Paul McCartney
"B" Sides Himself
(Fab 2)

This boot is geared for serious Paul McCartney fans, as it involves virtually nothing anyone would care about unless they were REALLY into the Cute One. I was intrigued because I'd never seen a boot that focussed mainly on Press to Play material – that's an album I've always felt has been terribly underrated – and because it contains some key b-sides not compiled onto the mid-90s UK remaster series of Paul's CDs. Of these, "I'll Give You a Ring" is the real gem, a wonderful Vaudevillian Paul tune that should have been tacked on as a bonus track to the British Tug of War reissue. It's a great song, as is "Rainclouds," and both of these are clearly mastered from vinyl. The biggest disappointment for me was that the cdr copy I got was defective, with a hideous clicking noise pervading most of the tracks, getting worse as the disc progresses, so that none of the great songs are free of this besmirching. It was virtually unlistenable in many spots.

The disc opens with "Simple as That," a hollow reggae song Paul contributed to an anti-heroin charity album, then there's a bunch of Press to Play remixes and outtakes. Yes, I realize that few people will be excited to see "Tough on a Tightrope (Extended)" and "Pretty Little Head (Extended)," but there are some nice outtakes as well (most are included on the far superior Pizza and Fairy Tales) – "Yvonne," a 50s style number that sounds far more sincere than a lot of Paul's album material from the same period. "The First Stone" is similar to "Pretty Little Head," and it's nice to hear it but not hard to see why it got left off the album. "Good Sign" is a dancey experiment that suffers a lot from that damn clicking. A London Town outtake called "Waterspout" is a charmer, while the Tug of War b-side "Ode to a Koala Bear" is less so (Paul in overly cute mode). The demo for "On the Wings of a Nightingale" (which Paul wrote for an Everly Brothers comeback album) is included, though the sound is poor and the tracking is screwed up (the song is spread over two CD tracks).

"Spies Like Us" – ya love it or hate it. "No More Lonely Nights (Mole Mix)" – um, necessary? But that's what bootlegs are for, no need to justify 'em. A 1972 Wings live track called "1882" is tacked on at the end, totally out of the flow of the album, but it's a nice one. Hopefully some of this stuff will show up either on a better boot or on a proper McCartney rarities set (which he's been promising for like 20 years at this point). Overall, a good portrait of a neglected period in Paul's career, though the appeal is very limited and the sound quality makes it extremely unappealing. Still, I can't say it's worthless – I've never found a bootleg that didn't have some merit. Well, there was that one of my mom and dad fucking; that one I just found absolutely distasteful.

Review by Federico von Folderol