Reviews

Paul McCartney / Flowers in the Dirt deluxe edition / SDE review

Paul McCartney / Flowers in the Dirt 4-disc deluxe edition

A beautiful but flawed package that puts Paul McCartney before his fans

Paul McCartney’s new deluxe edition of his 1989 album Flowers in the Dirt is a set full of contradictions…

While the four-disc deluxe set purports to celebrate the 1989 album, in reality its focus is much narrower than that, with a gaze firmly set on McCartney’s songwriting partnership with Elvis Costello. That pairing came to light when Back On My Feet, the first McCartney / McManus composition, graced the B-side of the 1987 non-album single Once Upon A Long Ago (Paul’s last top ten hit in the UK, fact fans).

So while only about a third of the final album consists of this material, ALL of the bonus audio on CD (we’ll get to *those* downloads) is limited to songs co-written with Costello. If you are interested in anything else, for example, an early version of Figure of Eight, or an alternate of We Got Married, then you’re out of luck.

Also, this material with Costello ended up all over the place, not just Flowers in the Dirt. Of the nine bonus tracks – early demos on CD 2 and more developed ‘1988 demos’ on CD 3 – four ended up on Flowers, one on Paul’s subsequent album (Off The Ground), two on Costello’s 1991 album Mighty Like A Rose, and two never made it to finished studio versions at all.

Having decided to focus on Elvis, they’ve still managed to miss the mark. Four other Costello co-writes are part of the notorious ‘download-only’ audio. Three of these are rough and ready ’cassette demos’ (including the ‘other’ McCartney-McManus composition from Off The Ground – Mistress And Maid) and the fourth is the master version of the aforementioned Back On My Feet.

Given that the two bonus CDs together only add up to around 80 minutes of music (in other words there’s effectively a ‘spare’ CD unfilled), it’s ridiculous that this other material wasn’t sequenced into the physical celebration of the songwriting partnership. It seems that Paul and his team were fixated on the running order of CD 2 mirroring that of CD 3, so any song that didn’t exist as both a demo and a more developed ‘1988 band demo’ found that its name wasn’t on the list and it’s not coming in.

One might have thought that Paul would have had a special liking for Back On My Feet, the first song they wrote together, but relegating it to ‘download-only’ suggests otherwise. It was also a song produced by the late Phil Ramone, with whom Paul had recorded a handful of songs in the mid-eighties, none of which would ever appear on a Macca studio album. 1987’s Once Upon A Long Ago was produced by Ramone and ended up being used to promote the All The Best compilation (in the UK) and another Ramone production, The Loveliest Thing turned up on the CD single of Figure Of Eight.

It’s certainly not easy putting archival sets like this together, but neither is it rocket science. Where’s the logic in including a single’s B-side (Back On My Feet) but not its A-side, Once Upon A Long Ago? The extended version of the latter is still unreleased on CD and at least deserved a place at the download-only ‘table’, with the remixes of Ou Est Le Soleil and This One. Perhaps they are ’saving’ it for a Press To Play reissue, but in my view, where the decision is a 50-50 call, be generous, think about the fans and include it as part of this project that is definitely happening not the one that may or may not happen down the line.

Flowers in the Dirt is a veritable jigsaw of an album. Pieced together with many producers over many years. The earliest sessions date from autumn 1984 when Paul recorded We Got Married (and few other tracks that never made the grade) with songwriter/producer David Foster. It’s amazing to consider that this was recorded not only before the entire previous studio album, Press To Play, but also just before the release of the rather good soundtrack album to Paul’s not-so-good film, Give My Regards To Broadstreet.

The video content on the new deluxe edition (promo videos, larking around in the studio, plus hour-long documentary from the era) bears this up, since we see Paul age before our eyes, looking quite boyish with Trevor Horn and Stephen Lipson with his short ‘All The Best’ haircut, but filling out a bit by the time of some of the Costello sessions and donning his slightly shaggy ‘Flowers’ mullet.

Let’s put Flowers in the Dirt into perspective by examining Paul’s personal timeline. The mid-eighties were a period of uncertainty for McCartney. During the 1970s it was virtually an-album-a-year for Wings, and having a band on the payroll and touring commitments kept up the momentum. Cue the 1980s, and after Paul’s remarkable commercial assault on the singles charts during 1980-1983 (five number ones in US/UK), the now none-touring Macca seemed to lose focus.

The lukewarm performance of the Pipes of Peace album in America (remarkable in itself given that Say Say Say was number one there for six weeks!) and the failure of the Broadstreet film would have been a concern. Even worse, the hits dried up – dramatically. It was virtually unheard of for Paul to not to enjoy a major hit single (at least top 10) around the time of a new album, but nothing from 1986’s Press To Play hit the top 20 either side of the Atlantic. When Paul released the experimental and atypical Pretty Little Head as the second single from that album in the UK he was ‘rewarded’ by one of his biggest ever flops (it didn’t chart at all).

The commercial failure of Press To Play had an impact. You could argue it was the last attempt at Paul trying to be ‘contemporary’. After this he would look to the past for inspiration. Back to The Beatles, and even before that, to the songs that inspired the Beatles.

Around 86/87 Paul recorded an unreleased song called Return To Pepperland and a fusion of PS I Love You and Love Me Do called… wait for it… PS Love Me Do. The former has some charm (have a listen below) although the latter (which remarkably was issued on the Japanese-only 2CD edition of Flowers in the Dirt) is (along with Freedom) one of the worst things Paul has ever recorded. Also this was the period where Paul recorded CHOBA B CCCP (or the Russian Album) a long-player of rock ’n’ roll oldies.

That’s not to say that Flowers in the Dirt is necessarily retro or backwards looking, but in the SDE interview feature Trevor Horn confirmed that Figure of Eight WAS originally a rock ’n’ roll song and of course there is the fact that Elvis Costello persuaded Paul to dust down his old Beatle, Hofner bass.

As an album, Flowers in the Dirt does tick most of the usual McCartney boxes, so we have the knee-slapping, homespun acoustic ditty (Put It There), the classic ballad (Motor Of Love/Distractions), the c’mon-people-let’s-make-the-world-a-better-place song (How Many People) and some decent ‘pop’ tunes (This One, Rough Ride, My Brave Face). Also, two out of Paul’s last three studio albums had featured duets and Flowers continued that tradition with You Want Her Too (with Elvis Costello).

The problem with the album is that it’s less than the sum of its parts and (like Tug Of War) it’s a little top-heavy. The first six tracks (My Brave Face, Rough Ride, You Want Her Too, Distractions, We Got Married and Put It There) are very good-to-excellent, whilst side two (Figure Of Eight, This One, Don’t Be Careless Love, That Day Is Done, How Many People and Motor Of Love) sees a distinct drop in quality with some averageness creeping in, along with some rather clunky lyrics (“turn on your motor of love” or “I want to see ordinary people, living peacefully”).

What the bonus discs on the new deluxe edition makes abundantly clear is that between them Paul and Elvis had a fabulous set of songs that should become a great nine or 10-track album. Criminally, Twenty Fine Fingers and Tommy’s Coming Home were just left to rot on the shelf and Paul neglected the brilliant So Like Candy leaving Costello to record an inferior version for his Mighty Like A Rose album. Paul left The Lovers That Never Were and Mistress and Maid for his next album (Off The Ground) suggesting that ‘diluting’ the Costello impact was no accident. And there’s the contradiction. The new deluxe edition makes a very big deal of the collaboration, but back in the day, Paul resisted Elvis as a co-producer (Costello’s “instincts were right” Mitchell Froom told SDE) and quite clearly didn’t want an album full of songs co-written with him.

I’m sure to Paul at the time, the 1988 demo version of My Brave Face (which features Elvis singing on it) didn’t sound as commercial as it should have, but to be fair, unlike Costello, Paul was expected to – needed to – have hits! So, much of the charm and quirkiness of that 1988 recording of the song is lost after Mitchell Froom was brought in to effectively make it (and the three other Costello co-writes on the album) sound more ‘modern’.

In the end, the album was a compromise – including just four of the 13 McCartney/MacManus songs available at that point and mixing them with some of Paul’s solo songs. Even then, the power and quality of the Elvis songs were arguably reduced by removing Elvis singing harmonies and getting in Mitchell Froom and Neil Dorfsman in to sprinkle some eighties production magic over them. The 1988 demos disc is all the evidence you need.

And there’s the irony. Flowers in the Dirt is certainly a ‘good’ Paul McCartney album, but this deluxe edition reveals how much better it could have been if Paul had perhaps put ego and commercial concerns to one side and embraced the collaboration with Elvis much more. A full-blown creative partnership over the space of a whole album could have been a classic. The book within the new deluxe edition explores the partnership to a degree, but never properly explains why this didn’t happen. Paul does say “The demos were great but we couldn’t release them as I had a band. And it would have been a little bit radical for me to say to the band, ‘Hey man, it’s just going to be me and Elvis,’ and we’ll write a few more and it’s the McCartney Costello show…”. And when asked why this apparently enjoyable and fruitful song-writing collaboration wasn’t repeated, Macca offers a rather limp “It just really didn’t occur to me”.

A word on the packaging for the deluxe set. With four books, full of special finishes (debossing, pull-out lyric sheets, spot-varnishing etc.) in an outer box, it’s unquestionably great, but over-engineered and too expensive. It’s Bentley Continental packaging for people who had budgeted and saved up for an Audi. Too much money and too much printed material, to be honest. A Linda McCartney exhibition of variations of the Flowers in the Dirt cover art must hold dear memories for Paul, but as a punter I’m paying for this 28-page volume complete with flashy 8-panel fold-out cover. I would say file under Ram‘s ‘A Small Book Of Sheep’ but that at least had some rustic charm.

Likewise, Dean Chamberlain’s video and photographic work with Duran Duran off-shoot Arcadia worked perfectly with that young, posturing art-pop project, but just looks a bit silly with Paul and his craggy band, so I definitely don’t want to be paying for a book of Dean’s photos from the This One video session – but MPL are going to give me one anyway!

The lyric book is good, but there is a sense that just because Paul has all this stuff in his archive doesn’t mean we need to SEE all of it. Like sitting watching projections of someone’s holiday photos, and paying for the privilege. Flowers in the Dirt should have reverted to the original Band on the Run / McCartney II books and left it at that. Not only would it be more affordable, but at £65 each, surely just as profitable.

Finally, the main book in this set, with an essay by Dylan Jones opens with the sentence “Flowers in the Dirt is an exceptional album; not just one of McCartney’s best, but one of the most accomplished albums of the Eighties”. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but in all the conversations I’ve had with music-loving (even Beatle-loving) friends over the years, and in all the ‘best albums of the eighties’ features I’ve read in music magazines in the last quarter of a century, Flowers in the Dirt never gets so much a mention.

Thankfully, the book is largely interviews, with plenty from Paul himself, although he does stray into ‘The Beatles were a great little band’ territory rather regularly, offering rose-tinted and often improbable contributions like [referring to remastering] “I must say when I came to Flowers in the Dirt, I didn’t know if there were any good songs on it”.

The Flowers in the Dirt deluxe easily boasts the best bonus audio of any McCartney archive collection to date, and it looks beautiful. But far too much superfluous printed material, not including all the audio on CD and a prohibitively expensive price-tag, makes this – like the original album – a rather flawed package.

The Flowers in the Dirt reissue is out now.

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0602557244236

Paul McCartney

Flowers in the Dirt - 4-disc deluxe book edition

Shop Price GBP Stock
Amazon de 6LP coloured vinyl box 109.43
Amazon usa 6LP coloured vinyl box 95.74
Amazon ca 6LP coloured vinyl box 100.63
Amazon uk 6LP coloured vinyl box 118.06
Amazon fr 6LP coloured vinyl box 112.02
Amazon it 6LP coloured vinyl box 113.68
Amazon es 6LP coloured vinyl box 119.77
JPC de 6LP coloured vinyl box 112.02
HMV uk 6LP coloured vinyl box 129.99
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0602557244168

Paul McCartney

Flowers in the Dirt - 2LP Vinyl edition

Shop Price GBP Stock
Amazon usa 6LP coloured vinyl box 20.39
Amazon ca 6LP coloured vinyl box 21.98
Amazon uk 6LP coloured vinyl box 23.24
Amazon fr 6LP coloured vinyl box 23.54
Amazon it 6LP coloured vinyl box 25.87
Amazon es 6LP coloured vinyl box 25.84
JPC de 6LP coloured vinyl box 27.57
HMV uk 6LP coloured vinyl box 30.99
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0602557244151

Paul McCartney

Flowers in the Dirt - 2CD edition

Shop Price GBP Stock
Amazon de 6LP coloured vinyl box 10.35
Amazon usa 6LP coloured vinyl box 9.49
Amazon ca 6LP coloured vinyl box 10.08
Amazon uk 6LP coloured vinyl box 11.35
Amazon fr 6LP coloured vinyl box 10.76
Amazon it 6LP coloured vinyl box 10.38
Amazon es 6LP coloured vinyl box 10.25
JPC de 6LP coloured vinyl box 15.50
HMV uk 6LP coloured vinyl box 12.99
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track_listing

flowersinthedirt

Deluxe 3CD+DVD book edition

DISC 1:
1. My Brave Face (2017 Remaster)
2. Rough Ride (2017 Remaster)
3. You Want Her Too (2017 Remaster)
4. Distractions (2017 Remaster)
5. We Got Married (2017 Remaster)
6. Put It There (2017 Remaster)
7. Figure Of Eight (2017 Remaster)
8. This One (2017 Remaster)
9. Don’t Be Careless Love (2017 Remaster)
10. That Day Is Done (2017 Remaster)
11. How Many People (2017 Remaster)
12. Motor Of Love (2017 Remaster)
13. Où Est Le Soleil? (2017 Remaster)

DISC 2: (original Elvis Costello demos)
1. The Lovers That Never Were (Original Demo)
2. Tommy’s Coming Home (Original Demo)
3. Twenty Fine Fingers (Original Demo)
4. So Like Candy (Original Demo)
5. You Want Her Too (Original Demo)
6. That Day Is Done (Original Demo)
7. Don’t Be Careless Love (Original Demo)
8. My Brave Face (Original Demo)
9. Playboy To A Man (Original Demo)

DISC 3:
1. The Lovers That Never Were (1988 Demo)
2. Tommy’s Coming Home (1988 Demo)
3. Twenty Fine Fingers (1988 Demo)
4. So Like Candy (1988 Demo)
5. You Want Her Too (1988 Demo)
6. That Day Is Done (1988 Demo)
7. Don’t Be Careless Love (1988 Demo)
8. My Brave Face (1988 Demo)
9. Playboy To A Man (1988 Demo)

DOWNLOAD ONLY:
Original B-sides, remixes and single edits:
1. Back On My Feet
2. Flying To My Home
3. The First Stone
4. Good Sign
5. This One (Club Lovejoys Mix)
6. Figure Of Eight (12” Bob Clearmountain Mix)
7. Loveliest Thing
8. Où Est Le Soleil? (12” Mix)
9. Où Est Le Soleil? (Tub Dub Mix)
10. Où Est Le Soleil? (7” Mix)
11. Où Est Le Soleil? (Instrumental)
12. Party Party (Original Mix)
13. Party Party (Club Mix)
Cassette demos:
1. I Don’t Want To Confess
2. Shallow Grave
3. Mistress And Maid

DVD

Music Videos:
01. My Brave Face
02. My Brave Face (Version 2)
03. This One (Version 1)
04. This One (Version 2)
05. Figure Of Eight
06. Party Party
07. Où Est Le Soleil?
08. Put It There
09. Distractions
10. We Got Married

Creating Flowers in the Dirt:
01. Paul And Elvis
02. Buds In The Studio
03. The Making Of ‘This One’
(The Dean Chamberlain One)

Put it There:
01. Put It There Documentary

flowers2lp

Flowers in the Dirt / 2LP vinyl

LP 1
1. My Brave Face
2. Rough Ride
3. You Want Her Too
4. Distractions
5. We Got Married
6. Put It There
7. Figure of Eight
8. This One
9. Don’t Be Careless Love
10. That Day Is Done
11. How Many People
12. Motor of Love
13. Où Est Le Soleil?* digital download

LP 2 (Original Elvis Costello demos)
1. The Lovers That Never Were (Original Demo)
2. Tommy’s Coming Home (Original Demo)
3. Twenty Fine Fingers (Original Demo)
4. So Like Candy (Original Demo)
5. You Want Her Too (Original Demo)
6. That Day Is Done (Original Demo)
7. Don’t Be Careless Love (Original Demo)
8. My Brave Face (Original Demo)
9. Playboy To A Man (Original Demo)

flowers2cd

Flowers in the Dirt / 2CD Edition

CD 1
1. My Brave Face
2. Rough Ride
3. You Want Her Too
4. Distractions
5. We Got Married
6. Put It There
7. Figure of Eight
8. This One
9. Don’t Be Careless Love
10. That Day Is Done
11. How Many People
12. Motor of Love
13. Où Est Le Soleil?

CD 2 (Original Elvis Costello demos)
1. The Lovers That Never Were (Original Demo)
2. Tommy’s Coming Home (Original Demo)
3. Twenty Fine Fingers (Original Demo)
4. So Like Candy (Original Demo)
5. You Want Her Too (Original Demo)
6. That Day Is Done (Original Demo)
7. Don’t Be Careless Love (Original Demo)
8. My Brave Face (Original Demo)
9. Playboy To A Man (Original Demo)

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86 responses to Paul McCartney / Flowers in the Dirt deluxe edition / SDE review

  1. Charles K. says:

    This whole set is a mix of fan base and modern music delivery ignorance.

  2. Ryan F says:

    Brilliant and fair review, covering all the pros and cons a potential buyer would need to think about before making a £120 investment. Cheers!

  3. James says:

    Wow, I’ve never heard ‘Back on My Feet’ before, but it’s great. I wish it were actually available on the CD.

  4. Colin Fletcher says:

    Great review Paul. Side A is right up there with his best solo work, but the scandalous price of this deluxe set is right up there with his worst. And you can never get enough Ou Est Le Soleil mixes can you?

  5. Denis Woods says:

    Brilliant review. Thanks Paul.

  6. bruce says:

    Excellent review, Paul! I decided to boycott this release after Macca made the greedy decision to intentionally leave FITD tracks off of the Pure McCartney collection last year, and based on your review I don’t feel like I’m missing that much. If I come across a used copy at a good price I’ll pick it up but I’m not going to give MPL my money when they show such disregard for the fans.

  7. Richard Starkey says:

    Well done Paul. Now for the big question: Was there a “Coming Soon” insert card, telling us what the next reissue is?

    • Gareth Pugh says:

      No. There is an ‘also available’ card showing the previous releases and advising you to keep an eye on his website for news about any future PM Archive Collection releases. But nothing lifting the lid on what – if anything – might be next. Elsewhere (including on here I think) there’s been some rumours that Red Rose Speedway and Wild Life are being considered but we’ll see.

  8. Rickjapan says:

    Paul, really interesting and balanced review, great reading, even for someone who isn’t particularly into McCartney (me!).

    I may not be a fan, but it’s been really interesting to follow the whole story of this re-issue and the choices behind it, which seem intent on sinking it for good.

    I don’t have much hope, but it would be good if the various record company officials read this and get a better insight into what would make a good deluxe edition that loads more people would buy (and put even more money into their bottomless pockets).

    Hello, is that Fleetwood Mac I hear calling….!!

  9. Bjarne Laastad says:

    And why isn’t the groove mix of Good Sign anywhere in the set?

  10. Say Say Say being number one in America for six weeks might have had something to do with that, if I remember correctly, both Paul and Michael were on the same Epic label over there at the time.

    • Kevin says:

      “Say Say Say” being number one for several weeks had more to do with Michael Jackson’s massive popularity that year, as the Thriller LP was well into its chart run at the time. (Paul was actually on Columbia, but both Columbia and Epic were part of the CBS family.)

      • Diane says:

        True. At that point, Michael could have hummed a full album of “Archies” songs, and it would have hit #1.

  11. artwwweb says:

    Great review – knowledgeable and balanced; thanks!

  12. Kauwgompie says:

    Thank you Paul for this extended and detailed review. I have never been a Paul McCartney fan. Growing up in the 80’s in the Netherlands, no one listened to Paul McCartney. Now I’m trying to like his stuff but I just don’t. 95% of his solo stuff is utterly un-exciting to me. I obviously recognize his insane contribution to music and personally I’m just not that into his stuff. I can’t help it. Thanks for the review though.
    All these SDE’s have my attention and often times when I don’t know it, I listen to the original album because if they release it as an SDE, there must be something special about it. Often I get drawn in, like in the case with the first Alan Parson Project album. I didn’t know it but if you give it a chance, it’s outstanding. Now one of my favorite albums. Flowers in the Dirt however, it didn’t do anything for me.

  13. adam shaw says:

    Hi Paul
    I agree with nearly all your points about this especially the poor content of music .
    But I want to give you my take on what I think as a Macca fan and as some one who bought it first time around .
    Being fed up with PM output for a few years , the minute My Brave Face was released it was a kind of thank god moment , he’s back . After that first hit everyone went out and got the album . For good or bad reason the first few songs are great but the second sides songs were written for the album as well but it’s the order on the album that isn’t right not the songs .
    Then the tour was announced and as I hadn’t seen PM since 79 it really was overdrive for PM fans . I even bought the tour edition of the album (the one in the cardboard flight case ) , every single release UK and foreign pressings , I got copy’s of the Liverpool Echo sent to me when he played there and literally tons of memoribilia from the tour . So I do love the album but it’s not one of the best 80s albums it’s just probably PMs best 80s album .

    • Paul W says:

      Adam Shaw – I attended the Liverpool show and it was great. I managed to find an audio recording of the show online a few months ago, which is a nice bit of nostalgia. As an aside, here’s another example of how times have got worse for us music fans. I was in two minds as to whether to get a ticket for the PM show, firstly because I was a student nurse and not guaranteed the day off, but also because I couldn’t talk anyone into going with me. The day of the gig it was sunny, so I decided to go, went down into town, got a ticket from (I think) the Royal Court theatre and went along. Easy as that.

      Nowadays, if you haven’t got a ticket within 5 minutes of them going on sale you can either forget about it or expect to pay a hefty premium. Only a few months ago I got through to the ticket office at Sheffield City Hall to ask for two Kraftwerk tickets, only to be told they don’t go on sale for another 45 seconds and I couldn’t stay on the phone. I hung up, rang straight back, got through 3 or 4 minutes later, only to be told they had all sold out. Half an hour later I went on the website of a third party company (may have been Ticketmaster, I can’t remember) and bought two but for an additional premium.

  14. adam shaw says:

    Also , PS/Love Me Do live is on the Birthday cd single as well as Let me In which wasn’t on Tripping The Live Fantastic

  15. Remon says:

    General question……..who are considered as the target audience for these kind of deluxe editions? The long-term fans who know all the ins-and-outs or the more mainstream audience?Or both? It will always be hard to please all of them on the content of a deluxe edition.

  16. Trash says:

    Great review Paul.
    Will be looking out for this when the price comes down (just to keep my collection complete).
    Didn’t know the album at all before but after all the furore about the downloads and reading the interviews with the producers decided to give it a listen. It’s…. okay…. definitely not one of his best I think.

    On another note I wasnt aware that there was an extended version of “Once Upon a Lon Ago” until I read the review. I always presumed that the ‘Long version’ on The Press to Play McCartney Series CD was the longest version available. A quick Internet search revealed the extended version in all its glory and it really is a shame that this is not available on CD.

    I’ve also not heard that version of Pretty Little Head before. I’m very familiar with the album version as I love Press to Play but the single version (assuming that’s what it is) is much better…

  17. Auntie Sabrina says:

    Even at half the price, as with the recent Human League Anthology, the 4 CD set seems overpriced

  18. David M says:

    Excellent review, can’t agree about the dreadful Rough Ride though, and there are a no. of tracks on side 2 far superior to it.

  19. Bryan says:

    The 1988 Band Demos are the most interesting new material in this package for me. I love the original demo of Twenty Fine Fingers, but wince at some of the changes made in the 1988 Band version, and now can see why it wasn’t released as it wasn’t being taken in a good direction.

  20. Rough cut says:

    Nice review. Reading it makes me sad how they botched this release. Not only the download issues, but also missing content. Boooo!

  21. AJV says:

    Great article! And far from making me want to purchase Flowers, the posting of the Pretty Little Head video, a song I’ve never heard before, makes me want to seek out Press To Play. And look: there’s a very young Gabrielle Anwar as the girl in the video! What a find! Cool song, nice bass line.

    • Press to Play is a pretty bad album with some pretty bad lyrics! For what it’s worth, the 7″ mix of Pretty Little Head is significantly different to the album version.

  22. Mikey Roberts says:

    Great review Paul – thanks. Been listening to the Macca-Costello demos all week and loving them while trying hard not to wonder about what might have been…

  23. Andrea says:

    Paul – I’m not sure you mentioned this, but a few McCartney-Costello co-writes ended up on “Spike”, some even in EC demo form on the bonus disc to the 2001 Rhino/Warner reissue.

    Anyway, this is what I think is going to happen with this reissue (at least, this is what’s happening to me): most of the fans who have purchased all previous Deluxe Archive sets, being seriously disappointed with this item (what with the download-only silliness and all) will go for the 2-CD set for the time being, thinking *maybe* they’ll get the Deluxe down the line, if the price drops significantly.

    So now they are listening to the 2-CD set, and they’re thinking – yes the remastering is great, the demos are wonderful, but the production is still sO 8Os, the record itself is still what it is, certainly not Macca’s finest hour, not even in his Top Ten solo albums, do I really need this in Deluxe format? – and they’ll gradually but inexorably lose interest in the Deluxe version. After all, each day some interesting new release comes out.

    So I bet my two cents that this Deluxe version is going to be the less sold of the whole Archive series so far…

  24. Alastair says:

    Excellent and insightful review, although it really went beyond just a straight review and gave an interesting context to the album and the material included with (and excluded from) the super deluxe. I am almost persuaded to buy it (at the right price). Thanks also for the embedded material – I had heard some of it before, but I especially enjoyed the version of Beautiful Night from ‘Return to Pepperland’. Now that would be a lovely surprise for us if it ever appeared officially – on a CD of course.

    • DaveM says:

      @Alastair, I may be wrong but I thought the Pepperland version of Beautiful Night is on CD 1 of the BN single as part of Oobu Joobu part 5?
      Excellent review of FITD and agree it is beautiful but flawed package and that the extra audio is the best yet. I think I may eBay my download card to recoup some of the expense, otherwise it will end up in the draw along with my other unused DL cards from the other sets. I now have seven of those tracks on CD anyways. Don’t do DLs and never will.

      • Alastair says:

        @DaveM – thanks for the steer. I have that cd single somewhere, although I really meant the whole Pepperland album. Never going to happen I suppose.

  25. Robert says:

    Great review. Over here in the States, I was a Teen during this time and Paul was viewed as a rock dinosaur and didnt fit in with our New Wave/Alternative heroes. I remember watching his music videos on VH1 which seemed to strengthen our view of him as an oldie and the music never didnt much for me. Some of my favorite albums are from Paul (Band On The Run) but the mid to late 1980’s were not very kind to him. I may give this album a listen but based on what they write and the ridiculous price they seem to view the album entirely different than the rest of the world. I’d say in the next year this will drop dramatically but unless it $40 or so I wont bother.

  26. Avitom. says:

    After all is said and done I will stick with my Japanese 2xCD set which is just wonderful with tracks that are not even on this SDE! And, of course, the great Download In The Dirt bootleg that is out now with all those SDE download tracks.

  27. Phil Davies says:

    Really excellent summing up of this impressive but equally frustrating package. Well done.

  28. Kevin S says:

    Excellent review. I was 17 when FITD came out and, while my friends were into Madonna and Def Leppard, I couldn’t get enough new McCartney material.

    I still like most of the album (as opposed to Off the Ground, which I just didn’t get) but my discovery of the time was Loveliest Thing – still one of my favourite Macca tracks. I’m very disappointed it’s not on the new CDs or vinyl.

    FITD did, by the way, introduce me to Elvis Costello, who became my musician of choice through university. I disagree about his version of So Like Candy being inferior – I can’t imagine Paul giving it the same dark, dirty edge.

    As for the extended version of Once Upon a Long Ago, the two 12″ releases each had a different extended version – one (from memory) with an extra-long guitar solo (may have been saxophone!) and the other with an extension of Nigel Kennedy’s violin solo. Again, I can’t believe these were left off!

    • Gareth Pugh says:

      Kevin S, I know what you mean. In my case, I loved the 2 bonus tracks from the Put it There single and was sorry they weren’t included here (download or otherwise!). I especially like ‘Same Time Next Year’. I later learned they were out-takes from late-era Wings sessions c May 1978 so maybe they are being kept back for a closer-to-that-time deluxe reissue, who knows.

  29. Dogfacedboy says:

    Its a dog’s breakfast. As a Costello and Macca fan I’ve had the demos since the 98 bootleg release and they sound identical on the official set. Moreover with all the demos on 1 CD they could have added another CD with the cassette demos on it. EC and Paul played a gig at Royal College Of Music in 1995 of which two tracks were broadcast on Classic FM – a mischievous ‘Mistress & Maid’ in front of HRH Sir Prince Charles and a fun romp through ‘One After 909′. Add to this Veronica, Back On My Feet

    Twenty Fine Fingers – love the demo – sweet little rock n roll number

    Elvis’ version of So Like Candy inferior? – you, outside! Must agree the 88 band demo is magic thou. I have a feeling maybe Macca couldn’t get with the lyric which is allegedly about EC’s old flame Bebe Buell – at least that’s what she says

  30. Colin Harper says:

    A brilliant piece of writing, Paul (from someone with only a passing familiarity with McCartney’s music).

  31. mike says:

    Dont Ferry Cross The Mersey and fourfiveseconds count as top tenners? This One demo available on McCartney’s site too.

  32. Simon F says:

    Nobody wants it 1: The Russian album. Anyone else remember the sign in the window of the Notting Hill Gate branch of Record & Tape Exchange back in the day pleading with sellers not to bring in any more copies of Macca’s Russian album because they were absolutely inundated with hundreds of copies of the bloody thing!
    Nobody wants it 2: There’s an old boy who runs a record stall in my local market; he’s been there for years, and naturally one of his many boxes of LP’s is marked Beatles and Related. Whilst other albums and 12″ singles come and go from that box there is a copy of Flowers In The Dirt that has been in there for as long as I can remember (and that’s a very long time). Nobody wants it. Just about says it all….

  33. tilfan says:

    Well, all this seems to be pretty ambivalent to Paul as well: he did not play any song from this album in concert since the tour following its release ages ago, did he?

  34. Marton says:

    ‘I Wanna Cry’ (another This One B-side) also disappeared.

    It’s good that the DVD is not 10 or 20 minutes long, but the Music Video collection is also incomplete, as both Put It There and Figure of Eight have 2 versions.

  35. BobG says:

    I got the 2 CD set at Best Buy (with the bonus 7″) for $16.99US. That’s about all I was willing to spend for this. Anything more than $20 is a rip….the Amazon US price you have for the 2 CD set seems off…Amazon now shows for $17.99US so if it really was 8.35 pounds then that was sure a bargain (at the time).
    Anyway, all of the hubub about the Deluxe set (and there were loads of legitimate complaints) was accurate and it looks like such a horrible waste of money (at most it should be $49.99 in my estimation, but who am I?).
    I bought the original CD when it came out in 1989 and I maybe listened to it 10 times but wanted an updated version regardless so the Best Buy option was the best one for me and the only one that made sense cost-wise (plus it got me to the $35 minimum to pay no shipping).

  36. BobG says:

    btw…I still can’t wait to see what the deluxe and super deluxe sets will be for “Wild Life”. I’m probably in the minority here but it’s in my top 5 for his solo releases.

    Also, despite the “Pure McCartney” set being a total money grab (well, really, aren’t all ‘best of” sets that)…I did eventually buy the 4 LP version and, I have to say, the sound quality is amazingly great and I really love the track list, so maybe all isn’t quite so bad in “McCartney’s World”. I still say there are too many hands in the pot and that’s why his prices are unnecessarily high.

    • Rodders says:

      Agree, that most ‘best-ofs’ are cash grabs. But the 1973 ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’ albums were great. Especially the ‘1967-1970’ Blue one… So many unavailable for years standalone singles and B-Sides in one compilation. Mind you, that said, Apple/Klein/EMI only put them out because of the ‘Alpha Omega’ bootleg set. Sadly now it seems it’s only about money these days… The Beatles mono remasters (2009) should have been released alongside their stereo versions as individual albums/CDs, not as an extortionate (at the time) box set. Pure McCartney and this ‘FITD’ reissue also smack of money grabbing that would put Del Boy to shame….

  37. Tim says:

    You are entirely too hard on PS Love Me Do. It was a fun little song. Certainly not the worst ( Freedom is).

    But color me weird because I love Press To Play

    • mike says:

      Totally agree Tim, its a better album than anything else from 1980-1984. Pretty Little Head is an amazing track.

      • Paul Sinclair says:

        I cherish my 3-track cassette single of that song, with all three tracks non-album. It’s really strange with the seven-inch mixed by a different person to the 12-inch. Also, how did Paul get away with using a bit of She’s Leaving Home in the intro to the video?!

  38. Ron says:

    I liked “PS Love Me Do.”

    I loved “This One”!

    Overall, a “very” strong album.

    The live versions of the songs from this album from that tour and live album were awesome!

  39. AlexKx says:

    Why do you think that “Wild Life” will GET a SDE?

  40. Ian McJannet says:

    Quite Simple …
    At nearly 100 pounds Paul McCartney is just taking the piss with this random collection !!!!
    JUST DON’T BUY IT …….

  41. Paul Jary says:

    As a life long Beatles/solo fan I reluctantly bought the FITD deluxe box set. Extremely disappointed the downloads are not on physical CD. (what a hassle trying to down load tracks & then copy to a disc). Especially when the two demo CDs are only about 35 minutes long each. All the demos could have been on one CD. The other CD could have contained all the down load tracks. Also there are no demos of other FITD tracks why not? I cannot believe that whoever put this box set together gave a lot of thought or understands what the fans wanted! With no card in the box giving details of the next release could this be an end to the archive releases or maybe they will become download only releases!! I bought this box & gave it the benefit of doubt but will not buy the next one if it contains any down load tracks. PM has succeeded in disappointing many longtime fans. If PM wanted to redress the situation I’m sure he or his staff could have a CD pressed up of the download tracks & supply fans using the download code card who bought the box sent out via his website.

    website?

  42. Mikael Widell says:

    There is a bonus demo mix of “The Lovers That Never Were” done by Geoff Emerick added as a hidden track and also included as DL. Thanks for an excellent review, Paul.

  43. Webvan says:

    Biggest Macca fan here and I agree with your take on the macca/mcmanus story. Not good enough in 1988 but now the selling point to fleece our pockets (again) ? Not right…and yes that album could have been a classic had Macca shown some courage/vision. He certainly had the money in the bank to afford taking a few chances!

    Having said that I was overjoyed to be able to catch him live for the first time in 89 for a nostalgia show, even then…

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Yes, I saw him live for the first time on that tour (early 1990). That was a really big deal for me.

  44. Mr. Ska '57 says:

    Vote with your wallets! I’m curious to see how sales stack up after six months.

  45. Albert Tatlock says:

    Agree about ‘Flowers’ tracks being left off ‘Pure McCartney, so fans will buy another release/reissue. That’s the sort of thing Klein might have done… Everyone’s waiting for the upcoming Sgt Pepper 50th anniversary bonanza anyway…

    Word is Ringo himself has now heard Giles Martin’s remix of Pepper (Yellow Sub Songtrack style) and has given his approval. No word from Macca yet though…

    http://wogew.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/ringo-listens-to-remastered-sgt-pepper.html

  46. JudeMac says:

    I’ve had all the stuff already from the days it was out including all the stuff downloadable (except the demos maybe) but the Voodoo records release on 4 CD’s or if you can get a FLAC version is better then this legal set. seek it out, worth getting that one.

  47. Petter says:

    The deluxe arrived today and I was just surprised by the great quality of the product. So much has been said about the tracklisting and such, now just to emphasize the other side, I think just to carry the weight 2,2kg made me understand that it’s a totally different product to the 2 CD-version. As should be given the pricing, and yet still it’s not about the amount of disc’s, it’s the overall production values. They are great and you get 5 gigabytes of download content including the 24-bit stuff that’s the 3 CD’s. The rest is 16-bit.

  48. CJ says:

    In related news: in my trip to the local independent record sop on Wednesday (where i picked up the Tango in the Night SDE a few days before street date), I noticed they were not stock Flowers in the Dirt. Quick inquiry at the counter–they are boycotting it because they don’t appreciate an major artists charging a massive amount of money to promote non-physical media. I say, good for them.

    Meanwhile, I happily paid 75 dollars for Tango in the Night, which came with everything I wanted on CD, as it should. I don’t need the vinyl, but I’m fine with it, because I got everything I wanted on CD. And somehow Fleetwood Mac were able to do three filled-to-capacity CDs, a DVD, and a vinyl and charge only 75 dollars. Odd how that seems to have worked, Sir Paul. Who’s doing your accounting, that you’re losing money on the half-there package you put out?

  49. Mark says:

    Thanks Paul again for the coverage on this which has been exemplary. Been meaning to contribute to the premium content. Just done it now.

  50. Tom says:

    I really don’t get it. I like FITD for sentimental reasons. Saw the tour when I was 19. Awestruck- a Beatle, live, me… wow. Over the years I hardly played it but I hardly play a lot of things which I like. Too much music on my shelf. Why the hate for this record? Rough Ride should have been remixed as a 12Inch. Peace.

  51. Tom D says:

    Excellent review, Paul.

    There clearly are a committee of people who cannot get on the same page as to what a set such as this should be. But as you revealed in your Scott Rodger interview, Paul himself was the one who vetoed the extra physical CD. It looks to me as if that “third bonus CD” was planned out as such by someone, because all of the download tracks (minus the cassette demos, which restart with numbering 1, 2, 3) would fit on one CD, which perhaps would explain some of the missing tracks others have mentioned.

    To me, it looks like Paul M. has an aversion to any bonus CD being longer than the album itself, as if it minimizes the “main course.” Only “McCartney II” breaks that rule. And I think he is very sensitive that he’ll be judged by the least of what’s included, so he seems to strive for the “best of the best” in most cases, rather than completeness for the fans’ sake.

    Quite funny about that “one of the most accomplished albums of the eighties” line (and what about “Tug Of War”??). In the strictest sense, considering all of the songwriting with Elvis, the recording of those demos (twice), and all the scheduling and sessions with multiple producers and musicians over years’ time: Yes, it is quite an outstanding “accomplishment”!

  52. Philip Cohen says:

    Apparently, the rumoured 50th anniversary edition of The Beatles’ “Sgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album will also have download-only content; content larger(more songs) and more significant than on the McCartney-Flowers in the Dirt” box.
    Remember, Capitol Records intends to stop offering music on “physical formats” effective at the start of 2019. This “download-only” content may be Capitol’s idea. With Beatles music, they absolutely can’t be permitted to get away with this stupid idea.

    • Stan Butler says:

      I recall the late great David Bowie insisting that extra tracks be put on a vinyl release instead of a CD (which was the thing at the time, and what the record company wanted) of a ‘best of’… When the puzzled record company suits asked him why, David simply said ‘Because I love LPs… They made my name…’

      They don’t make them like David any more….

      Capitol/EMI are clowns… See what various members of The Beach Boys, The Beatles (George especially), Pink Floyd, and Duran Duran think of them…

  53. Robert says:

    Thanks Paul, for this excellent review.

  54. Jeffro says:

    Ridiculous statement in a comment above that the 1987 demos sound the same on the official release as on the Vigotone bootleg. There is an appreciable improvement in quality, including a little thing called THEY’RE IN STEREO NOW.

  55. Tim says:

    Have to say after some listening Tommys Coming Home is a nice song. Too bad it never made it out of the embryo. Pretty dark lyrics yet lovely.

  56. Fernando de Oliveira says:

    The package is really mess. The ‘download only’ is a shame, not to mention it keeps out of the release the songs included on the japanese version od FITD (Rough Ride, The Long and Widing Road and PS Love me Do).

    A shame.

  57. Tom D says:

    Where is the source for the claim that Capitol is phasing out physical releases by 2019? I can’t find any corroboration for that except on this site’s comments.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I’ve read a few comments along those lines. Not going to happen. They’re not going to phase out physical if there is still demand and they are profitable.

  58. Max says:

    My SDE box number is 10999, and it’s cool! The artwork is great and the music is very good. And now I understand why PM & Co have decided against including B-sides on a physical CD as much of the Dwnload-only matherial in this edition is crap. The recordings which eventually got on the bonus CDs are fine, especially the 1987 acoustic demos: no wonder they also found their way on the 2nd LP. After all I think that was really a right decision, whatever you may think. I’m happy with this release and already expecting the next one, which would be… Wild Life, I think.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Not putting the B-sides, remixes and cassette demos on a CD was not ‘the right decision’.

    • Rodger Scott (they'll never work it out) says:

      Macca, Macca is that you? I told you to stay off the internet….

  59. Tom D says:

    Not in my view either!

    On the SDE collection, there’s an extra demo of “The Lovers That Never Were” (Geoff Emerick remix) at the end of the acoustic demos. Is this also on the LP version?

  60. Harve says:

    Hey Paul,
    What about the 2 other songs that Macca-MacManus wrote? “Veronica” and “Pads, Paws and Claws” from Elvis’ 1989 “Spike” album. Is there not a demo with both of them on it? I know the expanded edition of Spike had demos for both, but only by Costello.

  61. Avitom says:

    Oh sir Paul, please answer this: should I use my heard earned cash on your product where the best songs are only download or should I spend it on a 6 CD Deluxe edition of your other band called Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band?
    Which one do think is better?
    Waiting for your reply.

  62. vinyllistener says:

    great review.
    the whole album is superfluous.

  63. Tom says:

    Have to share. Scored the 2CD Japanese Version from 1989 for $US20, new with OBI, just a few days back from ebay.com. Got it yesterday, playing disc 2 now, feels new and legit. Laser etching of serialnumber. Sturdy 80s fat box and sturdy discs. If it’s fake, then it’s a good one.

  64. Wayne Klein says:

    My larger concern is that, if this doesn’t sell well, we won’t see more physical releases. Although the people who worked on this have a couple they are working on, I could easily see this shut down. I hope it sells well enough to keep interest through Flaming Pie and a couple of other albums.

    I agree with Paul’s assessment of this set. It seems like they could have gone the rest of the way and put the two demo discs together on one and then added the b-sides to the third disc. I appreciate getting this stuff but I would have appreciated it even more if they got it perfectly.

  65. Max says:

    Well I burned a CDR with all the download-only tracks and put it inside the SDE box – there is a special pocket in the black Ruff Book. No big deal.

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