Three disc box of singles, rare footage and live shows

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Paul McCartney – The McCartney Years

“All pizza and fairytales,” was [b]John Lennon[/b]’s withering mid-70s putdown of the [b]McCartney[/b] canon, and while this new DVD box of solo videos, Wings footage, live shows, duets, interviews and documentaries certainly has its fair share of three-cheese crust and Disney schmaltz, it also has enough to suggest that a life without either of those things would be pretty dismal.

McCartney himself recalls, on the extensive track-by-track commentary, [b]Bruce Springsteen[/b] approaching him at an awards show, telling him that for the longest time he never could get the point of “Silly Love Songs”. “But now I’ve got a wife and kids myself, well, it makes a lot more sense.” You would have hardly thought The Boss would be in need of such sentimental education.

As the title of the collection hints, The McCartney Years often feels as much like a belated memorial for Linda as it is a round-up of old promos and live shows. The pair famously spent only a week apart over the course of three decades – and that only when Paul was busted in Japan. The best videos on the first disc – covering the Seventies and early 80s, from Ram, Wings and “Mull of Kintyre” to the duets with [b]Stevie Wonder[/b] and [b]Michael Jackson[/b] – are the simplest, Paul and Linda and the kids escaping the fall-out from [b]The Beatles[/b] in rural Scotland, captured in photos and home movies on “Maybe I’m Amazed” and “Heart of the Country”.

The contentment he found here undoubtedly demotivated him as a writer. Having conquered the world in the 60s, proved himself again and found domestic bliss in the 70s, what was left for him to do in the 80s and 90s? The second disc is best when McCartney is simply remembering the music that first inspired him – a verse of [b]Eddie Cochrane[/b]’s “20 Flight Rock” on the Parkinson show, a cover of [b]The Vipers[/b]’ skiffle b-side “No Other Baby”, a snatch of the first [b]Buddy Holly[/b] pastiche he wrote as a fourteen year old.

The third disc collects three live performances: Wings’ 1976 Rockshow, a mellow, Unplugged from 1991 and ultimately the eccentrically exuberant Glastonbury set from 2004, where McCartney, with all his cheese, showbiz singalong wisdom, melody and magic, finally seemed to have found his ideal home.

EXTRAS: Track commentaries, [b]Melvyn Bragg[/b] and [b]Parkinson[/b] interviews, Creating Chaos documentary, Live Aid footage, alternate takes.
4*

STEPHEN TROUSSÉ