Thursday, February 04, 2010



Have you ever tried to sip chocolate milk? It's damn near impossible. Once you take a drink, it's hard to stop until you have finished it off.

Which explains why I have moved on to the third installment of Sir Paul McCartney's adventures in hi-fi in the early seventies. Determined that he could not sit around any longer, he decided to move on a long desired plan to get back out in front of live audiences again.

How do you follow one of the biggest acts of the sixties?

Paul chose to go the tougher route and not even try. He merely wanted to be part of a band again. Enlisting drummer Denny Seiwell, whose solid work on Ram impressed him, was a fine start. His choice to fill the keyboard slot in his new aggregation was shocking.

His wife Linda.

Had she been a seasoned pro, the rock world still would have been skeptical, though it really was an odd pick because she could barely play a note. He insisted that she should be part of the project, taught her a few basic chords and then there were three.

Casting an eye about for a guitarist, he hit upon the idea of having Denny Laine join him. After all, he had known Laine from his days with the Moody Blues (pre Justin Hayward), liked his voice and thought that they would work well together. According to Paul, the name for this new group came out of a stressful time as Linda was giving birth to their second child, Stella. Complications arose and it wasn't certain that the baby would survive. While praying for his wife and child, the image of angel's wings came to McCartney.

So as "Uncle Abert" was all over the radio in August of '71, Wings quietly started rehearsing.

Puffing on some of Mother Nature's finest, having a few beers and knocking around a few oldies, they also jammed on a few new ideas as well. Paul made the executive decision to record some of their "first takes". That's always a good move if you want to sift through the tapes and pick out certain things that merit further development.

He probably shouldn't have released them for public consumption.

Before erupting into an extended laughing fit, consider listening to this from a different perspective. You're hearing a bootleg that mistakenly fell into a pile and was given the green light as an official release. No need to run back into a burning building to retrieve this, though if you do find it on vinyl for a buck, (as I did, way back) then you're set.

No expectations.

McCartney himself had to have realized that this was the byproduct of working up some ideas to break in the band.Nothing more. So you have some pointless fun ("Mumbo"), a song directed at toddlers ("Bip Bop"), the catchy pop tune ("Tomorrow") and a white, left-handed-cigarette-smoking-reggae-fied cover ("Love is Strange").

Ideas that have promise ("Wild Life", "Some People Never Know") run way too long on underdeveloped melodies with no transitions to make them more interesting. Had more time been invested with certain tracks (and backing vocals turned down in the mix) the results would have been marginally better.

Extreme critical backlash met "Wild Life" upon its release at the tail end of '71. Once half of an enormously influential song writing partnership, McCartney now seemed to have lost the plot.

"Dear Friend" would be the standout track on Wild Life. It is a small olive branch that he extended to Lennon in the wake of the very public pissing match that they were engaged in at that time.

Best viewed as some messy sketches from a writer trying to escape a long shadow and do things differently.


Charlie said...

At the time I was one of the World's biggest Beatles fans, still am, and even though they had broken up almost 2 years earlier they were still the world's most popular band. However, I thought this album was astonishingly appalling. What's worse, it set the tone for much of McCartney's solo career for the next 20 years. What was he thinking? Oh that's right, he wasn't!!!!!!!

Perplexio said...

Based on your review, I think I'll rush right out and totally avoid this one in favor of something better... Maybe it's finally time to get Tripping the Light Fantastic on CD. I used to have that on cassette and listened to it so much I think I wore out the tape.

Charlie said...

Darrin, if you want live McCartney may I suggest 2 that are better than Tripping. Both Back In The U.S. and Good Evening New York City are better as is his unplugged disc.

Dan said...

Macca lost me about this time until Band on the Run came out.