn’t sell that well and it was just announced that the 3 CDs and the 2 Lp’s in the set are being released individually soon thus the new discount.)

I must say that I am fearful of buying these kind of sets from my local record store as sets containing vinyl these days are notorious for having pressing issues.

This new “Fleetwood Mac – Live” set proved my fears well founded as the first set I received contained a horrendous pressing of the bonus 45 (see photo above of the bad 45 and the good 45 below) that was pressed so far off center that it was barely playable.

After just receiving a spanking new set that is completely error free I must say “Fleetwood Mac – Live” is a very well done set that looks and sounds lovely. The new mastering of the “Fleetwood Mac – Live” is a tad bit louder than I would like but overall it sounds pretty good and very detailed. I may still prefer the sound of the original CD but this new remastering sounds decent. 

The new remastered 2 Lp vinyl set though sounds very nice and is very quiet and superbly pressed. I will probably play the 2 Lp set for the main album when I reach to give this set a listen in the future as I enjoyed the sound of the vinyl a bit more than the new CD remastering.

The content of the bonus CD is what makes this new set a joy as it contains a terrific 1982 live take of “Hold Me” as well as great sounding previously unreleased live versions of “Think About Me”, “What Makes You Think You’re the One”, “Brown Eyes” and “Tusk” – all from the “Tusk” album which is probably my favorite Fleetwood Mac studio album.

I also really enjoyed the demos of “Fireflies”/”One More Night” from the 45 but wish they had been included on the CDs but they are fun to have and sound great.

The whole bonus disc is terrific and well worth buying the set if you can find it at a decent price. Or you can also wait for the much cheaper 3 CD version of the set that’s coming out this summer which will contain the bonus CD as well.

The booklet that comes with the set is nice though not very informative but it does include great photos from Fleetwood Mac’s 1979/80 world tour which is nice to flip through as you give the set a listen.

So there you are. If you are a fan of this era of Fleetwood Mac now is the time to grab this set as it is much cheaper than when it first came out and because the vinyl sounds so good it may be the way to go for owning these recordings.

Of course the 3 CD set will be a great bargain so whatever you chose if your a fan of the Mac’s  music you won’t be disappointed.

As usual you can see pictures of this nifty set above and below.

Take care and be well and see you next time!

Fifty Years of Ramming On – Paul & Linda McCartney’s “RAM” Half-Speed Mastered 50th Anniversary Vinyl

It was fifty years ago this month – I know, I know, yet another anniversary.

With all of my most cherished albums hitting the fifty year mark this is becoming sort of a mantra around here BUT this anniversary is truly worth it.

Paul and Linda McCartney released the “Ram” album in May of 1971 and even though it was pretty much critically slagged off at the time it has always been one of my all-time favorite McCartney solo albums.

I’ve written previously about my history with the “Ram” album here on this blog but I will do a short recap. 

I had owned the single of “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” as it was bought for me when it came out in 1971. I didn’t manage to get ahold of the entire “Ram” album until 1977 and was introduced to it the summer of that year along with The Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour” Lp.

Because I discovered “Ram” along with “Magical Mystery Tour” I always felt that the McCartney of both albums were pretty much the same – adventurous, surrealistic and melodic as hell.  I had no preconceived notions of what a McCartney album should sound like or how much better McCartney was as a Beatle vs a solo artist. I just took the music head on and loved each of these albums the same.

I can see how the atmosphere of 1971 may have played a part in the negative reviews of the album at the time but for me this album just appealed to me from the first listen.

To this day I still believe that the “Ram” album is one of McCartney’s finest achievements and am so glad that after all this time critics have finally (well mostly) warmed up to the album and can now see it as the wonderful sonic impressionistic painting that I’ve always viewed it as and not as a step down from being a Beatle.

So anyway, the 50th anniversary of this album is being celebrated with a truly superb half-speed mastered edition of the album on vinyl which just hit record stores in the past two weeks or so. I finally got ahold of a copy and after playing it today I have to say that it really one sweet experience.

I have an original pressing as well as an original US Apple vinyl copy, a US Columbia vinyl copy AND a colored vinyl copy of the McCartney Archive version that came out a couple of years ago. This new 50th anniversary edition I must say holds up very well to all of those editions.

This new pressing is dead quiet and has nice bass and lovely clear vocals and a lot of presence. It comes very close to my original UK copy and actually I’d say it’s a better listening experience because my UK copy is full of ticks and clicks so this new pressing edges it out a bit.

The recent McCartney Archive vinyl is very close to this new 50th edition but I can hear a bit more detail on this new vinyl version so I’d give the edge to this pressing over the archive version.

While the US Apple and Columbia pressings are quite good this new one has a bit more magic to it so I would say it really does hold up well to any other pressing of the album on vinyl.

If you have a mint UK original than that probably would be the best version out there but if not than this new limited 50th is well worth seeking out as it sounds very close to that pressing.

I actually prefer this 50th anniversary pressing to the 50th anniversary pressing of the “McCartney” album which came out a few months ago. I loved that as well but this new “Ram” pressing sounds even better and is closer to the original analog 1971 pressing than the “McCartney” album sounded to it’s UK first issue.

So there you have it. Just a few quick thoughts on this 50th anniversary “Ram”.

If you’re so inclined to chase down Paul McCartney vinyl I’d say you’re in for a treat if you decide to hunt this new one down. It’s only available from indie record stores so if you’re interested go out sooner rather then later as vinyl issues seem to dry up quickly these days so no telling how long it will be available.

That’s all for now. As usual you can see photos of this new pressing above.

As the man says “Ram On” and and listen to some music!

Until we meet again be safe and well and see you next time.