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- Release date:
- Jun 20, 2020
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From paulmccartney.com, March 5, 2020:
LIMITED EDITION 50th ANNIVERSARY HALF-SPEED-MASTERED VINYL
RELEASED FOR RECORD STORE DAY 2020 – 18th APRIL 2020
On April 18, 2020 one of the greatest solo debuts in rock history, Paul McCartney’s McCartney, will receive a special 50th anniversary release in a limited edition half-speed mastered vinyl pressing for Record Store Day.
Originally released in April 1970, one month before The Beatles’ swansong ‘Let It Be’, McCartney saw Paul getting back to basics. Writing every song and playing every instrument (with backing vocals from Linda McCartney), the eponymous album represented a creative rebirth, bursting with new ideas, experiments, playfulness and freedom. Sonically, McCartney’s bare-bones home recording aesthetic imbued the album with an authentic lo-fi spirit, a much sought after sound that continues to retain a contemporary edge 50 years on. In contrast to the professional difficulties that came with the demise of the world’s most iconic band,
Paul was personally enjoying the contentment of family life as a newly married father. In a Q&A released at the time, Paul described the theme and feel of the album as, “Home, family, love.” This is obvious from the opening notes of Lovely Linda throughout the album, with tracks like ‘Every Night’ and ‘Man We Was Lonely’ musing on how much Paul’s life had improved—and nowhere more poignantly than on the tour de force ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’. Paul’s timeless tribute to Linda would be recognized as one of contemporary music’s great love songs, and remains a staple of Paul’s live set to this day, never failing to inspire tears of joy with its refrain of “Maybe I’m a man in the middle of something that he doesn’t really understand. Maybe I’m a man. Maybe you’re the only woman who can ever help me. Baby won’t you help me understand”.
Linda’s presence is also felt in the album’s iconic artwork: the front cover’s bowl of cherries photographed by her on holiday in Antigua, and the back cover’s portrait of Paul with daughter Mary as a baby, photographed on the family’s farm in Scotland where some of the album was also written. 50 years and counting, McCartney offers an incredible insight into the mind of one of the world’s greatest ever songwriters. The homespun spirit of the album and Paul’s taste for experimentation capture a unique moment in time: The very first steps of an unparalleled solo career that has seen Paul McCartney release decades worth of critically acclaimed commercial blockbuster albums including RAM, Band on the Run, Venus and Mars, Tug of War, Pipes of Peace, Flowers in the Dirt, Flaming Pie, Memory Almost Full, NEW and most recently 2018’s #1-charting Egypt Station.
The 50th anniversary Record Store Day limited edition of McCartney was pressed from a master cut by Miles Showell at half speed using the original 1970 master tapes at Abbey Road Studios. It was made as a vinyl specific transfer in high resolution and without digital peak limiting for the best possible reproduction.
Initially scheduled for April 18th, the release got pushed back due to the COVID-19 health crisit. From RecordStoreDay, March 15, 2020:
We’ve decided that the best of all possible moves is to change the date of Record Store Day this year to Saturday, June 20.
We think this gives stores around the world the best chance to have a profitable, successful Record Store Day, while taking into consideration the recommendations of doctors, scientists, the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, and the need to be good citizens of both local and worldwide communities.
[…] Below, Miles Showell discusses why half-speed mastering at Abbey Road Studios offers the finest listening experience available today…
What exactly is half-speed mastering?
It’s a vinyl cutting process whereby the disc-cutting lathe for an LP is run at half the speed – so for an album that would be 16 and two thirds, which is half of 33 and a third – and the master source is run at half the speed as well. So they’re locked together, both of them running at the wrong speed – slowly, basically.
Records are a mechanical recording of the music: think of sound waves coming out of the speakers as a wavy groove on the disc, and that’s kind of what they are – it’s pretty crude technology. So the longer you can spend carving that intricate groove, the more accurately it can be done. For example, if I was cutting a song with a tambourine in, you may have a 10 kHz component within that tambourine. That’s 10,000 cycles of air per second. In order to record that in the disc, you’ve got to have 10,000 vibrations per second cut into the disc, which is obviously quite stressful. You’ve literally got some coils inside – a bit like the little coil you have in a headphone speaker or something – that vibrate a stylus to etch the groove into the disc. So if you can halve all that, what is difficult-to-cut high-frequency information becomes relatively easy-to-cut mid-range information, and you can generally get it on far more cleanly and accurately. Nothing’s getting pushed to its limits, nothing’s getting stressed, it’s all just gently sailing on through and doing a nice clean cut.
Ultimately, if you can get a nice clean cut, then as long as the factory can make a good pressing, it will sound better at home. No matter how good your turntable is, if the cut and the pressing aren’t up to much, it’s not going to sound good. So, it all starts from the cut.
Though it’s horrendous to listen to for me as an engineer – it’s just mind-numbingly dull – when you play the record back at the end of the process, it’s just like, Wow. It’s kind of otherworldly, really. You get an amazingly clean high-frequency response, beautiful stereo stage – the soundstaging is really precise. You can close your eyes and imagine that people are playing the music in your room. […]
Last updated on April 10, 2020