Paul McCartney – McCartney II

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McCartney II

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  • An outstanding UK pressing with Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Forget the dubby domestic pressings – these UK imports are the only ones that can deliver the McCartney II Magic
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl for the most part – Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus on both sides
  • “Entitled McCartney II because its one-man band approach mirrors that of his first solo album, Paul McCartney’s first record since the breakup of Wings was greeted upon its release as a return to form… McCartney II finds Paul in an adventurous state of mind, which is a relief after years of formulaic pop.”
  • This MPL import pressing has incredible Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last
  • Clean, clear, and dynamic with lots of Tubey Magic and a huge bottom end — this copy was doing it all right! 
  • “… it’s certainly stronger than Speed and, in its own way, as satisfying as Venus and Mars… It’s a laid-back, almost effortless collection of professional pop and, as such, it’s one of his strongest albums.” – All Music

*NOTE: There is a small mark near the start of track five that plays lightly eight times.

If you’ve heard the album, you know it’s not exactly a straight-ahead pop record. Paul is in his one-man-band mode here, just as he was for his brilliant solo debut, but this time around he relies more on synth-heavy arrangements and plenty of studio experimentation. Assuming you have the right pressing, UK only in our experience, it can be a very good sounding record.

What outstanding sides such as these 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 1980
  • 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 studio space

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 We’re Listening For on McCartney II

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Shootout Criteria (What To Listen For)

What are sonic qualities by which a Pop or Rock record — any Pop or Rock record — should be judged? Pretty much the ones we discuss in most of our Hot Stamper listings: energy, vocal presence, frequency extension (on both ends), transparency, spaciousness, harmonic textures (freedom from smear is key), rhythmic drive, tonal correctness, fullness, richness, three-dimensionality, and on and on down the list.

When we can get many of the qualities above to come together on the side we’re playing we provisionally award it a Hot Stamper grade, which may or may not be revised over the course of the shootout as we hear what the various other copies sound like. Once we’ve been through all our side ones, we then play the best of the best against each other and arrive at a winner. Other copies have their grades raised or lowered depending on how they sounded relative to the shootout winner. Repeat the process for the other side and the shootout is officially over. All that’s left is to see how the sides of each pressing match up.

That’s why the most common grade for a White Hot stamper pressing is Triple Plus (A+++) on one side and Double Plus (A++) on the other. Finding the two best sounding sides from a shootout on the same LP certainly does happen, but is sure doesn’t happen as often as we would like (!) — there are just too many variables in the mastering and pressing processes to insure consistent quality.

It may not be rocket science, but it’s a science of a kind, one with strict protocols that we’ve developed over the course of many years to insure that the results we arrive at are as accurate as we can make them.

The result of all our work speaks for itself, on this very record in fact. We guarantee you have never heard this music sound better than it does on our Hot Stamper pressing — or your money back.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Coming Up 
Temporary Secretary 
On The Way 
Waterfalls 
Nobody Knows

Side Two

Front Parlour 
Summer’s Day Song 
Frozen Jap 
Bogey Music 
Darkroom 
One Of These Days

AMG Review

Entitled McCartney II because its one-man band approach mirrors that of his first solo album, Paul McCartney’s first record since the breakup of Wings was greeted upon its release as a return to form, especially since its synth-heavy arrangements seemed to represent his acceptance of new wave. Occasionally, as in the effortless hooks of “Coming Up,” the record is quite enjoyable. McCartney II finds Paul in an adventurous state of mind, which is a relief after years of formulaic pop.