As I was about to publish this, I happened to flip on BBC America and saw that Denny Laine had just died. For Band on the Run, Laine was (cover art notwithstanding) the only Wing other than Paul or Linda, playing guitar and percussion, supplying backing vocals, and even singing co-leads on two songs. I don’t know what to make of this coincidence, if anything, but I wanted to at least make note of it.


If you were a rabid American Beatlemaniac in 1973, you probably would have run out on this day to pick up a copy of Paul McCartney and Wings’ new album, Band on the Run. (It had already been out for five days in the UK.) You might have then put it on a shelf next to John and Ringo’s recent records, which you may or may not have had time to absorb in the couple weeks they’d been out. (You probably wouldn’t have Feeling the Space, unless you were a Yoko cultist or the sort of obsessive who had to buy everything released on Apple Records.)

I had intended to finish discussing Mind Games and Ringo by now, but time has fled so what the hell, let’s add Band to the mix. It’s probably Paul’s best solo album (I know it’s technically Wings but whatevs) — not that I’ve listened to them all; reading over the discography, I see there are several I’ve never even heard of. If there are any Paul partisans out there who want to make a case for Press to Play or Off the Ground, by all means have at it in the comments.

Back in 73, you would have already known “Band on the Run,” as the single had been out for six months by this point. It’s a pretty strong statement by Paul that he still has a few tricks up his sleeve.

On the album it is followed by “Jet,” another monster hit, though one that to my ear is marred by just a touch of the cloying hypersweetness that bedeviled much of Paul’s Seventies work. What the hell though, it’s a catchy number, and I wonder if the repeated use of the word “suffragette” is a nod to the recent breakthrough of Mr. Bowie.

For whatever reason Paul chose to call the third song on his album “Bluebird,” inviting direct comparisons to one of his most beloved Beatles tunes. This puts undue pressure on a feather-light trifle, co-written by Linda and pleasant enough I suppose. My inner grump wants to rip it apart, but why bother?

The energy level picks up again with “Mrs. Vandebilt” (sic), which seems vaguely to be about income inequality, possibly inspired by conditions in Lagos, where the album was recorded. Paul’s advice is not to worry about it, which is a bit rich coming from the wealthy Mr. Mac, but he makes it plausible for the length of a song.

“Mrs. Vandebilt” has gotten some love in the hip-hop world, sampled in the 88 Keys’ 2008 “Ho’ Is Short for Honey”:

And lifted wholesale by Big Boi in 2014:

And suddenly we’re almost at the end of the A side of Band on the Run. I think I want to stop there for today.

Without the steady drumbeat of daily events, this blog becomes a bit chaotic. I plan to write some more about the 1973 albums, but have no particular plan. I note that there are 19 songs left to discuss, and 20 days till Christmas. Maybe that means something, maybe not. As Paul would say, “What’s the use of worrying? What’s the use of anything?”

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