Paul McCartney & Wings
Band on the Run
[25th Anniversary Edition]
First Appeared at The Music Box, July 1999, Volume 6, #7
Written by John Metzger
Sometimes it takes the worst situations to push an artist to create a masterpiece. Such was the case with Band on the Run — Paul McCartney's fifth album after leaving The Beatles and his third with Wings. The circumstances surrounding the recording of this effort should have spelled disaster, especially given the nightmare that ensued, but instead, McCartney produced one of his best albums to date.
He and his band were scheduled to record in Lagos, Nigeria in August 1973, but unknowingly had planned their visit during the country's hottest and rainiest season. In addition, guitarist Henry McCullough and drummer Denny Seiwell quit the band in the week preceding the trek. Making matters worse, upon arriving in Nigeria, McCartney soon found out that the EMI studio he was to use had fallen into disrepair and was woefully ill equipped. Nevertheless, the trio, which consisted of Paul and Linda McCartney and guitarist Denny Laine, made the best of the situation and began recording.
Still, the problems continued. The group was robbed at knife point and were forced to surrender jewelry, cameras, money, and the demos they had recorded. McCartney later collapsed in the studio, suffering from pain and loss of breath. In addition, he was publicly accused of stealing African music by a local musician and political activist and was forced to defend himself in the local community. All of these difficulties only seemed to fuel McCartney and push him further.
Naturally, the group persevered and did much more than merely survive. Where his first solo album McCartney had been sparse and raw, Band on the Run became a collection of lush, orchestrated arrangements. Though the albums stand in sharp contrast to one another, both releases share a sense of urgency. On the former, McCartney set out to prove that he could stand on his own in the wake of The Beatles, while the latter is simply a band out to overcome all the obstacles the world can throw at it.
It's only fitting that in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Band on the Run, the album was remastered and reissued. There's no doubt you've heard many, if not all, of these songs before, but quite frankly, they have never sounded better.
All of the tracks, including the anthemic Band on the Run, the gently flowing Mamunia, and the vibrant Picasso's Last Words (Drink to Me), benefit from their restoration and sparkle with sonic clarity. The string arrangements by Tony Visconti soar majestically over McCartney's songs, while simultaneously underscoring his poignant lyrics. In addition, the re-release of Band on the Run includes an extensive booklet as well as a second disc that, while short on music, forms a fascinating documentary on the making of the album. It's an extremely well done reissue that celebrates, embraces, and rediscovers one of the finest albums in McCartney's extensive post-Beatles' catalog.
Of Further Interest...
Band on the Run: 25th Anniversary Edition is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1999 The Music Box