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Paul McCartney and Wings: Wild Life (1971)

When asked to reflect on 'Be Here Now' twenty years after the release of the record, Noel Gallagher reflected he would never again write an album while on holiday. Somewhat of a disservice to a strong nineties record, it was a train of thought that appropriates itself well to Wings' debut, the sound of ramshackle band trying to get their act together, while parading around the British countryside.

Paul McCartney's early seventies material maintained a higher standard than his fellow ex-Beatles, ranging from the bona-fide masterworks (Ram, Band On The Run) to flawed pop brilliance (McCartney, Red Rose Speedway). The only blot between these four records came in the form of 'Wild Life, an unfinished work that may have bettered the world had the McCartney's chosen not to release it. The weakest album yet released by a former Beatles (though John Lennon would better that with his wretched bomb 'Some Time In New York City' the following year), 'Life' was a collection of unfinished, garbled attempts at writing and did little to prove that Wings were a band to be taken seriously.

Having worked with Denny Seiwell during the New York 'Ram' sessions, Paul McCartney invited him to Scotland to play in his new unit. Kicking the drums, Seiwell had the form and skill for the group, further embellished when Denny Laine (one time Moody Blues man) joined as guitarist / vocalist. A four piece (Linda McCartney finished the line-up, though her presence was mocked by members of the press and other members of Wings), the unit had the bones of a band, though the lack of lead guitar player hurt their sound (Henry McCullough's presence alone gave 'Speedway' much more gravitas than 'Wild Life'. 'Mary Had A Little Lamb' (1972) might have been naff, but at least it sounded good!) As yet, its a pregnant woman and two unemployed musicians coming together for a jam with an ex Beatles. Doesn't sound the right ingredient for a record!

Opting to record the entire record in a week, McCartney looked to sixties artiste Bo Dylan for inspiration. "I 'd read that Bob Dylan had just made a quick album" he reflected "and I really liked the idea, because we tended to take longer and longer to make records. The early albums by The Beatles hadn't taken long and it seemed to me that Dylan was getting to that ".

Yes, the early Beatles records hadn't taken long to record ('With The Beatles' visibly excites itself with frisson and energy), but this was the sound of a four piece having played inexhaustibly long hours in clubs and concerts. Wings were a unit that hadn't performed together prior to recording. Again, it wasn't until the following year, after an extensive tour around British Universities that Wings found their sound (McCullough undeniably helped).

Opener 'Mumbo' gave a clue to the mindset of the band, mumbling whispers and rhymes in little time. 'Bip Bop', a duet between husband and wife, should have remained a bed time ritual between the two love birds.

'Dear Friend' proved an honorable attempt to provide an olive branch to John Lennon, though it proved a better thought than song. Fifties ballad 'Love Is Strange' was given a reggae makeover, though Seiwell is the only member who sounds focused, this ersatz reggae track sounds like it was more fun to play than to listen to. Title track 'Wild Life' swung loose and free over an astonishingly long six minutes. Unsurprisingly, it didn't feature on either 'All The Best' nor 'Wingspan'! 'Some People Never Know' rhymed 'test' with 'rest'; a poor show on any record. McCartney may have lacked John Lennon's iconoclasticism as a lyricist, but really? "I Am Your Singer" had a disgustingly audacious title and a more insipid melody. There's not one song on this record that works, and Wings never performed any of the songs live by 1975. When re-released in 1993, the album was parked with four substantially better songs, "Give Ireland Back To The Irish", "Mama's Little Girl "," Little Woman Love "and" Mary Had A Little Lamb "(yes, I know!), Each recorded one year after its mother album. Just goes to show how a year of performing can better a band!

McCartney would later release sub-par records ('Back To The Egg', 'Press To Play', 'Off The Ground', 'New'), but each of those had merit, whether it be a song, an idea, or even a hook. 'Wild Life' has none of those, and remains the only true embarrassment of McCartney's distinguished career. Skip it.

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