They were still putting away all the giant eggs used at the Wings launch party on June 11th, when Paul had Eddie Klein help Paul set up two 16 track portable recording studios at two of Paul’s homes, one is Sussex and then one in Scotland.
He used roughly the same recording technique he used 10 years earlier on McCARTNEY, by plugging his chords directly into the recorders, and bypassing a console, so no engineer would be needed. Paul would be free to record night and day, at his whim.
Over the next two months, Paul put down on tape around 20 new tracks. Another year of producing an amazing amount of new material. When he would play some of his ideas to people, they would say “Oh, that’s from your next album.” And Paul went from “I’m just getting some ideas down” to eventually “yeah, I get it is…
No members of Wings (Linda helped a bit on backing vocals) were called to help out, and when the tracks were brought into Abbey Road studios in September and October of 1979 to be mixed, no one was called in to help augment the recordings.
I don’t know what was going on in Paul’s head, whether he just needed a break from the day to day of leading his band, or if it was a crack in the foundation of the wall.
Singles continued to be released from BACK TO THE EGG, all of them hardly making an impact on the charts.
The critics were beyond harsh in their review of EGG, despite healthy sales. But even these sales were a disappointment to Columbia records and EMI, compared to other McCartney releases. How did this affect Paul’s attitude to his latest band?
Behind the scenes, tour plans were set up, to have the band get back together in early November, rehearse and start the tour on the 23rd of November, and go thru December 17th.
After a holiday break, plans were being made to have Wings fly to Japan to do the next leg of the tour, and then maybe onto the U.S. and other parts of the world.
On October 24th Paul was given an award and lavish party, naming him the “most successful songwriter of all time.”
On November 16th Paul released a new solo single, “Wonderful Christmastime.” He recorded this during the summer sessions at home, and this single was credited to him alone.
Wings rehearsed this song and performed it during the first part of the tour (England) and also the entire band all appeared in the music video produced for the song.
“Wonderful Christmastime” Super synth based track, that is filled with holiday feel and cheer. It is light, it is fluffy, it is an easy to process toe tapper. It is a song that some love, some hate, but when all is said and done, you can’t get it out of your head after hearing it. Rating – 8
“Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reggae” Another song Paul knocked off during the summer. It is a take off of the basic Rudolph song, but with an island beat. He called up a local fiddler, who showed up and one-offed the violin which accompanies Paul on synth. Not a big fan of this one, but a nice holiday companion as the b-side. Rating – 5
Wings did quite a bit of interviews when they got together to do their British tour, and behind the scenes all seemed well (see attached videos).
They even did shows in good old Liverpool and invited local school children and teachers (including those that taught Paul).
Around this time Wings participated in The Concert for Kampuchea (subtitled “Rock for Kampuchea”) A film and album were made, “Concerts for the People of Kampuchea.” The material was culled from the 4 nights of concerts in Hammersmith Odeon to raise money for Cambodia.
The event was organized by Paul McCartney and Kurt Waldheim, who was then Secretary-General of the U.N., and it involved well-established artists such as McCartney, The Who and Queen as well as younger punk and new wave acts like The Clash and The Pretenders. The film finishes with the presentation of Wings’ Rockestra (more of 25 musicians playing together).
Paul had added more Beatles songs he had never played live previously on this new tour as well as his solo, older Wings tracks, old time rock and roll and even new tracks from the album EGG.
All seemed well…. The British 1979 went as well as expected. Paul admits they didn’t really work hard preparing and drummer Holly noted that Paul didn’t seem to be enjoying the shows or bands performance as they would come off the stage each night.
On to the next part of the tour, on to 1980, on to big and hopefully better things. But first, time to pack the luggage and head for the airport. On to Japan……. wait, what????? He did what???
Next… 1980 and a year that would forever change Paul and most of our lives.
After the disappointing critical review of LONDON TOWN, the pressure really was on regarding his next musical effort. The gigantic contract with Columbia records, the working in another drummer and lead guitarist and the ever changing music scene was surely putting a lot of internal pressure on Paul.
As far as the new band mates, they were both recommended by Denny Laine after he met Juber on the set of The David Essex Show in 1977. Holly was a neighbor of Laine’s and he was quickly hired and appeared as drummer on LONDON TOWN’s music video for “With A Little Luck.” Holly reportedly turned down an offer to join Elton John’s band.
Both musicians were outstanding (especially Juber, a true virtuoso), and neither of them brought any behavioral issues that past choices had arrived with.
Both were young and eager to learn and grow at the hands of Sir Paul. But at a weekly salary that was 1/5th of what Paul, Linda and Denny paid to themselves.
McCartney’s new contract with Columbia made him the highest-paid recording artist in the world. As an incentive for McCartney, Columbia’s parent company, CBS, had added to his publishing portfolio by giving him the highly profitable Frank Music catalogue (making McCartney the copyright holder to Guys and Dolls and other popular musicals by Frank Loesser.
In 2005 The A.P. reported that Paul McCartney had a clause written into his $10.8 million 1979 contract with Columbia Records that would allow him to record with Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr under the “Beatles name. The details of the contract were kept secret until 2005, and while it is not an indication that a reunion was in the works, it shows that at least McCartney wanted a free hand if it ever happened.
But I truly believe that Paul wanted this album, this band to work, to be the most successful Wings incarnation and help restore Paul’s place in the Rock and Roll universe.
The album was done, and the TV special shown. Paul must have been the first artist ever to release a video album (seven of the songs on the album were done) of the music concurrently.
The album was released on May 24th in the U.S and June 8th in the U.K. They also had a BACK TO THE EGG launch party on June 11th, where all things egg were featured.
———————————————————————- I had just moved into my first apartment in Las Vegas the day the album was released and I sat in the sweet spot in front of my stereo and opened up the album.
The packaging itself is very very well done. The cover is a still from the opening scene of their television special. The band walked in, removed a rug from the floor, which opens to reveal space….and then pans in to begin the videos.
Notice the number of ways that Wings are shown on the cover. The lamps above the fireplace are shaped in the Wings “W” logo. The statue used on WINGS GREATEST album is on the center of top of the fireplace. Below it is a bird sculpture with its wings raised.
The band itself is positioned like the “W” in the logo and Paul’s hands form the Wings logo in reverse.
The title, “back to the egg”, meaning back to basics or back to the beginning, or back to touring, which the band was again planning on doing.
The back cover and record jacket are very colorful and informative. Paul, always trying to maintain being relevant, brings a more modern sound to the band, with hints of new wave and punk, in addition to the styles that McCartney has always gone to.
Paul said his now teenage daughter, Heather, would play her Clash and Damned records and this influenced him to a degree.
“The New Wave thing was happening and … I sort of realized, “Well, so what’s wrong with us doing an uptempo [album]?” … Back to the Egg was influenced just as what I had wanted to do at the time, the direction I felt I hadn’t been in for a while … –Paul
The album label is two sided, sunny side up (side 1) and over easy (side 2).
I place the needle on the opening track…..
———————————————————————- SUNNY SIDE UP
“Reception” Back in the day when we listened to music on the radio we would turn a dial to move from one station to another. This track is Paul’s imagining hitting a spot on that dial which picked up four different radio stations at one time. Juber played his guitar through a synthesizer while Paul added a funky baseline. One of the stations we hear is a reading of “The Poodle and The Pug” from the 1946 opera, Big Ben. The band is in the car and fiddling with the radio. Rating – 8
“Getting Closer” A piano demo from 1974. The first single released, and a top twenty hit on both sides of the Atlantic. A fantastic bit of power pop, with a great lead vocals by Paul and restrained backing vocals, and a beautiful play out till the fade. I was sure this would have been a major hit, but it was a minor one. I’m sure that Paul’s lyric about “Dad will be aware of snipers” must have freaked him out after Lennon’s senseless murder less than two years later. The band approaches (getting closer) the show…. Rating – 9
“We’re Open Tonight” The working title until Egg was chosen. The band announces they are there, and ready for you….. A beautiful and gentle song, a mellow invitation to come inside and enjoy…. I love this short song. Rating – 8.5
“Spin It On” “This is it…” The band goes into their best new wave. Rating – 8
“Again and Again and Again” Denny’s only written contribution and lead vocal. Was originally a two part song that Paul had Denny combine into one. Linda’s organ work give the song its distinctive feel. A nice change of pace that doesn’t slow things down…. Rating – 7
“Old Siam, Sir” Started on in 1976, and a great performance by the band. Lush power chords and Paul belts out a very effective but slightly frayed and buried lead vocal. A single pulled from the album that failed to crack the top twenty. Rating – 7.5
“Arrow Through Me” Classic McCartney melodic techno-pop, driven by that incredible bass line working with keyboards. The vocals are again slightly murky and buried, but they work. Linda’s horns on the keys are sweet, as are the occasional backing vocals. The last single pulled, that suffered the same fate as “Siam.” Rating- 7.5
“Rockestra Theme” A song started in 1974 featuring the incredible Rockestra band. Rating 7.5
“To You” Another very modern sounding track, with Paul using an interesting vocal affect. Juber’s guitar is played through a harmonizer with McCartney altering the settings in the control room as he played. Rating – 7
“After The Ball”/“Million Miles” Two gospel inspired numbers, merged into one fantastic track. “After” is the more traditional with the band driving it to it’s fade into….. “Million,” Paul, alone on the concertina. I don’t think Paul has visited this side of the musical coin ever, or as effectively as this…. Rating – 8
“Winter Rose”/“Love Awake” Another interesting merger of two songs. “Winter” does indeed have a feel of travel on a cold winter day, with a slight oriental feel…. It gives us a taste and then fades into “Love,” a traditional McCartney acoustic love song, backed very nicely by the band and added horn section. The short middle eight is delightful ….The song rises to a climactic ending. Rating 7.5
“The Broadcast” is another instrumental, designed to give the impression of several radio signals interlaced. Over a musical backing of piano, mellotron and gizmotron, it features readings taken from the plays The Sport of Kings by Ian Hay and The Little Man by John Galsworthy. Rating – 7
“So Glad To See You Here” The second of the Rockestra band performed tracks. A big thick heavy sound with a reprise of “We’re Open Tonight” at the outro (with Paul, Denny and Linda alternating singing the tag line.) Doesn’t get too cluttered with all that talent playing at once. Rating – 8
“Baby’s Request” A smokey 1940’s style jazz number that Paul wrote with The Mills Brothers in mind for recording it. One of the few songs Paul’s vocals are clear, crisp and brought out front. Odd song to end the album, but it works. Rating – 8
When released, the album sold very well, giving Wings a number two album in The U.S. and a number four album in the U.K., but it was outwardly critiqued as a bad album by reviewers at the time. Rolling Stone called it …. “the sorriest grab bag of dreck in recent memory.”
In 1979 I was not entirely happy with it, but giving it a new fresh listen 41 years later it is a very good album, that was not understood in its time, and sort of lost in an era of transition in the music world.
I have combined the ratings for the two sets of combines songs so my overall rating for this album comes in at 7.75/10, much higher than I thought it would get and much higher than the critics gave it, and probably what I would have that March of 1979.
Paul is always affected by critic praise and especially poor reviews of product he has put his heart and soul into. I’m sure he was devastated by the reviews.
But he was on a rolling coaster that had left the starting gate and this new version of his band was anticipating that this was just the beginning for them.
Tour dates were scheduled for later that year, beginning with 19 concerts in the U.K. to finish out the year (beginning in late November). Anticipation was then hoped to extend this tour Japan and possibly the U.S. in early 1980……
But behind the scenes Paul must have wanted to this ride to end as it went click click click…up the track.
Even as they partied with friends and the press on the June 11th night, Paul would begin immediately working at home alone on songs that would become his next album. This time, no one was called in to help… It was to end up being a solo album, and a series of events led to BACK TO THE EGG being the final Wings album.
Paul has totally soured on this album, and has NEVER played one song from it in concert since 1989 on….. Maybe THIS album will come out as part of his ARCHIVE set, with all the released and unreleased videos and tracks. And I would bring Paul’s lead vocals more upfront in the mix. Either way, this ARCHIVE release needs to happen…..as it has gotten an undeserved bad rap.
Next….the rest of 1979….. the end of the decade, and Wings….
The band reassembled on January 23rd and between then and February 9th they finished off a song that would become their next single and the first release on Columbia records in the USA.
This session and all of the EGG session were co-produced by Chris Thomas. Thomas had worked previously with The Beatles, Badfinger, Pink Floyd (he mixed DARK SIDE OF THE MOON), The Sex Pistols and he would go on to work with Pete Townshend, Elton John, INXS and Macca again in 1999 (RUN DEVIL RUN album).
The songs they finished were released on March 23rd and was “Goodnight Tonight” b/w “Daytime Nighttime Suffering.” “Goodnight” was the first McCartney song which featured an extended DISCO mix single (7:25) in addition to the radio friendly version (4:18).
The band filmed on April 3rd an amazing new music video for “Goodnight”, with the band dressed/performing in vintage 1930’s style.
I had just moved to Las Vegas in late 1978 and when the single came out the radio stations played the more traditional mid-tempo rocker “Daytime” on the radio.
Both songs are outstanding, as Paul really wanted these and the future album release to bring him and his band back to the forefront.
“Goodnight Tonight” Disco driven, with one of Paul’s most amazing baselines of his career. Lots of synths and percussion fill out the mix and make this one a fantastic return to form.
Juber’s amazing flamenco guitar work takes this song to a wonderful new level. Rating – 9
“Daytime Nighttime Suffering” A fantastic song about a woman’s private misery, this song builds quickly after its dramatic opening. Great drumming by Holly and lead and backing vocals that rival the best of Wings. Rating – 9
The single went to reach #5 on the charts.
Both songs issued only as a stand alone single, since Paul didn’t feel they matched the sound and style of the NEW album.
On March 16th CBS television broadcast “Wings Over The World,” the 1976 concert film. Like many of Paul’s ideas at the time, this film came out too late to capitalize on the momentum.
The new band filmed videos for most of the songs on the new album, intended for a promotion television show (it was shown on June 10th, 1981. Again, two years after the British album release and after the demise of the band).
One of the places they filmed in and recorded in was Lympne Castle, where the band spent a day playing an extensive jam session of oldies, unreleased ideas and even a vintage Beatles track (“Tell Me Why”).
The new album was ready and released on May 24th in the U.S. and June 8th in the U.K.
Next up……. Breakfast served….BACK TO THE EGG. But trouble is brewing in the kitchen as well…..
On May 5th and 6th the new Wings five went into the studio to record a song Paul wrote in anticipation of it being featured as the title track for a major motion picture, Alan Alda starring in, Same Time Next Year. The song was submitted but rejected by the studio because too much of the plot was revealed in the song itself. It was tagged on at the end of the film, and finally released in 1990 as a B-side to “Put It There.
Not a bad little piano song, with lush orchestration, which really kicks in the last 30 seconds. “Same Time Next Year” Rating – 6.5
Only July 5th, the band went into the studio to record the music for the soundtrack for the proposed animated film, “Rupert The Bear.” The project has never seen the light of day, and was started back in the RAM days. A full 12 track album was mastered, but again with no film, no soundtrack. Many are instrumental tracks with McCartney dialog introduction describing the next segment of the story.Rupert Song
Tippi Tippi Toes
When The Wind Is Blowing
The Palace Of The King Of The Birds
Sea / Cornish Wafer
Walking In The Meadow
Rupert Song (reprise) ———————————————————————————— A few of the tracks have come out in ARCHIVE relays (“When The Wind Is Blowing” and “Sunshine Sometime”) but the project has yet to see the light of day.
Paul did revisit Rupert a few years later with “We All Stand Together (The Frog Song)” which highlighted the short animated film released in 1984 (as the opener before GIVE MY REGARDS TO BROAD STREET film.
On June 29-July 27th and again on September 11-29th and from October-December of 1978 the band worked on what would ultimately be the final Wings album, to be released in 1979.
In 1978 Linda made a animated film for her solo recording of “Oriental Nightfish.”
The new Wings made the music video for “I’ve Had Enough,” the last single off of LONDON TOWN.
On November 13th Wings Greatest was released.
Of the 12 songs on the album, two were solo Paul songs, so a bit of confusion. The cover is iconic for the statue on the mountain. It still remains in Paul’s MPL office, but to achieve this cover Paul had the statue flown to the Alps and photographed by helicopter, rather than inside a studio.
This album released ended Paul’s contract with Capitol records in the US. Paul was quite angry at the company for what he felt was lack of support on “Mull Of Kintyre” single, where many radio stations played the B-side “Girls School.” Also, he felt they didn’t go all out in promoting LONDON TOWN.
So when push came to shove Paul signed with Clive Davis and Columbia Records, for distribution in the states. The contract was the largest royalty rate ever for his five year contract (thru 1984).
Buddy Holly week was celebrated for the third year in September.
On October 3rd and 4th the band filmed the recording of The Rockestra Orchestra, again another film project which hasn’t officially seen the light of day as of yet.
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…..here 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.
Paul had just purchased the Buddy Holly music collection and decided to make an album of some of the lesser known songs in which he produces, plays most of the instruments and sung by and assisted at his own Rude Studio by Denny Laine.
Linda helped a bit on keyboards and backing vocals. It was truly a low-fi experience with eight of the ten songs mastered in mono, to recreate the atmosphere that Holly had originally. Paul use the drum machine on many of the tracks and when I listened for the first time back in the day I found myself let down by the potential of this recording. It would be a year before the next Wings album was released and only “Mull of Kintyre/Girls School” single to get me through 1977.
Side one opens up with “Heartbeat,” a song I had heard from Holly before. Denny’s voice is perfect for Holly material, and Paul does add nice backing flourishes now and then. And this song is one of the best at that…..but it opens with that darn drum machine… Are they real steel drums? Set in a lovely reggae style, it is sparse, but in the end Paul joins Denny to give the song some oomph. Rating – 6.5
“Moondreams” A better drum machine, a lovely guitar fill to open by Denny. Lush vocals, with Paul’s bass driving the song, orchestration helping build the tension as the song moves on. Paul joins Denny halfway thru and they help bring the song home. The second single from the album. A music video was made of this. The best song on the album. Rating- 8
“Rave On” Opens with the three doing the first verses with vocals and handclaps. Then the music kicks in and Paul gives it a Beach Boys feel…. Real drumming, more steel drums. Rating – 7
“I’m gonna love you Too” Starts with a slower than usual tempo, led by Denny and Paul. It isn’t bad, it just goes nowhere. Rating – 6
“Fools Paradise”. Another song slowed down, with drum machine. Denny’s double lead vocals are the standout, with the call and response backing vocal by Paul. The best middle eight on the album as Paul make it sound very Beatle like. The 50’s guitar twangs take us to the fade. Rating – 7.5
“Lonesome Tears” Instrumental with that drum machine augmented by Paul playing live. Again, it doesn’t do much besides Denny decent guitar work. Rating – 5.5
“It’s So Easy/Listen to Me”. A two part song that opens up well with the popular “It’s So Easy.” Again, the tempo is slowed but Denny’s guitar work, Paul’s stand up bass and the vocals are very Wings and the song merges into “Listen to Me.” It takes a weird turn, with a pause and a coda of Linda on Keys and Denny muttering, “Listen, listen, listen to me.” Decent guitar work, but that damn drum machine. The modulated backing vocals fade us out. The first single off of the album. Rating – 6
“Look At Me” A slow builder of a song, which starts bursts into Denny’s best vocals on the album. Did I mention this album uses drum machines too much…. This song has been moving along at a pretty good groove, even getting funky at parts in the instrumental break. Lots of whoops and shouts throughout. Rating – 7.5
“Take Your Time” Another slow starter that is slower than the original. Drum machine…. Maybe that day someone brought some jazz ciggy’s into the studio because they do a verse in Chipmunks vocals…. And then finish the song with odd chants and more chipmunks, Why? Rating – 4.5
“I’m Looking For Someone To Love”. Instrumental ends the very short album, that does jump and jive and remain jazzy throughout. Very interesting interpretation of a song. It even comes back for a short coda…. Rating – 7
The album was a labor of love, but went nowhere on any charts. It is not an official Macca album but it does grade out as as 6.22 out of 10…. Not a must, but only for the this that must have every note.
Remember when Paul and Linda recorded an orchestral version of RAM, about a week after recording the original album.
Paul was secretly unlisted as PERCY “THRILLS” THRILLINGTON, the conductor of the music heard on the vinyl. The album was ready and then like many projects of the time he abandoned it. He started forming Wings and didn’t want to invest time and energy putting the final touches on an album of his last SOLO album. So at some point in he gets the idea to begin a ad campaign to hype the name and the potential product when it is finally released.
They even came up with a model to play the part of the mysterious “where in the world is” Thrillington. The album is excellent in what it attempts to do. It is an easy listening album of its day and yet it does it with a wink and a nod to its being more than just elevator music. “Percy “Thrills” Thrillington” was the pseudonym used by Paul McCartney to release in 1977 the instrumental version of RAM that was recorded 6 years before in 1971.
“I did one of my favorite little tricks, which was to use a pseudonym. Me and Linda sat around and we invented this character called Percy Thrillington. So we invented it all, Linda and I, and we went around southern Ireland and found a guy in a field, a young farmer, and asked if he minded doing some photographic modeling for us.
We wanted to find someone that no one could possibly trace, paid him the going rate, and photographed him in a field, wearing a sweater and then wearing an evening suit. But he never quite looked Percy Thrillington enough.” -Paul McCartney
For the record’s release, Paul and Linda devised a novel promotional scheme whereby the fabricated Percy Thrillington generated curiosity by taking out classified ads in the back section of British newspapers, making cryptic announcements such as “Percy Thrillington wishes to announce that, comforted by his specialist’s verdict regarding his condition, he has departed, all smiles, for Yorkshire.”
In addition, fake business cards were deliberately left in select locations around London, while radio and poster campaigns also tried to build a mystique. Ultimately, however, Thrillington failed to chart. Then we started this whole business in the Evening Standard ad columns, which was the really fun thing, putting in things like ‘Must get in touch with… Thrillington’, as a result of which the newspaper columns picked up on it – ‘Has anyone seen this rubbish going on in the Evening Standard about Percy Thrillington?’ – and it was good publicity. It was one of our madcap publicity schemes, as if we were managing this character called Percy Thrillington. -Paul McCartney
Paul finally acknowledged he was Thrillington during a press conference on November 27, 1989, when journalist Peter Palmiere pressed him on the matter. “What a great question to end the conference. The world needs to know! But seriously it was me and Linda – and we kept it a secret for a long time but now the world knows! – you blew it!- (laughs) I was hoping to remain anonymous. I always like people not to know what I’m doing. That’s why I find the whole social networking a bit weird.
I think it’s something to do with having been Beatles famous. […] For years I denied any responsibility and authorship because then, for me, I just had something on people – it was a good feeling. I’d just say, ‘I’m sorry. I have no idea who this person is or why he has covered my album’. I basically enjoy lying.” – Paul McCartney
THRILLINGTON was released as an exact format of the album RAM is a delightful listen to when not having to think about a thing…. *Rating – 8.0
In 1977 Paul also recorded that album with Denny Laine at his newly improved Rude Studio in Scotland. It would come out early in 1978.
Next 1978….and the boat lets us off in 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.
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.
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”
“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.
On May 20th, 1975, Wings returned to the studio and knocked out the very New Orleans inspired, “My Carnival.” It came out as a b-side on one of the V&M singles, and then various mixes of it and lengths exist. In my opinion it’s forced. They are recording themselves trying to recreate the sounds they may have had if Wings had done a surprise gig while down there and rocked Bourbon Street by playing this live. Accurate, but not much soul. Rating – 6
On the other hand, “Going To New Orleans,” the same riff as “My Carnival.” But this song is done with better musicianship and overall captures the New Orleans feel more properly. Rating – 8
“Baby, you know it’s true (demo)” Paul riffing at the piano and going through some basic boogie woogie chords and making up lyrics as he does. He never recorded it. Rating – 4
“Baby Face” This gem should have been somewhere. McCartney plays with Tuxedo Jazz Band on this 1930’s classic and he finds a voice I only have heard once…here. He owns this short version of the song. Wish he had done a proper version for VENUS AND MARS. Rating – 8
“Lunch Box/Odd Sox” Recorded during this time yet not released until being a b-side to 1980’s “Coming Up.” Two instrumental pieces, the first an uptempo jazzy style with irritating synths by Linda. The second half is a synth led motion picture theme sounding track. Odd indeed, Miss Money Penny. Rating – 7/5 = 6
“Proud Mum” Another synth driven instrumental that may have been started earlier and then touched up later in one of the cold cuts proposed albums. It Also sounds like “the end of movie” song. Rating – 6
In August 1975 and then seriously in September and October of 1975 Wings returned to the studio to work on the latest McCartney songs.
They did all the recording for the next album while rehearsing, during, in breaks from and after starting Wings over Europe and The World tours.
Again, January and February of 1976, back to recording. They wanted even more new songs when the “Wings over America” began in May.
The album was mixed and put to bed….until it awoke on March 25th worldwide release.
That night the radio station in Philadelphia played it for us, both sides….the complete new WINGS album.
And it indeed is a WINGS album, as a whopping five songs are not sung by a Mr. McCartney.
Ladies and gents, he promises us AT THE SPEED OF SOUND. Next… did he deliver?
Wings At The Speed Of Sound (1976)
So the tour with all glitches being ironed out and they’ve had a handful of great shows to analyze, and make some exciting song selection changes. Now add the new songs to the lineup. And they did…..
The album artwork itself isn’t very good. The front cover is part of the whole marquee announcing the band you would see in other larger ads.
I preferred the inside album jacket art. On one side it was hand drawn of the club called “speed of sound” and Wings is performing inside…. Oh, Wings AT the speed of sound. Not too obscure. The back of this inside album jacket was a collage of of B&W photos of the band. (see photos)
The back cover of the album sort of borrows from A HARD DAYS NIGHT. Shows each mugging for fast shots that blend. Upon closer inspection, it was pointed out at the time, it shows the first signs of age (crows feet) in McCartney’s face.
Interesting overall concept of the theater marquee and its lettering as again they knew the bands names would be in lights throughout the rest of the year.
“Let ‘Em In”. The last album effectively ended on “Lonely Old People.” “Crossroads theme” was added as short irony to “People’s” emotional content. It was a soap opera in the UK that pandered only to the very old. “Lonely Old People” was a song about the old couple sadly sitting alone at home, filling their day up doing nothing. You see, no one has asked them “to play.”
Now, the new album opens with guests of many sort ringing that front bell, all wanting in now, and Paul happily welcoming them all. Look whose popular now…..
A decent hit single that was highlighted on the tour with Denny playing the military drum part and the horn section also playing the flutes and other woodwind parts.
Like every song on the album, it is amazingly recorded, perfect…..too perfect. This was the apex of late 1970’s of albums sounding so near perfect. From the Eagles to Steely Dan, sonic goodness.
SPEED follows as well as it is a beautiful album to listen to. Not at all complicated in depth, and sadly in scope. This song, like most on the album, sounds good and I bop and tap along to it, but the song itself is lacking any true tension as far as the words and why they are in the songs.
So “Let ‘Em In,” not a bad way to open up.
Like riding an escalator to the second floor of the mall. Rating – 7
“The Note You Never Wrote.” McCartney written, sung by Laine. Stream of thought lyrics that make no sense…. The middle break leading into Jimmy’s guitar break are the best part of this one. The mayor of Baltimore is here….?????
Rating – 6
“She’s My Baby”. Oh yeah, two other things had changed in music beside flawless recordings…. A uptempo type of dance music being referred to as “disco.” And the stirring of a form of rebellion was happening in England that would emerge as punk. On this song we have Paul’s first toe dip in the disco pool. Sounds nice when listening…. Hollow. Rating- 6
“Beware My Love” Paul tries his best to give a screaming throwback rocker, but drops the ball by shifting the into a disco tempo, and way too much Linda in these tempo changes, Paul actually for the first time struggles to fully hit the notes he has written for himself here. But the song sounds good. The bass on this and every song is beyond compare. Rating – 5.5
“Wino Junko” Second McCulloch/Allen song collaboration , Jimmy handles lead vocal here. Sounds nice. Interesting drumming by Joe on the play-out. Rating – 5.5
“Silly Loves Songs” More disco on one of the tempo shifts.
Opens with a mock of the knocking off of love songs as compared to products coming off an assembly line.
Amazing bass line, the best of his life.
Has a variety of changes and shifts, and sounds great while doing it. But the song does not stay with my soul, as I have said on the first six songs. Rating – 6
“Cook Of The House” Trying to sound like a 1950’s dance band…. It is a song sung by Linda describing her love of all things kitchen. This didn’t need to happen here…. It could have been saved for her “solo album” that came out just after her passing. Or maybe as a non album b-side. I cringed when I first heard this back in the day. But it sounds good. Rating – 4
“Time To Hide” Denny written and lead vocal. And guess what, a great little song. Bass line dances and overall the song cooks. It has some nice instrumental breaks (Denny on harmonica) and sounded great in concert as well. Rating – 8.5
“Must Do Something About It” Originally tried by Paul on the demo but then given to Joe, who does much better vocally on this track. A meaningless toe tapper that sounds nice going nowhere.
Rating – 5.5
“San Ferry Anne” Interesting song that reminded me on first hearing it as one of the early 1960’s teen jazz coffee house songs that came with the short lived folk era. A flute solo, and great horn work. Haven’t the foggiest idea what this song means 45 years after its release. Rating – 7.5
“Warm and Beautiful” When I first heard it I thought of Little Rascals shorts in which Alfalfa sings tenderly to Darla and then he hits these squeaky notes. Macca again struggles to hit that squeaky note (…”the story of our LOVE”…….) and all I could think about Alfalfa. The album ends. It sure sounded good….. but was it?
Rating – 6
Overall rating of the 11 song album is 6.14
It truly was a full band effort. Wings would carry this positivity throughout the year 1976 and into 1977 until they recorded again…
Next….. other songs and recordings and tour notes for the rest of the year 1976.
THE REST OF 1976….
After five warm up shows in Denmark (3/20-21/76), Germany, The Netherlands and France (3/26/76) Wings Over America began on May 3rd in Texas and ended June 23rd in California.
I, again, saw the May 21st show on Long Island. They recorded each show and would release a three record set (augmented with post tour repair) for Christmas season of 1976.
Paul threw another post tour party in Beverly Hills on June 24th.
During the party Paul met with Michael Jackson for the second time, and told him he had written a song for him: “We shook hands amid a huge crowd of people, and he said, ‘You know, I’ve written a song for you.’ I was very surprised and thanked him. And he started singing Girlfriend to me at this party. So we exchanged phone numbers and promised to get together soon, but different projects and life just got in the way for both of us and we didn’t talk again for a couple of years. He ended up putting the song on his own album London Town.” – Jackson
During the summer break Paul invited Denny Laine to his home studio and the two of them, with a little vocal help from Linda, recorded the McCartney produced, HOLLY DAYS.
This is a Denny solo album, with Paul behind the dials and helping with each song. Since Paul owned the rights to each of the songs it was a no-lose situation. It came out in May of 1977.
Paul also spent time that summer by himself in his upgraded home studio and laid down a track of songs, song bits and ideas he was working on at the time.
Here is a list of tracks on the July 1976 Home Recordings:
Oobu Joobu – Became a HUGE radio show series for Paul by the same name and he would play classic tracks, unreleased tracks, soundcheck etc and DJ each program. This was the title track that became the opener/closer for each show.
Oobu Joobu singalong theme
Don’t you Wanna Dance? – He worked on this this a bit more later on.
Old Siam, Sir – Came out on 1979’s BACK TO THE EGG album.
How do you like the lyrics?
Dervish Crazy Moog
All It Needs is a damn good song
Fishy Matters Underwater. The most amazing story here… He played bits of this on one of the Oobu Joobu shows and then revisited it and finished it in 2018 and released as part of EGYPT STATION traveler edition as “Frank Sinatra’s Party.”
Hey Man/ Cards Up On The Table
It’s amazing how prolific he was, and to a lesser degree still is so today.
On September 7th thru 14th Paul and Linda celebrated the first Buddy Holly Week.
From September 19th (Austria) to October 21st (London) Wings returned to the stage and finished the hugely successful tour.
The band tweaked a few of the tour tapes and a massive three record set WINGS OVER AMERICA was released on December 10th, 1976!!
After recording was finished at Sea Saint Studios in New Orleans and Wally Heider Studios in Los Angeles (where the album was also mixed thru March 27th) Paul decided to celebrate the completion of the album by throwing a lavish party aboard the original Queen Mary in Long Beach on March 24th.
The ship was (and still is) permanently moored there as a floating hotel, museum, event center and tourist attraction.
Among the 200 guests on board were George Harrison (the first time they had been seen in public together since the breakup of The Beatles), Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Marvin Gaye, The Faces, an Everly Brother (Phil), The Jackson Five (the first time Paul met future collaborator Michael), Dean Martin, Tony Curtis, Cher, and Monkees Mickey Dolenz and Davey Jones.
I was driving my girlfriend and two dear friends on May 16 of 1975 and we met them on a local Long Island beach. When we arrived they told me that they had just heard the new single from the soon to be released Wings new album, which was to be called Venus and Mars.
We laid in the sun and it wasn’t long before the song came on again. Anticipation for this album release was the most that McCartney ever had generated as it had been almost 18 months since the highly successful BOTR (not counting the one-off 1974 single “Juniors Farm”).
The song was “Listen To What The Man Said” and initial reaction by myself was 50-50, as it was played thru a small transistor radio. When we got back into town we stopped at a tiny record/head shop store in downtown Greenlawn and asked the manager about the release of the album. He told me the date (May 27th) and I showed up like an excited child on Christmas morning and saw the album displayed on the rack.
The Linda McCartney photographed cover is sparse but lovely and striking. I guess the two pool balls are supposed to represent the two planets. Someone at the Queen Mary party came up to them and said “Hello Venus, Hello Mars” to them in the reception line. Paul was always…”It never occurred to me…etc…” I think it makes sense he did….. the “Venus and Mars are alright tonight” line makes me think this.
Inside the gatefold was a poster of the band from a photo shoot in front of an abandoned barn.
The entire inner sleeve was also a band shot amid the Mojave desert sand and sun.
The record label itself was in the style of vintage Capitol records from earlier in the century with the tiny red and orange balls linking the cover and lettering throughout.
Paul knew this album would be featured in the massive tour they were preparing and so track placement was factored in.
He placed the title track first on side one, and it was the song which opened each concert of the 13 month tour. The song itself described going to an actual concert and flowed into track two, giving actual hints on the ambitions of the band.
Paul set and met his goals…
“Venus and Mars” Amazingly smart to open an album with a song he wrote specifically to open his shows on his monster 1975-76 tour. The band seemed really united and having a grand time in any press photos and selected for the album artwork and promotional ads and photos.
But Paul claims to this day that this is not one of his favorite albums. But it has aged as well as possible from a standpoint of McCartney forever fans He only plays “Letting Go” and “Listen To What The Man Said” on the occasional tour. I think this album and time reminds him so much of Linda he may put it down to not have to remember so much…..?
But as a 19 year old out of my mind super fan waiting for this very release, whipped up by the fun of 1974’s McGEAR I found it to be too antiseptic and calculated. It sounded great and the production was spot on but beginning to get in that late 1970’s perfect sounding records. I felt at the time that V&M lacked the anger, rawness and ambition that BOTR had.
Well… I am under headphones and re-listening to the gigantic “deluxe” remaster album and bonus tracks from the archive collection. And so link the show I was blessed to see from row 10 in May of 1976 the lights go down…..
What a way to open the album. With Denny Laine on moog and sitar? Paul’s voice is like ice cream. We are in the arena…and it’s almost time. And the band is ready to kick ass. Rating – 9
“Rock Show” Allen Toussaint Electric Guitar and Piano help drive this beauty. Another classic multi-part masterpiece by McCartney. The backing vocals are perfect. He tells us…. Relax, get high, and then they come out and do in fact, kick ass, and they tell you where they are coming to. In fact on the tour to follow the played each of the venues listed in the song.
The green metal suit part is pure fucked up McCartney. The coda is my favorite part…. “Oh, it’s you babe……” Shake that ass. On tour the first two song had me wishing I could have cried. I was all alone and had to hold back. It was so good to see him live. Rating – 9.5
“Love In Song” A song that has always been a sad one. A McCartney love song when you are happy lift you to another levels….but if your heart is broken songs like this can rip you apart. At the time it did…. 40 years later….I can still feel it…. With Geoff Britton on drums and milk Bottles. An interesting shift to an oriental feel during the break that wasn’t there on the first verse. Not his best middle eight but it’s still fine. Rating – 8.0
“You Gave Me The Answer” Written with Fred Astaire in mind, maybe even to have him record it. It’s a classic John Lennon hating “granny music Paul.” “Honey Pie” and others to follow show of Paul’s love of old times music he heard as a very young child. It’s again spot on perfect fo that, but other than pleasant, it doesn’t move me. He recreates the 1930’s effect on tour and I was loving every second of it. I’ll just say, it’s not my favorite and I’m slowed down now….. Rating – 6.5
“Magneto And Titanium Man” A song about comic book characters Paul was reading, probably all fucked up in bed with Linda, kids and dogs and cats flying everywhere. 1975….sigh….. Interesting song. The lead vocal by Paul is something I never heard him do before. Kind of like being outside of a tent and these are the entertainers trying to get us in to see the whole show….
In 1976 tour a big screen came down with three of characters from the comic. Everyone went wild but that was it. The screen rolled up and the show went on as the finished the song. A harmless song built around classic bass lines. Nice vocals but again harmless. Rating – 7
“Letting Go” Geoff Britton is drums on this and he is perfect as the instrumental opening is impossible not to love. The best of Wings here… Paul, Linda and Denny on backing vocals. Really nice real horns… Jimmy placing nice Paul approved fills and he also does a great short solo.
This was the song my old time girlfriend would dance like a gypsy for attention… It is impossible not to remember that exactly as I hear this…. That is the power of music. Love the end fade out with Paul mixed way down asking “Do you feel like letting go?” I do. Rating – 9
“Venus And Mars (reprise) Geoff Britton is on cymbals There is no Denny. I guess song is meant to link the whole album but never thought any concept at all existed other the artwork and promotion. Gets way more interesting at the end. Rating – 7.5
Nice lead into Denny Laine singing…“Spirits Of Ancient Egypt” A goofy song with a classic rock and roll four to the floor 1950’s beat…. The organ is featured and Paul takes over the breaks vocally. The lyrics are wacky. They played this song straight up in concert. Rating 7.0
“Medicine Jar” Geoff Britton is on drums, Joe English on backing vocals. Denny is on congas. Jimmy wrote the music, Chad Allen wrote the words. Paul and the band help as much as they can as Jimmy takes lead vocal. It’s a pleasant song about pill addiction (the 70’s) with Paul again playing standard baselines.
Interesting backing vocals including a short multi tracked Linda riff… In concert after the Linda riff Jimmy did a second solo. He was amazing on both live. Rating – 8
“Call Me Back Again” Macca plays the clarinet on this one as well. Denny is on bongos. It is a 1950’s throwback and Paul’s vocals are amazing. The horns are perfect and the Moog helps in the lushness of the verse.
The last verse… Paul’s “Well when I.. I.. I.. I…….I called your name ..” till the end are amazing. The production is too much at the end and buries him in the mix…. Maybe intentionally. A super long fade into Paul doing Professor Longhair introduction to…. Rating – 8.5
“Listen To What The Man Said.” A nice speeded up reggae song that becomes a cute little shuffle by the lads. Dave Mason help on electric guitar is noticeable but minimal. Tom Scott on saxophone saves the song with his FIRST TAKE warmup attempt that Paul kept here. Wow, that’s amazing. The backing vocals peak at the end. Beautiful production throughout. Rating -8
“Listen then blends into “Treat Her Gently/Lonely Old People,” a sad song about being all alone and having nowhere to go. The say nobody asked them to play??? Is he mocking people who hadn’t asked Paul and Linda to make music with them in the last few years?? It also may say, watch out for what we about what they would soon see on our tour. Rating – 7
This fades into the “Crossroads Theme” (written by Tony Hatch). Written on commission, this song is a theme of a British soap opera aim for the elderly. A self mockery of the previous “elderly” song with a few more bob in the pocket. Rating – 6
The overall rating of VENUS AND MARS comes in at 7.7, making a wonderful memory of a special time that brings me to right back. A short break for the band while Paul plans…
During this time Paul is also buying up enormous amounts of music copyrights as they were becoming available. These included Buddy Holly, the rights to many broadway musicals and even “Happy Birthday.” This is truly what has made McCartney rich.
And so he was ready to tour…. He had a band, an album, a solo back catalogue and for the first time in a decade, a few more select Beatles songs. He did dust off a few in Wings final infamous 1979 tour. —————————————————————————— Before starting their massive tour the band amazingly began recording the proposed “next album” from August 28th thru October 17th. Back then they would have more than enough material for an album every 6-18 months. Today we see the same artists wait five, ten, or more YEARS and a few…. no more albums…. so…..
After much rehearsal and final planning the band started their Wings Over the World tour in Europe, on September 9th, 1975 in Southampton, England and then finishing in Scotland on September 23rd.
In contrast to Wings’ two low-profile, smaller-scale outings of 1972, this was a major, highly promoted concert tour that took place mostly in the 15-20,000 size arenas.
Around one million people attended 66 shows on three continents — Australia, (November 1st -14th) Europe (March 20th, 1976 in Denmark -March 26th in France), and North America (where it was known as the Wings Over America Tour and represented McCartney’s first appearances in concert since the last Beatles tour in 1966).
They started the Wings Over America leg on May 3rd 1976 in Fort Worth and ended it on June 23rd in Los Angeles. I saw them on May 21st at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Paul was on the front cover of Time and Newsweek magazines at the same time and they reviewed the tour clearly as “McCartney is Back!.”
The band finished with a final leg of Europe starting September 19th in Austria and ended the world tour on October 21st in London.
Touring Japan was also planned, but was cancelled by that country’s authorities because of McCartney’s 1972 Swedish marijuana arrest.
McCartney and Wings took the rest of 1975 off and then started work again on January 5th thru February 4th on what on what would become the next album…..WINGS AT THE SPEED OF SOUND. Next