The last two of Sir Paul McCartney’s fine new vinyl reissues are about as different as night and day. We recently reviewed 21st century releases New and Chaos & Creation in the Backyard. And we’ll soon look at Wings Greatest.
But before that, we need to explore Thrillington, a weird ‘n wonderful side project which was issued briefly back in 1977 (but recorded in 1971). Many of you probably missed this back in the day (I know I did!) but hard core Beatle people were hep to it; I eventually found out about it many years ago and have had it on CD for a long time (both a UK import and eventually in the super deluxe edition boxed set celebrating RAM).
What is Thrillington, you ask? Well, for some reason Sir Paul was compelled to create a sort of easy listening version of his 1971 smash hit album RAM, issued under the fake name of Percy “Thrills” Thrillington. Now, Macca has always been a creative bloke and creation of a new persona is not a new thing for him (after all, it was his idea for The Beatles to become the imaginary Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band back in 1967).
Of course the question arises: do you really need to own Thrillington? Well folks, that all depends on how deeply into Macca’s music you want to go. It is a fun spin if you know and love the RAM album (it is up on Tidal if you have a subscription and want to check it out). Of course, the music sounds nothing like RAM really, and is more like what one might imagine the 1970s era Lawrence Welk might have sounded like approaching this material (some of The Swingle Sisters are on this!). No, this is schmaltzy instrumental arrangements, corn ball lite-rocking and even some faux psychedelia dancing around the edges of the mix. It is a jolly romp if you can get your head into the mindset for it. Thrillington might even be good oddball demo disc for some of you out there in audiophile land.
This reissue is really nice and it sounds quite warm with a better sense of the studio space the orchestra was recorded in than on the CD. The 180-gram black vinyl is well centered and quiet. They even put it on the period-accurate late 70s purple Capitol Records label for the US editions, even though these were pressed in Germany (the album was on the Regal Zonophone label in the UK). And of course, half of the fun is just relishing the full size presentation of the wonderful cover artwork designed by Jeff Cummings and Hipgnosis. These are good things audiophiles and record collectors tend to like.
Someone at Universal Music Group (which did these reissues) was paying attention to little details that count to the fans. This reissue of Thrillington includes a brilliant design for the free MP3 download card : it looks like a cheap-o cheesy business card for Percy Thrillington, printed in fancy over-the-top script font bearing posh English addresses.