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Rock - Released December 7, 2018 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Both the public and the press are still getting over Wild Life, the first album that Paul McCartney released with his new group Wings in December 1971. The record was roasted for being very inconsistent... Two years later, Macca released Red Rose Speedway, a piece of work that was considerably more impressive and outgoing to the point that it took him back to the top of the charts, mainly thanks to the single My Love. Like on Wild Life, the singer/bassist is accompanied here by his wife Linda on keyboard, ex Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine and drummer Denny Seiwell. The group is also joined by Henry McCullough, the ex Spooky Tooth guitarist. Even if certain critics still reproached Paul McCartney for the album being too lightweight, not engaged enough and above all well below the standard of his past compositions, we should appreciate the finesse of some of these melodies and Macca's ability to write catchy choruses. Once again, the eclecticism of the repertoire is sometimes confusing, making it difficult to consider Red Rose Speedway as a real artistic entity. However, some of these compositions are really touching like Little Lamb Dragonfly and Single Pigeon. This remastered deluxe edition, which includes a number of bonus tracks, is an opportunity to rediscover an extra piece of the big Paul McCartney puzzle. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz  
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Rock - Released December 7, 2018 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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The embers of The Beatles are still smoking as Paul McCartney continues to work like a madman. After two fairly successful solo albums (McCartney and Ram), Macca released Wings' first album, Wild Life. From July 25th to August 2nd, 1971, in the Abbey Road studio that he knows so well, he surrounded himself with a tight-knit trio made up of his wife Linda on the keyboard (she co-wrote almost all the tracks), ex Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine and drummer Denny Seiwell, who was also on the scene for Ram. The ex-Beatle wanted to sign off on the recording of this record in less than ten days to give it a raw feel. The result - which is indeed raw - is quite confusing given the name of its author. And after his works of art from the previous decade, the compositions on Wild Life seem very anecdotal. Upon its release in December 1971, the press unanimously massacred the record. Taking a closer look at the album, Wild Life's repertoire is quite eclectic between Mumbo, with its percussive visceral rock intro, and the reggae cover of Love Is Strange by 50's soul duo Mickey & Sylvia. The album also includes the pleasant folk ballad Bip Bop (which inspired Voulzy and Souchon for the hit J'ai 10 ans) as well as the song that gives the album its title on which Paul and Linda apologise to the animal world with a blend of fairly classic folk rock... Even if Wild Life isn't a masterpiece, it deserves a second listening and some close reassessment. And this remastered deluxe edition with an array of bonus tracks is the perfect opportunity for a second chance. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Rock - Released December 7, 2018 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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The irony of the first Wings album is that it seems more domesticated than Ram, feeling more like a Paul 'n' Linda effort than that record. Perhaps it's because this album is filled with music that's defiantly lightweight -- not just the cloying cover of "Love Is Strange" but two versions apiece of songs called "Mumbo" and "Bip Bop." If this is a great musician bringing his band up to speed, so be it, but it never seems that way -- it feels like one step removed from coasting, which is wanking. It's easy to get irritated by the upfront cutesiness, since it's married to music that's featherweight at best. Then again, that's what makes this record bizarrely fascinating -- it's hard to imagine a record with less substance, especially from an artist who's not just among the most influential of the 20th century, but from one known for precise song and studiocraft. Here, he's thrown it all to the wind, trying to make a record that sounds as pastoral and relaxed as the album's cover photo. He makes something that sounds easy -- easy enough that you and a couple of neighbors who you don't know very well could knock it out in your garage on a lazy Saturday afternoon -- and that's what's frustrating and amazing about it. Yeah, it's possible to call this a terrible record, but it's so strange in its domestic bent and feigned ordinariness that it winds up being a pop album like no other. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released April 30, 1973 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Rock - Released December 7, 1971 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Rock - Released December 7, 1971 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Rock - Released April 30, 1973 | Paul McCartney Catalog

Booklet
All right, he's made a record with his wife and a record with his pickup band where democracy is allegedly the conceit even if it never sounds that way, so he returns to a solo effort, making the most disjointed album he ever cut. There's a certain fascination to its fragmented nature, not just because it's decidedly on the softer side of things, but because his desire for homegrown eccentricity has been fused with his inclination for bombastic art rock à la Abbey Road. Consequently, Red Rose Speedway winds up being a really strange record, one that veers toward the schmaltzy AOR MOR (especially on the hit single "My Love"), yet is thoroughly twisted in its own desire toward domestic art. As a result, this is every bit as insular as the lo-fi records of the early '90s, but considerably more artful, since it was, after all, designed by one of the great pop composers of the century. Yes, the greatest songs here are slight -- "Big Barn Bed," "One More Kiss," and "When the Night" -- but this is a deliberately slight record (slight in the way a snapshot album is important to a family yet glazes the eyes of any outside observer). Work your way into the inner circle, and McCartney's little flourishes are intoxicating -- not just the melodies, but the facile production and offhand invention. If these are miniscule steps forward, consider this: if Brian Wilson can be praised for his half-assed ideas and execution, then why not McCartney, who has more character here than the Beach Boys did on their Brother records? Truthfully. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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Paul McCartney & Wings in the magazine
  • Second Time Lucky?
    Second Time Lucky? The embers of The Beatles are still smoking as Paul McCartney continues to work like a madman.