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1977 The Road… or should I say the WATER to London Town

WINGS OVER AMERICA (December 1976) was a nice representation and Christmas gift for fans. It was retouched by the band in the studio before coming out.

I will review all of Paul’s live material in one shot…..back to back. After the studio releases . Same with his Classical releases.

“Maybe I’m Amazed (live)” b/w “Soily (live)” was released as a single, finally “Maybe” saw the light of day as a hit single, 7 years later than it should have.

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In early 1977 Paul had to sign off on his end of involvement of Capitol Records release THE BEATLES AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL album (1977). The album coming out was very exciting at the time. They had repackaged the Beatles material with these odd albums (Love Songs, Reel Songs etc.. and even re-released “Got To Get You Into My Life” as a single) This concert wasn’t presented properly till science enabled it to be reissued in entirety a few years ago with the band fully separated from the audience.

In early 1977 Paul was seemingly the only living Beatle that mattered in the music world and the only ex-Beatle that was still productive.

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In early February Wings reunited in chilly England and put on tape the first interpretations of “Name And Address,” “London Town,” “Girl’s School” and “Children Children.”


The band was not enjoying the recording experience so Paul again came up with this great idea…. The warm waters of the sunny Virgin Island, recording on luxury crafts.

It was a wonderful four weeks of concentrated work mixed with hilarity and horseplay, swimming and water skiing.

Word of the month was MELLOW and everybody is confident that this great atmosphere will result in a rich, new sound including nine songs recorded. It’s all going to be well worth waiting for.

The McCartneys and Wings wanted to think of a place to go where they could work on music for their next album and have a swell time while they were at it.

So Paul came up with a plan to charter a yacht and lie at anchor in a secluded bay off the Virgin Islands. That way they could swim and lie about in the sun, and play music late into the night without disturbing anyone.

In the end three boats were needed as there were twenty people and lots of musical equipment involved. One boat, the “Fair Carol”, was used as a recording studio and it had a 24-track machine installed in it.

The second boat was the eating and sleeping boat — that was the “Samala”, a converted British mine-sweeper and the third boat, “El Toro”, was home away from home for the McCartney family.

So the month of May was spent floating on the bright blue water under the warm sun off St. John Island. The food was great, there were cool breezes through the portholes at night, and lots of time and inspiration to record nine wonderful sounding tunes for the next album.

For a little variety the Wings Armada visited several different bays during the month: Watermelon Bay, St. Francis Bay and Hurricane Hole.

Everyone loved swimming in the clear water and the children leaped repeatedly from the boat like little water-babies.

“It’s better than a pool ’cause there’s more room”, says Mary. Small motor launches zipped back and forth taxiing the musicians and towing water-skiers.

At twilight the boats turned on rows of coloured Christmas lights all strung in their rigging and Wings music would float out across the bay.

(Paul) “We hired a charter boat that people use for holidays. The captain went spare when he saw all the instruments. We remodeled his boat for him, which he wasn’t too keen on.

We converted his lounge into a studio and we turned another deck into a sound control room, and it was fantastic!

In the last week of April the technical and backup team of Mike Walley, Trevor Jones, John Hammel, Geoff Emerick and Mark Vigars left London heading for the capital of the islands, St. Thomas, with a week to convert one of the yachts — ‘Fair Carol’ — into a sea-born recording studio.

A wooden control room was built in the stern and the Captain was very worried about the weight of equipment. Mike Walley relaxed him with, “not to worry, it’s just a few bits of wood and we promise to bang only a few nails in the deck!”

We had a recording boat and two others we stayed on. We didn’t have any problems with saltwater in the machines or sharks attacking us.

At night, there was much merriment, leaping from top decks into uncharted waters and stuff.

I had a couple too many one night and nearly broke something jumping from one boat to another.

But then you always break yourself up on holiday. The studio worked out incredibly well and the very first day we got a track down. There was a nice free feeling. We’d swim in the day and record at night.

TAKE THE exotic, sun drenched Virgin Islands in the Caribbean; mix in the mellow music of Wings and blend these sights and sounds on three ocean going motor yachts.

Result, a Maytime to remember.

On 30th April the Fair Carol, with the other two boats Samala and El Toro set off for Francis Bay on the island of St. John to link up the arrival of Wings, Brian Brolly and Alan Crowder.
Communication was often simplified between the three boats.

Everyone just swam from one to the other for planning meetings and sessions. On the first day Brian Brolly did not want to wet his clothes so dived into the sea clad in but a towel, revealing all as the towel took off!

Denny learned to sail but most swam around in clear, blue seas studying starfish, sea urchins, brightly hued coral and small, harmless barracuda, with snorkels.

By Monday, 2nd May, serious work began and a pattern emerged of three or four hour sessions in the morning, the same from late afternoon to evening, interspersed with yet more swimming, water skiing and fantastic meals on Samala, prepared by no less than the Captain, Tony Garton, a sound seaman but also a superb chef.

On the morning of the 5th, Paul recorded a track playing acoustic guitar on the stern deck looking out over a sun splashed sea. A dolphin surfaced to enjoy the super sound and splashed around the boat for some time.

Denny became crazy about sailing and spent five hours negotiating the coves of one of the bays. Work went well and a lot of good sound in the can meant a relaxed weekend, particularly for Denny whose long sailing expedition resulted in a severe case of sunburn.

On Monday the 9th there were more troubles and by the end of the day a hospital boat moored around would have not been out of place.

Apart from Denny having to be taken to Caneel Bay for medical attention on his sunburn, Alan slipped down a stairway, broke his heel and had to be taken by water ambulance to a local hospital.

In the late evening session Geoff Emerick electrocuted his foot, Jimmy went deaf in one ear and Jack Crymes (one of the support team from Record Plant, Los Angeles) developed a throat infection.

At two in the morning those still mobile raced in powered dinghies round the bay shouting, “Pursuit… pursuit!” and also “Who’s next for the medicos!”

Happily there were no more disasters and later in the week as the flotilla cruised across to Watermelon Bay with the band jamming and recording, Alan Crowder had the look of Long John Silver as he waved his crutch from Samala to the main party on Fair Carol.

It was a wonderful four weeks of concentrated work mixed with hilarity and horseplay, swimming and water skiing.

Word of the month was MELLOW and everybody is confident that this great atmosphere will result in a rich, new sound including nine songs recorded. It’s all going to be well worth waiting for.
On the last night Paul played the captain’s mini-piano and did the story of “The Two Little Fairies” featuring the song, “We remember that you were nice”, while the young McCartney sisters acted out the parts for everyone.

Then Denny led a procession round and round the Captain’s table to Paul’s tune, “Running Round the Room/Standing Very Still”.

As more friends arrived from the other boats the farewell party grew livelier and soon it was time to play “man overboard” in which everybody aboard was tossed overboard by everyone else (except Alan in his cast, Jeff, the recording engineer who can’t swim, and several pregnant ladies).

Next morning the “Samala” cruised to St. Thomas and put everyone ashore right at the airport for their flights back to reality.

Everyone was sad but tanned, and Wings was well on its way to a special new album.Recording ended on May 31st, 1977

On June 20th Linda recorded a few more tracks (which was building her project slowly but would remain unreleased until WIDE PRARIE, released just after her death and with her help at the very end).

Paul again sat down and knocked out a reel of home recordings of a few songs he was working on.

“Waterspout”. The amazing unreleased track that needed to come out…. Another of the tracks intended for the one of the various COLD CUTS/HOT TRACKS editions. Paul was beginning to use the drum machine in many of his demos and even a few recording sessions. This would peak in 1979’s recording of McCARTNEY II, which came out in 1980. Rating – 9

“Backwards Traveller” A song which would come out on 1978’s LONDON TOWN album.

“After You’ve Gone”

“Boil Crisis”

“Jamaican Hilite”

“Mull O’ Kintyre”

Paul also did a bit of work on The forgotten Bruce McMouse project, but Wings as a band had changed so much since those 1971-72 filming days (see below), that it was shelved for another forty years.. And as far as band changes….

Upon departing the boat and finish the second sessions the tension with Jimmy came to a head and he left after a final argument with Paul and was reported to soon join the reformed Small Faces. He didn’t really join, and started a few ideas and helped a few others before he overdosed by mistake just a few years after this.

Joe English left claiming he missed his wife and family and his life back in America. He chose to quit the rick scene and only play with fellow Christian performers. It came out many years later that he was battling many demons at this time.

And so it was back to Paul, Linda and Denny to return to the studio and finish up the album.

On November 11th, “Mull Of Kintyre” b/w “Girls School” was released as a single. It would become the biggest selling song in British history at the time and Wings biggest hit there ever. America promoted the B-side odd rocker instead on “Mull.” This was such an odd time for a Scottish cowboy song with full pipe band to be so successful at the height of punk. American radio didn’t even try, and “Girl’s School” was not a hit….

Macca had reached the top of the mountain and now was slowly headed down the other side of sales success (albums and singles wise).

They recorded in August, from October 25-December 1st and then December 3rd-14th.

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