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Old 04-24-2019, 12:43 AM
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Talk to me about (Paul McCartney's) Wings


I've gotten to know and appreciate a lot of Paul McCartney's post-Beatles work thanks to Sirius/XM's Beatles Channel over the past few years. Some of the more mainstream stuff (Junior's Farm, Band on the Run, Jet, etc) I've know about, but (youngish Gen X-er that I am), I wasn't around for it in the first run, and some stuff is totally new to me.

So I'm curious, was Wings just a bunch of supporting musicians to help Paul to do his thing, or was it a legit band? I know Linda and guitarist Denny Laine were in it for the long haul, but how much did they and other members actually contribute? Were any of their popular songs written by anyone else but Paul? Was Wings actually respected as a solid rock band in the 70s? Did Paul also do stuff solo in the 70s, or was his music pretty much with Wings?

Also, if you saw Wings live, tell me about it. Tell me about your experience with Wings. Please and thank you in advance.
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Old 04-24-2019, 09:03 AM
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It was basically Paul's show, but Denny Laine did cowrite a few songs and sang lead with McCartney on the occasional song.

The thing was that Paul was so prolific that he could fill most of an album with his own material. Wings was thought of by him and the bandmates as a band, not just Paul McCartney's backing band.

I suppose the closest analogy is the Kinks, which was a band, though Ray Davies wrote most of the material and all of their hits (Dave Davies did write some songs).
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Old 04-24-2019, 09:06 AM
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Wings was Paul's gift to Linda, so she could pretend she was a musician.
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Old 04-24-2019, 09:10 AM
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Born in late 1960. I remember Wings not being taken particularly seriously. “His wife is on keys? What do you bet the roadies never plug her in?”

As a solid teenage John Man, I thought albums like Walls and Bridges and Mind Games were miles above anything Paul was cranking out in the mid ‘70s. George was doing better stuff, too: see “This Song” and “Crackerbox Palace.”
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Old 04-24-2019, 09:47 AM
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I didn't see Wings in person, but if you want a good idea of what the band was like live, check out the 2013 re-issue of Rockshow. The video transfer leaves a bit to be desired, but the sound and editing (no MTV-style jump cuts every two seconds) are terrific. Paul really is in top form, probably the best performance of his ever captured on film.

Last edited by blondebear; 04-24-2019 at 09:50 AM.
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Old 04-24-2019, 10:00 AM
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I remember Wings not being taken particularly seriously. “His wife is on keys? What do you bet the roadies never plug her in?”
My recollection was that it was a solid pop band (and seen as such), but Paul generally wasn't pushing the envelope in experimentation the way that the Beatles had been. The Band on the Run album is generally seen as being Wings' high point.

I remember, sometime in the early '90s, hearing a recording on the radio that was purported to be the isolated feed from Linda's vocal mic from a Wings concert; I don't know for certain if it was her or not, but whoever it was couldn't carry a tune in a bucket.

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Old 04-24-2019, 10:08 AM
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I heard the same feed. Mark & Brian made it a centerpiece of a number of their radio shows in LA.
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Old 04-24-2019, 10:08 AM
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I always figured Wings was to Paul as Crazy Horse was to Neil.
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Old 04-24-2019, 10:33 AM
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It was basically Paul's show, but Denny Laine did cowrite a few songs and sang lead with McCartney on the occasional song.
Much of the time, this was true, but Wings At the Speed of Sound (and, to a lesser extent, Venus and Mars) was an attempt to be more collaborative.
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As a reaction to critics who believed Wings was merely a vehicle for Paul McCartney, the album featured every member of the band taking lead vocals on at least one song, and two songs from the album are written or co-written by band members other than the McCartneys.
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Old 04-24-2019, 10:46 AM
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Don't forget that there were two albums before Wings formed. McCartney and Ram. Ram had Uncle Albert.

I must defend Wings. I loved almost all of it until maybe the 80s. John was just too self-absorbed and too angry (and just too not writing good songs) George was too lost in the far East, and Ringo was too drunk and too limited in talent to sustain a solo career.

John writes "How Do You Sleep", and Paul writes "Silly Love Songs." I know which one I like more. And what's wrong with that?
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Old 04-24-2019, 10:53 AM
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So I'm curious, was Wings just a bunch of supporting musicians to help Paul to do his thing, or was it a legit band?
My understanding is that Paul wanted it to be a legit band, but it never quite lived up to that. He missed the kind of genuine collaboration he had with the Beatles. And he seems to always have embraced, more fully than the other Beatles, the role of Big Pop/Rock Star and crowd-pleasing entertainer.
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Old 04-24-2019, 11:01 AM
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John was just too self-absorbed and too angry (and just too not writing good songs)
And, for the second half of the 1970s, John wasn't recording anything at all.
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Old 04-24-2019, 11:32 AM
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Yeah, anything with McCartney in it was going to be his band unless he teamed up with Clapton or someone else playing at his level. You can't blame people for focusing on the former Beatle.

Wings was a genuinely good pop band. McCartney wrong catchy, hook-filled songs in major keys and generally in four/four time. If it shows anything, it shows that he was the one who knew how to 'write a swimming pool' when he wanted to. It's a real skill. Songwriting is fairly straightforward, but writing catchy songs that become earworms isn't. That's what he understood that the others only had a vague grasp on.

Did McCartney need the others to become a star? Likely not. He was that good. Did he need John and the rest to become 'The Beatles'. Sure seems that way.

Also, maybe the guy was just tired of being experimental and out there. Maybe he just wanted to write some fun, catchy melodies that people could enjoy. There's a lot to be said for that.
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Old 04-24-2019, 11:48 AM
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And, for the second half of the 1970s, John wasn't recording anything at all.
If only he'd continued to not record Double Fantasy, aka More Songs About Yoko and the Kids.

While looking at his discography, I note that I've never even heard of Rock N Roll, his 1975 album. Missed it completely. The radio stations I listened to must have missed it as well.

(Don't get me wrong - I like some of his solo years output. Just not that much of it. Not like Wings.)

Last edited by Just Asking Questions; 04-24-2019 at 11:49 AM.
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Old 04-24-2019, 11:56 AM
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While looking at his discography, I note that I've never even heard of Rock N Roll, his 1975 album. Missed it completely. The radio stations I listened to must have missed it as well.
I'm not as familiar with John's post-Beatles work as I am with Paul's or George's. That said, Rock 'n' Roll was an album of cover versions of early rock songs, stemming, in part, from the terms of a legal settlement which Lennon had made to end a copyright-infingement lawsuit over a line in "Come Together." The only song from it which I can remember hearing is his cover of "Stand By Me." The album actually made #6 on the U.S. chart, but as it had no original songs on it, I'm not surprised that it didn't leave a more lasting mark.

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Old 04-24-2019, 12:02 PM
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McCartney wrong catchy, hook-filled songs in major keys and generally in four/four time. If it shows anything, it shows that he was the one who knew how to 'write a swimming pool' when he wanted to. It's a real skill. Songwriting is fairly straightforward, but writing catchy songs that become earworms isn't. That's what he understood that the others only had a vague grasp on.
I think John also had that ability; he just didn't value it or deign to use it as much. (It was John who knocked out "A Hard Day's Night" overnight, when the movie needed a title song.)
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Old 04-24-2019, 01:29 PM
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John writes "How Do You Sleep", and Paul writes "Silly Love Songs." I know which one I like more. And what's wrong with that?
I'd like to know.
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Old 04-24-2019, 01:43 PM
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'Cause here I go......

When it's Paul McCartney and Wings, Wings can be little more than a back up band. Through in the many many line up changes.....
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Old 04-24-2019, 02:09 PM
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You have to take the good with the bad. And, of course, good and bad are subjective.

But, one thing about Wings is that they had a very distinctive sound. Most of that is Paul but Linda's voice was a, oh so crucial ingredient. And Denny and the others contributed a lot. So, no. It's definitely not a Paul backing band... it's a real group.

The only problem is that Paul seemed to have the ability to piss off great musicians (not paying them?) like Henry McCoullaugh, Jimmy McCulloch, Denny Seiwell, etc, etc, etc.

His rockers were very good. The ballads were a matter of taste.
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Old 04-24-2019, 02:13 PM
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Born in late 1960. I remember Wings not being taken particularly seriously. “His wife is on keys? What do you bet the roadies never plug her in?”
Which bring to mind the old joke, "What do you call a dog with wings?"






Linda.
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Old 04-24-2019, 02:14 PM
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For better or worse, I've had "Goodnight Tonight" playing on a loop in my head since yesterday morning. That's what actually prompted this thread. Paul can indeed write the catchy hooks that stick with you.
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Old 04-24-2019, 02:51 PM
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For better or worse, I've had "Goodnight Tonight" playing on a loop in my head since yesterday morning. That's what actually prompted this thread. Paul can indeed write the catchy hooks that stick with you.
And "Coming Up" (The live Glasgow version) too.
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Old 04-24-2019, 04:37 PM
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Don't know why, but I've had Helen Wheels stuck in me head for days.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpOnwt76oxI


"Bye bye."
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Old 04-24-2019, 08:34 PM
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Which bring to mind the old joke, "What do you call a dog with wings?"






Linda.
When did Paul McCartney write Silly Love Songs?













All of his life.
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Old 04-24-2019, 10:30 PM
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObpcGNCU944
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Old 04-24-2019, 10:44 PM
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I knew Mull Of Kintyre before I knew who The Beatles were.
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Old 04-24-2019, 10:45 PM
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Apropos of nothing, but...the opening line of “Hi, Hi, Hi” is “Well, when I met you at the station, you were standing with a bootleg in your hand...”

I always figured he was referring to a train station but it occurred to me the other day the mention of a bootleg probably meant he was talking about a radio station. Right?
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Old 04-24-2019, 10:48 PM
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Linda did actually write a few bits here and there, she wasn't completely untalented. Personally I find the anti-Linda "jokes" as funny as the anti-Yoko "jokes". Both deserve respect, not abuse.

Linda got 50% songwriting credit on some of Paul's songs at the time because Paul's publishing was owned by Northern Songs up until (I think) 1973. There was a court case over it.
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Old 04-24-2019, 11:16 PM
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The Beatles were a big part of my adolescence/maturing/radicalization. My friends and I were devastated when they broke up, and we were afraid that was the end for each of them. I had no access to celebrity news, so I was shocked and relieved when I heard "Maybe I'm Amazed" and "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" on the (tinny AM) car radio. I remember turning it up, and yelling to the rest of traffic: "McCartney's still got it!"
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Old 04-25-2019, 12:02 AM
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I always figured Wings was McCartney and Wings. Other than the Mrs and Laine, the other band members were expendable. He needed them to tour and they were useful in recording, but I don't think they lasted long. And Denny was certainly not a peer of Paul.

John was smarter except for Yoko. He either had STARS* record and appear with him or unknown hired guns. He didn't have the control issues Paul had.

As for Paul using Linda as part of the band/act, well John did the same with Yoko. No Beatle fan wanted to see or hear either of the wives.

*George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Mitch Mitchell, Keith Richards, Elton John.
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Old 04-25-2019, 12:55 AM
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Don't forget that there were two albums before Wings formed. McCartney and Ram. Ram had Uncle Albert.

I must defend Wings. I loved almost all of it until maybe the 80s. John was just too self-absorbed and too angry (and just too not writing good songs) George was too lost in the far East, and Ringo was too drunk and too limited in talent to sustain a solo career.

John writes "How Do You Sleep", and Paul writes "Silly Love Songs." I know which one I like more. And what's wrong with that?
Whoa whoa whoa...dont drag George into this. His solo stuff is exquisite. I like Wings a lot but George is simply superior.
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Old 04-25-2019, 01:07 AM
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Paul had to pay the bills.

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I always figured Wings was to Paul as Crazy Horse was to Neil.
Ohhhh! Crazy Horse is a fucking Entity!

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Whoa whoa whoa...dont drag George into this. His solo stuff is exquisite. I like Wings a lot but George is simply superior.
Yep. All Things Must Pass. A Masterpiece.
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Old 04-25-2019, 01:29 AM
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Don't know why, but I've had Helen Wheels stuck in me head for days.
Years ago, I had a job where a young lady named Helen was the mail clerk. She pushed the mail cart around the office, delivering inbound mail, and taking outbound mail.

Thing is, Helen wasn't as careful as she could have been with the cart. She often ran the mail cart into cubicle walls, file cabinets, and occasionally, people. She was very conscientious with the mail, though, and a pleasant and cheerful person besides, who was quick to apologize for any collisions, so we let such things slide.

One day, after she accidentally bumped her mail cart into me, I laughed and said, "I'm going to start calling you 'Helen Wheels,' after that Wings song." That spread, and Helen took it in good humor; and as such things do, she ended up being simply known as "Wheels." Nowadays, when I hear "Helen Wheels," I remember that job, and our friend Wheels.

As for the OP, I'm unsure what I can say that hasn't already been said, except that Wings was one of the biggest things in the 1970s. Band on the Run was huge; somewhat less so were Venus and Mars and Wings at the Speed of Sound, but they were still pretty big. And the triple-LP Wings Over America was on the "gotta have it" list of every high schooler in those days.

Most of Lennon's stuff was too esoteric for us teens ("Whatever Gets You Through the Night" being an exception), Harrison's stuff was for fans he gained earlier with his Eastern influences, and Ringo's stuff ("Photograph," "The No-No Song") wasn't anything special, while "You're Sixteen" was just plain creepy. McCartney and Wings fit perfectly with 1970s Top-40 AM radio, which we were all plugged into.
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Old 04-25-2019, 06:44 AM
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The pre-punk 70s were a desperate, desolate time.
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Old 04-25-2019, 07:16 AM
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I saw McCartney live twice, the first time with Wings in 1976, and the second time in 1989 or 1990 with the band consisting of Linda, Hamish Stewart, Robbie McIntosh, Paul Wickens, and Chris Whitten.

The Wings show was thrilling because I was seeing McCartney for the first time, and he was in fine form. I don't recall who was in the band other than Linda and Denny, but Paul made it a great show.

The second show was one of the best shows I have attended. His supporting players were great musicians. A particular strong point was the keyboard playing of Paul Wickens. I read at the time that he had access to the Beatles' master tapes to sample things, which made his rendition of things like the horn solo in Penny Lane sound incredible.
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Old 04-25-2019, 07:30 AM
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He certainly wanted them to be a proper band, not just him and some well-rehearsed backing musicians.
The first Wings tour in 1972 was the whole band in a van, going round some universities asking if they could play at the student union. Cheap tickets, no guarantee of an audience, just the band playing together (and no Beatles songs).
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Old 04-25-2019, 09:01 AM
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The pre-punk 70s were a desperate, desolate time.
Agreed, generally (a few megastars--Genesis w/ Gabriel, Bowie, Elton--deserved the accolades), but I still enjoy threads like this one because it's like anthropology. I've never enjoyed the Beatles' work, and even less their individual efforts. But the fact is they speak to an element of humanity which I either don't possess or don't value--and I wonder why that is. This is like therapy for me.
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Old 04-25-2019, 09:03 AM
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Yeah, anything with McCartney in it was going to be his band unless he teamed up with Clapton or someone else playing at his level.
I always thought that one of rock music's great missed opportunities was that Paul McCartney never got to play in Blind Faith with Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton.

When Blind Faith formed out of Winwood and Clapton's jam sessions, a bassist was their very last hire. Nothing wrong with Rick Grech ... but McCartney was maybe three or four months from being done with The Beatles.

Ah well. What could have been
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Old 04-25-2019, 09:46 AM
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Yep. All Things Must Pass. A Masterpiece.
Yeah, when it came out in 1970, critics were surprised and prophesied that George would be the most successful solo Beatle.

Plastic Ono Band isn’t easy on the ears and takes several listens to get comfortable with, and my personal opinion is that “Maybe I’m Amazed” is the most irritating song Paul ever wrote.

Okay, “Michelle” is worse.
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Old 04-25-2019, 10:54 AM
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I always thought that one of rock music's great missed opportunities was that Paul McCartney never got to play in Blind Faith with Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton. . . .
If he thought John Lennon had an ego, he would have loved working with Ginger Baker.
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Old 04-26-2019, 12:27 AM
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Spoons-

Liked your Helen story. Paul McCartney's songs remind me of some of the best times of my life. Even my guy friends, who were into way cooler music in the 70s, would sing along to his songs. I got to see him once at the brand new Alamodome, summer of '93, I believe. He was the first musical act to play there, and it was a free show for me. Had a blast! Paul played some songs on an upright on a little stage in the middle of the audience, and my friend and I were right there, thanks to me.

Saucy
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Old 04-26-2019, 01:56 AM
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He certainly wanted them to be a proper band, not just him and some well-rehearsed backing musicians.
The first Wings tour in 1972 was the whole band in a van, going round some universities asking if they could play at the student union. Cheap tickets, no guarantee of an audience, just the band playing together (and no Beatles songs).

in an interview a couple of years ago paul was talking about how he booked that tour they would just pull up to a bar/cub/dive in a van and hed bop in and ask the owner if they needed a band that night but he had a rule that they couldn't advertise he was in the band ......


sometimes one of the other members would do it ....He said a few owners had to change their pants when they realized who they actually hired.....

Last edited by nightshadea; 04-26-2019 at 01:57 AM.
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Old 04-26-2019, 02:29 AM
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I remember, sometime in the early '90s, hearing a recording on the radio that was purported to be the isolated feed from Linda's vocal mic from a Wings concert; I don't know for certain if it was her or not, but whoever it was couldn't carry a tune in a bucket.
Was it this recording? (Ignore the video, which has been spliced together from various performances.)
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Old 04-26-2019, 03:38 AM
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I always thought that one of rock music's great missed opportunities was that Paul McCartney never got to play in Blind Faith with Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton.

When Blind Faith formed out of Winwood and Clapton's jam sessions, a bassist was their very last hire. Nothing wrong with Rick Grech ... but McCartney was maybe three or four months from being done with The Beatles.

Ah well. What could have been
Alan Partridge, explaining his favourite music to a youngish person, described Wings as 'Only the band the Beatles could have been.'

According to the DVD commentary Paul and Linda later met and bowed before him for that line [and his impromptu bouncy-bed cover of 'Jet'].
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Old 04-26-2019, 06:41 AM
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I saw them during the Wings Over America tour in 1976. Highlights I recall include "I've Just Seen a Face", "Blackbird", "Maybe I'm Amazed", and "Yesterday".

"Yesterday" was special because it was just Paul solo with his acoustic.

While I acknowledge Denny Laine's talent, I've always felt that McCartney could have played with any well-rehearsed group of skilled musicians and it would have been basically the same show.


mmm
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Old 04-26-2019, 09:49 AM
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Was it this recording? (Ignore the video, which has been spliced together from various performances.)
You're asking me to remember something from close to 30 years ago , but if that isn't the exact recording I had heard back then, it's very similar.
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Old 04-26-2019, 11:07 AM
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PM and Wings were a commercial juggernaut in the 70s, competing with Elton John etc. You can't say that about the other three ex fabs.
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Old 04-26-2019, 11:14 AM
blondebear is online now
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Note to die-hard fans: the previously unreleased 1973 animated/concert film Paul McCartney & Wings: The Bruce McMouse Show is now available to stream on Amazon.
  #49  
Old 04-26-2019, 07:12 PM
Mike Mabes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatopescado View Post
Paul had to pay the bills.



Ohhhh! Crazy Horse is a fucking Entity!
Neil and the Horse going into the studio soon to record an album. Hopefully a tour will follow.
  #50  
Old 04-26-2019, 07:27 PM
Ukulele Ike is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drad dog View Post
PM and Wings were a commercial juggernaut in the 70s, competing with Elton John etc. You can't say that about the other three ex fabs.
Yeah, but Elton John sucks. I’ll take “Crackerbox Palace” or even “Photograph” over the whole damn Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album to my desert island.
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