Monday, March 18, 2024

Great Magazine Reads: Band on the Run was the album that helped Paul McCartney relocate his mojo

MOJO Magazine recently scored an exclusive interview with Paul McCartney, made even more meaningful because former Wings guitarist Denny Laine had literally died minutes before Sir Paul called the reporter from Brazil. 

Some highlights from the article:

  • Wings started because Paul saw Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins returning to the spotlight and “playing with some country musicians I had never heard of.” He turned to his wife Linda and they decided to start a band from scratch. 
  • The name Wings came to him after Linda had an emergency c-section and Paul imagined winged angels watching over his wife and baby Stella. 
  • By the time one of Wings’ masterpieces, Band on the Run, came around, John Lennon suggested Paul had been right about The Beatles’ business manager being a creep. Some suggested this ramped up Paul’s confidence, creating the ballfield for the 1973 album to be arguably so much greater than his other albums since the end of The Beatles. 
  • From the album, the glammy “Jet” was about Paul’s pet labrador. Paul wrote “Picasso’s Last Words” literally as actor Dustin Hoffman was telling him a story about Picasso, whose last words were allegedly “drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink anymore.” The title track’s words (“if we ever get out of here”) came from George Harrison’s comments during late-era Beatles’ business meetings.
  • With McCartney in a little bit of trouble for multiple pot arrests, Wings were literally a band on the run and decided to record the album in Lagos, Nigeria. Upon arrival, they found a flooded, half-built studio. They were also mugged while there and, although not hurt, their wallets, cameras, and demo tapes of Band on the Run were stolen. Paul also collapsed at one point from a combination of the heat, cigarette smoking, and stress. All the work and inspiration was worth it since the album hit number 1 in both the U.S. and UK, turned Wings into mega-arena stars, and Lennon even called it a great album. Further, John accepted an invitation to come record with Paul in New Orleans for the follow up to Band on the Run, Venus and Mars, but then he got back together with Yoko Ono - after his "lost weekend" - and domestic life got in the way.
  • Wings finally folded - after a longer lifespan than the Beatles - in 1981, at least partly due to Laine feeling he wasn’t compensated well enough for his contributions. 

A new lower-fi remaster of Band on the Run is set to be released this year that will include versions of the songs with the orchestra and overdubs taken out.

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