Sunday, July 21, 2024

Review: Paul McCartney Makes Old Hits Sound Sparkling and Vibrant on 1974 Studio Recordings


Paul McCartney turns 82 on Tuesday, so he’s sent us a gift.

“One Hand Clapping” is a collection of in-studio recordings Paul did with Wings in 1974. They are songs from “Band on the Run,” as well as a few Beatles tunes and oldies, plus some never heard tracks.

Listen, these were probably on bootlegs for 50 years, but most fans, including me, never heard them. Now they’re all cleaned up and remastered. The result is we owe Paul and his staff a thank you note.

What a lovely surprise. Live recording is always preferable to heavily produced, and “One Hand Clapping” proves the point. Paul, wife Linda, Denny Laine, and Jimmy McCulloch sound fresher and more vibrant than ever. The songs could be brand new, that’s how invested with life they are after five decades of listening to the conventional recordings.

“One Hand Clapping” is meant for a stereo, not headphones. The new production puts right in the middle of that studio. The sound is surrounding in the least technical way. Minor songs like “Soilly” and “C Moon” — which were dismissed as B sides when they were released — are more enjoyable than ever.

The main thing about “One Hand Clapping” is that McCartney comes off relaxed and invested. His singing is supple and fun. His rhythm section is tight, and his piano playing on “Long and Winding Road” and “Lady Madonna” is sort of brilliantly off the cuff and simultaneously masterful.

All of this was before Wings went out on the 1976 Wings Over America tour, which was in stadiums and, of course, bombastic compared to this. So consider this at the home preview. There are a few new songs that got away like “Let’s Love” and “All of You” that could and should have been properly released a long time ago. (This is like “Flaming Pie” cast offs “Same Love” and “Love Come Tumbling Down.”) Also, a 1982 B side called “I’ll Give You a Ring” gets a whole new resonant life.

I think from now on I will use these new, sparkling versions only of “Band on the Run,” “Hi Hi Hi,” “Junior’s Farm” — all records we know so well — as my standards. Wow. And sluggist ones that we also know — “Let Me Roll It” and “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five” — are equally revived.

Happy birthday Paul! Thanks for the gift!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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