The Paul McCartney Reissue Series marches on and the latest swag is a batch of random live albums – from Wings through the solo years. And ever since Sir Macca became The Professional Beatles Jukebox (entering into his version of a Never-Ending Tour around the same time as Bob Dylan just without the equal measures of stubbornness and nonchalance) we haven’t exactly been starved for McCartney live albums. Every tour – or every second tour – brings a double-live album that’s mostly Beatles, a few Wings, one or two revived deep solo cuts and whatever the new album is at the time. And they were good for a while, but it was as hard to care as it was to count.
So no one, beyond the moisty-palmed mouth-breathers, should be getting too excited about this latest bag of reissues.
But the Amoeba Gig is not just the best of the bunch but something actually worth your time – and a cool thing to reissue; in fact it’s the first proper release of it as a full album. And the best live album from Macca since he first started documenting these tours with Tripping The Live Fantastic and/or its highlights volume/version.
But another key difference – and something that instantly makes this cooler – is that it’s a whole gig, not cut up bits and pieces from across a tour. We know it’s a whole gig because it tells us that in the title. And let’s just talk about the actual gig it was/is: In 2007 Paul McCartney, of Wings and The Beatles, of Maybe I’m Amazed and, er, Ebony & Ivory played a free fucking gig in a bloody record store!
That wasn’t enough to make some people fully breathless so the touts pointed out that Ringo Starr and Woody Harrelson were in the audience. (Yes, Woody Harrelson?!) Anyway, this was some thing. Publicity stunt par excellence – because Paul can work a room and sell his story (what a story) and he’s the master of cheesy-grin mixed with rolling-the-sleeves-up which is why he can mug for any camera and then grit out two and three hour sets.
The album at the time was Memory Almost Full which I didn’t care all that much for, and now like a whole lot more some 12 years on. And the highlights from it here – fresh – sound great. Particularly Only Mama Knows. There’s loads of Beatles tunes, of course. He doesn’t do away with the gig-staples like Get Back and Let It Be and Hey Jude but he does chuck in Blackbird and a delightful run through I’ll Follow The Sun. And because it’s a small-room you can hear his voice and he’s killing it – never struggling, not strangling. And the version of I”ve Got A Feeling is a gem.
There’s also C Moon from that other band he was in for a bit. And you don’t get to hear that every time.
So a few surprises. The requisite cheeky-grin banter. And it all amounts to feeling like a super-well-recorded bootleg; which is the sort of live album you want to have. It makes you feel like you were there, is the perfect souvenir for if you were, and reminds that the little imperfections are a big part of what makes any great live gig.
If you’ve read this far you’ll probably want to give this one a hoon – the double-vinyl has a bonus soundcheck treat (Coming Up) but it’s also on all the streaming joints too. So at least give it a single run through. It’s some of the best Paul-is-live playing I’ve heard in a while and just has such a good-vibe running through it. You imagine the crammed Amoeba Music – the luck and thrill of the people there. And a guy who doesn’t have to do anything for music ever again still up there bashing it out – just like he is now over a decade on.
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