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Wings Take Flight With ‘Wild Life’

Late in 1971, Paul McCartney returned to a band configuration as Wings released their LP debut.

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Like the rest of The Beatles, Paul McCartney had fallen out of love with the idea of being in a band by the end of the 1960s. But one of the effects of making two excellent, essentially solo albums in the wake of their split in McCartney and Ram — albeit with the close involvement of his wife Linda — was to remind Paul that there was still much to be said for the collaborative approach.

So it was that, less seven months after the release of Ram, McCartney was back in a band setting. In their first formation, with Paul and Linda joined by Denny Seiwell (the drummer who had played on Ram) and former Moody Blue Denny Laine, Wings made their UK chart debut on 18 December 1971 with the Wild Life album.

Listen to the 2018 special edition of Wild Life, in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection, right now.

Wings Wild Life back coverThe quartet recorded the LP, with its notably live and stripped-down feel, in the summer, in Paul’s old stamping ground of Abbey Road Studios, with engineering by Tony Clark and Alan Parsons. This was a new type of album for the former Beatle, with no UK single releases nor any particular attempt to write for the charts. The name of the band wasn’t even on the front cover, nor was the album title.

Five of the eight tracks were recorded in one take, most of the record in three days, and the whole thing was completed inside a fortnight. There was one cover, a slowed-down version of Mickey & Sylvia’s early 1957 US hit ‘Love Is Strange.’ But, on an album of simple pleasures, there were also such underrated compositions as ‘Tomorrow’ and ‘Some People Never Know.’

What was also unusual for any McCartney project was that the relatively low-profile album never made the UK top ten. It peaked at its No.11 debut and was out of the chart, in its initial run, in just six weeks. It went gold and reached No. 10 in an 18-week run in the US, and was comfortably top ten in many European countries, and No. 3 in Australia. But the chart rankings were far less important than the new mood that Wild Life created for McCartney’s future conquests.

The 2018 deluxe reissues of Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection can be bought here.

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