The Alternate Wild Life [Pear 1CD JPGR 7738]

Ah, where would Paul McCartney be without Wild Life? The critics may have hated it, the fans may have mocked it, but if you want to pinpoint the moment where he finally put his past behind him, and remembered that music is meant to be fun, and a band is meant to be full of your friends, Wild Life was it. Maybe he didn't seem to be breaking a sweat across half of it. But the other half is McCartney at his best. The Alternate Wild Life is exactly what it claims to be, a gathering of "alternate" versions of the original LP's contents, pulled from hither and thither, but serving up very little that you won't have heard elsewhere. Which isn't to deny the fact that it's fun, because you have to love the reggae-fied instrumental punch through "Tomorrow," and the crude homespun demo of "Dear Friend," as stately a beauty in the Macca front room with the kids playing all around, as it is on the finished album. 

Outtakes from the sessions, meanwhile, include a knockabout "Yes Indeed I Do," "Cage," "Waterspout," "The Great Cock And Seagull Race," the foolish "Blackpool" and the utterly irresistible "African Yeah Yeah," a few jams apparently designed to test out Linda's new synth, excerpts from One Hand Clapping... okay, it does all get a little boring after a while, as fragment follows half-realized vision, and you start longing for the disc to end long before the 14 bonus tracks are through. But you asked for an alternate Wild Life, and you certainly got it. - Dave Thompson

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May 9, 2008