Lennon & McCartney…2024 Releases (Reviews)

Both John Lennon and Paul McCartney have new releases of old material in 2024.  We’ll start with a review of McCartney’s One Hand Clapping.

These are recordings from 1974 (50-years ago!).  Paul McCartney was coming off the success of his Band On The Run album.  Although that album was released under the Wings name, it was really just Paul, his wife Linda, and guitarist Denny Laine.  The other members of Wings had quit just before the album was recorded.  So, McCartney added more musicians in order to perform the songs live.

Paul (bass, guitars & keyboards), Linda (keyboards), Jimmy McCulloch (guitars), Denny (guitars), Geoff Britton (drums)

“One Hand Clapping” has quality recordings of the new band performing live in the studio for what was intended to be a TV special.  Most of the songs here are familiar…five of the best songs from Band On The Run, plus the hits “My Love”, “Live And Let Die”, “Junior’s Farm”, and “Hi Hi Hi”.  The band is energetic and sounds good on all of the group songs on the album.

Besides the instrumental “One Hand Clapping”, which was supposed to be the theme song for the TV special, there are three short original McCartney songs in a row that were not previously released.  They sound like they’re from the “Tin Pan Alley” era of songwriting.  It’s just Paul at the piano performing “Let’s Love”, “All Of You”, and “I’ll Give You A Ring”.  Here’s the audio of the three of them segued together:

They’re raw, but charming, and they show McCartney’s gift for writing melodies.

Also from the non-rock tracks are a couple of standouts…a beautiful version of “Bluebird”, and an acoustic “Sally G”.

“Bluebird”:

“Sally G”:

The released version of Sally G was a fun Country song McCartney recorded with studio professionals in Nashville.  Here we get just McCartney on guitar & vocal with an unplugged version.  By the way, the few Beatles songs on the album are just incomplete rehearsal segments by McCartney.

One Hand Clapping is not a must have album, but there are enough good versions on it to make it worthwhile for hardcore fans.  The two CD set is priced at $25.  Interestingly, if they had left off one 4-minute song, everything would have fit on one CD.  The choice for elimination…”Maybe I’m Amazed”.  It’s a great song, but this version has a tremendous amount of echo on the vocal, and it sounds out-of-sync.

The 2-record vinyl version is $38.

The John Lennon release is another “Ultimate Mixes” album, this time Mind Games.  Here’s how the CD versions look on Amazon.

You can see the prices for the 6-CD and 2-CD versions.  The album was released on July 12th, 2024.

CD-1 is the original 1973 album, but with improved mixes.  CD-2 has alternate takes of the same 12 songs, plus two bonus tracks.  By the way, the “Nutopian International Anthem” is not really a song.  It’s just 3-seconds of silence that was at the end of Side 1.  So it’s funny there’s an “Ultimate Mix” of it.

If you own any of John Lennon’s previous “Ultimate Mixes”, you know the sound quality is excellent.  Besides the two discs shown above, the mixes of the other four CD’s in the Deluxe version are titled… Elemental Mixes, Elements Mixes, Evolution Documentary, and Raw Studio Mixes.  It’s always interesting to hear the Raw Studio Mixes, because those are the songs just as John recorded them in the studio, without his voice being altered.

The 2-record set has the same tracks as the 2-CD set, and is priced at $48.

Mind Games isn’t one of John Lennon’s best albums, it made it to #9 in Billboard.  The title song was the only hit single (#13), but it’s still worth checking out all the alternate takes and mixes.

Here’s what the titles of the individual discs mean.  Elemental Mixes are stripped-down versions.  Elements Mixes are instrumental versions of the songs with only some of the instruments featured.  Evolution Documentary takes the songs from demo form, featuring segments of their development to completed songs.  Raw Studio Mixes feature the unaltered voice of John Lennon with the songs mostly in a band-only form before overdubs.  There’s also the disc of selected Out-Takes (alternate versions).

It’s a lot to take-in six different versions of each song.  Overall, the Ultimate Mixes versions of the songs on CD/Album #1 are best, and are significantly better sounding than the original album.   It’s also interesting to hear the various mixes.  Besides hearing John’s voice sounding so natural, the various versions let us hear the instruments better, and gives us a good understanding of the creativity of the arrangements.

My favorite songs on the album are “Mind Games”, “Intuition”, and “I Know (I Know)”.  One recommendation from the Elements Mixes is the instrumental of “Intuition” with the bass and guitar.  Here it is:

According to the credits, it’s Gordon Edwards impressively on bass, and David Spinozza with the great guitar touches.  Since it’s without the main melody, it makes it hard to recognize the song, but the parts are cool on their own.

Fifty years ago, no one would have thought we’d have new versions of songs by Lennon & McCartney in 2024.

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