Paul McCartney – Wild Life – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

More Paul McCartney

Wild Life

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This Apple UK Import LP has TWO outstanding sides! We were not all that familiar with the album going into this shootout, but after spending the day listening to copies like these we found ourselves LOVING IT!

Let’s face it: finding good sounding McCartney records with the exception of the first album is practically impossible. From Ram on it’s slim pickings, even on import. Most of those later albums sound like cassettes; they’re as dead as the proverbial doornail. They bore us to tears.

Wild Life stood up and showed us that there’s more good sound to be found after McCartney’s debut. Band On The Run on the right imports can sound quite good, but I would say without hesitation that the best copies of Wild Life kill it in the sonics department.

If you want the ultimate nexus of music and sound for McCartney, a Hot Stamper of the first album is the way to go. Expect to pay (us anyway) at least $500 for such a record, which is neither here nor there. This album is MUCH BETTER sounding than we ever suspected, and it’s much better music than we were led to believe by the critics. If you aren’t happy with it we will give you your money back.

What the best sides of this McCartney Album from 1971 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 1971
  • 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 Wild Life

  • 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.