One of the most important albums of the 1970s Paul McCartney’s Band On The Run remains his most definitive and popular post-Beatles long-player on both sides of the Atlantic.

A new 50th anniversary edition on Dolby Atmos comes in a variety of formats for collectors including the two album 180 vinyl gram edition. It features the original US album track-list and a second record of “Underdubbed” mixes. The most arresting track of the latter is Jet, free from Tony Visconti’s orchestration. In some ways, it’s reminiscent of The Beatles release Let It Be …Naked which similarly delivered alternative mixes stripped of Phil Spector’s strings.

The instrumental mix of Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five is one of the unreleased highlights and fleshes out the most Beatles-sounding cut on the record. The harmonies provided by McCartney’s right-hand man Denny Laine and Paul’s wife Linda on Mamunia are another stand-out on the two versions, both musicians are no longer with us as Laine passed away just over two months ago at the age of 79. Travel and drama seemed to fuel the record, two band members left just before recording which began in Lagos, Nigeria.

It was left to McCartney, his wife and Laine to get to work. After being mugged early lyrics and demos were stolen. It had been a rough few years in the press post-Beatles for McCartney. In many ways, he was up against it.

Despite poor studio conditions all these factors helped produce his greatest solo effort. The finished version of Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five sounds like an artist on the ropes throwing everything he can at a track in the studio and it works. The 50th-anniversary edition comes with two Linda McCartney Polaroid posters and is housed in a special edition slipcase.

Most Beatles fans would agree that Band On The Run sits comfortably alongside John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band and George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass as the finest Beatles solo albums. Just what order they come in is another matter. 

+ posts