Monday, June 4, 2012

Paul McCartney Ram 2012 Special Edition Review

I picked up a copy of Paul McCartney's remastered Ram album last week. Originally released in 1971, Ram was slammed hard by critics at the time as mediocre and overly whimsical. Despite critical panning, Ram hit #1 on the British charts and #2 on the U.S. charts, being unable to dislodge the monster hit that was Carole King's Tapestry.

I first picked up a copy of the album in 1988 soon after it was re-issued on CD for the first time. I thought it was a decent album, but not a great one. It was certainly better than his previous solo release, but it had its share of deplorable stinkers like "3 Legs", "Dear Boy", "Eat at Home" and "Long Haired Lady". Still, "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" is catchy and "Backseat Of My Car" is an under-rated classic. "Monkberry Moon Delight" and "Smile Away" are fun, raw, and memorable in their own right. I thought, at the very least, the album was worth the price I paid for it. And Ram is certainly better than the two stinkers that came out afterwards, Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway.

The 2012 Ram Remaster is available in three different versions:

  1. A single disc edition remaster consisting of tracks from the original album.
  2. A two disc remaster with bonus tracks that were recorded around the same time Ram came out
  3. A deluxe set with the original stereo album remastered, the second disc, a third disc with the mono album and a DVD (that runs under a half hour) on the making of the album.

The super-mega-ultra-deluxe edition of the album costs upwards of $80. I wouldn't even pay that for Band on the Run. I went with option 2, and, in listening to the bonus tracks, I can't help but think that Ram would have been a better album if Paul had not been so headstrong in choosing the tracks for it. "Another Day" would prove to be another big hit for Paul and certainly should have been on the album. "A Love For You" and "Hey Diddle" are easily better than "3 Legs" and "Long Haired Lady". And "Little Woman Love" is a better choice than "Eat At Home". Hindsight is 20/20, though, and, short term, no amount of track tweaking would have been sufficient enough to wrest the #1 spot away from Tapestry. Long term, I think the changes would have given the album more staying power.

The remaster of the album sounds great, and, if you're even a casual McCartney fan, this is a must have. If you've already got a copy of Ram that you're satisfied with, downloading a few of the bonus tracks individually is a good option. I'd go with "Hey Diddle", "A Love For You" and "Little Woman Love".

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