Category: Wings

Wings – Band on the Run

ARTIST: Wings 220px-Paul_McCartney_&_Wings-Band_on_the_Run_album_cover

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.

Wings – Red Rose Speedway

ARTIST: Wings 220px-Red_Rose_Speedway
TITLE: Red Rose Speedway
YEAR RELEASED: 1973
CHART ACTION: #1 US, #5 UK
SINGLES: My Love (#1 US, #9 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Only the bonus cut “Hi, Hi, Hi”
LINEUP: Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney, Denny Laine, Henry McCullough, Denny Seiwell
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Paul responds to criticism of Wild Life by making an even worse album. Fortunately, he snapped out of it soon after this was released.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Pardon my French, but what in the actual fuck, Paul McCartney?

There’s only one song on this record that anyone outside of a McCartney junkie, or some soul that bought it in 1973, knows. It’s “My Love” and it’s a ghastly bunch of treacle. It’s cloying sentimentality with awful lyrics. I mean “My love does it good / Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa”. What in the actual fuck, Paul McCartney?

The other cuts, you say? The first cut is a pleasant enough throwaway about a bed in a barn. A couple others have a decent enough melody to be passable. The rest are half-baked ideas, more gloppy gunk, leftovers, and worse. The lyrics seem like an eighth grader wrote them for this girl he liked in English.

He does the medley thing again, but instead of some inspired and short complete songs, the four songs he put together sound like they were barely more than sketches. This was also supposed to be a band, really, but it sounds like he did everything himself again, and that didn’t work very well earlier in his career.

What in the actual fuck, Paul McCartney?

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Live and Let Die” was recorded at these SAME sessions, but held back for the movie. See, he HAD it in him? (“Hi, Hi, Hi” was also at these same sessions, but released as a stand-alone single. I mean, those two tracks and the b-sides could have easily replaced the freakin’ medley and saved the damn album).

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, “Hi, Hi, Hi” and the B-sides.

GRADE: D+: I actually almost like two of the songs. I’m exiling half of it. It’s bad when the bonus cuts are the best thing about the record. I’m not exiling “My Love” – I’m leaving it in my library as a warning.

Wings – Wild Life

ARTIST: Wings
TITLE: Wild LifeWings_Wild_Life
YEAR RELEASED: 1971
CHART ACTION: #10 US, #11 UK
SINGLES: None. They released three non-album singles in 1972
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Radio stayed the hell away from this.
LINEUP: Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney, Denny Laine, Denny Seiwell
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Paul formed a new group! Paul gave the new group half-baked songs!

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The first three cuts tell the tale. “Mumbo” was a jam with made-up lyrics. “Bip Bop” is what the title says. “Love Is Strange” is a reggaed-up cover that lasts almost five minutes. That’s 3/8 of the record, not counting the reprises for the first two (ye Gods, McCartney). They’re nice to listen to, and all – Paul’s a genius of melody – but there’s nothing substantial from the man himself. (The cover is well chosen, but familiar.)

Four of the other tracks are actual songs that make decent album filler, and then there’s “I Am Your Singer”. Sample lyrics “You are my song / I am your singer”. It’s a duet between Paul and Linda. Oh, criminy.

Keep it around if you’re a Beatles completist – otherwise you can pass and spare yourself from having “Bip Bop” stuck in your head against your will.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Dear Friend” is a response to John Lennon’s vicious “How Do You Sleep”. The title cut was also the first clue that that McCartney’s were going down the path of animal-rights and vegetarianism.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, two of the singles are there. One was banned by the BBC (“Give Ireland Back to the Irish” – #16 UK, #21 US). The other was “Mary Had a Little Lamb” (#9 UK, #28 US), recorded in response to the BBC banning the former.

GRADE: C-: I perversely mixed “Mumbo”, “Bip Bop” and “I Am Your Singer” to a lot of folks – maybe for spite?