Paul McCartney & Wings: Band on the Run

Written by November 30th, 2010 at 12:23 pm


Paul McCartney and Wings
Band on the Run
MPL/Hear/Concord
Rating: ★★★★½

Whether this recent re-mastering of Paul McCartney and Wings’ Band on the Run CD (along with bonus tracks, DVD, and “enhanced packaging”) is simply a meretricious attempt to return Sir Paul’s bank balance to its pre-Heather Mills glory is anybody’s guess. What really matters, though, is that it isn’t Red Rose Speedway or London Town that’s being re-released: Band on the Run’s opening one-two punch, the mega-hit singles “Band on the Run” and “Jet,” are easily the best songs Macca ever penned with Wings (with “Let Me Roll It,” claiming honorable mention), which at the time consisted of his shutterbug-turned-keyboardist wife Linda McCartney (who gets partial writing credits on most of these songs) and former Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine.

Originally released in glam-heavy 1973, Band on the Run finds McCartney more assured as a solo songwriter, while still dabbling with whimsical song cycles, odd reprises, and random mix-n-match structures as he did on 1971’s Ram and 1973’s Red Rose: although his grafting together of seemingly unrelated sections here feels a bit like pastiche compared to, say, the slick segues that hold an otherwise disjointed album like Abbey Road together. Still, Band on the Run’s clever arrangements and careful instrumentation sound as fresh as ever, while those ever-unsubtle McCartney choruses always occur with the same gut-warming inevitability.

Naturally the bonus tracks and extra DVD visuals don’t yield much in the way of long-lost treasures. You get the demo-quality versions of the official CD tracks, then a separate DVD full of curious but crude rehearsal film footage. There’s also random documentary evidence of the Band on the Run cover-photo sessions, not to mention some early pre-MTV promotional videos featuring the sort of hokey-jokey showboating that would unfortunately characterize McCartney’s music-supporting visuals for years to come. That said, this fine-tuned semi-classic should hold die-hard Wings fans for a while, at least until Back to the Egg gets its inevitable redux.

  • Justin

    I think it has become fab and even pastiche, as it were, to give this album such high praise. It’s not a horrible album, but it certainly isn’t Paul’s best (Ram?). The title track is silly and instantly dated by its synth sound. “Mamunia” is pleasant at best. “Bluebird” and “No Words” are both horribly soppy and almost unlistenable. “Picasso’s Last Words” has a melody that sounds as if it won the blue ribbon at some third grade contest and is probably the lousiest song on the album from a writing perspective. It’s wanking. “Jet” looks good on surface, but somehow I have failed to connect with that song. “1985″ is a great track, “Let Me Roll It” has a nice groove, and “Mrs. Vanderbilt” is also a nice driving little rock number. But seriously, this is one of the most overrated albums of the 70s.

    “Ram” is filled to the brim with Beatley joy and “Red Rose Speedway” is quite underrated. “When the Night” tops anything on BotR.

  • Bluebird( Is A very pretty song!)

    I don’t agree at all with what Justin wrote about the Band On The Run album.Bluebird is actually a very pretty song,and only Paul McCartney can make a song about Bluebirds,Dragon Flies,and Pigons so beautiful,it;s his *music genuis* more than lyrics which for him is usually the case.Band on The Run is a great song,that has three parts in one in it,and it turns into a great rocker,and only Paul and DEnny Laine play all of the instruments great in every song on the album,and Paul’s bass,lead guitar,piano playing and vocals are all great as usual.The song Band On The Run,isn’t silly either,I have heard other reviewers point out that it’s about escaping,and having freedom,which someone once pointed out this is what Bluebird is also about.

    1985 is as other people have described it,a Great piano rocker,and I have always loved Jet from the time I heard it when it first came out when I was in third grade.I love his great rocker Juinor’s Farm which came out almost a year later though too.

    I hapen to really like Red Rose Speedway too,but I totally *love* his Great 1975 Wings rock album,Venus and Mars the best.Every song on this album is very good and it’s really a Beatles quality album,I think it’s better than the Band On The Run album,and I also think it’s Paul’s last truly great album.My sister who is 4 years older,and who had a big diverse music collection,bought Venus and Mars when it first came out,and over 20 years later she still was saying it’s one of the best albums she’s ever heard,and that it’s unique and she knows no other album like it.Paul also produced all of his great early-mid 70′s albums,and he co-arranged this album too.

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