Monday, 1 June 2015

The Paul McCartney Alternate Archive Collection

Illustration mock-up.
As we all know, Paul McCartney is in the process of releasing his albums anew, including more stuff from his archives to expand the albums to multiple discs. However, most McCartney fans are concluding that the releases all fall very short of what a fan might call "ultimate". The series started in 2010 with "Band on the Run", and so far, "McCartney", "McCartney II", "Ram", "Wings Over America", "Venus and Mars" and "Wings At The Speed of Sound" have all followed, while the next two releases seem to be "Tug of War" and "Pipes of Peace". The slow release schedule is a bit annoying to the fans. Interestingly, we published a schedule-in-the-works a long time ago, and so far the schedule has been followed, except that "Wings Over America" was published a little earlier than originally planned for - and the pace is a lot slower than anticipated. If "Tug of War" and "Pipes of Peace" really are up next, as indicated by the inlay cards from the previous release, a new schedule plan seems to have been made.

The releases are available in a number of formats, the most collectible ones being the deluxe editions, which are accompanied by hardcover books, various amounts of paper memorabilia and a DVD. It seems to us that much more emphasis is given to the hardbound books and paper items, whereas the extra discs seem to be treated with less care and often have short playing times.

Macca Needs to Open the Vault More for His Reissue Series, said Beatlefan's Something New blog in April. And we agree. McCartney has used the extra space provided by the CD format and by extra discs to release B-side material, as well as rehearsal versions, demos and live recordings associated with each original album. What he hasn't so far touched very much on, have been various different mixes of songs (including the quad mixes of "Venus and Mars" and "Band on the Run") which could originally be found on various original releases. An extended edit of "Letting Go" and a new version of "Rock Show" were not part of the Deluxe "Venus and Mars", but were released like an afterthought as mp3-files from Paul McCartney's website. A version of "Junior's Farm" was released on another site.

Granted, the extra material released on the discs is very interesting - and new to the fans - but we all feel that the discs could have been both longer, and expanded to even more discs - at least on the deluxe editions of the albums. Of course, the regular 2-disc releases are probably all the general public will bother to get, but the core fans will collect the expensive editions, the ones with a hardbound book. I think that extra discs with even more material is needed to truly fulfill the fans' expectations when it comes to these releases.

This is something enterprising McCartney fans have taken it upon them to accomplish. Recently, we stumbled upon such a "release", freely shared among McCartney fans. The goal here is simple: to "release" the ultimate versions of every single Paul McCartney album that will include as bonus tracks
  • every released song/mix/edit
  • any significant outtakes (with upgraded sound wherever possible)
This is an audio project, and will not include DVDs.

The series commenced with "Flowers in the dirt", here is the back cover for that 4-disc album:

Fan version of "Flowers in the Dirt".
The next "release" was "Venus and Mars", which is bold, given that McCartney's own Archives project released that title last year. The fan made version includes everything from McCartney's own release, the extra downloads he made available online, and an additional two hours of material from the era, including a stereo downmix of the DTS-surround CD.

Fan version of "Venus and Mars"
Much as we like the idea behind these "ultimate editions", we feel that they wouldn't have been necessary, if the McCartney Archive series had delivered their true potential. And McCartney sits on the same material in better quality, whereas the amateurs have to rely of "needle drops" - transferring vinyl records to digital audio files. The exceedingly high price we are paying for the deluxe editions, especially outside the production country of USA, should be able to give us more value for the money. Some people are robbing their pension funds to be able to add them to their collections. Like one collector said, "my greatest fear is that when I die, my wife will be selling my records for the prices I told her I had paid for them".

31 comments:

Tony said...

I love that comment at the end! I totally agree that the pace of these releases is ridiculously slow. Let's be honest - at this rate, many core Mcacartney fans will no longer be around by the time some of these archive releases come out. The content of the bonus discs has been awful - for example Women Kind, and the version of Suicide are embarrassing. Wouldn't we have preferred to have early takes or alternative mixes of Maybe I'm Amazed? The Rolling Stones have released a number of live albums in excellent quality via their archive website. This seems to me to be the way to go. Instead of packaging everything up into deluxe - super-deluxe- king-size-super-mega deluxe versions, put the stuff on the web for the true fans.

DiBoLandsTVAndNewsCenter said...

He should bring all the bonus stuff as a single box out.

The 70 Box ,The 80 Box, the 90 etc..

and the Book and Albums seperate

TR19 said...

Tug of War is undoubtedly next in line. It mentions the remastering in McCartney's Q interview

Debjorgo said...
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brotherelwood said...

Absolutely right, Roger!
But: Releasing all the stuff "legally" would mean a lot of money to spend...

Debjorgo said...

I would certainly rather have Womankind and Suicide than more live versions of any songs. Like the article says, there just needs to be more of them. With more interesting content, they would sell better. I think that might speed up the release dates.

I have everything the Stones put out, but I have no interest in their new live releases. I bought their Rarities album. I enjoyed it a lot.

john avants said...
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Michael Hockinson said...

I've purchased four of the Deluxe editions so far (McCartney, Ram, Band and Venus) because they're all favorites of mine and all worthy of a deluxe release (I can't say the same about McCartney II). The books accompanying these releases are all well-written and generously illustrated, but they're supposed to support the *perceived* concept of being the *definitive* edition, likely the last one Sir Paul will oversee in his lifetime. The bonus audio material on all these releases was a huge letdown. What I want, what befits a Deluxe release, are a few unheard crumbs from McCartney's digital cloud archive - jams, demos, complete sequences of early takes (with breakdowns) and unreleased songs. Live performances should be from the period the album was released, not years later.

There are only a few more of Paul's albums I am looking forward to in this format and one of them is Tug of War. Every CD reissue/remaster to date has seen Macca refraining from adding bonus tracks, even though the B-sides ("Rainclouds" and "I'll Give You A Ring")seemed no-brainers. What should be on a bonus CD or two? Demos, studio rehearsals, Montserrat jams with Carl Perkins and Stevie Wonder and unreleased songs including "All The Love There Is," "Any Younger" "No Values" (remade on Broad Street) and the Tug of War reprise.

I'm not holding my breath that any of this stuff will be on there.

Brian Fried said...

Everyone needs to keep in mind that Paul's vaults are also there to support his family after he's gone. It worked for Yoko and Sean — who have made an industry out of re-releasing projects with one or two unheard "gems" — and it's working for Olivia and Dahni. Heck, the George Harrison outtakes album that came with the HBO DVD is numbered 'volume 1' and only goes until 1973… when we know that Somewhere In England was originally conceived as a double LP much like McCartney II was.

As for the slow release schedule… these sets aren't cheap, they appeal to the devoted fans more than the casual ones, and the industry now PREFERS to load them up at Christmas time because the rest of the release schedule at the time is bleak. 2014 was particularly bad, as up until Taylor Swift, the number one selling album was a Disney soundtrack. Deluxe reissues can't come quick enough for fans, but they need to come slow enough for the fans' wallets to handle them.

PLUS there's that other added bit that Paul's still active at the moment. He's on tour. He's rehearsing new songs for each leg. He's apparently got enough material to start getting his next studio album ready. Oh, and it looks like 2015 may *finally* see Let It Be released on its 45th anniversary, given the Facebook posts from The Beatles — that or the long-awaited live film and accompanying CD.

So I don't see those outtakes coming soon — if anything, I expect a WINGS ANTHOLOGY 1970-1980 to come *after* he's run through the studio albums, and the two missing live albums (1972 & 1979).

In the meantime, you have the official sets and these unofficial sets that fans are adding on to — the latter JUST as incomplete. (If you look at the Flowers, for example, it's missing the European 12" version of "Figure Of Eight" which ends a bit differently from the standard.)

Personally, while I think it's nice to talk about missing pieces on the Archives Collection editions, I really wish Paul would have someone figure out he could whet our appetites after the Beatles live project with a set of live collections from Paul.

Imagine: three triple CDs.
• Volume 1
— Wings Over Europe 1972 & the Newcastle 1973 show used for James Paul McCartney
— Wings Down Under 1975 & Wings Over America 1976 material (most released already)
— Wings' Second Tour 1979, Concerts For Kampuchea & "With A Little Luck" from TV appearance
• Volume 2
— Prince's Trust 1986, Royal Variety 1986, McCartney World Tour 1989-1990
— Unplugged 1991 & New World Tour 1993 (including missing songs!)
— Royal Academy 1995, Montserrat Benefit 1997, Linda Tribute 1997, PETA & Cavern 1999
• Volume 3
— New York Benefit 2001, Driving USA 2002, Back In The US/Europe/USSR 2003
— Glastonbury 2004, Bridge School 2005, US Tour 2005, New York 2009
— Up & Coming/On The Run/Out There new material — all unreleased 2010-2015

Michael Hockinson said...

Brian, Paul's descendants will be thriving from his Beatles royalties and those of the various publishing companies he owns for generations to come. The unreleased material in his vaults is gravy, at best.

Michael Hockinson said...
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Nighthawk said...
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Nighthawk said...

Hmmm. Those alternate versions sure look cool! Just where did you happen to stumble upon these freely-shared nuggets Roger?

Rocco said...

Would like to find these as well.......can anyone help?

Brian Fried said...

http://www.bootlegzone.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=32329&sid=3b7c9a05c324f358b342304ac9690d4d&start=75

is the latest page.

Rocco said...

Thank you so much!

daveidmarx said...

Hey there! Working on the next set right now, but wanted to thank Roger for the shout-out (don't know if I want the extra publicity...). Hey Brian Fried, are you sure about the European 'Flowers' 12" being different? I've never heard anything about this and I've been a serious Macca collector for over 30 years now. I'm not saying you're wrong, but if you have any info on this, I would be extremely grateful because it's something that hasn't been reported anywhere else (not in Chip Madinger's book 'Eight Arms To Hold You' nor any other guide of this sort that I have seen). Are you sure you're not confusing it with the unreleased rough mix that runs over five minutes and is basically an unedited version of the LP mix (which ends cold in the same fashion as the LP version does)? Again, if you have info on this (country of origin, catalog no., matrix no.), I would be extremely grateful! I would definitely add this to the catch all 'Rarities' set that will come out once the series is complete (I already have the longer 'Tropic Island Hum' earmarked for that).

Cheers!

Dave

Rocco said...

I am an average collector and have some of the rarer tracks but I am just astounded by the quality and the completeness of the macca sets. I often tried to do my own Hot Hits Cold Cuts mix tapes, but never had enough material. The 45 mixes from V&M are especially good, taking me back to the day - I must know these mixes better than the album mixes because This is the best...thank you so much. It is making my summer, musically, and so looking forward to the next one with anticipation.

Internotional Times said...

Sorry but although the official deluxes could have added the occasional extra item, these unofficial deluxes show what would happen if it were left to completists to construct 'art'.
I was barely into reading the second disc listing of this 'ultimate' Flowers in the Dirt 4CD when that became apparent. Shoving on tracks from other projects just because they took place in a completist-defined timeframe is why I'm most definitely preferring the decisions reached by MPL and Scott Roger.
You cannot have fans interfering with the making of the art of McCartney or they'll have 'ultimate' editions of Revolver featuring mixes recorded off the monitors.

Internotional Times said...

On the subject of release-schedule, it should be obvious and appreciated by all but the most frothing (the kind that got more than a little uppity about Apple's choice of tracks for 'The US Albums' to a disgraceful extent and bore down on children for not knowing who their God was) that Paul is taking what could be a bunch of reissues let out at once (as per the previous 1993 glut) with a week of heralding in the music papers, and turning them into a sequence of reissues related contextually where possible to current work and attracting a volume of press that possibly exceeds, in some instances, that given to the original releases.

Again, there are fans and there are fanatics and frankly we don't need the latter dictating anything. Macca has it right.

daveidmarx said...
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daveidmarx said...

So are you suggesting that tacking on a completely unrelated demo like "Woman Kind" to Archive Collection edition of 'McCartney' that Paul has it right? Because to me, that right there shown me that Paul really has no idea what constitutes quality outtakes, or even what is relevant to a particular era. Nothing against Paul - he is too busy creating new art to worry about an outtake from over 40 years ago. But for me, the inclusion of something as random (and, let's face it, lousy) as "Woman Kind" was where I really felt that a series such as mine was necessary. Furthermore, it would appear by your posts that you'd be in favor of fewer outtakes rather than more. I cannot agree with this. I find Paul's music to be endlessly fascinating and I would always be in favor of more music, as long as the audio quality is good. I would not be in favor of using "monitor mixes" just for the sake of cramming as much music as possible onto a disc. When I get around to Holly Days, for instance, I will not be using the offline rough mixes as there is little to be gained from using them. As for the tracks I used on Flowers, they all stemmed from sessions that produced songs featured either on the album or as a b-side. Certainly the stuff I used was more of the timeframe of the album sessions than "Woman Kind" (a circa 1974 recording) was to the McCartney LP sessions. I've been a fan for a long time and I have studied this material for a long time as well. These discs I put together are not just slapped together by any means. Track listings are thought out extensively to make sure the "right" material is selected. I should note that these are discs that I create for my own enjoyment. I then share with people because in the past people have shared some pretty cool things with me and this is my way of "paying it forward". I figured if I'm happy with these discs (and I really am!), chances are that someone else will be as well. If they're not you're cup of tea, that's fine. Nobody's forcing anyone to download these sets. This is just for the folks who would like a little more. For the folks, for example, who wished instead of offering rough mixes of Venus And Mars tracks as free downloads, that instead they were included on the regular CDs as there was ample room to fit them all. I'm not trying to dictate ANYTHING with my sets. I'm just offering my idea of how these things could have been.

P.S. Electric Aguments is now available... ;-)

James Percival said...

My view is pretty down the line middle on this issue. I still am a Beatles fan first and foremost and didn't start seriously collecting the solo albums until long after my initial interest in the Beatles. With Paul that began around 1982 with Tug of War and I still had a far from complete collection when I saw him live in early 1990. That show blew me away and I then started collecting in earnest. I now have virtually all his albums on vinyl up to Flowers in the Dirt and pretty much everything on CD. Even the 1990s re-releases threw up surprises with the bonus tracks because I didn't (and still don't) have singles or bootlegs.
My take on the new archive is that the basic double discs are enough for me and I don't intend buying them all (so far I have bought Ram, BontR, V&M, SofS and WoverA). I certainly agree with Brian Fried that money is a consideration. With a young family I am no longer in a position to pay out for the deluxe editions, and the only ones I am interested in adding are Tug of War, Back to the Egg (always a quirky favourite of mine), London Town and Flowers in the Dirt. I can't see remastering adding much to the later digital albums, although my second favourite Macca album is Flaming Pie and if bonus material were available for that I would be interested. I am not disagreeing with the bonus discs being a little disappointing BTW!

Rocco said...

I have kept up with Paul's b-sides, alternative takes and unreleased songs to the extent possible. I would never be able to complete such collections in such high quality and thought. These are definitely better than the official released sets, I just wish I could get them in vinyl!

To the point that Paul knows best with these collections (or his company), my comments are 1) Paul has long been known to dismiss his solo outtakes and unreleased material (he once was quoted he would burn all his unreleased stuff if he knew he was going to die, or something to that effect, 2) He does not know or doesn't want to know there are people out there that want everything, 3) He likes to think about current material and future material not past and last but not least the sets are aimed at getting the most market share possible. Somebody decided that deluxe books and pictures would be more of a draw than unreleased tracks, and/or Paul just won't unlock his archives any more than he has. I think that he approves things, but other than that lets his team do the work and make the decisions.

Anyway, as said before, these complete sets are a godsend...great job.

Brian Fried said...

@daveidmarx:

The info I got the third version from is Weiner's The Beatles: The Ultimate Recording Guide. It notes there are EIGHT different releases for "Figure Of Eight"'s single, and times vary between releases — with three being the core: the 3" CD single, the 5" CD single and the European 5" CD single. For some strange reason, the Euro single goes to 6 minutes. I have all three, and based on what I've heard, it sounds almost as if the Euro version is the whole original take (Paul starts to change it up at the very end before the fade and the band starts playing different notes) while the regular 5" has been edited slightly at the end. Then the 3" was edited from the 5".

[I found Weiner's listing of alternate versions particularly helpful at one point, as I didn't know there are a bunch of shorter mono mixes out there on promos during the early 70s.]

Regarding Eight Arms To Hold You, they report a 12" DJ release of "Party," the unedited Put It There take. Has ANYONE out there confirmed whether this is the short 2 minute clip that's on boots, or is it a fuller recording (because Put It There cuts in)? It's one track that I've been dying to track down.

At this point, my collection of Macca studio cuts of various levels (official, single, bonus, boots, etc.) comes to 900+ cuts — plus live — so if you want some suggestions of cuts for some other releases, please don't hesitate to ask!

daveidmarx said...

London Town and Back To The Egg are now available...

Michael Hockinson said...

The Beatles Examiner reports an unconfirmed listing on Amazon.com of 11 bonus tracks for the Deluxe Edition of Tug of War (release date 2 October):

Stop, You Don't Know Where She Came From (Demo)
Wanderlust (Demo)
Ballroom Dancing (Demo)
Take It Away (Demo)
The Pound Is Sinking (Demo)
Something That Didn't Happen (Demo)
Ebony And Ivory (Demo)
Dress Me Up As a Robber/Robber Riff (Demo)
Ebony And Ivory (Solo Version)
Rainclouds
I'll Give You A Ring

So, we get the three predictable B-sides and seven demos, likely the ones recorded at Park Gate Studio, Sussex in August 1980 and previously booted as "Rude Studio Demos," "Unsurpassed Rudeness," et al. (Sigh.)

The only title that sticks out is "Something That Didn't Happen," a line from "The Pound is Sinking."

juniorsfarm said...

For the completists out there, Remasters Workshop's "Paul McCartney Singles Collection 1970-2005" comes highly recommended. Those Ultimate Archives are great and they also contain the different edits/mixes/etc., but RMW's is excruciatingly thorough and cool to have. Also, want to say THANK YOU for this site! It is probably the most informative of the infinite Beatles blogs out there.

daveidmarx said...

One problem with "Paul McCartney Singles Collection 1970-2005" is the sound quality of some of the tracks is lacking. Compare the needledrops of the Press To Play-era remixes with what's found on the Voo-Doo Records Ultimate Archive of Press To Play. Much sharper sounding, with no noise-reduction or early fades used (as on the 12" version of Tough On A Tightrope). Multiple sources were employed to hunt up the best sounding vinyl available. Also, the Singles Collection stops at 2005 - that's ten years of Macca missing! ANd yes, the Ultimate Archives are "excruciatingly thorough" as well. If not, even moreso. I mean, where else can you find the Video Edit of "Deliverance" from 1993?? As far as which is "cool to have", that's up to the eye of the beholder, no??

SgtPepperman1953 said...

In my opinion if Paul doesn't release all of the good stuff from his archives within the next 5 years, he will never complete what he started with the archive collection because his base clients who have been his fans since 1964 in the U.S., will not be around to either wait or be bothered with his archive collection. I just don't think he has enough "new fans" to buy his old stuff and warrant continued releases from the archives.

KidAJonni said...

So im guessing that "London Town" will be released in 2019, "Back To The Egg" in 2021 and "Red Rose Speedway" in 2023?