" 'A hard act to follow. Almost impossible. But what could I do ?'
What indeed? The advantage of being Paul McCartney
in the Sixties, composer of many of the decade's great
songs, was the proverbial millstone at the start of the
Seventies. No chance now of easing a new career into
first gear unnoticed.
Into the studio. McCartney in 1970, Ram a year later.
Linda's continued bravery in the face of a hostile press,
and an initially discouraged husband, was crucial.
So there was plenty of life in the young man yet.
The equation was: 'being a musician equals being
Another, because he had never been on stage alone,
was 'being a performer equals being in a band'.
Late 1971, then, Wings were born. The first album,
Wild Life, was quickly made. Then they headed for
the stage, more rough edges than smooth syncopation.
The bandleader had a determination not to perform
material from his 'past'- it was the only way of making
a clean breast of it.
Superstar status left at home, Paul, Linda. Wingsmen,
babies, dogs, guitars, amps and drums went up the
motorway in a van with little rehearsal of scant material
and no bookings.
The British universities tour was Wings' Hamburg - they went into it ragged and emerged... less so,
and with a unified belief that the only way was up.
Yes. It was a bumpy ride: bans, busts, mixed reviews.
Wings never lacked for effort, however - the fast-track release pattern of the Sixties was maintained, so that the colossal Band On The Run was Paul McCartney's fifth album in three years.
In 1975-76 Wings played a world tour as one of the
biggest bands of the decade, with number one singles and number one albums everywhere. Rocking shows, packed out stadia.
Plot Wings' story on a graph (if that's your kind of
thing) and it's obvious that this was the high point.
But peaks are hard to sustain. Following further
personnel changes - and several more massive
hits - the band stopped running, and soon after the
Japanese tour collapsed in 1980 (a little matter of
temporary incarceration) they were gone. The solo
album McCartney II underscored the dissolution
rumours. It was ten years and ten albums after
McCartney. Full circle.
With a surer sense of self, and an awesome agony
from the death of a soul mate in New York, it was
time to fold Wings and emerge once again as Paul
McCartney solo artist.
Another end, another beginning."
by Mark Lewisohn.
Introduction by Mark Lewisohn (sleevenotes)
Wingspan Review (Part I: 1970-1973)
Wingspan Review (Part II: 1973-1977)
Wingspan Review (Part III: 1977-1983)
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