Paul McCartney – Paul Is Live (1993)
When “Paul Is Live” was released, back in 1993, it surprised quite a few fans, myself included, seeing as his last live album had only been released three years previously and releasing another so soon after could be considered a little superfluous and inessential. I still bought it, though, on the day it came out, because that’s the kind of fan I am. I like to look at it as a supplement to “Tripping The Live Fantastic”, covering all of the new additions to his set, including excellent live versions of songs from his then new studio album, “Off The Ground”. Fans should make the most of the live renditions of McCartney gems such as “C’mon People” and “Peace In The Neighbourhood” because I doubt if they will ever appear on a live set list of his any day soon, although some committed lobbying by fans saw Paul perform “Hope Of Deliverance” this year, so you never know. Any song that appeared on the “Tripping” release (with the exception of “Live And Let Die”) is omitted here to avoid repetition, but a lot of people who had gone to the concerts felt a bit short changed that they weren’t getting an entire set from the tour they’d seen.
At the time, I quite liked it and still enjoy listening to it today, but I don’t feel as if it is half as good as “Tripping The Live Fantastic” and the fact that the acoustic set here draws heavily from the “Unplugged” session Paul did for MTV back in 1991 makes it sound less fresh than it could have been. In fact, you could argue that not enough of his set had changed to justify a new live album and the very modest sales of this title perhaps support that line of thinking. There are certainly inessential tracks, such as “Robbie’s Bit (Thanks Chet)” which, admittedly, is a pleasant bit of acoustic guitar work from Robbie McIntosh, but really, does it belong on a McCartney live album? The inclusion of “Good Rockin’ Tonight” and “Kansas City” seem pointless and the sound-check excerpts at the end of the album are very tedious, apart from the reworking of “I Wanna Be Your Man”, which shows Macca having a lot of fun with one of his old songs. There are many positives, though, with the first live outings of “Drive My Car”, “All My Loving”, “Michelle”, “Penny Lane”, “Paperback Writer” and “Magical Mystery Tour” sounding great and definitely pleasing the fans. One big stumbling block for me is the version of “Lady Madonna” which would have been excellent if not for the screaming keyboard “sax” solo which sounds horribly fake. The keyboards on “Penny Lane” also grate slightly too, sadly.
For some reason, the band as you hear it here ceased to be after this tour, with Paul “Wix” Wickens the only member to feature in his live band thereafter. It’s a bit of a shame, as Hamish and Robbie were great side-men, and nobody seems to really know exactly why this is, but after this album came The Beatles Anthology project and, of course, the sad passing of Linda, so perhaps it’s not at all surprising that Paul changed many things in his life, including the band that he and Linda last performed with. All parties (or most of them, anyway) moved on to pastures new and it was an unceremonious end for a period of his career that had seen a resurgence in both Paul’s popularity and general musical standing, with both of 1993’s studio and live album seen as simply “not as good as the last ones”. My opinion is that, while there wasn’t any great need for this album, it’s enjoyable to listen to. It is, however, also probably the most underwhelming live album Macca has ever released and should be one of the very last additions that any fan makes to a Paul McCartney collection.