***Paul McCartney The 7 Inch Singles Box***
Today is a first for me.
Readers of this blog know that I am an old-fashioned relic who still loves physical media. The name of this blog says it all – Living in the Physical World.
In spite of that however, today I am endorsing a digital product. Digital you say? Ahhhh! Let me explain.
This past Friday, December 2nd, Paul McCartney released a tremendous box set of 45’s called “Paul McCartney The 7 Inch Singles Box”. It contains eighty 45’s from McCartney’s long solo career and was curated by McCartney himself.
Believe it or not Paul McCartney has released more than eighty singles since he left The Beatles in 1970, that’s a crazy number I know, so while this is an enormous box it would have been even bigger if it included all his single releases from 1970 to now!
Now as one may guess the option to buy the physical media version of this box was tempting for me – for about two minutes. As fate would have it the cost was just too severe for me ($611.00 plus shipping) and being released in December truly sealed the deal.
That’s not to say that this box set isn’t a thing of beauty (see photos above). I’ve seen several unboxing photos and videos of the set and I must say it was put together very well and I’m sure all who bought it will love and cherish it.
Besides the actual cost of the physical set I can honestly say that I would only play the records once and that would be to record them to digital. I mean the thought of flipping over eighty 45’s very often also made me realize that this particular set wasn’t for me even though it looks great. It would end up just being a decoration and that’s not what I would enjoy.
And that’s too bad as this collection includes dozens of newly remastered songs that have not been part of McCartney’s Archive Collection which of course was the main reason I was even tempted to buy the box in the first place.
As luck would have it here is a digital download of this set available to buy as well. As per my usual I swore that I would never buy a download set especially one that clocks in over ten hours as this one does. It’s just such a pain to download and then you have to make either CDs or use a USB drive and that didn’t really appeal to me.
That is until I streamed some of the content online. You can stream the entire set for free – free is you subscribe to any of the online platforms like Spotify or Pandora or Amazon. I am an Amazon member but I don’t pay for the extra unlimited thus I can stream parts of the set but not in order and not in its entirety.
I think you can listen on YouTube as well but after hearing some of the lovely newly remastered McCartney songs from two of my favorite Wings albums – “London Town” and “Back to the Egg” – I decided to bite the bullet and try and download a CD quality version of the set.
I know, I know I could probably buy an almost entire year of streaming on one service for the cost of the download of the “Paul McCartney The 7 Inch Singles Box” but if I am going to listen to this mammoth set I’d rather have it so I can play it on my stereo or car without continually subscribing to a streaming service.
So … I’m here to report that over the weekend I did indeed download the entire set in CD quality from Qobuz, a respected HiRes audio download site.
I must admit that the entire process was much easier than I expected. It only took about a half hour to download the 159 songs and even though they were downloaded in the FLAC file format it was easy enough to convert them to either WAV or Mp3 format and then put them on a USB stick and my Ipod.
(Note: It was easy but it was also a bit time consuming – one of the downfalls of downloading)
I have a TEAC CD player that will play my USB or my Ipod so I have listened to a few hours of this set on both my stereo as well as my car which also uses both my USB stick and Ipod (again, see photos above).
After having spent some time with this set, I haven’t had time to listen to all ten hours of it, I must say I’m pretty impressed with the sound as the mastering is overall very, very good. There are a couple of songs that I thought were just okay but mostly the newly remastered songs sound great.
There are also some mixing oddities on some of the songs that others have pointed out – a different sax part on the song “Only Love Remains” (a single remix from the “Press to Play” album from 1986), a slightly different edit on the live version of “Coming Up (Live at Glasgow)” from 1980 as well as having the “Tug of War” tracks remastered here from their original mixes as opposed to the so-so remixes from the recent McCartney Archive release of the “Tug of War” album.
Highlights of the set so far for me include all the songs included from the “London Town” and “Back to the Egg” albums such as “London Town”, “I’ve Had Enough”. “Deliver Your Children”, “Girls School” (the b-side of “Mull of Kintyre”), “Old Siam, Sir”, “Getting Closer”, “Spin it On” that have yet to be issued as part of the McCartney Archive collection.
Also songs like “Tough on a Tightrope” (b-side of “Only Love Remains”) and the single remixes of “Pretty Little Head” and “Only Love Remains” all from the “Press to Play” album and the truly wonderful b-sides like “Rainclouds” (recorded the week John Lennon was shot and b-side to McCartney’s 1982 monster hit “Ebony sand Ivory”) and “It’s Not True” (b-side of the 1986 “Press” single) which is one of my all-time favorite McCartney songs.
Not to mention all the “Off the Ground” era songs and the lovely new remasters of the 1990s live tracks like “The Long and Winding Road”, “C Moon”, “Birthday” and “Good Day Sunshine” to name just a few of the gems on this set.
McCartney and his team focused on singles released around the world, and in one case a single that never actually came out (“Love is Strange” b/w “I Am Your Singer” – a single that never was from Wings “Wild Life” album from 1971), so that you get a broader spectrum of songs from throughout McCartney’s solo career than just the singles released in the UK and the States.
So there you have it. I’ve joined the digital age as much as I’d like to and I have to admit it wasn’t really a bad experience. Honestly I’d rather have a ten CD box set of this material with a nice booklet but everything sounds so good and you get a lot of rarely heard McCartney tracks from these singles that it really is a nice set to spend some time with and enjoy.
I didn’t think I would enjoy this set as much as I have over the last three days or so and now that I’ve gotten it downloaded and listenable I’m very happy.
I realize the day may soon come when this kind of thing is the only option for archive music so when that day comes at least I’m ready lol. I do wish though that they had included a PDF of the booklet from the physical set but as far as the music goes this set is a real winner!
As usual I have included some photos but this time it’s just a photo or two of the physical set which I don’t own and photos of the adventures with my USB stick in my CD player and my car. It’s nice that on my TEAC CD player I can program the tracks on my USB and on my car I can shuffle the tracks so either way it’s very similar to playing a CD and with CD sound quality to boot.
And for all you folks out there who aren’t crazy enough to buy this huge set either physically or digitally go to your favorite streaming site and give some of these tracks a listen – they’re so worth it!
Now that I’ve actually joined the 21st Century I’d love to see some really groovy McCartney Archive set come out on CD!!!
Until next time be healthy and well and see you soon!