London Town (1978)

Paul really wanted to tour again in as they recorded in 1977, but Linda had become pregnant with fourth child, James, and so that idea was delayed for the time being. With Jimmy and Joe now officially out of the band, the task of finishing the album fell upon the shoulders of the three.

“Mull Of Kintyre” was an amazing success and Paul again began to work much closer with Denny, as he had in 1973 on BAND ON THE RUN.

DENNY would receive five co-writing song credits on the album, as well as two lead vocals.

Sadly, when Denny reached his most difficult financial times after Wings broke up officially in 1980 he reluctantly sold his co-share writing credit of “Mull” back to Paul for a pittance .

Even with the enormous success the band had the last five years Paul was notorious for being very frugal when it came to paying his band members.

So, in early 1978 Paul, Denny and Linda reunited to put the final touches on the next album, which would end up being called LONDON TOWN. From January 4th to the 23rd they finished the album.

Since Paul still envisioned Wings as a touring band he quickly found the next generation of drummer and lead guitarist for the always changing lineup. He hired the young, talented Laurence Juber as his lead guitarist and Steve Holly on drums. In fact, even though they didn’t play on “I’ve Had Enough” didn’t prevent Paul from using them in the music video released when it was pulled as a single.

LONDON TOWN was released on March 31st, one week after the first single “With A Little Luck” was released. Paul, Linda and Denny made an odd video for this track.

Interesting, at this point Linda is no longer listed with any co-writing credits as she had been on nearly every song since RAM.

“Luck” gave Paul his next #1 US single. “I’ve Had Enough” was released as the second single on June 16th and the third single, “London Town” was released on August 26th.
Neither of the last two made any dent on the charts.

McCartney had hit his peak and now disco, R&B, punk, funk, new wave and hard rock acts were taking over the charts.

The music world now had Elvis Costello, Cheap Trick, Foreigner, AC/DC, Rush, Journey, XTC, The Ramones, Heart, The Cars, Patti Smith, Peter Frampton, Steve Miller Band, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The revamped Fleetwood Mac, Van Halen, Heart, Squeeze, The Talking Heads, Blondie, solo Michael Jackson, The re-inspired Bee Gees, Prince etc… and at 36 years old, Paul started seeming non-vital.

The thing about this album was how Paul had erased nearly every visible trace of Jimmy and Joe on the album.

They are not pictured in any form on the album (other than listed performing credits on the inside jacket) or any promotional work associated with the album, even after they played on nearly every track.

So, on March 31st, still living in my college dorm, sat with about 10 of my friends, as the local Philly rock radio station played the ENTIRE album on its release day. I was so excited and we all got in the right frame of mind as the needle dropped on the first track….

“London Town” The gentle electric piano eases us onto the road to London Town, followed by Paul’s looping bass leading into the gentle melody. Then Paul, Linda and Denny sing…..

Walking down the sidewalk on a purple afternoon
I was accosted by a barker, playing a simple tune
Upon his flute, toot toot toot toot…

Within seconds the entire room (except for me) bursts into laughter…. Toot toot toot toot……

The rest of the song progresses casually,
Even a interesting instrumental break that gives the song a bit of an edge.
Classic Wings backing vocals…. It all sounds good…..

Then…. The next verse….

Crawling down the pavement on a Sunday afternoon
I was arrested by a rozzer, wearing a pink balloon
About his foot, toot toot toot toot….

(laughter, part two)
The song comes to an end, and they all look to me, the defender of all things McCartney….. I lower my head…

It’s not that “London Town” is a bad song, it’s not…. It sounds very well recorded and the vocals are near perfect. It just came down to the words on the paper. Paul just seemed, again, to be mailing it in lyrically.
But no time to lick my wounds as the song quickly goes into the bouncy…
Rating – 7

“Cafe On The Left Bank” The first boat song. A nice little toe tapper with again, lyrics that are trite and seemingly meaningless. This is not “Imagine.” Rating – 6

“I’m Carrying” Another song basically done on the boat. This is a solo Paul song as he dose it all by himself. A song that makes me feel sad, even though I’m sure Paul meant it not to be. It has ALWAYS reminded me of the days when my dad would see the New York Rangers at night and gently open my door and slip onto my desk a copy of The Hockey News he bought for me at MSG after he got home. This is the song Paul was singing around sunset when dolphins were jumping around the boat. That must have been a powerful moment for all involved. Rating – 8

“Backwards Traveller” First song on the album that was down without Joe and Jimmy (Paul plays the drums on all of these three person tracks). It starts out with a flash and a very interesting melody and lyric and then quits after one verse and flows into….. Rating – 6

“Cuff Link” Must have been created around the same time as “Backwards.” A synth heavy instrumental that does nothing of interest and fades out….
Rating – 5

“Children, Children” The first song that sounds very nautical but wan’t recorded on the boat, but Abbey Road studios.

Written by Paul and Denny, and the lead sung by Denny. An ode to raising children and protecting them as they grow. Nice acoustic guitar work.
Rating – 6

“Girlfriend” Written with Michael Jackson in mind to record it. Paul told him of this at the SPEED OF SOUND release party.

Jackson eventually recorded in for his 1979’s OFF THE WALL album, but he altered the lyrics and took out the middle eight. Paul breaks out a slightly awkward falsetto and the song features slightly awkward backing vocals. Once again, they are all looking at me, and I hide my head in my hands. Rating – 5.5

“I’ve Had Enough” The end of side one. A boat started recording mild rocker that doesn’t really feel as if Paul “has had enough.” It seems like faux anger….. It features a 50’s style pause where Paul speaks to the audience. One of few songs on the album with a bit of grit to it, but the production feels muddy and distant. It tries to become something it is not….but it tried.
Rating – 5.5

The radio DJ came on, and the commercials began with the promise of side two coming up. We all re-loaded
For this, and I can actually recall many coming up to me and giving me the cheer up “it will get better on side two” encouragement. Toot-toot-toot-toot jokes abounded……

Side two opens with the huge hit single “With A Little Luck.” The single had been out a week and wet my beak as this is clearly the standout of the album. The long version is on the album, with the long synth break. It is poppy, and occasionally the synths sound circus like…. But the message is nice, the vocals (both Pauls lead and backing) are excellent. The most inane music video of all-time doesn’t make me enjoy this song any less. The albums peak. Rating – 8.5

“Famous Groupies” A song that I think dealt with “the plaster casters,” two girls that would “excite” their male rock stars and then make a quick cast of their “member” in plaster. Interesting song, but it is all over the place musically and lyrically. Some love this song, some hate this song. I lead more to the latter…. Rating – 5

“Deliver Your Children” Another boat song about parenting that sounds very nautical. A Paul/Denny collaboration, but not nearly as strong as “Children, Children.” Lyrically…well… they are….
Well, the rain was a-failin’
And the ground turned to mud
I was watching all the people
Running from the flood
So i started to pray
Though i ain’t no prayin’ man
For the lord to come a helpin’
Knowing he’d understand
Deliver your children to the good good life
Give’em peace and shelter and a fork and knife
Shine a light in the morning and a light at night
And if a thing goes wrong you’d better make it right
Well, i had me a woman
She was good and clean
She spent all day with the washing machine
But when it come to lovin’
She was never around
She was out getting dirty
All over town
Deliver your children to the good good life
Give’em peace and shelter and a fork and knife
Shine a light in the morning and a light at night
And if a thing goes wrong you’d better make it right
Well, i was low on money
And my truck broke down
I was on my way to the lost and found
So i took it to a dealer
I said make it run
Well, i ain’t got no money
But i got me a gun
I said you robbed me before
So i’m robbing you back
And if it don’t put you straight
It’ll put you on the right track
Well, i ain’t no devil and i ain’t no saint
But i can tell a dealer by the colour of his paint
Deliver your children to the good good life
Give’em peace and shelter and a fork and knife
Shine a light in the morning and a light at night
And if a thing goes wrong you’d better make it right
If you want good eggs
You gotta feed that hen
And if you wanna hear some more
Well, i’ll sing it again.

The same man who wrote “Hey Jude” and “Yesterday” signed off on “If you want good eggs, you gotta feed that hen.” Sigh… Rating – 4

“Name And Address” Paul breaks out the upright stand-up bass used by Bill Black in the 1950’s in this homage to “The King.” It is a start and stop quality to it, and that’s not good, and again, the production feels muddy to me. There are moments where the song seems to be taking off and then..lands. Rating – 5

“Don’t Let It Bring You Down” Another Paul/Denny acoustic song from the boat that sounds nautical. Nice vocals and production, but when the song ends, so did my interest. Most of the songs on this album I have no interest on hearing today, other than to relive the feeling of that night in my Villanova dorm room.
Rating- 6

“Morse Moose and The Grey Goose” The final Paul/Denny acoustic nautical boat song which is actually about boats!!
Featuring actual morse code and a disco beat, it changes tempo in the middle to a sea shanty and then returns to the dance floor as Paul shrieks out the closing lines and the album finishes by collapsing onto itself. Much like the album???
Some people (Sam Whiles of Paul or Nothing podcast) love this song, but I do not fall into that group. Rating -5

The album ended….. The overall consensus of the room was that this album, in its time frame of music that was on the charts and on the airwaves, was a major let down. At the time I could not disagree…. 42 years later it grades out as a 5.5/10…. Yikes….. It still is a major letdown.

Next… the rest of 1978 and another and final crack at making Wings fly.

By tvnpsl

Woke up by my folks on February 7th, 1964 and sat in front of the TV and told "this would be important."
Like many, my life was never the same same after the first strains of "All My Loving." Love all things Beatles, but have always been drawn to the ethic and output of Paul.

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