Acoustic Sounds

Paul McCartney & Wings

Band On The Run



Label: MPL

Produced By: Paul McCartney

Engineered By: Geoff Emerick

Mixed By: Geoff Emerick, Peter Swettenham

Mastered By: Sam OKell, Steve Rooke

Lacquers Cut By: Miles Showell

By: JoE Silva

March 10th, 2024


Rock Pop Rock



Down In The Jungle: McCartney's High Watermark Resurrected At Half-Speed

Two LP Reissue Of Ex-Beatle Triumph Released For 50th Anniversary

If the above title scans, then you’re probably already familiar with the well-worn tale of ex-Beatle gone rogue to the far reaches of Nigeria. If not we can refer you to Wikipedia where tales of poor studio conditions, robbery and physical exhaustion all did their best to derail Sir Paul’s fifth solo attempt at getting back into the upper ranks of the pop realm.

But  if you just glance at the charts from the years before he, the memsahib and Denny Laine set off on safari, you’ll see that McCartney had no less than five top ten singles in the UK, along with similar success in the States and in other territories. So in retrospect the trip to EMI Lagos seems more like an attempt to ditch London for sunnier climes and possibly some dynamite African weed. 

In 2010 the cute one told British broadcaster Dermot O’ Leary: “I think if we just stayed in London and gone to our normal studio, it could have, might have been an okay album…might have been a good album. But the fact that we were in a strange place with strange things happening…there was now only three of us in the band instead of five, we had to work around all these circumstances and we had to like incorporate all of this into the album. Now suddenly we were like forced to…no choice.”

But if we’re being honest here, these songs were always going to deliver, no matter where a Pop genius of this caliber settled down to record them. Still, it all makes for a good story, even if it’s a tale that’s been retold many times over the past 50 plus years.

What’s more interesting is how he got there artistically. McCartney always seemed to be bearing the brunt of critical dissatisfaction, no matter how many gorgeous melodies or feisty rockers he gave to the early Seventies. “Another Day” was lovely and uncynical, and “Hi Hi Hi” tried it’s best to ‘rawk.” But “Band On The Run,” remains the remarkable point where he, and what was left of Wings, stepped outside of fashion, shaved off most of the whimsy, and dispatched the kind of top shelf songwriting that would reset the narrative concerning the talents of a McCartney without a Lennon. Whether or not it’s worth chasing down again after a half century that’s seen several reissues is another matter.

For this go round the album is available as either single LP, a two CD collection, or a pricier and limited double album set that comes in a nice slipcase with a collection of “underdubbed” mixes and a couple of nice Linda McCartney Polaroid posters. For the vinyl, Abbey Road mastering guru Miles Showell cut the lacquers at half-speed after in-house engineers Sam OKell and Steve Rooke remastered the tracks. For this pressing, McCartney’s people have opted to go with the original U.S. tracklisting that features the Top 10 “Helen Wheels” single on side 2. Plus the record also gets the Giles Martin Atmos treatment as well for those streaming platforms that offer the option.

As a historical comparison, we put the new cut up against three previous releases – the U.S. and German first pressings (both on Apple) and the 25th anniversary compact disc (which featured a bonus CD of documentary material). What’s immediately clear is that both of the original vinyl outings are about 3-4dBs hotter than the 2024 reissue. Additionally, the high-end data on the new LP is far less bristly on the top end than either of the originals – no doubt due to the half-speed process of cutting the master far slower. The midrange material also appears to have a more clarity to it, while the bottom end has a more or less the same amount of punch. And as far as the title track goes, the latest reissue restores certain elements from the CD mix, such as the chiming acoustic guitar, back from the left channel to the focused center of the mix where they sit just as well as they did back in 1973.

“Jet” leapt up off our pan flat Optimal Media GmbH 180 pressing in all it’s synth-powered glory as nicely as the fullness of “Bluebird” swelled through the soundstage. In fact, the latter’s sax solo sits much nicer into the half-speed cut than the more hopped up original. The same could be said of the underpinning organ for perennial live fave “Let Me Roll It.” But if Showell’s cut shines in any one particular place, it’s when we arrive the side 2 opener “Mamunia” the details of the twangy guitars parts are pretty sumptuous and worthy of repeat plays. It’s at this point in the record, where we are sold.

When it comes to the “underdubbed” versions of these songs, the case for splashing out on the two LP version of the 2024 release will probably align closely with the number of McCartney bootlegs you may already own. Because these rough mixes, prepared by Geoff Emerick and Pete Swettenham at AIR Studios in October 1973, are only mildly interesting in terms of coloring in more of the album’s story. Particularly when it’s well known that the cassettes taken off of our Paulie by thieves on a evening stroll back to his hotel, were dubbed from the full band rehearsals that Wings engaged in before, drummer Denny Seiwell and guitarist Henry McCullough abruptly opted out of the group. The brief vocal missteps, the naked Minimoog lines and the lack of brass featured in this edition mostly serves to reveal how talented the former Beatle was when it came to dressing up his work for primetime. While interesting, alternate takes would have been more welcome. But as we saw in the “McCartney 3, 2, 1” documentary, Paul can be a little gunshy, even all these years later, about the public hearing any blemishes.

 So while the 50 year mark makes the rerelease of this chart topper feel like an inevitability (particularly with a new generation of vinyl buyers possibly wanting an uber clean, high quality pressing of Macca’s high watermark…), there’s a vocal segment of his fan base that would have gladly passed on this project if it meant they could finally get the deluxe McCartney Archive version of “London Town” and/or “Back To The Egg” they’ve been waiting for. But until that happens (please please please let it happen…), we’re more than happy to be reminded of the period when a rhinestone’d McCartney and company assured the Pop planet that he was far from washed up.


Music Specifications

Catalog No: 602455435620

Pressing Plant: Optimal Media GmbH

Speed/RPM: 33 1/3

Weight: 180 grams

Size: 12"

Channels: Stereo

Presentation: Box Set


  • 2024-03-10 04:23:45 PM

    Sam Casanzio wrote:

    Sad that you didn’t compare against an original UK vinyl pressing. Most reissues beat the original U.S. vinyl, but the king is the original UK. Until I read that it beats the UK, it’s no 10.

  • 2024-03-11 09:50:16 AM

    Lemon Curry wrote:

    I have a US original that, while lacking the magic of what I've heard is on the UK, has always sounded great. Because of that, and because I feared yet another McCartney dynamically flat release, I skipped the vinyl and went for the CD, soley to get my hands on "Underdubbed". For the record, the official album IS squashed on CD, but Underdubbed sounds great. Tho it isn't strictly the Lagos tapes, it mostly is. And because of that, the heart of BOTR emerges. You can hear that small room, and you can hear the earnest playing. One could make a rational argument that it's a BETTER product that the official release, with that incredible sound and intimacy. As to why on earth he went to Lagos, for the weed or whatever, we know he got membership in a country club and stayed there. Not exactly Joe Strummer and Mick Jones in Jamaica, eh? For this release, it looks like I gambled wrong against the vinyl. You've given it a great score, and I've seen waveform comparisons elsewhere that prove the dynamics. Seems someone in the chain won the day for an uncompressed release. Looks like I need to go back to the well. As the other commenter noted, it would nice to hear how it rates against a UK original. I can say the CD, tho compressed, is not bass-bloated. The tonality is good. Perhaps this is The One, tho lacking the SPARS code I assume a digital step was involved...

    • 2024-03-11 10:48:42 AM

      Malachi Lui wrote:

      a digital step was involved, as miles showell doesn't cut half-speed from tape...

  • 2024-03-11 02:26:46 PM

    Michael Fremer wrote:

    I will have to buy a copy of this to compare to an original U.K. pressing, which is really great. However, for some reason, the best sounding version of "Live and Let Die" is on the United Artists soundtrack album (UA-LA100-G). At least it was last time I compared!

    • 2024-03-11 06:27:54 PM

      Mark Ward wrote:

      I have the UK press of original soundtrack of "Live and Let Die" and it sounds great. But just got in the expanded, remastered LaLa Land CD of this soundtrack for review, so looking forward to doing some comparisons...

    • 2024-03-16 01:58:08 PM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      Replying to myself, I'm not sure why I brought "Live and Let Die" into this discussion! But there you have it..

  • 2024-03-15 11:27:53 PM

    Lemon Curry wrote:

    I pulled the trigger on the purchase and was spinning it today.

    It's a very good pressing, and it really pops.

    But..I have a US Wally Winchester 3rd press, and when comparing the two it's that good old AAA press that satisfies. The new pressing feels a bit "clinical" in comparison.

    It's nice having Underdubbed on vinyl, but the CD mastering is pretty good, too.

    If someone doesn't have the record and wants to dive in, this is a great place to start.

    • 2024-03-16 02:16:21 PM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      I 100% concur with Lemon Curry's assessment. This new one really "pops" and it's well pressed and has super clarity and detail resolution and it's not at all offensive or "digital" sounding but it is somewhat "clinical" and compressed, no doubt part of the "master and modernize" process. But if you want McCartney out front in your room and generous sustain and decay (with a bit less bottom end) find an original U.K. (PAS10007). And the piano on "Jet" is way better on the OG! Still, this new one does sound very good and I love the packaging. Haven't gotten to the underdubbed.