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50 years on from Wings debut album ‘Wild Life’

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In 1971, Paul McCartney decided he needed to join a band. It had been barely a year since the comments he had made while promoting his debut solo album. Mccartney were interpreted as causing the Beatles to break up. McCartney’s public reputation took a huge hit, and the critical reaction to McCartney and Ram ranged from indifference to utter disregard. It was clear that McCartney was at the bottom.

Meanwhile, his former group mates were thriving. Ringo Starr had established himself as a film actor, while George Harrison had caused a sensation with his solo debut All things must pass. that of John Lennon John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band was a great critical success, while To imagine was both a business and critical success. Lennon moved to New York that year and became one of the most visible leaders of political causes in the music world.

All McCartney needed was a backing band, but he had a bigger ambition in mind. McCartney wanted to be in a band again and he assembled a group of talented musicians to support himself and Linda. There was Denny Laine, the former Moody Blues frontman who would act as a sort of second frontman of the group. And to close the initial incarnation of the group, the American drummer Denny Seiwell was hired. McCartney decided to record (or sometimes improvise) material over the course of a week, largely inspired by Bob Dylan, and the results were published as Wildlife.

“Dylan inspired Wildlife, because we heard he went to the studio and made an album in just a week, ”McCartney explained. β€œSo we thought about doing it like that, putting down the spontaneous stuff and not being too careful. So it came out a bit like that. We wrote the songs in the summer, Linda and I wrote them in Scotland in the summer while the lambs were running around us. We spent two weeks on the Wildlife album all together. At that point, it was just when I had called Denny Laine a few days before and he came over to where we had to rehearse for a day or two.

This is how loosely structured songs like the absurd uptempo rocker β€œMumbo” and the inept blues freak β€œBip Bop” were born. McCartney only had a few “real” songs ready to go when the new band entered the studio, including most of the ballads from the second side of the record. From there, the band indulged in a slow three-chord jam that eventually became the album’s title track and covered the classic R&B song β€œLove is Strange”.

What Wings ultimately released retained the lightning quality in a bottle McCartney had originally envisioned, but it also packs a fair amount of listless, directionless fat. The lengths of “Wild Life” and “Some People Never Know” are eerily long, while few songs beyond “Dear Friend” and “I Am Your Singer” have any real lyrical direction or meaning.

But the album sometimes connects. It might take a good mood to be wowed by the wacky charms of “Bip Bop” or the flippant conduct of “Demain”, but they become fun to listen to when all the important pretensions are dropped. Wildlife It probably would have been a solid and promising start for any other band, and if he’d given the songs proper attention and deforestation, it probably could have been McCartney’s first real solo success.

By her own admission, the fast progressive recording likely detracted from the album’s overall impact. β€œWe recorded this album really quickly, it was almost like a bootleg, which can be a shame and maybe some of the songs aren’t as good as they could be,” McCartney commented. β€œI wanted the whole album to be free and free, so that everyone could get into it. Things like ‘Mumbo’ which scream a bit and only have ‘mumbo’ as lyrics may offend a few old ladies, but in general there is something for everyone.

Although McCartney himself is anxious to let the group’s raw naivety show, critics have responded with harsh condemnation. Rolling stone Writer John Mendelsohn called the album “very sentimental but rather flabby musically and lyrically powerless, trivial and ineffective”. Robert Christgau defended Linda’s presence on the album, but speculated that “maybe the pleasure of leading your own band has [McCartney] distracted “.

Years later, McCartney defended the album’s place in his discography, saying, “Critics didn’t like Wildlife when he came out, I started to think like them, that it was hogwash. Then when I heard it a few years later, I really liked it and found it interesting. OK, that hasn’t made me the biggest blockbuster around, but I don’t think you need it all the time. I like having a few albums like that because it just adds to the whole thing, really.

He added, “I thought all of my Wings stuff was second rate, but I started meeting younger kids, not kids my Beatle generation, who would say, ‘We really love this song.'”

In the immediate wake of The Beatles, no new band was ever going to receive the same respect and adulation. When McCartney consciously avoided anything that even remotely looked like the Beatles, it only confused people more.

But now Wildlife plays like a breath of fresh air from an artist who no longer has to take himself as seriously as he used to. Just like all the pre-Group on the run Equipment, Wildlife feels spontaneous, improvised and half-formed. But this is no longer a deterrent. In fact, it’s an important part of the charm. There is little on Wildlife which might rival “Maybe I’m Amazed” or “The Long and Winding Road”, but McCartney’s ability to disappear completely into a new group is reason enough to put Wildlife sometimes. It is an acquired taste, and on which some die-hard Beatles fans will continue to turn their noses, but nowhere near as bad as its reputation might suggest.

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