Paul McCartney and Wings' "Red Rose Speedway" has been reissued in a deluxe edition.
Paul McCartney and Wings' "Red Rose Speedway" has been reissued in a deluxe edition.

Paul McCartney and Wings: Wild Life deluxe edition (1972, MPL/Capitol/UMe, 3 CDs, 2:02:19, + DVD, 34 min). For his third album post-Beatles, McCartney chose to introduce a new band, with his wife Linda on keyboards and backing vocals, Denny Seiwell on drums and Denny Laine, formerly of the Moody Blues when they were an R&B band, on guitar. Laine, jazz schooled, was noted for his session work. After about a month together, the new band recorded this, their first album, in slightly more than a week. Much like McCartney's previous album, "Ram," this is mostly a casual affair. The album has been remastered by Alex Warton and Steve Orchard at Abbey Road Studios.

While the album is probably the weakest Wings effort, like most of McCartney's songs, their melodies get stuck in one's head on repeated listening and you anticipate special musical moments, even though the lyrics often hardly make an impact. In fact, the first two tracks are mostly musical grooves with almost nonsensical lyrics. "Mumbo" is more a fun jam, featuring some strong guitar and Linda's backing "oohs." "Bip Bop" is very similar in construction, but very hypnotic. Next up is the album's best song, "Love Is Strange," which has a long Caribbean-flavored instrumental opening. The song is a cover, previously recorded by Mickey & Sylvia and Peaches & Herb. McCartney gives it a very nice Stax-like arrangement. Overall, the album is unpretentious, but oh so lightweight, especially "I Am Your Singer."

At this time, one of the joys of being a Beatles fan was listening to McCartney and John Lennon answer each other back in song. On "Ram," McCartney wrote "Too Many People," which Lennon perceived as a criticism of himself (in fact, it was an answer to Lennon's "the dream is over" and "I don't believe in Beatles" in the song "God"), so he wrote "How Do You Sleep at Night?" in answer on his "Imagine" album. Three McCarthy possible answers to that can be seen on this album, with the title track making pointed reference to "a lot of political nonsense in the air," which could be taken as a reference to Lennon and Yoko Ono's "Power to the People" and other political songs. Then, in "Some People Never Know," there is the line: ""Some people can sleep at night time/Believing that love is a lie." Plus, the closing "Dear Friend" can be seen as an attempt toward reconciliation.

The second CD contains rough mixes of the eight album songs, including "Love Is Strange" as an instrumental. Overall, it provides some nice listening. Disc three contains 17 bonus tracks, including, ironically, the very political single, "Give Ireland Back to the Irish," Wings' first single, which UK broadcast authorities banned. It nonetheless reached number 16 on the UK charts and 21 in the United States. It naturally reached number one in Ireland, but in Spain as well.

Half of the disc three recordings were made by the McCartneys at home, which was their 200-acre farm in Scotland. The first five, which were played in one outdoor session (10:45), also were captured on video and can be seen on this set's DVD. The couple's two children can be heard, and then seen, during the recordings, which include Roy Brown's "Good Rockin' Tonight" and the McCartneys' non-album "Hey Diddle" and "She Got It Good." There are two early attempts at "Dear Friend," plus the non-album "Indeed I Do" and "When the Wind Is Blowing" (Kanye West used the melody as an instrumental hook on his 2015 song, "All Day"), the instrumental "The Great Cock and Seagull Race," and, with a written apology thrown in, "African Yeah Yeah."

Completing the DVD are a color rehearsal version of "Give Ireland Back to the Irish" (3:41); ICA rehearsals, in black and white, of "The Mess," "My Love" (both destined for the next Wings album; see below) and "Give Ireland Back to the Irish"; and celebrity guests arriving at "The Ball" event, among them Keith Moon, Ronnie Wood and Elton John (4:01).

A very special edition to the box is the 128-page , cloth-covered hardcover book, with dozen of wonderful photos by Linda McCartney, plus a history of the band and the recordings sessions by David Fricke and new interviews with McCartney and key album personnel, as well as the album's lyrics. Additionally, there are a 48-page scrapbook of tour diaries and set lists, unpublished Polaroids, notes and memorabilia from the MPL archives. A download redemption card provides access to all audio in HD

24/96kHz unlimited high-resolution versions. Available separately is a 2-CD edition
. Grade: album B; box set A

Paul McCartney and Wings: Red Rose Speedway deluxe edition (1973, MPL/Capitol/UMe, 3 CDs, 3:11:23, + 2 DVDs, 2:19:11, + Blu-ray, 52:50). For Wings' second, more polished album, the band had an additional member, guitarist Henry McCullough, formerly of Spooky Tooth and The Grease Band. In general, the album is a collection of love songs, highlighted by the string-filled "My Love," which topped the US charts and reached number 9 in the UK. Initially, McCartney considered releasing "Red Rose Speedway" as a double album, which this special edition offers on the second CD.

The single-disc, released version opens with the rocker "Big Barn Bed" and has the uplifting "Get on the Right Thing," with its near gospel chorus. The breezy "One More Kiss" hearkens back to the music hall days, while "Single Pigeon" has interesting arrangement bits. The instrumental "Loup (1st Indian on the Moon)" features a lot of electronics and is considerably more adventuresome than the rest of the album. "When the Night" is a solid song with some nice guitar and a good McCartney vocal on the coda (very Beatles like). The album ends with the four-part, 11-minute "Medley," featuring a nice arrangement of the voices on "Power Cut."

The double-disc version of the album, presented on the second CD, makes for a much stronger album. Like the original album, it too has been remastered by Alex Warton and Steve Orchard at Abbey Road Studios. It opens with the stomping "Night Out." "Get On the Right Thing" follows, both it and "Little Lamb Dragonfly" originally were recorded for the "Ram" album. "Country Dreaming," about the bucolic life in Scotland, eventually became the B side of the "Helen Wheels" single. There is a bit of reggae to "Seaside Woman," written by Linda McCartney and later released by her as a single under the moniker of Suzy and the Red Stripes in 1977. It is a nice addition here.

Other additions that surfaced later include "I Lie Around," which became the B side of "Live and Let Die"; the live rocker "The Mess," eventually the B side of "My Love"; "Mama's Little Girl," the B side of "Put It There" in 1989; and Denny Laine's "I Would Only Smile," on his 1980 solo album. There also is an Elvis Presley-styled rockabilly in "Best Friend" and a cover of "Tragedy," originally recorded by The Fleetwoods.

The third disc contains 17 bonus audio tracks, including the single "Mary Had a Little Lamb" (also included in a rough mix with two codas) and its jaunty B side, "Little Woman Love"; the exuberant single "Hi, Hi, Hi" (another song banned from the UK airwaves due to perceived drug references) and its B side, "C Moon"; and the "Live and Let Die" single, with Ray Cooper's percussion, that was featured as the title track of the then-new James Bond film. "Hi, Hi, Hi" reach number 5 in the UK and 10 in the US, while "Live and Let Die" made 9 in the UK and 2 in the US. There also is an early version of "Live and Let Die," without George Martin's orchestration. (By the way, much as I love the dramatic shifts in "Live and Let Die," I also have been bothered by the second, unnecessary "in" within the line, "But if this ever changin' world /In which we live in.") The song was nominated for an Academy Award, and won one of the three Grammy Awards it was nominated for.

This third disc also includes five rough mixes, the lively "Jazz Street" instrumental and three tries at "1882," with the final one the best. "1882" is a story song -- about a slave? -- that just grows on the listener with each repetition. After the release of the "Live and Let Die" single, Henry McCullough and Denny Seiwell left the group. Within months, the McCartneys and Laine released Wings' most successful -- in sales and with critics -- album in "Band on the Run," a more rocking effort that yielded Top Ten hits in "Jet" and the title track.

The first DVD includes the 1973 TV special, "James Paul McCartney" (50:15), which opens backstage and, when the curtains open, they play to a wall of TVs with the audience on the screens. Each band members is introduced by text with their name, favorites and other details, with Linda not cooperating very well. For the next number, McCartney plays "Blackbird," while Linda, who was a very successful professional photographer as Linda Eastman, snaps photos of him. There appears to be "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "C Moon," recorded at home in Scotland, then domestic and work scenes for "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey." "My Love" is performed with a string section, while a dance segment recalls the Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour" TV special. There is a bit boring visit to a Liverpool pub, where McCartney's family and friends hang out, but a better bit has people on the street asked to sing Beatles lyrics. There also are live versions of "The Mess," "Baby, I'm Amazed" and "Long Tall Sally," before an intimate closer of "Yesterday" backstage.

Also on the first DVD are "Live and Let Die," performed live in Liverpool and a brief McCartney interview at Newcastle (8:41); and seven music videos, including four versions of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" (27:26).

Both the second DVD and the Blu-ray contain "The Bruce McMouse Show" (52:50), a special I previously was unfamiliar with. Reportedly a never-before-seen film, it has Wings performing a live concert with cutaways to animated mice living beneath the stage. One of the mice, Bruce, comes on stage and interacts with the band, usually while standing on Paul's hand. The 13-song show is a good concert, and includes a harmonica-filled cover of Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky." The animation is cute. The two discs come in a folio with McCartney's original mouse character sketches, as well as dialogue sheets for the film.

The set comes with a 128-page book with many previously unpublished images by Linda McCartney, expanded album and single artwork from the archives and the story behind the album, including new interviews with Paul McCartney and key album personnel. There also is track-by-track information, written by Amanda Petrusich, five replica handwritten lyric sheets and a photo print. Additionally, there is  a 64-page "Wings In Morocco" photo book, all housed in a numbered outer slipcase. A redemption card provides access to all audio in HD 24/96kHz unlimited high-resolution versions. There also is a 2-CD special edition. Grade: album B+; box set A

Paul McCartney and Wings: 1971-73 super deluxe edition (MPL/Capitol/UMe, 8 CDs, 3 DVDs + 1 Blu-ray). This super deluxe versions includes both the "Wild Life" and "Red Rose Speedway" box sets in their entirety, as well as a bonus CD, "Wings Over Europe" (1:16:43), which is 20 selections from the band's July and August 1972 of Europe. a tour that lasted 26 shows. Previously unreleased, the music is from five of those shows. Among the solid performances are "Smile Away," "Mumbo," "Best Friend" and "1882,) which continues to sound better each time I hear it. They also perform the hits "My Love," "Hi, Hi, Hi" (with the silly rhyme, "like a rabbit, I'm gonna grab it"), "Baby, I'm Amazed" and "Give Ireland Back to the Irish." Paul is a bit more playful during "Mary Had a Little Lamb." The covers are Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky" and Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally." The live disc is exclusive to this collected edition.

The live album comes with a 96-page photo book that includes an introduction in which Paul recounts memories of the 1972 tour, and previously unreleased images by Linda McCartney and Captain Snap. There also is a replica of the 1972 Wings Over Europe tour program, and access to downloadable 24/96kHz unlimited high-resolution audio versions. Grade: album A-; extras A

The Beatles: The Beatles (aka The White Album) super deluxe (1968, Capitol/UMe, 6 CDs, 5:27:27, + Blu-ray). Following the groundbreaking "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and heading toward their breakup and the end of the Beatles, the group put out this remarkable two-disc effort (original album 1:33:47) that carried a full spectrum of sounds. It was the fall of my junior year at college and I was knocked out by the brilliance of the effort. The album has been remixed by Giles Martin, son of original producer John Martin.

The album opens with the airplane sounds and straight-ahead rock of "Back in the U.S.S.R.," followed by the ballad "Dear Prudence." "Glass Onion" is a bit psychedelic, and "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" is just fun. The whimsy of "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" is followed be the majestic emotion of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," one of George Harrison's finest compositions. John Lennon tells us "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" (oh, that Mother Superior), while there is an ode to "Martha My Dear." Lennon may be "I'm So Tired," but the band has enough energy for "Why Don't We Do It in the Road" and "Helter Skelter." There are two "Revolutions," one a call to action, the other an aural experiment. And along the way we meet "Rocky Raccoon," "Julia" and "Sexy Sadie." Ringo Starr pleas "Don't Pass Me By," while "Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey." And George does the "Savoy Truffle."

A highlight of this new set is the second CD, containing the 27 Esher demos (1:15:20), taped on Harrison's four-track machine, solo acoustic demos  of songs to come, some already with the touches we came to love, others, like "Glass Onion," just one verse repeated. In fact, Lennon ends "Glass Onion" with a bit of "Chicago (That Toddlin' Town)." On "Back in the U.S.S.R." they play around with the backing vocals. Musically, "Everybody's Got Something To Hide" and "Sexy Sadie" are quite different.

Some songs had to wait to see the light of day: Harrison's "Sour Milk Sea" was later recorded by Jackie Lomax; "Child of Nature" became "Jealous Guy" on Lennon's "Imagine" album in 1971; Harrison's "Circles" needed to wait until his 1982 solo album, "Gone Troppo," and his "Not Guilty," which had at least 102 takes, only surfaced on his 1979 eponymous album;  and early versions of "Mean Mister Mustard" and "Polythene Pam" would develop further on the group's "Abbey Road" album. The disc also has Lennon's "What's the New Mary Jane," which ends in weirdness and wacky vocals.

The other three CDs (52:01, 50:47, 55:32) are early takes of the double album's songs, so we can hear the songs' development. There is a softer, slower "Revolution," but still with screams at the end, a version of "Don't Pass Me By" with lots of initial orchestration and a slower "Helter Skelter." Disc five has an acoustic version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," a first try at "Hey Jude" (later on "Abbey Road") and a studio jam of "St. Louis Blues." Paul McCartney sings a word wrong in "Rocky Raccoon," which momentarily breaks him up, and there is a very weird vocal approach to "Let It Be." The jam of "I Don't Care" has an Elvis Presley-styled vocal. Disc six has some more fooling around, like on the "Los Paranoias" jam and a brief "I Will" that turns into "I will not." There are instrumental versions of "Birthday," "Piggies," "Honey Pie," "Savoy Truffle" and the non-LP single "The Inner Light," which features the sitar. In fact, many of the album's songs were influenced by the band's travels to India to take part in an advanced Transcendental Meditation training course at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. There also is a version of "Martha My Dear" without the brass and strings, and a take of "Across the Universe," which would wait until 1970's "Let It Be" album to see the light of day.

The Blu-ray contains the original album in four aural versions: PCM stereo; DTS-HD master audio 5.1; Dolby True HD 5.1; and mono. The set comes with a 164-page hardcover book with photos, historical essay and discussion of the album track-by-track. Grade: album and expanded version A+