Friday, September 18, 2009

Paul McCartney 17: All The Best!

By 1987 the compact disc format had become a big deal, but in those days, CDs weren’t longer than 75 minutes. Since we’d gotten used to LPs that totaled 45 minutes, the labels decided they could make more cash (and pay less in royalties) with 75-minute two-LP counterparts to CDs, rather than two CDs totaling 90 minutes put together. So when All The Best! came out, it seemed a little chintzy. More to the point, this McCartney hits collection was not as generous in the US as it was in the UK, where they got different hits and rarer tracks.
Maybe Capitol was so thrilled to have their golden boy back that they didn’t notice 11 of the songs on the US version were also on Wings Greatest. Plus, only three songs were making their first LP appearances: “Goodnight Tonight” was the ready-for-the-disco hit that had people scratching their heads upon hearing Back To The Egg; “Coming Up (Live At Glasgow)” made sense since few American stations played the studio version (which was played in the UK, and was thus included on the British edition of this album); and “C Moon” was the flip of “Hi Hi Hi”, an enjoyable foray into reggae and a worthy hit on its own.
While the UK edition juggled a few songs, it also includes the sublime “Once Upon A Long Ago”, which got the old McCartney recipe right for once. The gorgeous if repetitive changes more than make up for the pointless lyrics. The production is exquisite—there’s a great moment where the sax dovetails into the violin near the end. Not only was it excluded from the US album, the single was never released here at all. To add insult to injury, the flip side was Paul’s first released collaboration with Elvis Costello, “Back On My Feet”—another favorite by either writer. Whenever you hear him repeat “I’ll be back” over the fade, you can almost believe him. These tracks would have been more than welcome on these shores.
Was All The Best! worth $12.98 in 1987? It’s still an excellent overview covering his entire solo career (complete with hits from the Columbia era) and something could be said for including the earlier hits for first-timers. For those of us in it for the long haul, this was another of what would be many times we’d have to buy the same songs and albums more than once for miniscule reasons.

Paul McCartney All The Best! (1987)—4


  1. In the early 90's I was vacationing in Canada. While browsing in a record store, I noticed that they were selling the UK version of this CD. I bought it for "Once Upon A Long Ago" and "We All Stand Together" - neither of which I had heard before. The latter is forgettable, but the former is a very nice song. "Once Upon A Long Ago" came out of McCartney's sessions with Phil Ramone. It's a shame that didn't result in a full-fledged studio album.


  2. "Beautiful Night" was originally recorded at those sessions; I've heard some of the other tracks and unfortunately they didn't wow me.