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1974


As 1973 came to an end the stress and disappointment of the last four years seemed to come to an end for Paul.

The four solo Beatles peaked as far as sales and popularity in 1973 with John’s MIND GAMES, Ringo’s RINGO (with all three other Beatles lending much creative help), George’s LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD and finally Paul’s BAND ON THE RUN.
He now had the critical, financial and emotional success that had fully eluded him since leaving The Beatles. Offers came in from around the world for a one-off Beatles reunion for mega millions, but none of the four endorsed this in print.

The tensions that had caused so much pain had mostly gone away, as the three ex-bandmates had finally seen the light of day that Alan Klein was indeed taking advantage of them financially. The court battle wouldn’t fully clear up for a year or so but the walls had come down, and this was the main cause for the reunion hope. This wouldn’t really end until 1976, when Paul and his band toured the world with great results.

Now as 1974 started Paul had the mega-hit album, but no way to tour as his band had become just the three.

1974 was to become the year of working and helping others. The first thing he did was get back with his brother, Michael (McGear), and with the excitement of “Leave It” (recorded in 1973) he went back in the studio to produce, write songs for and play on a complete album for him. They recorded it in 10cc’s owned Strawberry Studios, where they worked at night after 10cc recorded during the day. This is where Paul met future collaborator Eric Stewart.

Paul rounded out his band by first trying out a new lead guitarist, Jimmy McCullough. Jimmy was still only 21 and had already established himself as one of rocks upcoming guitar superstars. He had played with Thunderclap Newman, had his own band, and played sessions with top artists. He found himself a free agent after his last band, Maggie Bell’s Stone The Crows disbanded in summer of 1973.

After Jimmy easily got the gig, Paul hired long time Cat Stevens drummer Gerry Conway to round out the band. While not actually calling themselves Wings (the 5th installment), Paul, Linda, Denny, Gerry and Jimmy backed Michael on every track. The album they recorded throughout January and February was called McGEAR, and released in September of 1974.

Of the 10 songs on the original release, Paul wrote six of the songs, Paul and Linda wrote three of the songs, and they covered a track written by Bryan Ferry. Michael handled all the lead vocals but all backing vocals were done by the band. And on occasion Paul is clearly heard taking the lead….

As someone who ached for the next Wings release I picked up this on its release day, and have loved it since, and always consider it the lost Wings album. I have always wondered if only Paul had taken all lead vocals and made it his record where would it have landed in his musical history. While it received very good critical reviews, it got practically no airplay and little sales impact.

In March of 1974, Paul met up with John Lennon in Los Angeles (during his “lost weekend” period) and jammed with him, Stevie Wonder, Nilsson and more in the infamous “Toot And A Snore” bootleg.

In July of 1974 Paul again decided to record again. He asked McCullough to formally join Wings, and he accepted, then asked Geoff Britton to join the band as the new drummer.
The first thing they did was begin rehearsing. While they did this they documented it all on film for the unreleased (he does this quite often, right?) “One Hand Clapping.”

So, wings now was up to phase five or six, depending on how you looked at it.

In his attempt to catch the inspiration of and spirit of the recording studio, he decided to take everyone to Nashville, Tennessee. They all stayed at an actual ranch and practiced and enjoyed all that the city offered. They went into Sound Shop studios and recorded five songs.

“Send Me The Heart” Never released by Wings, as this Denny Laine written song finally saw the light of day on his 1980 solo album. I think it might have been tweaked to be on one of the various attempts at the COLD CUTS/HOT HITS project. Not a bad song, but not great. Very C&W inspired (as were all five songs put to tape). Rating – 5

“Junior’s Farm” The only song Paul and Wings released in 1974. Inspired by his stay on the farm, this rocker cooks from start to finish. Paul formally welcomes McCullough into the fold by shouting, “take it Jimmy” before his tasty solo. Rating – 8

“Sally G”. Another heavy C&W sounding song, the b-side to “Junior.” Inspired by a night out at Nashville’s musical joints, Sally is a song about warning of the dangerous love that comes with being involved with the naughty Sally. This song got quite a lot of airplay as well and even made the country & western top 40 charts at the same time “Junior’s Farm” made the pop top 10. A harmless toe-tapper that suffers only from being too formulaic. Rating – 6.5

Paul also got together with some of C&W’s top session musicians and recorded two more songs. Chet Atkins, Floyd Cramer, Bob Wills and many of the cream of Nashville’s crop got together, called themselves The Country Hams, and recorded Paul’s dad old song, “Walking In The Park With Eloise.” He did this as favor to his dad, who didn’t think what he had played Paul was actually a song. It’s a jaunty old fashioned style piano shuffle that leaves one smiling. Rating – 7

He also recorded the b-side, “Bridge On The River Suite,” a slow horn based instrumental that doesn’t really go anywhere. Rating – 5
In 1974 Paul also wrote a song and produced it for Peggy Lee called “Let’s Love.” It’s a smokey piano ballad that fits her style well. It was not a success for her, and a demo of it has finally appeared for Paul (on “Venus and Mars” deluxe archive release).

Paul also played on five songs on Adam Faith’s I SURVIVE album, and on James Taylor’s WALKING MAN album. Paul and Linda also walked into a recording studio in L.A. and invited themselves onto the recording of Thornton, Frankin & Unger’s PASS ON THIS SIDE’s “God Bless California. At one time, I wrote to the record company that released it and had a promo copy of this song…..and gave it way on a radio show in college…. Silly me….

Paul also wrote a slow island ballad for Rod Stewart on his 1974’s SMILER album, called “Mine For Me.” Paul sings and plays with Rod on the track. The single didn’t make much of an impact on its release.

Paul also recorded an amazing demo and gave it to John Christie called, “4th of July.” It is an beautiful heartbreaking song I only wish Paul had kept. His demo brings me to tears, and Christie’s single went nowhere on its release.

After finishing up writing his next batch of songs, Paul and Wings headed to New Orleans to start work on the next album.

They started working in November of 1974 by recording, “Letting Go,” “Love In Song” and the Jimmy McCullough/Colin Allen penned “Medicine Jar.”

Very quickly into their recording, the very straight and karate expert drummer Geoff Britton had a major blow up with McCullough, and realizing he didn’t fit into the lifestyle of Wings, he left.

Paul reached out locally and auditioned drummer Joe English, who soon became part of Wings 6 or seven… I don’t know… I give up.

As 1975 approached, work continued on the new album, and recording moved to Los Angeles to finish things up. What emerged from the two recording locations would become the album that brought Paul finally back onto all the world stages.
1975 would see “Venus and Mars” come to the light of day…. Next.

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Band On The Run (1973)


After hearing that tidbit ending of the song “Band On The Run” that December morning I excitedly ran to record store (Sam Goody’s?) and picked up my copy of the album, on its December 5th release date.

Looking at the the cover as I opened it up I am struck by the fantastic artwork. One of the most iconic album covers of the rock era, it immediately gave me a sense of something new and improved.
Long before the days of minute by minute social media information I became aware that Wings had now become a trio. I wondered why James Coburn, John Conteh, Christopher Lee, Michael Parkinson, Kenny Lynch and Clement Freud were on the cover along with Paul, Linda and Denny. They all looked so great and I excitedly tore open the album.


Inside was a beautiful poster which featured polaroids taken by Linda and the band and assembled.

The back cover shows passports, photos of the three and the itinerary of their African jaunt. Also a nice cup of English tea and maybe a partially smoked….ciggy?


I slipped the disc on to the turntable, and loved the special label made for the release. This would be Paul’s last official “Apple” release and he did not let me down.
I had not heard anything other than the tidbit of the title track, not even the first single (“Helen Wheels”), so I anxiously read the lyrics as the first guitar strains set in…

“Band On The Run” Another of those classic McCartney multi part songs… starting and finishing in different parts of the universe. The themes of the album are quite simple…. escape, love and staying happy (not stressing the little things). He was so motivated after all that had gone down the last three years, both musically and personally.


The song’s opening segment made you feel the weight of being locked up….sad, frustrated and filled with longing to be anywhere but there. Then suddenly Tony Visconti’s (who did the orchestration for the songs on the album that had it) dramatic fills comes at the moment of the breakout. Once free the “band” eludes all attempts to be caught and returned to its prison.


One can take these metaphors in so many ways, such as creative or personal or any kind of freedom that previously was withheld from Paul. I got chills as the entire song played out.
Musically it is magnificent, from Linda’s old school basic synths to Pauls homemade drumming to Denny’s fantastic slide guitar. Paul vocals has never sounded better than on this song, and on this album.
Holy cow….this is not “Mary Had A Little Lamb”…..
Rating – 9.25

“Jet” Paul doesn’t let up a bit with this rocket fueled homage to one of his dogs, Jet. Visconti’s scoring makes the hair stand up on my neck and drives the song to the finish. Well done Wings.
Paul was later convinced to release this song (with an edit) as a single and it brought the album back to the #1 spot on the Billboard charts. In fact, this album was the FIRST album in history (I’m not sure if its happened since) to be a number #1 and then drop and come back an additional two more times to #1 as singles and radio airplay filled the airs. Paul had his hit album….the fans loved it, the critics loved it and at this time (and probably for the next three or four years) he was at the height of his solo career fame.
Rating – 9.25

“Bluebird” Paul discovered one of the early versions of the beat box and used this as the rhythm section in this acoustic devotion to love.
The backing vocals on this and the album were stripped down slightly from RED ROSE levels and the three of them harmonizing on this and throughout this album remains one of the strongest aspects of BOTR. This song is lovely and draws images of walking hand in hand on an empty beach, isolated from all, his love all consuming and only thing necessary for survival.
Rating – 8.5

“Mrs. Vanderbilt” The song that deals with those who let things, and worries (wealth, comfort etc..) consume their thoughts and their lives. This song feels Lagos inspired and moves along with ease, riding Paul’s magnificent bass line like the wind. A gentle backhand to those Paul felt had their priorities in all the wrong places. The Howie Casey sax solo is another standout moment on this track which keeps the flow constant and the band avoiding capture.
Rating – 8.5

“Let Me Roll It” Okay…..in the ultimate tribute to the sound and style of his former band member, John Lennon, Paul offered him the gift of the song, and maybe a certain hand “rolled” jazz cigarette to speak and share as friends. The guitar lick is from John’s playbook, as is the the echoed vocals and final growl at the end. Paul plays this song in almost every tour he has had. Another song about making peace, ending feuds and telling those you love that you do.
Rating – 8.5

“Mamunia” The song with the most Lagos inspired sound. Ginger Baker helps out with a bucket of “stones.” Another song based on enjoying the day, the moment, and savoring the simple things that some people consider as problems. In this case…the rain. Don’t run, don’t hide from it…take off your clothes and dance around in it. Linda’s simple moog frills sound dated but add to the charm to this acoustic number. Rating – 8.5

Alternate (unused) Front Cover

Side two opens with my favorite song on the album,
“No Words” Started by Denny and with Paul’s contributing the middle break, this song affected me the most of any of the albums tracks. My girlfriend at the time had just started a play in her high school and left me quickly for the “leading man.”
This song spoke to me in a healing and cleansing way. Unable to get answers from one that they love…. I cried, listened again, and cried some more. My first heartbreak at age 17 was a tough time and this song eased me through it. Someone else is feeling the same feelings as myself. The harmonies on this may be the best on the album, as the three voices do become one. Paul and Denny share the lead on the verse, with Paul tearing my heart out during the refrain (“Your burning love…sweet burning love…. It’s deep inside…you mustn’t hide your burning love….sweet burning love…)
Rating – 9.5

“Helen Wheels” Adding to the initial pressing only on the US version of the album, this is a 1950’s style rocker that was dedicated to Paul & Linda’s land cruiser. They did a charming silly music video for this song. It is an excellent toe-tapper, but doesn’t really have a feel like the rest of the album, and this is why Paul didn’t want it to be on the album, but released as a stand alone single. Now it must follow “No Words” when I listen to the album as a whole and all subsequent released on CD had featured it as track number eight. This must have been included to give the vital US market more bang for their buck, like they do on most Japanese releases.
Rating – 8

“Picasso’s Last Words (drink to me)” Inspired by a visit to see Dustin Hoffman on the set of Papillon. Dustin was asking Paul how he came to write songs and showed him a copy of the days newspaper. There was an article on the death of Pablo Picasso, who’s last words before heading to bed for the last time was “drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink anymore….”
Paul whipped out his guitar in hand and just strummed out the basic melody then and there. Dustin started leaping around the room, screaming for his wife to come see what Paul was doing.
Paul took this basic track and then he Picasso’d it, adding words spoken by Pablo himself, twists and turns of the melody, counter melodies and a bit of “Jet” reprised. Much like the art of Picasso, the song has bits of this and that to achieve the whole. Odd, but vital song on the album which leads us wonderfully into the albums perfect wrap…. Rating – 8


“1985” Picking a year that had to rhyme with “alive” this is another song about lifelong devotion and continued escape from those seeking capture. Back then the year 1985 seemed so far away, and now I barely see it in the rear view mirror.
Piano driven monster of a song that pauses twice to give us lush harmonies and finishes in a flare that ranks with Paul’s best album closers. Visconti’s orchestration again propels the song through the air until it drops into another bit of reprise of “Band On The Run” to bring the album to its perfect conclusion and round the circle of conception of the albums themes.
Rating – 9

The album lost a bit of its luster with the critics over the years, not even making the top 500 albums of all-time by Rolling Stone (while it was in nearly every list of 20th century best of…). But after listening today after a break of a few years of not listening to it as a whole, I am so happy to say it sounded fresh and exciting as the day the broken hearted 17 year old tore off the cellophane and dove in emotionally.

Paul has done many albums of many genres since then but BAND ON THE RUN will forever serve as a beacon and a lamppost for all fans to start their musical journey for this genius among man.

\The overall rating of the US album came to 8.7, which again confirmed the feeling that this release was indeed very special.

Next up….other songs recorded around the time, not on the album, and for other artists and what Paul was up to in 1974…..

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The Road To BAND ON THE RUN

When the McCartney’s and Denny Laine arrived in Lagos, Nigeria to begin work at EMI’s studio there on what would become the album BAND ON THE RUN they were greeted with two sights they hadn’t counted on.

“I thought it’d be good to get out of the country to record, so I asked EMI where they had studios round the world. There were some amazing countries where they had studios and I thought ‘Lagos… Africa… rhythms… yeah’, cause I’ve always liked African music”

Instead of lush, bright as a shiny jungle book settings, they had arrived during their monsoon season, and weather that displayed that.

After their entire team checked into their quarters they went over to the EMI recording studio. They found the studio in shambles, unfinished, without speakers, glass in the control booth windows and proper baffling in the drum section.

In addition, the control desk was faulty and there was only one tape machine, a Studer 8 track.

Paul immediately got the locals installing, hammering and fixing things to even the basic level to record. His crew jumped in to set up the electronics in making the whole process successful.

The band rented houses near the airport in Ikeja, an hour away from the studio. McCartney, Linda and their three children stayed in one, while Laine, his wife JoJo, Emerick, and Wings’ two roadies stayed in another. The home owners warned them all to stay inside its boundaries. But the free spirited Paul and Linda decided to take a walk one night before settling in for bed.

As they headed back toward home a car slowly passed them and then stopped…….“One night me and Linda got mugged. We’d been told not to walk around, but in those days we were slightly hippie – ‘Hey, don’t worry’. About five fellers jumped out of a car and one of them had a knife, so all my tapes went. These were all the songs I’d written, so I had to try and remember them all. The joke is, I’m sure the fellers who took them wouldn’t know what they were. They probably chucked them away, so lying in some Nigerian jungle there’s little cassettes of Band On The Run.”

Linda freaked out as this was happening…. “Don’t hurt him, he’s a musician.” Spared anything other than robbery the local police told them the ONLY reason their lives were spared was the fact that they were white. Had they been black or locals they would have been murdered by the robbers for fear of being identified.

So, here they were….with no demo tapes or song lyrics to work off of, a studio slowly becoming at best marginal. What else could go wrong…?

McCartney was overdubbing a vocal track when he began gasping for air. According to engineer Geoff Emerick: “Within seconds, Paul turned as white as a sheet, explaining to us in a croaking voice that he couldn’t catch his breath. We decided to take him outside for some fresh air … but once he was exposed to the blazing heat he felt even worse and began keeling over, finally fainting dead away at our feet. Linda began screaming hysterically; she was convinced that he was having a heart attack … The official diagnosis was that he had suffered a bronchial spasm brought on by too much smoking.

Another incident was the confrontation with local Afrobeat pioneer and political activist Fela Kuti, publicly accused the band of being in Africa to exploit and steal African music after their visit to his club. Kuti went to the studio to confront McCartney, who played their songs for him to show that they contained no local influence.

Later on, drummer and former Cream member Ginger Baker invited Wings to record their entire album at his ARC Studio in Ikeja. McCartney agreed to go there for one day. The song “Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me)” was recorded at ARC, with Baker contributing a percussive tin of gravel.

They spent six weeks recording the majority of the album and returned to London. In the pile of old mail that awaited them was a letter from EMI dated before the band had left England warning them to not go to Lagos “by any means” due to an outbreak of cholera.

They finished up the album at George Martin’s AIR Studio in London where they transferred the 8 track tapes to 16 tracks. A few of the album final tracks were recorded there and others finished there.

Tony Visconti was brought in to do the albums orchestral arrangements, all in one day. By late October or early November the album was finished and the iconic cover was photographed, documented on film.

Wings III also recorded three songs for the possible “Suzi and The Red Stripes” project in early November.

The band released their next single, “Helen Wheels,” backed by “Country Dreamer” as a stand alone single. At the last minute the single was added to the US version of the proposed album.

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I was driving alone, coming home from college on a cold December morning. It was a long hill heading down into the final few miles into East Northport. I was fiddling around the radio dials when I heard a sound that stopped the fiddling. It was the ending of the song, “Band On The Run.” Is it? Could it be?

I had been fooled earlier in the year by hearing “Headline Hustler” by 10cc, thinking THEY were the new Wings material soon to come out…. The disc jockey at the songs conclusion told me all I needed to hear….this was the new title track from the next Wings album, BAND ON THE RUN.

On December 7th… it was released….Merry Christmas came early. Next…. The album.

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RED ROSE SPEEDWAY (1973)

In a slight change I am going to review the songs on the “proposed” double album that the record label rejected and settled for a softer single disc.

When I get the average rating for the album, it will be ranked with the others, and also there will be a second ranking of the album based on the songs from the proper single album release.

Then I will discuss/rate the songs that were also worked on at the time that either came out later or still have not seen the light of day.

The proposed double album

1. “Night Out” There are two versions of this song I have heard. One, just the call and response of the lyrics “Night Out…” and another that features a short verse (done in an interesting echo laden march beat). The second version is 10 seconds longer and was featured on the proposed Cold Cut & Hot Hits album, so this might have been the intended version, or McCartney re-recorded parts of it and edited it years later (as he did on a few of the Cold Cuts…). I prefer the second version, but this is a nice rocking way to start the album. McCartney’s voice on this song and throughout the album are top notch. Not much here besides a stomper to get the juices flowing. Did not make the final version of the album. Rating – 6.5

2. “Get On The Right Thing” Another rocker that features the start of the incredible Wings backing vocal sound. This sound really came into play with this album and continued till the bands final demise. Started during the RAM sessions, this is a great little track. Lyrically, not too much is going on here. This is probably the weakest part of the album (the lyrics), for the most part. Rating – 7.5

3. “Country Dreamer” As discussed earlier, became the b-side to “Helen Wheels.” Did not make the final version of the album. Rating – 8

4. “Big Barn Bed” Became the opening track of the single album. Track was hinted at in the final seconds of RAM’s “Back Seat Of My Car.” Another pulsating rocker, fantastic backing vocals and silly lyrics. I may say this a lot during this album. Henry has a nice little solo. They also opened up the TV special by playing this live to a wall of televisions…. Rating – 8

5. “My Love” The huge hit single. Lush orchestration and of course Henry’s on the spot solo are the highlight. A beautiful gentle love song. One that fans of his love songs embrace or critics point as his weakness. I like the song a lot, but it hasn’t aged as well as others on this album for me. Rating – 8.5

6. “Single Pigeon” A slight piano driven toe tapper that offers more to the ear than one initially hears. Good lyrics, but Linda’s call and response part never sits right with me. Paul can knock off songs like this while cooking breakfast. At the end, a string of horns come in…. Why wait so long? Rating – 7.5

7. “When The Night” A mid tempo piano with heavy backing vocals. Interesting synth use. Denny’s drumming as always keeps my foot a tapping. The vocal scatting over the guitar break is brilliant. A nice little song that Macca busts out at the end to bring the magic home.Rating – 7.5

8. “Seaside Woman” As discussed previously, Linda’s first song (with much help by Paul vocally). Would have fit in nicely here but did not make the final version of the album. Released as a single in 1977 by Susie and The Red Stripes. A live version from the time kicks butt. Rating – 6.5

9. “I Lie Around” Another song started during RAM sessions… a new intro added and later released as the b-side to “Live and Let Die.” Would have been Denny Laine’s first lead vocal (Paul does sing lead on the last verse). Interesting song with a great horn backing that slowly gains momentum as it moves along. Would have fit in nicely on the album but…did not make the final version of the album. Rating – 8.5

10. “The Mess” Another song that Wings II did in concert that couldn’t quite get it right in the studio. Another of those McCartney songs which move in a few directions and tempos that only he seems to be able to do so easily. Did not make the final version of the album, but a live version from a 1972 concert made the b-side on the “My Love” single. The live version is magnificent, the studio version is interesting, but not a home run. I think he wanted to include a studio version at this spot, but the live version would have worked better. Rating – 8.5 (live) 6.5 (studio version)

11. “Best Friend” Like “The Mess,” done in concert and this is the only version I have heard. Don’t know if any studio version exists, sadly. A great little rocker that Paul belts out to the delight of the crowd. Did not make the final version of the album. Was this song about John or Linda? Rating – 7.5

12. “Loup (first Indian on the moon)” Odd instrumental from the band, which features a smoking Paul on bass that at one point drives the song. Lots of synth noises and sounds…a song for the stoners. But this made the final album and others didn’t…. Rating – 4.5

13. “Live And Let Die” Imagine this song making this album…and combined with “My Love” would have given the band two huge hits…and made the album much stronger. Discussed in an earlier post. Did not make the final version of the album. Rating – 9.75

14. “The Medley” The four songs that ended up closing the single album, but here ending side #3. Four songs, different in tone and spirit that are actually weaved together at the end. Another Paul “song within a song” but this time….”four songs within a song.”

a. “Hold Me Tight” Beautiful vocals but not much of a song. It does start the ball rolling and plays perfectly into…. Rating – 6

b. “Lazy Dynamite” Always reminded me of an Indian war chant because of Denny’s drumming. Heavy echo on the lead vocals and makes an odd link into…. Rating – 5

c. “Hands Of Love” Paul and Linda share the lead vocal about all things love. The odd break features “Lady Madonna” type wah-wahs… Slowly fades into…. Rating – 5

d. “Power Cut” The best part of the medley, a song that could have been a stand alone. It very nicely incorporates the melodies of the first three parts in lead guitar fashion and vocal backing and fades to a close. I think to have this finish a side or the album was the correct choice. Rating – 8.5 Overall medley rating – 6.125

15. “Mama’s Little Girl” As discussed earlier. Did not make the final version of the album. Rating – 7

16. “I Would Only Smile” As discussed earlier. Did not make the final version of the album. Rating – 3.5

17. “One More Kiss” A faux country toe-tapper that doesn’t really knock it out of the park. A song about the end of a relationship that Paul wants to end on a high note (no pun intended) with a final kiss. I was convinced that this song was written as another peace offering to Lennon when it came out… and even included the line.. “One day we’ll see it standing there..” It has to be about John…!!! Bill Wood at the time wasn’t convinced….Rating – 5.5

18. “Tragedy” As discussed earlier. Did not make the final version of the album, thankfully. Rating – 4

19. “Little Lamb Dragonfly” For me, the highlight of the final single album. Recorded during the RAM sessions, and orchestrated by George Martin. A tender, sad, and loving song about Paul seeing one of his baby lambs dying and his not being able to change the outcome. It makes me well up if I am feeling sad beforehand. A change of pace in the second part of the song (The dragonfly part) blend is seamless and eventually links back to the lamb portion. Fantastic vocals and production and would have been a magnificent ending to the double album. Rating – 9.5

Okay… the overall score for the proposed double album is 7.46 and the final score on the released single album is 7.18. Hmmmm….better then I thought. Up next… The remaining songs from this period.

Unused Alternate album cover
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1973

Mixing of the proposed RED ROSE SPEEDWAY took place throughout the month of January, stopping only to properly record “My Love,” which they had been doing live in the ‘Wings over Europe’ 1972 tour.

Then during February and March the band recorded the music and scenes for the upcoming “James Paul McCartney” Television special. Paul McCartney agreed to star in the television special for the British ATV network in order to settle his two-year legal dispute with Sir Lew Grade.

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Still from James Paul McCartney TV Special

As the owner of the network and its music publishing division – and, by extension, the Beatles’ Northern Songs catalogue – Grade had objected to McCartney crediting his wife Linda as his co-writer since 1971, citing her lack of professional experience as a songwriter and musician. McCartney’s commitment to the television project allowed him to retain the second composer’s publishing royalties, which otherwise would have been assigned to Grade’s company.

“James Paul McCartney” was intended to showcase his versatility as an artist and entertainer. Many of the portions featured Wings; in others he would perform alone. It was first broadcast on 16 April 1973 in the United States on the ABC network, and was later broadcast in the United Kingdom on 10 May 1973.

RED ROSE SPEEDWAY was initially produced by Glyn Johns, but he quit in a huff after a few weeks due to what he felt was too much weed smoking and the bands aimless time then spent unfocused in the studio. After Paul’s previous three albums had disappointed the critics and sales were not at the level expected the record labels “suits” made Paul cut the proposed double album into a more “commercial” single disc.

Paul did this but lost most of the edge the live and unreleased cut studio tracks had added.

When the “2015 archive editions” came out they featured the initial proposed double album. In retrospect it should have come out that way. Wings II reputation would have benefited greatly.

Another idea started in late 1972 was filming live and concert recreations for the proposed animated film, The Bruce McMouse Show. The band would play in concert and interact with various cartoon mice that lived below the stage.

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Bruce McMouse Show

The band was forced to interact with “air” and the animation added later. I read about this coming out at the time and got very excited. It would not see the light of day until added as a bonus blu-ray disc as part of the Archive edition, released finally in 2015, 42 years later.

It’s a shame, while the acting sequences are odd, it is great to see the band in the live sequences. The outfits are beautiful and of their time and the band was as tight as they would get.

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When RED ROSE SPEEDWAY was released on April 30th in the USA, Paul took the band out for their FINAL tour as this unit on May 11th until July 10th, performing 21 shows throughout the U.K.

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1973 Tour Booklet

Besides promoting the new album, they also released “My Love” as a single on April 9th (in the USA).

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“My Love” video still

We watched the TV special as a family and my mother correctly predicted that the “Whoa Whoa Song (My Love)” would be a hit. When the album came out I quickly bought it, and we used to play it quite often on the family stereo. It was very tame after the cut tracks, and was a very easy listen for my mother.

The album jacket was a beautiful gatefold, featuring an elaborate booklet that included information, band and individual photos, lots of naked and semi-naked women, illustrations, with most done in 1960’s pop art or art deco style.

The back cover showed a bag of “leafy substances” next to the drummers high hat. Embossed at the bottom was a braille message to Stevie Wonder, “Stevie, we love you.” It also featured an address to join the Wings fan club.

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The front cover shows Paul with a rose in his mouth, in front of a motorcycle. It was a delight to read and look through while listening, but again, the music didn’t live up to the hype.

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Paul and Linda said they were not at all confident at the time and it showed on the record. Too much weed???

The reviews were not good, though the record and single sold very well. Next, the songs of the released RED ROSE SPEEDWAY and tracks that fell through the cracks.

art deco from booklet

Alternate Cover

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Wings WILD LIFE (1971)

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John Mocks Paul’s RAM cover on his IMAGINE album


Okay, so Ram was released and sold very very well. McCartney had his first #1 US hit in “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” but the reviews were terrible by critics and his ex-band mates.

The lawsuit heightened the tension between he and Lennon and reach its zenith of fighting in public soon after this.

Wings went into the studio in late July for 5 days of loose and quick recordings. Paul claimed he had seen Bob Dylan knock off his NEW MORNING album in a week, and wanted to put his new band through the same ritual.

August 3rd had Paul announcing the new “band.”


On September 9th that year Lennon released his next solo album, IMAGINE. Besides its legendary title track, it was reviewed very positively.


John responded to the digs that Paul had included in RAM (“Too Many People”), as well as those that HE THOUGHT were digs at he and Yoko (“Three Legs” and “Dear Boy”) .


Lennon chose to put on the back cover a mock of Paul’s Ram cover.
The true blow to the face was his including the song, “How Do You Sleep.” Painting Paul as untalented, a “corporate square” who jumped at Linda’s whim.. It truly was a biting and vicious song (see lyrics)


How Do You Sleep
John Lennon
So Sgt. Pepper took you by surprise
You better see right through that mother’s eyes
Those freaks was right when they said you was dead
The one mistake you made was in your head
How do you sleep?
How do you sleep at night?
You live with straights who tell you, you was king
Jump when your momma tell you anything
The only thing you done was yesterday
And since you’ve gone you’re just another day
How do you sleep?
How do you sleep at night?
How do you sleep?
How do you sleep at night?
A pretty face may last a year or two
But pretty soon they’ll see what you can do
The sound you make is muzak to my ears
You must have learned something in all those years
How do you sleep?
How do you sleep at night?


Later that year Wings (named on September 13th) recorded just a bit more,
With Paul mixing and preparing the album for a pre-Christmas release.
In this time he decided to be a bigger man and stop the fighting in public and wrote a song from his heart that was an attempt to reach out to John to end the war of words. This song was called “Dear Friend.”


Though the tension was diffused to a great degree it wasn’t until after Paul won the legal battle and the three other ex-Beatles saw new evidence of Klein taking financial advantage all of them.

A “I guess Paul was right” was about the closest we got to a realization that maybe the years of fighting and bitterness were ultimately unnecessary.
Paul sat down Linda in front of the piano and started to teach her the basics, lessons were taken and she was in his new band.

Paul had been itching for years to get back on the road in any fashion and started jammed with his new band and planned their first moves outside of the studio.


Up next…. My review of the tracks and reflections of the WILD LIFE release….

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1972, part 2

The Rest Of The Year
After the Wings Over Europe tour ended on August 24th, the band headed back into the recording studio to record more songs written by McCartney. It’s amazing how busy he was this year, and how much output he had. Nowadays artists (including Paul) take many years between releases.


Songs recorded during this period


“C Moon” The song became the b-side of the next Wings II single. Paul loved this song, as he has done it in concert on many of his tours. He originally mixed this song with “Little Woman Love” on the 1972 “Europe” tour. Piano driven stoner feel of a song, it has always sounded very odd to me. This track has not been a favorite of mine. He even leaves in the vocal of his missing his intro cue. I bought the single when it came out and it had a striking RED design on it. Rating – 5

He continued to record all of the songs that would appear on the single album release of RED ROSE SPEEDWAY.


On September 18th the band recorded “Hi Hi Hi.”
“Hi Hi HI” is a classic rocker whose lyrics proudly announce their love of altered reality and the pleasures that one can have (sexually) when one is in such a state. It was also immediately banned by the BBC for its seemingly pro drugs and overt sexual references. When he plays this song in concert he always speeds up the tempo too much for me. I really like this single, as it took the attention away from the “little lamb” reaction. I think Paul secretly liked it being banned, for it gave it some much needed bad boy publicity. Sold well in the USA but not a mega hit. Rating – 8

“Country Dreamer” Became the B-side to the 1973 single “Helen Wheels.” “Helen Wheels” was recorded much later, by Wings III and included on the American version of “Band On The Run.” So it was over a full year before Dreamer saw the light of day. A very lovely acoustic toe tapper, with great vocals and background vocals. Very nice steel guitar done by Henry or Denny add to this fine song.
Rating – 8


“Bridge On The River Suite”. The instrumental was released as a b-side to the single of the instrumental “Walking In The Park With Eloise.” Interesting fact is that the a-side was written by Paul’s dad when he was a youngster, and Paul recorded it as a tribute to him. The single was released as The Country Hams. It didn’t make any impact commercially. It is a slow moving song with nice horn work, but not much else. Rating – 5.5

“Live And Let Die” Paul jumped at the chance to record this song for the proposed 1973 James Bond movie of the same name. Recorded before the film was finished. Paul brought back George Martin to do the amazing scoring on this classic track. It is hard to believe that the film executives when they heard the final mix thought it was a demo that they needed to find a singer to record it. Martin thankfully showed them the reality of this being the only version they needed. Became a huge hit for Wings II when released, and a staple and bombastic highlight of EVERY McCartney concert he has ever done since then. Linda contributed the middle reggae break….. well done.
Rating – 9.75


“1882” Unreleased in its time until the RED ROSE archives box set. They seemingly couldn’t get this slow blues track with great lyrics recorded to Paul’s satisfaction. Shame…as it seems to have had more potential than songs that did see the light of day in this time period. Rating – 8


“Jazz Street” Like 1882, another song that didn’t make the final RED ROSE album but appeared on the Archive release. Paul was trying hard to make Wings II sound edgier and show off Henry’s gritty playing. Rating – 6.5

By early 1973 the mixing for the next album was completed. Paul sent a proposed double album of songs from the studio and from the concerts of 1972. EMI rejected the idea and cut out the raw and most rocking tracks….


To avoid a potential lawsuit because of the listing of Linda McCartney on most songs written since RAM, Paul agreed to do a TV special for the suits in early 1973 to end this potential legal nuisance.
Up next…. 1973. A very busy, frustrating and amazing year for Paul…….. starting with RED ROSE SPEEDWAY.

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1972

The album WILD LIFE now released, Paul itched to take his new band out on the road. The only problems, the sound wasn’t really full enough and what type of tour to do.

He solved the first part by auditioning and hiring Henry McCullough, an Irish guitarist most famous for playing in Joe Cocker’s Grease Band. He is seen in the Woodstock performance.

While he was technically a very good performer, the newest addition to Wings #2 was a hard drinking blues guitarist. It didn’t seem like this would be the perfect marriage for Paul, but the decision was made.

As far as touring, Paul decided to go back to his roots. Really far back in his roots… Like very late 1950’s back.

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From 2nd to the 7th of February, Wings held rehearsals for the tour at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA). The rehearsals were filmed by Tyncho Films, and titled by McCartney as The ICA Rehearsal, and features footage of: “The Mess“, “Wild Life“, “Bip Bop“, “Blue Moon of Kentucky“, “Maybelline”, “Seaside Woman“, “My Love“, “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” and “Lucille“.

A short except of the footage was included in the TV documentary Wings Over the World.McCartney took the band on an impromptu tour of the United Kingdom’s universities, showing up unannounced and performing for whoever happened to be on campus. The band’s intended first stop on the tour, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, had no suitable venue, so the band moved on to the more receptive Nottingham. Admission to the first show which was held at 12 noon in the Portland Building Ballroom was GBP 0.40, proceeds being split up equally among the band members. At Hull, the word circulated fast, and a full hall of about 800 welcomed Wings at 50p per head.

Paul : “We got a band and hatched the plan of the university tour. Didn’t want to have a big supergroup, just wanted to try and learn the whole thing again, hopefully learn some new things rather than repeat the Beatles. Which has been about as successful as anyone in the world was ever gonna get with anything. The theory was that by going out and looking at the whole deal again, you might get a few new clues. So we literally took off in a van up the M1 , got to Ashby-de-la-Zouch [in Leicestershire], liked the name. Great! Turn Off here. But there wasn’t a gig, just a little village. It was a signpost. We kept going until we got to Nottingham University, and then it suddenly hit. “Ah, let’s do universities”. “Otherwise there weren’t any gigs. That’s a captive audience. There’s people.I remember thinking one good thing that might come out of this, in future years we’ll meet people who’ll say, “l was a student when you came”. They might go on to be something, and we’ll be infiltrating with them now.

“Give Ireland Back to the Irish” was the message on that tour, so they’ll know we were being a bit political. If they become a big whizz at the BBC or something, they’ll be able to say, l was there, way back when”. For us it was just to get road experience. We showed up at these places and it was crazy. If we’ve got five hours some time I’ll tell you about it. It’s a whole saga.

I remember telling it to John Schlesinger [the film director] and he said, “Oh, I wish I’d been there, I would have loved to have filmed that”.

“Before John was leaving the Beatles, I was lying in bed at home one night and I thought we could get a band together, like his Plastic Ono Band. I felt the urge because we had never played live for four years. We all wanted to appear on a stage but not with the Beatles.

We couldn’t do it as the Beatles because it would be so big. We’d have to find a million-seater hall or something.” “I wanted to get in a van and do an unadvertised concert at a Saturday night hop at Slough Town Hall or somewhere like that. We’d call ourselves Rikki and the Red Streaks or something and just get up and play. There’d be no press and we’d tell nobody about it. John thought it was a daft idea.”

“My best playing days were at the Cavern lunchtime sessions. We’d go onstage with a cheese roll and a cigarette and we felt we had really something going on. The amps used to fuse and we’d stop and sing a Sunblest Bread commercial while they were repaired. I’d walk off down the street playing my guitar and annoying the neighbors. I couldn’t do that now, but it’s what I want to do with this new group.”

“We just don’t know how we are going to do. I don’t want to start with a Wings concert at the Albert Hall with the world watching and analyzing. I just want to play a small dance, and rock a bit.”

“We will start just by turning up at a place we fancy visiting, and just play a straightforward gig. We might use another name to keep it quiet. We have rehearsed and we can play live together. In fact it sounds quite good. It doesn’t really matter that much.” “I don’t want Wings to become a media group, with our signatures on knickers which are sold for promotion. I don’t like that now. I was happy with that situation in the Beatles, but it died in the end. We are starting off as a new band, but if we ever get to be huge like the Beatles it will be very different.”

“We had decided that we would go back to square one. We wouldn’t book a big tour, we wouldn’t even book hotels, we’d just go in a van – the band, the kids, the dogs – take up the motorway and find somewhere to play. We wanted to play at universities, where there was a captive audience, and our idea was to go in and say, ‘Do you want us to play for you?’ It was as simple and as mad as that.

Our roadie would go in, find someone from the Students’ Union and say, I’ve got Paul McCartney in the van, with his band Wings. Do you want ’em to play for you?’ ‘Yeah, sure, pull the other one.’ ‘No, really. Come and see’. The student would come out to the van and I’d say ‘Hello, yes, it’s me. We’ll play for you if you want’.

We didn’t have many songs. To be precise, we had eleven, which – at about three minutes a song – is a 33 minute act. They wanted longer so we repeated things. ‘We’ve had a request to do Lucille. We did it earlier but now we’re gonna do it again for Jenny Babford on the science course’. Whatever. We just repeated things, especially our new single Give Ireland Back to the Irish. “The gigs went quite well but it’s funny to look back and realize that we had such little material.

The university tour was really a public practice. The Beatles made all their mistakes in private, at the little clubs before we were watched by any critics. With Wings, I knew that when we went public all the critics would be sitting there with their sharpened pencils –‘Oh, he’s not as good as he was.’ It was like I had returned to amateur status, trying to relearn the whole game.

The Beatles were old and comfortable gloves – you just slipped them on and hey, it all happened. Wings was new gloves – you had to break them in. Before certain gigs Linda would suddenly think, ‘God, what have I got myself into here?’ From being a photographer she was suddenly in a band with me. Crazy.”

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They did 11 concerts in 14 days. Before the first tour they did go to the recording studio on February 1st and recorded and released (February 25th) their first official single, “Give Ireland Back To The Irish.”

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Bloody Sunday was a massacre on 30 January 1972 in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland, when British soldiers shot 26 unarmed civilians during a protest march against internment without trial. Fourteen people died: 13 were killed outright, while the death of another man four months later was attributed to his injuries.

Many of the victims were shot while fleeing from the soldiers, and some were shot while trying to help the wounded. Two days after this Wings went into the studio and recorded McCartney’s very quick reaction to this horrifying event. As a song, it is a mid tempo rocker which chugs along nicely, but does little beside that. The very light lyrics express their horror over the event. I give them an A for effort. The song is credited to both Paul and Linda, as was the production. I give Paul props for trying to come to grips and share with the nation and the world, but as a first single to be released by Wings II, this song was not going to get much airplay or big sales, outside of Ireland itself.

The song was immediately banned in the U.K. due to its very strong political content. The B side was an instrumental version of the A side with a much lighter tone. Henry McCullough, the new Irishman in the band, was put in an awkward place for his first gig with his new band. He, and his family received threats over the song at the time.Rating – 6Back in the studio in early March of 1972, Wings II recorded many of the songs that would come out on 1973’s RED ROSE SPEEDWAY. However, quite a few songs recorded were not released, or eventually came out many years later as bonus tracks on CD singles etc..Paul at a few times in his career attempted to put together a release of all of the unused songs on a discount album called COLD CUTS AND HOT HITS. The record company refused to release this as he only wanted to put a $3.99 price tag on it, which was a few dollars less than a normal release. He would revisit this idea a few more times, even re-recording these unreleased songs all to again, it never happening. It has become a bootleg staple of McCartney fans, each of the three proposed versions of COLD CUTS….—————————————————————————

In 1972 here are the list of songs recorded and intended for a proper release (most for the initial double album proposed for RED ROSE SPEEDWAY) that were never (or came out much much later as we discussed) released….

“Tragedy” A remake of The Fleetwoods 1959 single. Very mellow…harmless remake. Great idea to hold this song back. Rating – 4

“Mama’s Little Girl” A highlight of Paul’s acoustic period he had during these last two years. It saw the light of day in the very late 1980’s. A sweet little gem of a tune. I love the clarinets. Rating – 7

“Seaside Woman” Linda’s first solo composition. Inspired by a Jamaican visit in late 1971, this song was done live at the time, but not released until 1977.

It was released under the guise of Suzy and The Red Stripes.Decent song, done well, and even better in concert.Rating – 6.5

“I Would Only Smile” Denny Laine’s first written song contributed to the band. A mid-tempo country feel. Not a memorable song at all. He later released it “first” on his 1980’s album, JAPANESE TEARS. Rating – 3.5

“Thank You Darling” A Paul & Linda sing as a duet on a song that never really gets going. Has a 1950’s style feel. Rating – 3.5

“Mary Had A Little Lamb” Did Paul record this song (which included his children singing on it) as a gift for the kids worldwide (which he has said) or more likely as a F.U. to British radio for banning his previous single. Either way, they worked very hard on this song, and even recorded FOUR music videos for its release as the 2nd Wings II single. I like this song. It’s harmless and cute, but what did it do to his already tarnished credibility in the music world? And again, what was his new guitarist thinking as they worked and worked on this one. Maybe as a b-side or hidden on an album would have worked better. It is a very well recorded song but…Rating – 6

“Little Woman Love” Recorded during the WILD LIFE sessions and issued as the b-side to “Mary…”. This is a jaunty piano piece that keeps the toes a tapping. He would do this song in concert by combing it with “C Moon” during the future tour. Maybe he should have reversed the single to have this be the A-side.Rating – 6.5

Recording ended in late March, then the band went into rehearsal for their first “proper” tour of Europe. The tour started on July 9th and ran until August 24th. They did 26 shows in 9 countries.

No Beatles songs, but the band did have more material to perform. The best part is they really started to gel and tighten as a unit, and the DVD inclusion in the WILD LIFE archive release “Wings Over Europe” showed off the best of all the material they had at the time.

Quite a few of these live performances from this tour were meant to be part of the 1973 RED ROSE SPEEDWAY proposed double album. When the idea was rejected by EMI, these rocking concert songs were shelved. Only heard at the time on poor quality bootlegs until the WILD LIFE archive release.

On this tour, proper venues were booked, as were hotels etc… but it became a true family thing as they loaded up the wives and girlfriends and kids and dogs on their rented out a double decker bus.

They painted it up for the tour and threw mattresses on top and drove from country to country in true early 1970’s hippie style.

Up next…. The second half of 1972….. Rock on!!!

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The Road To WILD LIFE


So Paul’s first two albums were ripped by the critics. He was almost universally blamed as the one who “broke up The Beatles.” His former band mate, closest friend, and writing partner, release two amazing albums, constantly ripping him in the press and then preserved forever on his “Imagine” album.

So now he announced he’s forming a new band, with relatively unknown musicians and also in it, his new wife, who was NOT even a musician. The fans, and the music world in general just couldn’t comprehend this decline from Paul.

Even George Harrison, had released his first true solo release (the three record opus “All Things Must Pass”) to rave reviews, huge sales and massive hit singles..

And the world had conspired on him, coming up with the zany notion that he had died in 1966 and been replaced by a surgically altered look-a-like. Yikes…. These factors had reduced Paul’s self confidence and street credibility to just above nothing.
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Paul had always wanted to keep The Beatles together. At the height of the Let It Be filming tension he had wanted them to return to their roots, maybe just “show up” at small clubs and rediscover the fire of their early Hamburg days. George and John thought him daft at such a suggestion, and the rooftop performance was the best, last bone they would throw him.

But Paul still yearned to be in a tight band, that performed live, and got that immediate feedback and love of a concert audience. So the decision to form his new band, a very safe band, no super group band (which were huge at the time) was the thing that drove him forward.
After the totally solo low-key work of McCartney I, the incredible effort and time put into finishing Ram, he went into the studio with Linda, and the two Denny’s and very quickly (eight recording sessions in total) and knocked off some of Paul’s newest songs.

Paul has always been too aware of what the critics said and wrote and what was happening around him and in the music business in general…
With Wings first release, Wild Life, the problems here were twofold. One, these songs were among the weakest he had ever written. Maybe not fully flushed out or realized in the studio. Not awful, just not being in the caliber of anything in his entire canon of work. Two, though never a user of hard drugs (maybe a little rooty toot in the 70’s) in his career, this next two year period saw a much greater use and effect thereof of the killer weed, marijuana.

He had become quite the drinker after the Beatles breakup and hid himself inside the bottle for a very brief time until Linda shook him to sensibility. Instead, I think to hide the pain and fears at the time, a lot of his creative ideas (and there were a lot if them) and lack of follow thru and fulfilled expectations came from Paul and Linda’s love of all things smoke. Forget the drug busts that would follow the next decade. Weed was a day to day thing, and maybe even more in the studio and when composing.
So, on December 7th, 1971, to little or no fanfare, Wild Life was released.

I heard nothing of its release at the time…
I remember being in a car and hearing a bit of “Love Is Strange” on the radio…thinking, that sounds like Paul. When the song ended, the DJ said that it was indeed Paul’s new band, new single from his new album. I went to the store and bought it soon after….


WILD LIFE
The album cover is beautiful and captures the relaxed country feel of band, and the McCartney’s life at the time.
Everyone looks great, and the doves released are a surprise and I suppose are the “wings” in the photo.
The only problem, not a mention of the band on the front cover,
So unless one spots Macca’s face on the record store shelves, one wouldn’t pay it any mind. They later stuck a sticker on the cover to alert any buyer that it was Wings.
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The back cover is B&W drawing by Paul, with a fake press release by Clint Harrigan (really done by Paul himself)
[ When Paul and Linda McCartney were in New York recording ‘RAM’ they needed a drummer so they found a sweaty old basement in the West 40’s and invited some drummers to play on a battered old drum kit. One of those who turned up and went straight for his tom toms was Denny Seiwell, a tall type with eight generations of drummers in his family, who played well and left the drum kit throbbing. After that, Paul, Linda and Denny played together on ‘RAM’ and then each took off for a holiday.
The Macs returned to Britain and during the time following wrote a bunch of songs at their country retreat.
When the time came to go recording again they rang Denny Laine, a Birmingham lad, and asked him if he was coming out to play. Replying in the affirmative he brought his faithful guitar, and he and the Macs, along with Denny S. (who had arrived from the States as if by magic carrying his wife who was drunk again) and his drums, proceeded. They rehearsed for a while, sang some old songs, wrote some new ones and in time headed for the big city studios. In three days they had laid down most of the tracks and by the end of a couple of weeks the album was finished.
In this wrapper is the music they made. Can you dig it?]
Clint Harrigan
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Paul brought his demos of the songs he wrote into the rehearsals for the album and the band worked on them, jamming as well, getting to know one another. Linda, who had been shown the basic on piano, had also been taking formal lessons.

The engineers for the WILD LIFE recordings were Tony Clark, assisted by a young Alan Parsons, who went on to much bigger and better things by the decades end.


Of the eight songs which made the final album cut, the first take was used on five of them. Again, another complete change from the approach and care he took on RAM.


The Songs of Wings WILD LIFE
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“Mumbo” As the band jammed away Paul liked what he was hearing and he shouted out at Clark, “Take It Tony.” This is the start of the album. Paul screams out scat like vocals, with Linda on organ frills. Seiwell’s drumming drives the track. The double tracked guitars by Paul and Laine give this track some edge. Not a bad start. Rating – 6.0

“Bip Bop” A slight shuffle, with Paul’s altered voice and bass out front. The lyrics are bare. One of a few on this album that the band kicked ass live in future concerts in 1972….but this wasn’t live. A song about going out and having fun, but in disguise. It’s a toe-tapper but lean, lean, lean. Linda’s background vocals don’t add much..
Rating – 5

“Love is Strange” Taking the basic idea of Micky and Sylvia’s 1950’s hit and then changing most of the lyrics and adding a reggae tempo. The first single released in England and then quickly pulled back due to poor response. It takes too long to get going. Again, not bad, just not very good. The best band vocals on the album Rating – 5.75

“Wild Life” The title track, about a visit to an African wildlife park, and how people need to respect them.
Live, on their 1972 Wings over Europe tour, this one really shines. It goes on a bit too long for my taste. It always bothered me when Paul calls them “aminals, not animals.”
Interesting background vocals….the beginning of the Wings sound we all came to love. Rating- 5.5

“Some People Never Know” Another slight dig at John and Yoko? Not sure?…but this is one of the highlights of the album for me. Beautiful melody and very nice harmony vocals. Interesting play out by Denny Seiwell’s percussion. Laine’s solo in the middle is very George Harrison. Paul’s lead vocals are pushed back in the mix a bit too much. Rating – 7.0

“I Am Your Singer” Short and sweet. Linda gets her first lead lines…. Paul brings in five musicians on recorders for the middle break and end fills. Paul’s bass, as always, drives the mid-tempo pace.
Rating- 6

“Bip Bop” (link) Paul’s first link!!! He’s had a load of them through the years. Paul on acoustic guitar for 52 seconds.
Okay….but not a needed track. Rating 4.0

“Tomorrow” Another of the better songs, with classic Wings harmony. Decent lyrics about taking advantage of some time to escape (a fairly common Paul theme). He ends with a 30 second coda of the refrain. Rating – 6.5

“Dear Friend” Paul offers his hand to John to end the war of words in the press and in their music. Not entirely without a jab or two (Are you a fool….or is it true?). Richard Hewson is brought in to do the orchestration (he had just done THRILLINGTON). The best song on the album, but it goes on a bit too long…. Rating – 7.5

“Mumbo” (link). Ah..another link… Paul’s pulsing bass sounds promising at the beginning and then suddenly the song dissolves and ends at 53 seconds.
Did we need this? Rating – 4.5

The two links make the album look fuller, but it is basically the eight main songs….The overall album, including the links comes in with a rating of 5.75.

Again, this seems right. It is not a bad album, but for a first album by a NEW band led by a former Beatle….this should not have been it.

Paul justified this album by telling the story of him in L.A. one day and a hippie van pulled up next to him. A man leaded out the window and yelled to him while holding out a copy of WILD LIFE…. “Hey Paul, we’re going up to the mountains, and we’re taking this with us. It’s the best thing you’ve ever done.”

He really hadn’t found his way as of yet, and any positive feedback seemed to justify his decisions.

The creator and host of the McCartney podcast “Paul or Nothing,” Sam Whiles, has said that the live songs included in the deluxe archive edition should have been the main core of their first album.

More care in the songs, more time in the studio and maybe……the critics and fans wouldn’t have ripped him a new one. This one sold decent for most artists, but not for a Paul McCartney record. His worst sales and no singles from a time when new artists were taking over the scene (Zeppelin/Elton John etc..)

He was now zero for three out to the box post breakup.His NEXT plan…. Fill out the band…. Release a batch of new stand alone singles throughout 1972 and then take the band out on the road…. He did all of these. But all decisions at this point were clouded in that acrid smoke.

Up next… Wings adds a new member, the unreleased songs from this period and those 1972 singles. And the first Wings tour…. If that’s what you want to call it.

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Ram Sessions

OTHER SONGS RECORDED DURING “RAM” SESSIONS BUT RELEASED LATER

October 14th, 1970 “Get On The Right Thing” (Red Rose Speedway 1973)

October 19th, 1970 “I Lie Around” (B-Side to “Live And Let Die” single 1973)

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October 22,1970 “When The Wind Is Blowing” (From the unreleased original Rupert The Bear project- later released on Wings WILD LIFE archive edition 2018)

October 22nd, 1970 “Rode All Night” (Jam unreleased until released on RAM archive edition 2012- Part of song used and expanded for Roger Daltrey One Of The Boys 1977 album. Retitled as “Giddy.”)

October 26th, 1970 “A Love For You” (from unreleased COLD CUTS/HOT HITS projects- re-recorded a few times- released 2003 from “The In-Laws” motion picture-also released (different mix) on RAM achieve edition 2012)

October 26th, 1970 “Hey Diddle” (Released on 2001’s Wingspan and again on VENUS AND MARS archive edition 2014….???)

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October 29th, 1970 “Sunshine Sometime” From the unreleased original Rupert The Bear project- later released on Ram archive edition 2012. I have a version with lyrics from bootleg of entire unreleased Rupert album.

November 13th, 1970 and January 21st, 1971 “Little Woman Love” (B-side to 1972’s Wings “Mary Had A Little Lamb)

November 19, 1970 “Little Lamb Dragonfly” (Red Rose Speedway 1973) NOTE: I can only imagine this great song being on RAM and maybe leaving off “Long Haired Lady.” What an album would that be…..

February 23rd, 1971 “The Great Cock And Seagull Race” (Released on Wings WILD LIFE archive edition 2018)

And THRILLINGTON was recorded from June 15th-18th, 1971.

Meanwhile Paul continued to write more songs. It was around this time that Paul, who liked working with Denny, David and Linda decided to form a band with them. Spinozza declined the offer and

Paul reached out to friend and musical buddy from the early 1960’s, former Moody Blues Denny Laine to join. Denny agreed.

On August 3rd, 1971 the press was informed about their new (then un-named) band.Stella was born on September 13th and the name WINGS was decided on.

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Wings Logo

We will go over each of these recording when we get to the releases that allowed them to see the light of day.

Finally…“Blackpool” – Interesting call and response song from Paul and Linda that never seems to get through the basic verse stage. It’s silly lyrics about either post codes (zip codes) or possibly women’s measurements? Released on RAM archive edition 2012 Rating – 5

On July 24th, 1971 the “band” went into the studio to record.

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The recording ended on July 29th…..5 days in the studio led us to the next release

On December 7th, 1971 we got Wings WILD LIFE…. next.