Review (part III)
Paul McCartney: vocal, bass, piano, drums Linda McCartney: vocal, keyboards Denny Laine: vocal, guitar
In the beginning of 1977, Paul decided to undertake a new album and started to work at Abbey Road studios in February/March 1977. Then he suddenly changed his mind (as he did for the Band On The Run recording sessions) and decided to leave the UK for some sunny skies. After a month spent in the Caribbean Islands (May) for recording, Paul returned to the UK. The final recording sessions took place in London between October 1977 and January 1978. For these latest sessions, Wings shrank once again to their basic core: Paul, Linda and Denny. The reason was the resignation of Jimmy McCulloch who left Wings in Septembre to join a new band, the Small Faces. In November, Joe English, probably suffering from homesickness, left Wings in his turn.
But the new album, London Town, was finished anyway.
Shortly before the closing sessions of London Town, Paul issued Mull Of Kintyre as a single. This title, written with the help of Denny Laine, was not included in the final album. This song is a beautiful acoustic ballad about the scottish peninsula of Kintyre and it's probably the biggest hit performed by Wings.
The single Mull Of Kintyre / Girls' School was issued in November 1977 and it rapidly becomed a smashing hit in Europe (only #33 in the US). One million of records were sold in ten days, the quickest selling for EMI that year. On January 1978, more than two millions of records were already sold, representing the biggest selling of all times at that date.
No big surprise to find Mull Of Kintyre in the Wingspan collection.
London Town was finally released in March 1978 and remained at the US#2 for six weeks. Two songs from this album are included in Wingspan. Firstly, With A Little Luck, a beautiful rock/ballad with an efficient keyboard instrumentation, and secondly Girlfriend, a ballad written by Paul for Michael Jackson who covered it on his album Off The Wall. The single With A Little Luck / Backwards Traveller was released in April 1978 and remained at the US#1 for three months.
Too bad Wingspan collection doesn't also include Girls' School, a rough rock song used as the B-side of Mull Of Kintyre, and Don't Let It Bring You Down, a very melodic ballad nicely instrumented.
WINGS VII: 1978/1980
Paul McCartney: vocal, bass, piano, drums Linda McCartney: vocal, keyboards Laurence Juber: vocal, guitar Denny Laine: vocal, guitar Steve Holly: drums
Front: Paul, Denny & Linda. Back: Steve & Laurence
In the second half of 1978, Paul McCartney looked 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 introduced Laurence Juber and Steve Holly to Paul. Laurence Juber was an accomplished guitarist who had already played with people like Shirley Bassey or John Williams, and Steve Holly had recently played drums on an Elton John's album. Laurence and Steve both enrolled as new Wings' members.
The first production of this new Wings line-up was a single 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 becomed a big success in every night club and it reached #5 in the US charts. As usual, the single B-side is an hidden gem with Daytime Nightime Suffering, another perfectly mastered reggae-style song written by Paul. Both songs are included in Wingspan.
In June 1979, Wings released Back To The Egg, a new album which only reached US#8, despite its very good songs and despite its asserted rock sound throughout the record. The only track from this album that was selected for the Wingspan collection is Rockestra Theme. It is an instrumental composition with a deluge of electric guitars, percussions, horns and keyboards. The song was performed by Wings accompanied by some famous musicians like Pete Townshend, Hank Marvin and David Gilmour...
Too bad they didn't include more titles from Back To The Egg in Wingspan, like Old Siam, Sir - a very rough and electric rock song - and Baby's Request, a beautiful jazz ballad with that particular sound from the thirties so often used by Paul for his compositions.
BACK TO SOLO YEARS
After a British Tour in late 1979, Wings took off for Tokyo on January 16th, 1980, in order to start a new tour in Japan. On flight's arrival, customs officers discovered some marijuana in Paul's luggage. Paul was immediately arrested and remained incarcerated during 10 days. He was finally expelled from Japan and all the forthcoming Wings concerts were cancelled. The Japanese incident leaded the band to split up. Laurence Juber and Steve Holly decided to quit Wings, and this was the final point of the Wings' flight. Paul would now return to more solo years...
Ten years after his first solo album McCartney, and since Wings seemed to be disbanded, Paul decided to repeat a solitary musical experience (on which he had already started working before the Wings British tour of 1979). For this new solo album, Paul was alone and performed everything himself: songwriting, instrumental and vocal performance, recording and production. Most of the album was recorded in his Scottisch farm, using microphones directly plugged into the back of a 16-tracks tape machine bypassing the recording console. The result was McCartney II, which was released in May 1980 and reached US#3.
Paul interviewed shortly before the aborted Japan Tour.
Two songs form McCartney II are included in the Wingspan collection: Coming Up, a dancing and syncopated song, and Waterfalls, a beautiful acoustic ballad with good lyrics. The single Coming Up / Coming Up (live) / Lunchbox-Odd Sox was released in April 1980 and reached US#1. The other single Waterfalls / Check My Machine was released in June 1980. Too bad they didn't include other titles in Wingspan like One Of These Days, a wonderful and peaceful acoustic song, and On The Way, an efficient electric ballad.
In November 1980, Paul and Denny Laine joined together with George Martin at George's Caribbean studios in Montserrat. Paul decided to work on his new album in collaboration with George Martin. This was the first reunion of McCartney and Martin since Live And Let Die in 1973. Wings had broken up. Laurence Juber and Steve Holly had resigned from the band and Back To The Egg seemed definitely to be Wings' last production. For his new album, Paul hired various guest stars who backed him during the recording sessions. Finally, the new album, Tug Of War, was released in May 1982 and remained at US#1 for three weeks. Tug Of War was very well received by the fans and the critics. It is usually considered to be one of his three best albums.
Two songs from Tug Of War were retained for Wingspan: Take It Away and Tug Of War. Take It Away is a good pop song and Tug Of War is a great ballad with a sophisticated orchestration. The single Take It Away / I'll Give You A Ring was issued in June 1982 and reached US#10.
A really successful single issued from Tug Of War was Ebony And Ivory / Rainclouds which reached US#1 in April 1982. I would have really liked to see Rainclouds, a very Wings-style acoustic ballad, on the Wingspan tracklist. And there were so many great songs on Tug Of War which would have really diserved to be on Wingspan, like Wanderlust, Somebody Who Cares or Here Today, all gems of ballad.
Final event of the definite Wings disbanding: Denny Laine decided to quit Paul in the middle of the Tug Of War recording sessions. The hard core of Wings was broken.
Many songs recorded by Paul in 1981 at George Martin's studio in Montserrat remained unreleased after the Tug Of War issue in 1982. The fantastic success of his latest album leaded Paul to dig into the Tug Of War recording sessions for gathering some of the unreleased songs on a second album called Pipes Of Peace. This album was released in October 1983 and only reached US#15.
The only song fom that album to appear on the Wingspan tracklist is Pipes Of Peace, a very well orchestrated ballad with beautiful backing harmonies. The single So Bad / Pipes Of Peace was issued in December 1983 and reached US#23.
Too bad So Bad wasn't included in Wingspan, for it such a melodic ballad backed by nice harmonies and by a very good bass line.
Each Wingspan CD ends with a version of No More Lonely Nights. This a beautiful ballad which is an excerpt from the album Give My Regards To Broad Street. But is there a link between this song and the Wings' saga ? Nobody knows... Or if you know, just let me know :-)
Introduction by Mark Lewisohn (sleevenotes)
Wingspan Review (Part I: 1970-1973)
Wingspan Review (Part II: 1973-1977)
Wingspan Review (part III: 1977-1983)
Press Articles (coming soon...)
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