1 May 2024    |    Music, Shop news

Jamie’s Album Of the Month

May 2024: Paul McCartney's Band on the Run

Band on the Run (50 years old last November) marked a pivotal moment in Paul McCartney’s solo career, catapulting him back into the limelight and reaffirming his status as a musical force to be reckoned with. Despite his previous commercial success with albums like “Red Rose Speedway,” McCartney was grappling with a tarnished critical reputation following the breakup of The Beatles. Seen by some as the main instigator of the band’s demise, many of his recent pop offerings were also being derided as decidedly “lightweight”.

However, McCartney’s response to this adversity was both pragmatic and inspired. He retreated to his Mull of Kintyre farm with new wife Linda, where they hatched the idea of forming a band and “hitting the road to play rock ‘n’ roll”. This decision was not driven by a desire for fame or attention but apparently by a genuine desire to stay close to his wife and rediscover the joy of making music in a more collaborative space than he had been used to in the late-Beatles period. The formation of Wings, with Linda as an essential member, represented a departure from that highly structured environment. Instead, it was a return to the raw energy and experimentation of their early days. McCartney handpicked talented musicians like Denny Seiwell, Henry McCullough and Denny Laine to join the band, perhaps recognising, especially in the Moody Blues’ Laine, a kindred spirit with whom he could share creative responsibilities.

The McCartneys’ choice of Lagos for recording Band on the Run however, turned out to be far from the relaxing retreat they had hoped for. Seiwell and McCullough would abruptly leave the group shortly before departing for Nigeria, after arguing with McCartney in rehearsals. EMI had also vastly oversold their Lagos studio’s capabilities, leaving the band with a broken control desk and only one tape machine to record (ultimately the recording of “Jet” and most of the overdubbing was done elsewhere). Fela Kuti also arrived one day, intensely suspicious that McCartney had only come to Nigeria exploit local music for the album, and was only mollified when the decidedly non-Afrobeat songs were performed for him. Paul and Linda were also mugged, losing irreplaceable lyrics and several demo tracks.

Despite, or perhaps because of all this, the album lacks the meandering quality of some of McCartney’s other works, maintaining focus with its mix of acoustic, rock, and show-stopping tracks. It showcases McCartney’s innovative flair, echoing his Beatles days with song snippets and thematic closures. Despite McCartney’s dominant presence within Wings, with their records often seen as his solo creations, the collaborative spirit of the band shone through in the music they produced. “Band on the Run” was a testament to this synergy, showcasing McCartney’s songwriting prowess alongside the contributions of his bandmates. “Band on the Run” stands as a testament to the power of collaboration and the resilience of an artist determined to carve out his own path, regardless of past criticisms.

Jamie

We have several copies of this Abbey Road Half Speed Mastered 50th Anniversary release, available on 1LP of 180g Audiophile Vinyl. Click here if you wish to get one.