Paul McCartney & Wings – Band on the Run

More Paul McCartney

Band on the Run

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  • An outstanding British pressing with Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides – fairly quiet vinyl too (for this title anyway) 
  • Both sides of this early UK pressing sound right to us, and that makes it a very special copy indeed
  • The legendary Geoff Emerick engineered the album, a Top 100 title here at Better Records – it’s an impressive recording when it sounds as good as this copy does
  • The title track, Jet, Bluebird, Mrs. Vandebilt, Let Me Roll It, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five – so many great songs!
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…sophisticated, nuanced arrangements and irrepressibly catchy melodic hooks… McCartney’s infallible instinct for popcraft overflows on this excellent release.”

This is a TOUGH album to find with great sound and quiet vinyl, but when you a killer copy like this the record is a MONSTER. The track list includes some of the best McCartney songs of the seventies: the title song, Jet, Bluebird, Mrs. Vandebilt, Let Me Roll It, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five (my personal favorite on the album) — there’s really not a dog in the bunch. This is clearly the last consistently good studio album the man recorded.

So many copies we play are either murky or a bit edgy, and it takes a very special copy to strike the ideal tonal balance that will allow all the songs to sound their best.

This vintage pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of Band On The Run have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1973
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

A song like Jet can be positively painful on some of the LPs we run across. On the better pressings, it actually sounds good, with deep bass that’s simply not to be found on most copies.

Following Jet is probably the best sounding track on side one, Bluebird. It’s amazingly sweet and transparent on the best Hot Stamper LPs.

The Gold CD that Steve Hoffman mastered for DCC is excellent by the way. None of the heavy vinyl pressings are especially good, although they’re better than the typical domestic pressing you might find.

No domestic pressing could touch our better British imports I’m sorry to say, and I’m sorry to say it because finding the right British pressings in audiophile playing condition is an expensive proposition. (Notice we did not say original pressings, because some of the early reissues can be quite good.)

We pay much too much to get a fairly high percentage of noisy, heavily-played and just plain worn out old records shipped to us from overseas. (People seemed to like the record and played it a lot, and who can blame them?) But when the sound and the music are this good, it’s definitely worth it.

The Seventies – What a Decade!

Acoustic guitar reproduction is superb on the better copies of this recording. The harmonic coherency, the richness, the body and the phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum.

This is some of the best High-Production-Value rock music of the ’60s and ’70s. The amount of effort that went into the recording of this album is comparable to that expended by the engineers and producers of bands like Supertramp, The Who, Jethro Tull, Ambrosia, Pink Floyd, and far too many others to list. It seems that no effort or cost was spared in making the home listening experience as compelling as the recording technology of the day permitted.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Band on the Run 
Jet 
Bluebird 
Mrs. Vandebilt 
Let Me Roll It

Side Two

Mamunia 
No Words 
Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me) 
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

Band on the Run is generally considered to be Paul McCartney’s strongest solo effort. The album was also his most commercially successful, selling well and spawning two hit singles, the multi-part pop suite of the title track and the roaring rocker “Jet.”

On these cuts and elsewhere, McCartney’s penchant for sophisticated, nuanced arrangements and irrepressibly catchy melodic hooks is up to the caliber he displayed in the Beatles, far surpassing the first two Wings releases, Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway.

The focus found in Band on the Run may have to do with the circumstances of its creation: two former members quit the band prior to recording, leaving McCartney, wife Linda, and guitarist Denny Laine to complete the album alone (with Paul writing, producing, and playing most of the instruments himself). The album has the majestic, orchestral sweep of McCartney’s Abbey Road-era ambition, with a wide range of style-dabbling, from the swaying, acoustic jazz-pop of “Bluebird” and the appealing, straightforward rock of “Helen Wheels” to the wiry blues of “Let Me Roll It” and the swaying, one-off pub sing-along “Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me).”

…McCartney’s infallible instinct for popcraft overflows on this excellent release.

Learning the Record

For our recent shootout we had at our disposal a variety of pressings we thought would have the potential for Hot Stamper sound. We cleaned them carefully, then unplugged everything in the house we could, warmed up the system, Talisman’d it, found the right VTA for our Triplanar arm (by ear of course) and proceeded to spend the next hour or so playing copy after copy on side one, after which we repeated the process for side two.

If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that other pressings do not do as well, using a few specific passages of music, it will quickly become obvious how well any given copy reproduces those passages.

The process is simple enough. First you go deep into the sound. There you find a critically important passage in the music, one which most copies struggle — or fail — to reproduce as well as the best. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.

It may be a lot of work but it sure ain’t rocket science, and we never pretended it was. Just the opposite: from day one we’ve explained how to go about finding the Hot Stampers in your own collection. (The problem is that unless your a crazy person who bought multiple copies of the same album there is no way to know if any given copy is truly Hot Stamper. Hot Stampers are not merely good sounding records. They are copies that win shootouts. This is a fact that cannot be emphasized too strongly.

As your stereo and room improve, as you take advantage of new cleaning technologies, as you find new and interesting pressings to evaluate, you may even be inclined to start the shootout process all over again, to find the hidden gem, the killer copy that blows away what you thought was the best.

You can’t find it by looking at it. You have to clean it and play it, and always against other pressings of the same album. There is no other way.

For the more popular records on the site such as the Beatles titles we have easily done more than twenty, maybe even as many as thirty to forty shootouts.

And very likely learned something new from every one.