Review: Paul McCartney & Wings – Band On The Run

Along with 10CC, Wings were one of the great singles’ acts of the 1970’s but what of their albums? ‘Band On The Run’ is usually perceived as the classic example of Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles career and it now comes reissued with a bonus CD and nearly ninety minutes of DVD footage.

“Stuck inside these four walls. Sent inside forever. Never seeing no one, nice again” is the kind of  lyric you’d expect from a group isolated in a primtive recording studio in Lagos, Nigeria. Still, this being McCartney, ‘Band On The Run’ brightens up dramatically and effectively offers at least three great songs for the price of one. The great form continues with ‘Jet’ – inevitably linked by some to (BBC comedy creation) Alan Partridge’s “tribute” in a Travel tavern – but the song is a peerless slice of power pop. Then we have the lovely, acoustic simplicity of ‘Bluebird’.

After that, the record may be a bit more hit and miss than others will care to remember. ‘Let Me Roll It’ operates in the middle ground between Alvin Stardust and John Lennon’s ‘Cold Turkey’. ‘Mamunia’ is a pleasant little ditty full of joyous harmonies but ‘Picasso’s Last Words’ is a drinking song made marginally more interesting by segments from the first two tracks on the album. In fairness, though, the fiery, piano-led ‘Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five’ draws the album to a rousing close.

‘Band On The Run’ is viewed by many as the quintessential Wings album but it is undeniably front-loaded and not the most cohesive record in the world. The bonus CD of spirited but superfluous session tracks is recommended for devotees only but at least includes the US single ‘Helen Wheels’. However, the DVD is definitely worth watching for the imaginative promos for ‘Band On The Run’ and ‘Mamunia’ plus a behind the scenes look at how the album cover was made featuring Christopher Lee, Michael Parkinson and the frightening stares of Clement Freud.

Further Listening:
Jellyfish, 10CC, The Beatles

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