Back To The Egg (1979)
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In the second half of 1978, Paul McCartney looks for two musicians who could replace guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and drummer Joe English, who both resigned during the London Town recording sessions. Denny Laine finally introduces Laurence Juber and Steve Holly to Paul. Laurence Juber is an accomplished guitarist who already played with people like Shirley Bassey or John Williams, and Steve Holly recently played drums on an Elton John's album. Laurence and Steve both enrol as new Wings' members.
The first production of this new Wings line up is a single which is released in March 1979 and called Goodnight Tonight / Daytime Nightime Suffering.
Goodnight Tonight is a disco composition written by Paul with a nice bass guitar line and some good percussions. It rapidly becomes a big success in every night club and it reaches #5 in the US charts.
As usual, on the single's B-side is an hidden gem with Daytime Nightime Suffering, another perfectly mastered reggae-style song written by Paul.
In fact, the new Wings line up starts working on Paul's new album as soon as June 1978. After the folk-sounding London Town, Paul wants to go back to some rocking roots and this next album will be consequently called Back To The Egg.
Back To The Egg recording sessions in
Lympne Castle, Kent.
The recording sessions first take place in Paul's scottish farm. Then Wings go on recording in the Lympne Castle (Kent) and at Abbey Road studio #2 later on. When Paul wants to put the final touch to his album in November 1978, Abbey Road studios are no longer available and it seems that there is a pretty long waiting list... Paul doesn't want to wait and decides to build his own replica of Abbey Road studio #2. This Replica Studio is finally set up in the basement of Paul's office in Soho Square, London, and so Wings get the means to finish the new album before the end of 1978.
Back To The Egg is issued in June 1979. The album cover reminds of the one which was made eight years earlier for the Wild Life album: it has no title and no band name on it.
An important video is broadcasted on TV to promote the album (it's something rather new at the time).
Despite of these promotion efforts, Back To The Egg is not a resounding success and Paul takes it as a failure.
But nevertheless, this album is a good one with a strong rock atmosphere (at that time Paul probably wants to produce something suitable for the new Wings tour which is planned for the end of 1979).
Back To The Egg reaches #8 in the US charts.
The album opens with Reception, an introductory composition which features someone looking for a station on the radio till he finds Wings singing Getting Closer, the second song of this album.
Getting Closer is a vigorous pop/rock song with strong backing guitars and synthesizers, and a good final which is emphasized by Paul's hard-rocking voice. This is an ideal song for a live show opening during the next Wings tour.
On stage for the Wings English tour, 1979.
Next comes We're Open Tonight, a slow and short acoustic song that lets the atmosphere cool down a little bit. We're Open Tonight was the album's original title before Paul switched to Back To The Egg.
Then follows Spin It On with a very fast tempo and with an exceptional electric guitar line. This is another suitable title for live shows. It's one of the strongest titles on the album and it will be issued as a single. It will also be chosen as the basis of the promotional TV video clip.
After that comes the only title composed by Denny Laine on this album, Again And Again And Again, another energetic pop song. Denny's contribution in the songwriting of this album is fairly small in comparison with what Denny did for London Town.
Now comes what is probably the strongest song, titled Old Siam, Sir, an abrasive rock with heavy guitars which are mixed with a keyboard playing some kind of asian rhythm. Paul high-pitched throaty voice is amazing and the whole song is completely hypnotic.
The album's A-side closes with Arrow Through Me, a jazzy ballad with a nice contribution of brass instruments reminding of a big band. Paul's voice is still amazing, recorded with full of echo.
TV video sequence for Spin It On.
The album's B-side opens with a very powerful rock Rockestra Theme, recorded in October 1978 at the usual Abbey Road studio #2.
The idea of Paul is to fix up a kind of musical match between a classical orchestra and a rock band. Paul gathers some well-known musicians around him to set up this huge orchestra.
Rockestra band: Juber, Marvin, Gilmour, Laine, Townshend...
Among them are Pete Townshend (Who), Kenny Jones and Ronnie Lanes (Small Faces), Hank Marvin (Shadows), John Bonham and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), Gary Brooker (Procol Harum), Bruce Thomas (Elvis Costello's Attraction) and David Gilmour (Pink Floyd). They all join Wings to form a very exceptional orchestra and to perform Paul's Rockestra Theme, a deluge of electric guitars, percussions, horns and keyboards.
It keeps rocking with the next song, To You, featuring a nervous electric guitar and Paul's rough and shouting voice.
A medley of two unfinished songs follows with After The Ball / Million Miles.
After The Ball is a ballad mixing some piano, an electric guitar and some keyboards.
Million Miles is sung a capella by Paul with just an accordion in the background.
Next title is Winter Rose / Love Awake, another medley of two songs. Winter Rose is a sad and beautiful melody sung by Paul at the piano. It has a nice orchestration including harpsichord and deep drumming. The sadness of the song ends with the forthcoming title, Love Awake, a gentle ballad which leads us back to more joyful feelings.
The whole song was recorded with the help of the Black Dyke Mills Band, an orchestra which already got involved by the Beatles in a song recording many years ago.
A short interlude follows with The Broadcast, some literary spoken excerpts with a piano and some strings in the background.
Afterwards, tempo speeds up again with So Glad To See You Her, a fast and nervous electric rock which is reminiscent of previous songs like Spin It On or To You. The song was recorded on the same day as Rockestra Theme with the contribution of the whole Rockestra band.
Paul recording at Lympne Castle.
Baby's Request closes the album. It's one of these beautiful jazz melodies which seem to come directly from the thirties and whom Paul enjoys so much to write and to perform . This nice and soft song brings us the necessary quiet after the huge electric wave which came throughout the whole album.
The CD release of Back To The Egg includes three bonus tracks:
- Daytime Nightime Suffering, B-side of the Goodnight Tonight single which was issued three months before Back To The Egg
- Wonderful Christmastime and Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reggae, respectively A-side and B-side of a Wings' single issued for Christmas in November 1979. In fact, Wonderfull Christmastime was recorded by Paul alone in July as it was a real scorcher of a day ! Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reggae is an instrumental reggae recorded by Paul in 1975. It seems that the song was composed by a musician whom Paul met in the studio and who played violin on this song.
Four singles from Back To The Egg are released in summer 1979:
- Old Siam, Sir / Spin It On (Europe) and Getting Closer / Spin It On (US) are both issued in June.
- Getting Closer / Baby's Request (Europe) and Arrow Through Me / Old Siam, Sir (US) are both issued in August.
Later on in October 1979 Paul is rewarded with a rhodium record by the Guiness Book Of Records. Paul is granted the distinction of being the most famous artist and songwriter and the biggest record seller of the world.
At that time, Paul is the writer of 43 songs which were sold each in more than a million copies.
He owns 60 gold records (42 as part of the Beatles, 17 as part of the Wings and 1 with Billy Preston) - and this is the greatest number of Gold Records awards for an artist.
Paul is the seller of more than one hundred million albums and one hundred million singles.
Lastly he is the writer of the greatest number of songs covered by another singer.
Rhodium Record award for Paul in 1979.
After the release of Wonderful Christmastime in November 1979, Wings are ready to go on tour. After a live rehearsal at the Liverpool Institute (Paul's school when he was a teenager), Wings start an English tour which will last a month. The show is mainly based upon material from Back To The Egg with a relatively sober stage business.
The tour ends with the taking part of Wings in a charity concert at the Odeon Hammersmith on December 31st. This show is set up by UNICEF to help people of Kampuchea (ex Cambodia).
Wings perform Got To Get You Into My Life, Every Night and Coming Up.
Then Paul and Wings are joined on stage by various musicians from the Rockestra Band
(3 Led Zeppelin, 2 Who, 2 Rockpiles, 1 Small Faces, 1 Attraction and 1 Pretender).
The band performs three songs live: Rockestra Theme, Lucille and Let It Be.
Concert for the Kampuchea, with Pete Townshend,
on December 31st 1979.
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