The expanded 50th anniversary edition of Paul McCartney & Wings’ iconic Band On The Run is out now via MPL and UMe.
A fixture of all-time greatest album lists for decades, the multiple Grammy-winning No.1 smash was originally released in December of 1973. Featuring the immortal title track, worldwide hit “Jet,” the wistful “Bluebird,” longtime live staple “Let Me Roll It,” the multi-faceted “Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me)” and climactic closer “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five,” Band On The Run is undoubtedly Wings’ most successful and celebrated release ever.
The 50th anniversary edition has already received high critical praise, selected as a “Must-have reissue” by the Sunday Times and awarded five stars in MOJO, described as “Wings’ future-facing magnum opus, refreshed and underdubbed for 2024”. Uncut said, “fifty years on, Macca’s miracle continues to define his essence,” in a 10/10 album review, and the Associated Press heralded “still sounds fresh and exciting today, a half century later.”
The 50th anniversary edition of Band On The Run is available in a variety of formats, beginning with the essential 1LP. This special vinyl edition was cut at half speed using a high-resolution transfer of the original master tapes from 1973 by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios, London. The single vinyl album configuration mirrors the US tracklist, which features the song “Helen Wheels,” and includes a Linda McCartney Polaroid poster.
The 2LP vinyl edition features the original US album, remastered at half speed, and a second LP titled “Underdubbed” Mixes Edition, housed in a premium slipcase. The set also includes two Linda McCartney Polaroid posters. A 2CD format features the original US album, “underdubbed” mixes, and a double-sided fold-out Polaroid poster taken by Linda McCartney. Band On The Run (Underdubbed) is also released digitally.
Speaking about the “Underdubbed” version Paul said: “This is Band on the Run in a way you’ve never heard before. When you are making a song and putting on additional parts, like an extra guitar, that’s an overdub. Well, this version of the album is the opposite, underdubbed.”
Band on the Run (Underdubbed) presents the original album’s nine classic songs for the first time without any orchestral overdubs, available digitally. The previously unreleased rough mixes were created by Geoff Emerick, assisted by Pete Swettenham at AIR Studios, on 14 October 1973. The tracklist mirrors the original analog tapes discovered in the MPL archives.
Finally, Band on the Run is now available in Dolby ATMOS for the first time, newly mixed by Giles Martin and Steve Orchard.
Of the countless classic albums Paul McCartney has released throughout his illustrious career, Wings’ Band On The Run holds a place of particularly high esteem. The album not only delivered on the promise of Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway, it consolidated Wings’ status as standard bearers of ‘70s rock ’n’ roll. As the soundtrack for a decade defined by the rock radio playlists it dominated, Band On The Run would set the bar not only for Paul’s future efforts but also for generations of arena rock stars.
Exactly 50 years after its release, Band On The Run sounds as vibrant and relevant as ever, and in reaching this magnificent milestone, deserves its amazing story to be celebrated one more time.
By the summer of 1973, Paul had a fresh batch of songs earmarked for a new album. Looking through a list of EMI’s international studios, he chose Lagos, Nigeria, to be the location of its recording, becoming enthralled with the idea of recording in Africa. Just days before departure, lead guitarist Henry McCullough and drummer Denny Seiwell quit the band. Wings were now, suddenly, a trio. Paul, his wife Linda, and band member Denny Laine (along with recording engineer Geoff Emerick) toiled in the Lagos studio’s relatively rudimentary conditions, working up the new songs over two months. Disaster struck one night when Paul and Linda were robbed at knifepoint while walking home from a friend’s house, the thieves making off with a cassette of home demo recordings of the songs. Paul was able to remember the songs as he’d only recently written them.
Noted for its suite-like structure of three distinct movements, the title track “Band On The Run” was not an obvious pop hit, but it would top the US Billboard Hot 100 and propel its parent album back up the charts, becoming a chart-topping smash in both the US and UK, returning to the top spot twice more in America, and becoming the best-selling studio album of 1974 in Australia, Canada, and the UK.
Reputationally, Band On The Run has only grown in stature over the years. After scooping two Grammy Awards in 1975, the Deluxe Edition of the album was awarded a third in 2012—followed by the album’s induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2013. It is considered the definitive Wings album and a firm fan favorite as new generations discover its genius. It took until 2010 for “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five” to be performed live, but now, as Paul’s solo career continues unabated, it is a regular presence in his live sets.
MacCartney recently performed songs from Band On The Run and across his unparalleled catalog at shows on his acclaimed “Got Back” tour. First launching in February 2022, Paul completed 16 huge gigs across the US before performing what the Times newspaper described as the “best gig ever” with his history-making headline set at Glastonbury in June 2022, a show that also saw Paul team with Dave Grohl for a special duet of “Band on the Run.”