London Town (1978)

Album Cover

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Insert from London Town booklet  

The beginning of 1977 is of good omen: the legal actions between Allen Klein and the Beatles are over now, after 6 years of proceedings. Paul McCartney produces two albums at that time. The first one is Denny Laine's album, Holly Days, recorded in Paul's farm in Scotland and issued on May 6th. The second one is an instrumental release of Ram (which was recorded at Abbey Road studios in 1972) and it is called Thrillington. This one is issued on April 29th, 1977, under the name of Percy Thrills, and it will go unnoticed.

After that, Paul decides to undertake a new album and starts working at Abbey Road studios in February and March 1977. Then he suddenly changes his mind (as he did for the Band On The Run recording sessions) and decides to leave the UK for some sunny skies.

Linda, Paul and Denny.    
Paul hires three yachts, and with both his family and his band on board, travels to the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. A mobile studio has been installed on board the Fair Carol for the forthcoming recording sessions of the new album. Paul and his family dwell on board another yacht, the Wanderlust, whose name will serve as a song title on Paul's Tug Of War album two years later.   Paul and Linda take advantage of sunny skies in the Caribbean.
    Paul and Linda take advantage of sunny skies in the Caribbean.

After a month spent in the Caribbean islands (May), Paul returns to the UK. The final recording sessions take place in London between October 1977 and January 1978. For these latest sessions, Wings shrink once again to their basic core: Paul, Linda and Denny. The reason is the resignation of Jimmy McCulloch who leaves Wings in Septembre to join a new band, the Small Faces. In November, Joe English leaves Wings in his turn.

Recording session of Mull Of Kintyre in Paul's farm.   But the new album is finished anyway. It is going to be called London Town.

A few time before the closing sessions of London Town, Paul issues Mull Of Kintyre as a single. This title, written with the help of Denny Laine, will not be included in the final album.

This song is a beautiful ballad about the scottish peninsula of Kintyre and it's probably the biggest hit performed by Wings. The recording sessions take place in Paul's scottish farm in August 1977.

During these sessions, Paul is helped by a local scottish group, the Campbeltown Pipes Band, who plays all those fine and famous bagpipes lines in the song.

Recording session of Mull Of Kintyre.    

The single Mull Of Kintyre / Girls' School is issued on November 1977 and it rapidly becomes a smashing hit. One million of records is sold in ten days, the quickest selling for EMI that year. On January 1978, more than two millions of records are already sold, representing the biggest selling of all times at that date. Some years later, Denny Laine will sell his song's copyrights to Paul, because of some financial problems.
The B-side of the single,
Girls School, is a good and strong rock song.

After the Mull Of Kintyre issue, the London Town album is finally released on March 31st, 1978. It includes five songs which are co-written by Paul and Denny Laine whose involvment in songwriting with Paul is obviously growing. It reaches #2 in the US and #4 in the UK. Critics have some severe judgements about this album and London Town will often be considered as half a setback in Paul's work.

The album starts with a gentle pop ballad, London Town, which is built upon a nice and rich orchestration with many instruments including brass, acoustic and keyboard lines.

It's a McCartney/Laine collaboration. The song is about ordinary people and is rapidely categorized as a middle of the road pop tune by our beloved critics...

Photo session in London for the album booklet.
  Photo session in London for the album's booklet.

Cafe On The Left Bank follows next with a more electric rhythm. A song about Paris with nice lyrics and a catchy guitar line. Through these lyrics, Paul recalls his first travel to Paris with the Beatles in 1964.

I'm Carrying is a slow love song with an acoustic guitar and some keyboards.
Then comes
Backwards Traveller, with a catchy intro and some good percussions, immediately followed by an instrumental tune played at the keyboard, Cuff Link.

Children Children, the second Laine/McCartney collaboration on this album, is sung by Denny. It is a folk song (for children as said in the title) with a good melody and nice harmonies by Paul and Linda.

Afterwards comes Girlfriend, a song written by Paul which will be covered by Michael Jackson on his own album Off The Wall in 1979. Here, Paul performs the song amazingly, using alternatively high-pitched and low-pitched vocal lines. A good solo is played on two electric guitars. It's definitely one of the best songs on the album.

Finally comes I've Had Enough, a rock song which closes the first side of the album.

With A Little Luck starts the second side with a tremendous ballad by Paul, probably one of the most beautiful songs he ever wrote. This song is sometimes qualified as Beatles-sounding. As a matter of fact, it includes a lot of keyboard rhythm, and even a rather long solo played on this instrument. In fact, London Town is Paul's first album on which keyboards take such a dominance.
Paul covers the end of the song using this very specific
rough voice which he usually reserves for rock songs.
With A Little Luck will be the main title of this album pulled out as a single.

Recording sessions on board the Fair Carol.   Famous Groupies is another catchy folk song written by Paul.
Once again, it's one of his best compositions ever and it only remains underrated because of a lack of promotion.
The guitar and the bass lines are perfect.

Deliver Your Children carry on with the same kind of folk tempo with strong bass lines. It was written by McCartney/Laine and it is sung by Denny.

Recording sessions on board the Fair Carol.    
Name And Adress returns to a more rock'n'roll style. The song is performed by Paul who uses his 'Elvis' way of singing.

Then comes Don't Let It Bring You Down, a wonderful slow song mixing flutes,acoustic guitars and some electric guitars which are softly played in the background. A very nice melody with strong lyrics and a suited production.

This song is another McCartney/Laine collaboration... as Morse Moose And The Grey Goose which closes the album. This one is a strange song with a very celtic atmosphere and some instrumental effects performed on the keyboards. It mixes folk rhythms with some rock tempo and the song's final is surprisingly built upon a precursory techno beat.

Mull Of Kintyre performed on TV by Paul and the Campbeltown Pipes Band.

Mull Of Kintyre performed on TV

by Paul and the Campbeltown Pipes Band.

The CD remastered release of London Town in 1993 includes two bonus tracks: the smashing hit Mull Of Kintyre and Girls' School which is one of Paul's best rock performances.

Three singles are pulled out of London Town in 1978:

  • With A Little Luck / Backwards Traveller / Cuff Link is issued in March. This single will be particularly successful in France.
  • I've Had Enough / Deliver Your Children is released in June.
  • London Town / I'm Carrying is issued in August.


Credits: Thanks to Francisco Soza from Brazil for providing me with pictures and the Portuguese translation !

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