"Coming soon to the Paul McCartney Archive Collection" is the headline on a small insert in the Band On The Run repackage, which I finally got around to buying (not the £75 version, naturally). Underneath are pictures of six McCartney albums, which will presumably all be enlarged over the next year or two. Thoughts and suggestions as follows . . .
McCARTNEY: I can't imagine how this could be extended, though I love the idea of a set of pre-album demos (which would probably be more 'produced' than the finished record). I'd be delighted if Paul can suddenly lay his hands on an hour of out-takes, even if they all turn out to be instrumentals. Anyone fancy a 30-minute version of 'Momma Miss America'? (I do.) More likely would be full-length versions of 'Suicide' and 'The Lovely Linda' (if Paul ever finished it), alongside the 1971 B-side 'Oh Woman Oh Why' (which always sounded to me as if it belonged on McCartney rather than Ram).
RAM: This gets me genuinely excited, as it's my favourite McCartney album. If there's a demo of 'Back Seat Of My Car' in Paul's vaults, I want to hear it. A proper retrospective of the Ram sessions would have to include two tracks that were belatedly included on Red Rose Speedway, 'Little Lamb Dragonfly' and 'Get On The Right Thing', plus the I-can't-believe-this-still-hasn't-been-released gem 'A Love For You'. In their wonderful book Eight Arms To Hold You, Chip Madinger and Mark Easter reckoned that 'Little Woman Love' was also a Ram out-take, plus of course the single 'Another Day'. Then there's the mono mix of the entire LP, which appeared on a US promo, and the ten minutes of amusing nonsense issued as another promo, Brung To Ewe By. I'd love to believe that there are hours of rough mixes and alternate takes locked in a cupboard somewhere; I'd also love to believe that Paul might lower his guard long enough to release them. But I'm not holding my breath.
VENUS AND MARS: We know there are rough mixes and out-takes from these 1974/5 sessions, because they're available on bootleg. And there are 'live' versions of several songs from the LP which were tackled during the Elstree rehearsals in September 1975. Plus film footage that was used for the videos promoting 'Letting Go' and 'Venus And Mars/Rock Show'. But why am I feeling bored at the prospect? Maybe it's because the charm of this record lies as much in its production as its songwriting, so anything less than perfection is going to pale by comparison.
WINGS AT THE SPEED OF SOUND: To my mind, this is the weakest of the Wings albums, and I'm not aware of any out-takes from the sessions. So the mind boggles at how Paul might be able to extend this to two or three CDs/DVDs. I'm happy to be surprised, though.
WINGS OVER AMERICA: Another strange choice. Obviously, there must be more material available, as Eight Arms To Hold You reckoned that the original 3-LP set was taken from eight different shows, and it's entirely possible that every US concert in May/June 1976 is somewhere in the archive. Plus there is plenty of film footage, as the tour spawned both the Rock Show and Wings Over The World films. But . . . could there possibly be anything new to give us? The set-list remained virtually the same throughout the tour.
McCARTNEY II: Well, there's certainly room for a two-CD edition of this album, because it was originally meant to appear as a double-LP, with several additional 'songs' and extended versions of several more. I can't imagine playing it more than once, mind you, but it would be worth owning as a reminder of one of Paul's more adventurous trips into the unexpected.
The overall verdict? It depends how McCartney approaches each of these projects. He is understandably reticent to throw open the vaults and let everything out, because a major part of his talent is/was knowing where to draw the line. My hunch is that he will always err on the side of conservatism, and hold out-takes back rather than letting all his dirty laundry blow proudly in the breeze. But then whoever imagined that he would do something like Oobu Joobu, which was full of weird off-cuts and curios? Be brave, Paul: the fans will love you for it, and you'll also sell more records that way.