Tag Archives: Wings

Paul’s new group

50 years ago today, on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 1971, news started breaking ever so slowly across America that Paul McCartney, formerly of the Beatles, had a new, unnamed band.

The five-paragraph item that moved on the Associated Press wire that day likely was headlined “McCartney Forms New Pop Group.” (How do I know? That’s the headline that appeared in a bunch of newspapers. Wire editors who were pressed for time, or just lazy, often copied the AP’s headline right into the paper.)

Newspaper clipping on Paul McCartney's new, unnamed band, Aug. 4, 1971

This one is from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, although I’m trying to decide whether that’s Paul or actor Anthony Zerbe in the photo.

Newspaper clipping about Paul McCartney's new, unnamed band, Aug. 4, 1971

This one is from the News Journal of Wilmington, Delaware, which kinda made Macca’s new group sound like a bunch of allies from The Big One, WWII.

Newspaper clipping on Paul McCartney's new, unnamed band, Aug. 4, 1971

This one is from the Springfield (Missouri) Leader and Press, whose headline said all it needed to say and probably hit hard for those who loved the Beatles.

Paul’s new band, of course, was Wings. “His blonde American wife,” Linda Eastman, was in the band — wow, no sexist or provincial attitudes there, eh? — along with guitarist Denny Laine and drummer Denny Seiwell.

Two days earlier, on Monday, Aug. 2, they’d finished recording their first album at Abbey Road Studios in London. No mention of that, though.

Three days earlier, on Sunday, Aug. 1, Paul’s old mates, George Harrison and Ringo Starr had performed together at the Concert for Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden in New York. 

I wonder whether the news dump about Paul’s new band was intended to keep him in the public eye in the wake of the Concert for Bangladesh, where he was  conspicuously absent. The AP’s report noted that it was the first time George and Ringo, the former Beatles, had played together on a stage in four years. Paul had declined to take part.

Then again, it had been barely three months since the release of Paul and Linda’s “Ram” album, which reviewers panned but fans loved. So perhaps another reason to stay in the public eye.

The debut album not mentioned 50 years ago today is “Wild Life.” It reached No. 10 on the U.S. album charts and went gold. It produced no singles, save for a British promo release of “Love Is Strange,” a Mickey and Sylvia cover. Neither fans nor reviewers were all that excited about “Wild Life.”

There was, however, a 14-year-old kid in Wisconsin who was curious about “Wild Life” upon its release in early December 1971. Curious enough to take a flyer on Paul McCartney’s new record, probably with Christmas money. Taking a flyer on “Wild Life” was no small thing. I had so few albums — I think I had four after buying this one — that I couldn’t chance getting a bad one.

Almost 50 years later, I still have it.

But I’m sitting here, trying to figure out how I might have heard about Wings and “Wild Life,” given that it produced no singles to be played on the Top 40 radio I listened to. Maybe the DJs mentioned it? There was nothing in the paper. Maybe I was just going through the records at Prange’s, saw Paul McCartney on the record jacket, read the liner notes and popped for it.

Today, not everyone remembers or even knows about “Wild Life.” But given that I had only four albums back then, every cut on it is seared into memory.

“Wild Life” ends with Paul writing about John Lennon, from whom he’d been estranged. It’s the best song on the album.

Album cover of "Wild Life" by Wings from 1971.

“Dear Friend,” Wings, from “Wild Life,” 1971.

Audio taken from the record I’ve had for almost 50 years.

 

 

 

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Filed under August 2021, Sounds

Downstairs at Prange’s

Imagine seeing a photo of something you thought existed only in memory. As you try to process it, the whole thing takes your breath away. Then you catch your breath and settle down to scrutinizing the tiniest details of the photo.

So it is with this photo, posted earlier this month by the Sheboygan County Historical Research Center to its Facebook page. It carried this four-word caption: “Record department. H.C. Prange.”

When I grew up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, in the ’60s and ’70s, everyone went down by Prange’s. It was the biggest department store in that city of 50,000 along Lake Michigan.

The record department was in the basement. You went down the main escalator and there it was, over to your right as you stepped off, a dazzling world of colorful and thrilling LPs spread out before you. 45s? Sure, but those you could get at the neighborhood dime store. Prange’s was where you came to ponder the mighty LP.

This photo is from 1969 or later. In the row going up diagonally from the lower left corner are the Beatles’ “Revolver” and “Magical Mystery Tour” and the Archies’ “Sugar Sugar,” the latter released as an import in 1969. I’d love to see this photo at higher resolution so I could try to ID some of the other records.

I never bought a lot of LPs at Prange’s — all I had was paper route money, and not much of it — but what I did buy were among the first albums I ever owned. I still have them all.

— I gave Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Cosmo’s Factory” LP to my friend Mike for his 13th birthday. It came out in July 1970. His birthday was in October. Truth be told, I’d wanted it for myself. Instead, I got Creedence’s “Green River,” which by then was a year old. It all worked out.

Neil Diamond’s “Tap Root Manuscript,” released in November 1970. I also was 13 and had been listening to AM Top 40 radio almost non-stop all that year.

— Isaac Hayes’ “Shaft” soundtrack, released in July 1971.

Wings’ “Wild Life,” released in December 1971.

Then there’s this.

When I was 13, I was tempted by, perhaps even obsessed with, Janis Joplin’s “Pearl.” It had been released in January 1971, midway through my eighth-grade year. I liked the music. Mostly, though, I thought her pose on the cover was kind of hot — and, yes, I already had some sense of someone being a hot mess — and I really didn’t want to try to explain that to my parents.

So I never bought “Pearl” at Prange’s. Truth be told, it’s only been in the last 10 years that I finally bought “Pearl.” I’ve since bought three or four copies, always looking for a cover in a bit nicer condition than the one before.

Maybe I’ll even frame it someday. It tells quite a story about a young record digger, even if only he recognizes it.

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Filed under November 2018, Sounds

Our evening with Paul McCartney

McCartney 071620

It’s been almost two weeks since we saw Paul McCartney at Miller Park in Milwaukee, and I’m still trying to make sense of everything we saw and heard. It was almost surreal.

Buying seats on the field pretty much exhausted our concert budget for the entire year. But it was well worth what we spent. You just don’t get to see one of the Beatles up close every day.

So, a few memories from a staggeringly hot, muggy night at the ballpark:

— “Paperback Writer,” six songs into the show, was the first to give me the chills. McCartney was playing the same Epiphone Casino guitar that he used when the Beatles recorded the song in 1966.

— Really enjoyed hearing “Another Day,” a solo single from  1971, for the first time in a long time. We must have had the 45 when we were kids, because I immediately thought of the flip side, a blistering screamer named “Oh Woman, Oh Why.”

— One of our son’s friends plays “Blackbird,” so I took a close look when McCartney played it. I reported back to Liam that McCartney duct tapes the cord to the side of his guitar, just like everyone else.

— “Back in the U.S.S.R.” opened, of course, with the sound of a jet landing PLAYED AT THE VOLUME OF A JET LANDING and thundered on from there.

— I’ve never been a big fan of “Live and Let Die,” but when you shoot fireworks from the stage and from outside the stadium and ignite more and bigger flash pots than KISS ever used, I’ll buy in.

— As McCartney played the opening chords of certain songs, you’d also hear this: “GACK!” “AAUGH!” “MMPH!” Those sounds accompanied the momentary freakout that came as people recognized those songs.

Yet for all the spectacle on stage, you just had to turn your back to it from time to time and soak in the rest of it. You’re standing in left field in Miller Park, looking up at a sight that only the ballplayers see. There are 40,000 people surrounding you. Multicolored lasers are dancing on the steel framework of the roof, which is open on this hot summer night. It was, of course, a three-hour singalong.

It also was a night on which just when you thought McCartney would go one way, he’d go another. That took me back to one of the first LPs I ever bought. There, following the elegant “Dear Friend” and hidden at the end of Side 2 of Wings’ debut record, was this little surprise, a crunchy 45-second instrumental.

wingswildlifelp2

“Mumbo Link,” Wings, from “Wild Life,” 1971. It’s out of print.

Anyone else hear a little “Get Back” or “Helter Skelter” in there?

The set list from Milwaukee on July 16, 2013:

“Eight Days a Week,” “Junior’s Farm,” “All My Loving,” “Listen to What the Man Said,” “Let Me Roll It/Foxy Lady,” “Paperback Writer,” “My Valentine,” “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five,” “The Long and Winding Road,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” “We Can Work It Out,” “Another Day,” “And I Love Her,” “Blackbird,” “Here Today,” “Your Mother Should Know,” “Lady Madonna,” “All Together Now,” “Lovely Rita,” “Mrs. Vandebilt,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!,” “Something,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Band on the Run,” “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” “Let it Be,” “Live and Let Die” and “Hey Jude.”

First encore: “Day Tripper,” “Hi, Hi, Hi” and “Get Back.”

Second encore: “Yesterday,” “Helter Skelter” and “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End.”

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under July 2013, Sounds