TITLE: Band on the Run
YEAR RELEASED: 1973
CHART ACTION: #1 US, #1 UK
SINGLES: Helen Wheels (#10 US, #12 UK), Jet (#7 US, 7 UK), Band on the Run (#1 US, #3 UK), Mrs. Vanderbilt
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Let Me Roll It, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
LINEUP: Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney, Denny Laine. Ginger Baker (!) and Remi Kabaka played some percussion while they recorded in Nigeria.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A pert near perfect record from Paul.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: What had Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway done to Paul and Wings’ marketability? This album barely cracked the Top 10 upon initial release, and it was only after the singles “Jet” and “Band on the Run” were released did it really take off.
This album, varied in content in styles, shows what McCartney was really capable of in the studio. Though Denny Laine has a track (his first on a Wings record – and it’s pretty good), it’s the Paul show. He rocks (“Jet”, “Helen Wheels”), he has his beloved pastiches (“Band on the Run”, “Picasso’s Last Words”) and he has those memorable deep cuts that everyone loves (“Mrs. Vanderbilt, Nineteen Hundered and Eighty Five”). He also mends the fence with John Lennon in “Let Me Roll It”.
Is it any coincidence that this album was recorded with just Paul, his wife, and trusty Denny Laine? I don’t think so. Laine was respected enough that he could provide ideas to Paul, and Paul didn’t have to worry about leading a band and just record the songs. This is a long, long way from “My Love”, thankfully, and is one of the best records of the 70’s.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Drummer Denny Seiwell and guitarist Henry McCullogh quit the band right before they went to Nigeria to record the album. Yes, Nigeria. There’s a whole story behind recording this album down there.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. In the UK “Helen Wheels” wasn’t on the album, because that’s just the way it’s done there. There also was a 25th anniversary set with extra stuff on a separate CD.
GRADE: A+: From beginning to end, this is an enjoyable ride with one of the best.