This is a guest article by author John Cherry.

Since Paul McCartney is my favorite musical artist, I sometimes encounter a bit of mixed feelings upon his release of new material. This is due to the fact that I retain such high expectations for his work that I set myself up for a disappointment. When the original version of McCartney II was released in 1980, I felt that disappointment, more so than for any other release by Paul to that point. I played the LP only a minimal number of times, feeling that the record was plagued by a number of what are often called “throwaways.”

As Paul has explained, and does so again in the DVD and book portions of the deluxe package in the remastered version, he was mostly just experimenting on his own when making what became the album. Apparently, those in his circle of associates heard the songs and figured that he was compiling his new release. In the interviews, Paul noted that he was mainly just getting away from the normal procedure of recording with a group. He began the recordings before the actual expiration of Wings, his name for the band that underwent a series of personnel changes over the years from 1973-1980.

I was reluctant to even purchase the deluxe CD/DVD package for McCartney II, but was convinced by a reader’s reaction to my previous review of Paul’s first solo remastered release, McCartney. Let me first say that I am glad that I was persuaded to make the purchase. My first listen to the original release was mostly enjoyable, as the enhanced versions seemed to significantly improve the songs as I listened to them for the first time in some 30 years. While there were a couple of low points, such as Bogey Music and Darkroom, I came away with a new appreciation for the release. With the two bonus CD’s, however, I was again a bit discouraged, mainly by Mr. H Atom/You Know I’ll Get You Baby, Secret Friend and even the new song All You Horse Riders/ Blue Sway.   Blue Sway also has a newly produced video that is enjoyable to watch, but does little to improve the song.  The second bonus CD provides extended versions of some of the album’s weaker songs, such as Darkroom and Check My Machine. Fortunately, both the 128 page book and DVD portion of the package helped to offset the negative feelings from the bonus audio.

Even though Linda McCartney was lost to us over a decade ago, she lives on through her photography, which is showcased in the book. Although I had seen some of the pictures, most were part of a new insight into the making of the album. I will also take this moment to say that all of the books that have accompanied the three released deluxe versions from the McCartney remastered collection have been excellent. While the DVD was somewhat a focus on Coming Up, the most successful song from the album, there was also a probing interview with Paul by Paul Gambaccini. Being somewhat of a collector of McCartney material, I was quite surprised that I had not previously seen the interview. McCartney followers may remember Gambaccini as the author of the 1983 book Paul McCartney: In His Own Words. One part of the DVD that piqued my interest was a rehearsal session of Coming Up from Lower Gate Farm in 1979. I hope there is more of material like this in upcoming McCartney releases.

Since I am the author of two books about Paul, the first being Better Than Lennon-The Music and Talent of Paul McCartney, followed by Paul McCartney’s Solo Music Career 1970-2010 (available at betterthanlennon.com), I hope to be able to provide informed and, hopefully, objective insight into material from the world’s most successful musician. For McCartney II, I would say that if you are a major McCartney fan, but have some reservations about the purchase, that you should buy the deluxe package. For any other types of fans, I might wait and make plans to purchase other upcoming remastered McCartney material, and perhaps revisit the idea of securing McCartney II at a later date.

John Cherry is an author. He is probably best known for his two books analyzing the musical career of ex-Beatles member Paul McCartney. Check out Better Than Lennon and Paul McCartney’s Solo Music Career. 

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