"The main thing I didn't want was to come on stage, faced with the whole torment of five rows of press people with little pads, all looking at me and saying, 'Oh well, he is not as good as he was" - Paul McCartney
The Lovely Linda/That Would Be Something/Valentine Day/Every Night/Hot As Sun/Glasses/Junk/Man We Was Lonely/Oo You/Momma Miss America/Teddy Boy/Singalong Junk/Maybe I'm Amazed/Kreen-Akrore
"I didn't really want to keep going as a solo artist ... so it became obvious that I had to get a band together ... Linda and I talked it through and it was like, 'Yeah, but let's not put together a supergroup, let's go back to square one" - Paul McCartney
Listened to now, all these years later, allows it to be re-assessed, positively. I have always quite liked it, I have to admit. My opinion is a typically contemporary one, though, as the album has been re-assessed positively on regular bases as the years progress.
As for the material - The Lovely Linda is a short, tribute to the love of his life, while That Would Be Something is a catchy number featuring an infectious guitar riff. The short instrumental, Valentine Day has some excellent guitar.
The rocky Oo You has a Lennon-esque guitar intro and a definite sound of Lennon on the vocal. It almost seems as if McCartney was trying to write a Lennon-style song here.
Singalong Junk is the instrumental version of Junk (allowing one to singalong to it). It is superfluous and not really worthy of its place on the album, although the melody is still a nice one. Then there is the album's one true copper-bottomed McCartney classic - the fully-formed proper rock of Maybe I'm Amazed, which will always find its way on to a "best of McCartney" playlist. His voice goes all Helter Skelter throaty on the choruses. It has some excellent rock guitar, organ and piano too.
I have to say that one cannot deny that there is some lightweight material on here that, if it wasn't Paul McCartney, would not even get released and, as a cohesive, meaningful album it comes up considerably short. For some reason, though, and I accept all the criticisms of it, I cannot help but like it. I know that it doesn't deserve it, but what the heck.
Too Many People/3 Legs/Ram On/Dear Boy/Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey/Smile Away/Heart Of The Country/Monkberry Moon Delight/Eat At Home/Long Haired Lady/Ram On (reprise)/In The Back Seat Of My Car
"A grand psychedelic ramble full of divine melodies and orchestral frippery" - Simon Vosick-Levinson - Rolling Stone
After the deliberately "home-made" feel of 1970's McCartney, Paul McCartney continued in the same vein, to an extent, although this album benefits from a much fuller, more powerful production - more electric guitar, for example. It did still have that ramshackle feel to it, though, as if it were recoded in one of McCartney's farm buildings (it had not, see above). The whole "folk rock" laid-back thing was de rigeur at the time - Dylan, CSNY, The Byrds, Van Morrison, they were all at it. Why not McCartney? He ad a ten year legend to de-construct, after all. I am being facetious, but you certainly got the impression he just wanted to do some carefree, enjoyable music under no pressure. That is exactly what this album is. It doesn't really beggar too much analysis.
Too Many People is a confident, solid rock song, with potent drums and electric guitar and a memorable hook. 3 Legs is a light, folky and vaguely bluesy, enjoyable but inessential number.
The wistful, Beatles-esque Dear Boy has a hint of the material that Wings would put out over the subsequent years. It is, like all the album, cheerful, melodic and unashamedly unchallenging. McCartney still also had time for a bit George Martin-style orchestrated whimsy in the irritating but annoyingly memorable Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey. The former with its Yellow Submarine silly voices and the latter with its cheery brass and more haughty voices give Beatles followers their dose of McCartney silliness. Personally, I have always hated it, but still find myself singing along to it. It is another very Wings-like prototype. You almost expect it to launch into "ho hey ho" near the end.
As I said at the beginning, though, there is a fuller, rockier sound to some of this album, and we get some more rock with the chunky introductory riffs, electric guitar backing and doo-wop of Smile Away. If this had been on Abbey Road everybody would have said it was great. As it was, the public at the time remained underwhelmed by McCartney's output, which was a bit of a shame because, if one forgets about The Beatles, this isn't a bad album. Then again, though, if it hadn't been for The Beatles, he wouldn't have got away with an album as quirky as this.
Heart Of The Country is blissfully pleasant and endearing, McCartney expressing the pleasures of his bucolic life. Lyrically and musically, it is enjoyable. "I want a horse, I got sheep, I want to get me a good night's sleep...".
Monkberry Moon Delight is another Wings-ish jaunty rocker. It is more proof that this is a more fulfilled, credible album than its predecessor. I have always quite the rock 'n' roll groove of Eat At Home. "Let's eat in bed" declares McCartney, as if he were singing to Yoko.
** It is a shame the heavy Oh Woman Oh Why from the bonus material didn't make it on to the album, or the seriously powerful rock of Rode All Night. It would be a totally different album, and perceived so differently. Another fine non-album track was the single Another Day, which was one of those McCartney "stories of ordinary people" songs.
Mumbo/Bip Bop/Love Is Strange/Wild Life/Some People Never Know/I Am Your Singer/Tomorrow/Dear Friend
This album has not been included in the Paul McCartney remaster series, and it is now only available for ridiculous prices. (This situation has now changed - 2018) A pity as it is a rather pleasant pre-big rock band Wings outing. Dating from 1972, and like his first two solo albums, it sees Paul McCartney just messing around a bit, enjoying himself, as the first two tracks, Mumbo and Bip Bop show. They are just jams, really, but enjoyable ones at that. The organ/backing vocal riff from Mumbo is surely taken, magpie-style, from Sly & The Family Stone’s 1968 track Soul Clappin’, however. Bip Bop has a nice bass backing rhythm throughout. Then we get the quite convincing reggae of Love Is Strange (a cover of an old hit from 1957). It is one of my favourites of McCartney’s. I would always put this in a “best of Wings” compilation.
Wild Life has more than a hint of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s Almost Cut My Hair about it. A six minute impassioned song in support of the rights of animals, always one of his causes. Some People Never Know is a beautiful, late Beatles-ish laid back song, nothing wrong with it whatsoever. If it had appeared on The White Album, people would have hailed it is a work of genius. It was fashionable to turn on McCartney now, however. Funny how things had changed.
Tomorrow is a song similar to many that Wings would put out over the next six or seven years. Nice harmonies in it. McCartney’s voice now sounded like his Wings voice, which was actually quite different to his Beatles voice, I think. Some lovely backing vocals and melodic, quiet bass on this most pleasant song.
Finally, Dear Friend is his moving attempt to smooth things over with John Lennon after a few years of sniping at each other in song. Rather reasonable of him, actually. It’s a nice song too. Genuinely sensitive. Nice saxophone/piano/strings ending. Rather sad, though, that McCartney always seemed sensitive in his songs directed at Lennon, whereas the latter was acerbic and scathing in his often puerile, needless attacks on McCartney.
The sound on the 1993 remaster is perfectly acceptable and the 2018 one is even better. There is a real laid back pleasure to this album. Most enjoyable. Just enjoy it for what it is. It is no Band On The Run, of course, the key is not expect it to be. At the time it was critically panned, with some saying that McCartney’s songwriting was never at a lower ebb, and just when he needed to gain back respect (after the patchy McCartney I guess) he released this somewhat underwhelming album. Quite why McCartney needed to gain back respect is unclear to me. He was only a few years on from Abbey Road.
Big Barn Bed/My Love/Get On The Right Thing/Only One More Kiss/Little Lamb Dragonfly/Single Pigeon/When The Night/Loup (1st Indian On The Moon)/Medley: Hold Me Tight/Lazy Dynamite/Hands Of Love/Power Cut/Hi Hi Hi/C Moon
"'Red Rose Speedway' was such a non-confident record. There were some beautiful songs ... there was "My Love" but something was missing. We needed a heavier sound. It was a terribly unsure period" - Linda McCartney
After a quirky series of solo releases in the experimental, somewhat indulgent McCartney, the slightly better Ram and the bucolic Wild Life, this was Paul McCartney's first "proper" rock album made with a full band and featuring a lot more power and attack in comparison with the airy, whimsical nature of parts of the earlier albums. This was the first album to properly establish "Paul McCartney & Wings" as a credible entity - a valid band.
Big Barn Bed is a loose, bluesy rocker that has a bit of feel of a studio jam about it, but it has some appeal, including some impressive acoustic guitar interplay and a thumping rock ending. It dated originally from 1971' Ram sessions.
Little Lamb Dragonfly is another one seemingly trying to catch that Abbey Road vibe. It is the last of the three Ram sessions numbers. It is like three songs in one, with several changes of pace and the bit where he sings "see me waiting" just sounds like something from Abbey Road's old "side two". It is a beguilingly attractive piece though, and no doubt had it been recorded by The Beatles in 1969 it would have been hailed as a work of genius. As it is, it was seen by many as poor old Paul McCartney vainly trying to recapture the past, which was a bit of a pity. Even the "la-la-la" fade out refrain is just somehow effortlessly singalong, showing that he still had it, despite the many contemporary critical doubts.
Single Pigeon is a pleasing short melodic tune. Yes, it does have a bit of a feeling of a throwaway studio demo about it, but it works its way into your consciousness before you know it. Then it finishes, unfortunately.
The final track, is another Abbey Road nod in that it is a medley - the upbeat, rock of Hold Me Tight, the trippy, Beatles-esque Lazy Dynamite, the acoustic, lively and catchy Hands Of Love, complete with a voice imitating a kazoo, and Power Cut. The latter is the best of the four and is contemporarily relevant (the country had enforced power cuts at the time). This has not been a bad album at all, and is worthy of more than a few listens.
** I do feel, though, that the bonus tracks - the rocking, sexually saucy Hi Hi Hi and the appealing cod-reggae of the lilting C Moon should both have been on the album, possibly at the expense of Loup. Other non-album material from this period included the now iconic James Bond theme from the movie of the same name, Live And Let Die.
Band On The Run/Jet/Bluebird/Mrs.Vandebilt/Let Me Roll It/Mamunia/No Words/Picasso's Last Words (Drink To Me)/Nineteen Hundred And Eighty-Five
"It's a collection of songs and the basic idea about the band on the run is a kind of prison escape. At the beginning of the album, the guy is stuck inside four walls and breaks out. There is a thread, but not a concept" - Paul McCartney
By far Paul McCartney’s most famous post-Beatles album. It is pretty much perfect. No instrumentals, jams or short, lyrically wanting songs, such as on McCartney, Ram and Wild Life. The songs on here are all fully-constructed big, powerful compositions with impact. From the perfect Band On The Run with its beautiful bass intro slow build up, to the storming (although lyrically nonsensical) single in Jet to the full on Beatles-ish rock riff of Let Me Roll It - this is an excellent album.
Recorded under trying circumstances in Nigeria, (poor quality studio, a knifepoint robbery and some health problems) the album is played mainly by McCartney, his wife Linda and guitarist Denny Laine, the results are quite remarkable, all things considered.
Beatles influences appear for the first time for a while. The closer Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five has a Lady Madonna piano riff and A Day In The Life mass orchestrated ending, while No Words almost sounds like it should be on Rubber Soul. It was the most Beatles-ish song McCartney had written since the split.
The melodic, catchy Mamunia, with its early T.Rex style bongos, the simply beautiful Bluebird, the singalong “Ho, Hey Ho” part of of Mrs Vandebilt and Picasso's Last Words, with its Beatles-style clarinet instrumentation on its bridge and French background chattering, all add to a piece of work that has not been bettered in the forty-odd years since by McCartney, both commercially and critically. Why, even John Lennon liked it.
** While the non-album single from 1973, Helen Wheels, is an enjoyable typical McCartney & Wings rock song, it would have been a bit out of place on the album.
Venus and Mars/Rock Show/Love In Song/You Gave Me The Answer/Magneto And Titanium Man/Letting Go/Venus And Mars (Reprise)/Spirits of Ancient Egypt/Medicine Jar/Call Me Back Again/Listen To What The Man Said /Treat Her Gently (Lonely Old People)/Crossroads Theme
"There are slight shifts on an album that certainly feels like the overture for the arena rock tour that it was" - Stephen Thomas Erlewine - AllMusic
Originally released in 1975, after the monumental success that was Band On The Run this was a somewhat patchy album, but the good patches were very good.
Listen to What The Man Said is still one of my favourite Wings' songs, a perfect summer single, and Love In Song is one of those beautiful slow songs McCartney seemed to be able to produce at will every two years or so.
Magneto And Titanium Man is silly, lyrically, but it has an appealing, full, warm sound to the backing. Great guitar and keyboards sound on it. Again, its melody and refrain sticks in the head. The same applies to Rock Show, which I have always felt was spoiled by its irritating "Mademoiselle Kitty" bit in the middle. The "old version" of this included in the second CD of extras is much better, fuller and bass-driven with a better McCartney vocal nd a more understated "kitty" bit. It is well worth getting hold of.
Letting Go is another of my favourites - a powerful, bassy, rumbling slow burning rocker, with excellent horns and a sharp lead guitar throughout the song. Possibly the best song on the album. Call Me Back Again is a heavy-ish number with echoes of I Want You (She’s So Heavy) from Abbey Road.
** Of the non-album material from this period, the instrumental Bridge On The River Suite is interesting, as is Lunch Box/Odd Sox and while Crossroads is certainly inessential, it is just so nostalgic.
Let 'Em In/The Note You Never Wrote/She's My Baby/Beware My Love/Wino Junko/Silly Love Songs/Cook Of The House/Time To Hide/Must Do Something About It/San Ferry Anne/Warm And Beautiful
"I remember one of my first engineering jobs, working with Paul McCartney on 'Wings at the Speed of Sound' — he'd do two vocal takes and ask, 'Which is the better one?' And when he played guitar, he'd really lean into it and give it everything he got" - Peter Henderson - engineer
Best known for its two massive hit singles, the quirky Let ‘Em In and the melodic and catchy Silly Love Songs (the extended album version is much better), this is a pleasant, laid-back album. Its success was probably due, however, to the presence of those two tracks on it. Paul McCartney decided to show that the band was not just him, but a co-operative, and allowed free rein to his mates to sing on various songs. This attracted criticism at the time (despite previous criticism being that the band was a vehicle for McCartney). Personally I don’t mnd. I don’t feel it spoils the album particularly. The songs still sound like McCartney & Wings songs.
The Note You Never Wrote (featuring Denny Laine) and She’s My Baby are by now standard Wings easy listening fare. Beware My Love is a bit of an underrated treasure with its rocking last half, probably the only true “rock” song on the album*, although Wino Junko (featuring Jimmy McCullough) has its heady, rock moments too, over a shuffling, semi funky beat.
With regard to wife Linda’s Cook Of The House - it is a fun, jazzy upbeat piece, but the dishes mentioned are decidedly unappetising! Time To Hide is again a competent but relatively unthrilling rock-ish song.
All these songs are extremely appealing in many ways, but in other ways they don’t really stick in the mind much. The album is a perfectly acceptable listen, but no more, really. It is a very summery album, almost easy disco-styled for daytime radio in places.
** An extra on the two CD version is a version of Beware My Love with Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham on drums, typically pounding away.
London Town (1978)
London Town/Café On The Left Bank/I'm Carrying/Backwards Traveller/Cuff Link/Children Children/Girlfriend/I've Had Enough/With A Little Luck/Famous Groupies/Deliver Your Children/Name And Address/Don't Let It Bring You Down/Morse Moose And The Grey Goose
Listening to this album now, in 2021, it comes across as a strong one - one of Wings' underrated offerings. On its release in 1978, however, it was considered an utter irrelevance by many as punk and new wave was the new flavour. This was decidedly old hat. The two years since the release of the group's previous album had seen huge changes in the musical landscape that this album seemed to be oblivious to. No longer were Wings releases awaited with eager anticipation, such as was seen with Band On The Run or Venus And Mars. Retrospection has treated it kindly, though.
London Town is one of the most Pepper-era Beatles-esque numbers McCartney had done since that time. With its brass, strings and carefree, nostalgic lyrics it could easily have been a song on a seventies Beatles album, had there been one. Café On The Left Bank is a typical Wings melodic rocker while gentle, acoustic balladry arrives on I'm Carrying.
The breezy Backwards Traveller, the funky Cuff Link and the folky Children Children are all short songs that are gone before you know it, despite their pleasantness.
The tuneful Girlfriend, featuring McCartney on falsetto vocal, is familiar to many as it was covered the following year by Michael Jackson on his Off The Wall album.
I've Had Enough is probably the album's most solid rocker and it certainly carries a fine thump. I have always had a weakness for the single With A Little Luck - it has a summery breeziness that instantly transports me back to the summer of 1978. I have always rated McCartney's vocal on this one, particularly at the end of this, the extended album version. Best track on the album.
Famous Groupies is a Lennon-esque humorous number with an obvious subject matter. It is also very Ian Dury-ish in its music hall, hammy vocals. Deliver Your Children is a pleasant folky, country rock song. Name And Address has McCartney revisiting his old rockabilly-skiffle roots on an appealingly lively number.
Don't Let It Bring You Down is a beguiling and enjoyable piece of folk-influenced, sleepy, slow rock. Morse Moose And The Grey Goose is an enjoyable, lengthy mix of rock and folk that is totally un-1978 (although a bit proggy, if I'm honest). It is quirkily experimental.
I prefer this album to its predecessor and it remains an underrated, little-mentioned one in the McCartney canon.
Back To The Egg (1979)
Reception/Getting Closer/We're Open Tonight/Spin It On/Again And Again And Again/Old Siam,Sir/Arrow Through Me/Rockestra Theme/To You/After the Ball - Million Miles/Winter Rose - Love Awake/The Broadcast/So Glad To See You Here/Baby's Request
This was the last album credited to Wings. It is basically Paul and Linda and two session musicians, Laurence Juber (Guitars etc) and Steve Holley (drums). I have always been a bit perplexed by the negative reaction that this album received, both at the time, in 1979, and subsequently. Yes, McCartney was influenced by punk and new wave, like lots of artists were at the time but the songs are nowhere near as bad as so many critics have pointed out. Not for me anyway. If Joe Jackson had released some of them people would have said they were great.
Reception, the album's short instrumental opener contains a slightly funky, Talking Heads-style deep bass line and it segues into the typical Wings mid-seventies rock of Getting Closer, a song seemingly written to a salamander. We're Open Tonight is a short, mellow Beatles-ish ballad while Spin It On finds the first supposed "punk" influence, presumably applied to it as it utilises breakneck guitars and drums. I guess it does sound a bit punky, but to me it just sounds like Paul McCartney doing a fast song.
Again And Again And Again is very Wings with a bit of a new keyboard sound and rumbling bass. Old Siam, Sir is an excellent song, mixing archetypal riffy Wings rock with a rich, bassy new wave-post punk vibe. As I said before, if a new wave artist had released this it would have been praised. The same applies to the vaguely white reggae tinges of the slightly Billy Joel-ish Arrow Through Me.
Rockestra Theme is a robust, rocking instrumental that originally dated form the mid-seventies. I guess it probably sounded a bit dated in 1979. To You is a pleasant new wave-ish number with some Beatles airs in there.
After The Ball - Million Miles is a slow, gospel-influenced song featuring some solid, stately rock guitar. It is sort of two songs in one as the second half is different in sound if not theme.
A similar concept applies to the sombre Winter Rose - Love Awake, which starts with some familiar McCartney bucolic subject matter before it finishes with some more Beatles-esque gentle breeziness at the end. The Broadcast is a strange sampling of narration from a play, the point of which I find unclear.
So Glad To See You Here is a last offering of upbeat, gritty rock before the album ends with the delightful thirties-ish crooner Baby's Request, proving that this was a lively, varied cornucopia of underrated material.
I guess I am listening to this now, in 2021 and thinking that this album sounds ok. I have really enjoyed it. Of course, in 1979, my Clash and Jam-loving self totally ignored it. How time changes one's taste, something that I am constantly reminded of when writing reviews such as this.