The reissue train keeps chugging along, and so here we are to tell you about PAUL McCARTNEY & WINGS, who have just released their latest reissue, a half-speed mastered edition of Red Rose Speedway. This 1973 album is best known for the big hit “My Love,” and also included a super rockin’ tune called “Big Barn Bed” (forever etched in my mind as “Big Red Barn” because of a bootleg live recording I had with that erroneous title on it). It was the second proper Wings album (after 1972’s Wild Life) and it was – if I may be frank – just about as spotty.
Like most of McCartney’s solo material, Red Rose Speedway has been reissued numerous times so it’s not exactly a tough one to find – especially since it did contain the band’s first number one single which certainly helped the album’s sales. Though this version is notable for its audiophile sound qualities, the songs themselves are a mixed bag. The two I mentioned above are the best, and since they’re the first two cuts, it goes a bit downhill from there. That being said, there are some really good songs here, such as “Get On the Right Thing” and bits of the medley that closes side two. McCartney and Wings were clearly trying to find their way at this point, for it was less than a year later that the core trio of Paul, wife/keyboard player Linda and old friend/guitarist Denny Laine broke out of their sophomore slump with the worldwide smash Band on the Run.
Since I’m not only an unabashed Macca fan but an audiophile fanatic, too, this version of RRS was a must-have… if only for the punchy sound of “Big Barn Bed” and the tone of Henry McCullough’s Les Paul in the sublime solo of “My Love.” You’d also likely notice how much better McCartney’s bass sounds and some mix elements that aren’t as clear in previous versions of the album. But if you’re not as big a fan as many of us are you might not be as anxious to add this to your collection. Still, those working their way through the McCartney solo catalog might want to grab this version while they can; one day you might appreciate the subtle beauty of “Little Lamb Dragonfly” and wish you had it sounding as great as it does here.
By the way, since McCartney has been releasing these half-speed masters on each album’s 50th anniversary, THAT means Band on the Run is next. Take my money now! – Marsh Gooch
3/5 (Capitol 00602448583246, 2023)