on 21 April 2003
Pauls solo career for the 4 years post the Beatles had been a rather patchy affair. After starting off with two decent albums, he followed that up with two very below par Wings efforts that prompted much mocking of the Wings line up, particularly the inclusion of Pauls wife Linda on keyboards. Here however, reduced to the three core members, Paul, Lindaa & Denny, they produce the kind of rock/pop music that the seventies were meant for.
Recorded in Lagos, their surroundings meant that they recorded an album that had a consistent sound about it, something all Wings previous efforts had failed at. Kicking off with two of pauls best songs, Band on The Run and Jet never fail to lift you up, two of pauls finest rock songs that both follow the theme of flight and escapism that runs throught his whole album.
Bluebird is a delightful acoustic number that again follows the theme of flight, although those expecting a Blackbird part two should look eslewhere. Mrs Vandebilt one can only assume is about returning to nature with its tribal like shouts of Ho-Hey-Ho .
Let Me Roll it still stands as one of Pauls best, a song he performs today with passion and vigour, and one that has been described as out-Lennoning Lennon. The heavy riffs over an organ fuelled drum beat are fantastic, and one cant wonder if the songs lyrics were also aimed at lennon (" I cant tell you how I feel, my heart is like a wheel....Let Me Roll It to you").
Mamunia is Pauls back to nature approach again, but is more successful than Mrs Vandebilt with a delightful melody and acoustics that celebrate the rain as Paul intended. No Words was a co-write between Paul and Denny, and both take turns in shring the vocals. Probably the weakest cut on the album, it still makes for good listening.
Helen Wheels was the single that preceeded this album, and was originally only included on the American version of the album. Its a bit like The Ballad of Paul & Linda, rocking along to great effect, although Lindas vocals often seem a little harsh on the ears. Its B-Side Country Dreamer is included on the re-mastered releases, and that is a pleasant acoustic number originally recorded for red Rose Speedway but never used.
Picassos last words was written in the company of Dustin Hoffman, and recalls the great painters last hours. It works as another great McCartney character song with french sounding horns and a great melody.
The closing 1985 works as a fantastic climax to a fantastic album. This is Pauls musically most consistent and cohesive work. Great songs mix together with excellent production to produce an album that really does make wings sound like a band on the run. It would catapult the band to the kind of global succcess that only the Beatles could better. This is the album Paul had bordered on making for a few years and finally found the focus to do so. It is brimming with great tunes and creativity. Excellent.
on 16 January 2013
I bought this edition of 'Band on the Run' (2 CD, 1 DVD set) just last week, having been recommended to do so by a friend of the family. He assured me that the album was "brilliant" and, in being a massive Beatles fan, I was sure to like it. Well, I have bought it and I have indeed viewed the contents of the set in full. Here's what I think:
This set is an absolute excellent buy and great value for money! I must admit that I knew the two staple songs from this album, 'Band on the Run' and 'Jet', before buying the record. It would be very easy to select either of these as the best on the album. However, like other reviewers have said, every song is a winner and you will only really be able to appreciate this by listening to the album in full.
There are some really amazing songs on here, like 'Bluebird', which is an incredible song, typical McCartney magic! 'Let Me Roll It' is a fantastic song with a killer guitar riff and amazing vocals. Personally, I found this song to be very Lennon-esque. 'Picasso's Last Words (Drink To Me)' is another piece of McCartney magic - written on the spot at a party in Jamaica when McCartney met actors Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen. Hoffman challenged Paul to write a song about Picasso, betting that he could not do so, and Paul wrote this on the spot, as I've said. The result is pretty incredible to listen to. Finally, the album's closer 'Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five' is an excellent, feelgood song and finishes the record quite nicely.
Overall, 'Band on the Run' really surpassed my expectations; it's been a long time since I've been so impressed by such a good record. The remastered quality is excellent all round and, in saying that, this is really an album I can treasure for years to come now.
The second CD is pretty good, too. Basically, you get two extra songs, 'Helen Wheels' and 'Country Dreamer'. Both of these songs are pretty good; my personal favourite of the two was 'Country Dreamer'. Anyhow, it is good that McCartney chose to include these on a separate disc. I know that in some regions he included 'Helen Wheels' as part of the original 'Band on the Run' album and so many people were upset about this. Thankfully, with this release, you get the album as it was originally released. Following the two tracks mentioned above, you have selections from 'One Hand Clapping', which, I think, was a studio jam. These six tracks are very good, five of them are tracks from the album and the last one is 'Country Dreamer' (where Paul forgets the words). It was nice to hear these tracks in a different manner from those on the album.
Finally, you get a DVD which has music videos for 'Band on the Run', 'Mamunia' and 'Helen Wheels'. There is an 'Album Promo' featurette, which is good as you get to see who was there during the making of the album. There's a short clip of 'Wings in Lagos', which really only features Paul and Linda in Nigeria. There's a featurette of the 'Osterley Park' sessions, which documents the photoshoot of the now infamous album cover. I found this to be really good as it clearly states who's who, whether it be Christopher Lee, Clement Freud or James Coburn, to name but three. Last, but not least, is the 'One Hand Clapping' documentary, some of which is included on the second CD to listen to. Here, though, I think it is included in full and it is very good, even if the quality is not so much (remember, this is 1973/74 we are talking about).
The booklet included with the album is very good and very informative. It includes the lyrics to all of the songs, excluding both 'Helen Wheels' and 'Country Dreamer'. There's also a very interesting essay by Paul Gambaccini, which talks about the making of the album, the inspiration behind some of the tracks and why the album is as loved as it is, even today. Also, you may be surprised to discover that this interview with Gambaccini was Paul's first since leaving The Beatles. I was.
To finish up, the 'Band on the Run' 2 CD/1 DVD set is an excellent buy and great value for money. The album, as a whole, really and truly surpassed my expectations and it has really been quite some time now since I was last impressed by such a great album! In the heel of the hunt, I am very happy that I have added this to my Collection. Without further delay, add it to yours.
Thank you for reading this. I hope it helps.
on 7 September 2000
Where do you start with this album? I suppose one way to start is to say that I may not be alone in saying that it is up there with some of the best albums ever made. There is not a bad track on it, including the superb singles: 'Band On The Run', 'Jet' (the name of his Labrador puppies - a link to 'Martha My Dear' from The Whit Album, in that it is about a dog) and 'Helen Wheels'(McCartney's nickname for his Land Rover, the story of a trip down the M6, citing Glasgow, Carlisle, Liverpool and Birmingham) ; as well as fantastic album tracks such as 'Picasso's Last Words', 'Mrs Vandebilt'. Although all the songs are superb, I prefer the non-singles, especially the Lennon pastiche 'Let Me Roll It', the sublime 'Mamunia' (meaning safe-haven in Arabic) and the fantastic final track 'Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five'. The album is one of the best post-Beatles albums, up there with 'Imagine' and George Harrison's 'All Things Must Pass'. If you are someone who loves The Beatles and is interested in expanding to their later solo efforts, this would be a perfect place to start, and 'Band On The Run' should be a part of everyone's record collection. Furthermore, the excellent and original front cover (including the likes of Michael Parkinson) is symbolic of the quality of the music inside. Conisdering the events in which McCartney recorded this, that he and his wife were almost murdered in Lagos (where the record was recorded), had their demo tapes stolen, and 2 members of the band left shortly before the album, meaning that McCartney had to do most of the playing of all the instruments, then this is a tremendous effort. A fantastic album from a superb artist, which deservedly won a pair of Grammy's in 1975 and was Britain's best-seller in 1974. It's one of my favourites of all time - make it one of yours!
on 2 November 2010
Outstanding album - possibly McCartney's most satisfying collection (although Ram runs it pretty close).
Having skipped the 25th Anniversary edition, this is the 2nd time I've bought this on CD. To these ears, the sound is pretty indistinguishable from the 1993 Digital Remaster - although audiophiles may disagree.
The package is great - a 24 page booklet including lyrics and a good essay from Paul Gambaccini incorporating excerpts from their 1973 interview (Macca's first post-Beatles apparently). It's fascinating to see Paul explain that Jet is named after a puppy here, whilst a few nights ago he was telling Dermot O'Leary that Jet was a pony. However the real mystery is of course the absence of guitarist Denny Laine. If Wings were a band and not a McCartney vehicle, you might expect the only other living member to have something to say about the music, the album, working with the McCartneys, why he stuck by Paul when the rest of the band quit and so on; or to warrant the odd mention in the sleevenotes or accompanying interviews. Nada. Odd and somewhat sad.
The extras are pretty good - the second CD features the same extra tracks as 1993 (Country Dreamer and Helen Wheels) plus Zoo Gang (not as bad as it sounds) and 6 tracks from 'One Hand Clapping', an unreleased documentary from 1974 showing the expanded band preparing songs for a live/studio album that got shelved. They're not exactly live - maybe some parts live over a studio backing - but all are good band versions, some of which would go on to underpin Macca's live set for many years to come. The studio Soily and Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five are particularly good.
The DVD features videos for Band on the Run, Mamunia and Helen Wheels, a long and tedious film of the day that the cover picture was taken, a black and white film of the McCartneys in Nigeria with Ginger Baker (it's called 'Wings in Lagos' but Denny's nowhere to be seen), backed by an Indian take of the album's title track, plus the film of One Hand Clapping - leaving off (criminally!) Junior's Farm. The film quality is pretty appalling - possibly a second generation VHS copy. Maybe they couldn't source the original, although they probably could have done something about the stutters between shots.
Minor grumbles aside, this is an excellent package and whilst the music fully deserves the 5 stars, the extras here make this a top notch release.
on 7 August 2000
This is without doubt the best LP Sir Paul and post-Beatles band Wings made. I am a big fan of the Beatles but was never really a big fan of the solo material - with the exception of some of John Lennon's work. The unfortunate thing about Wings is the Mull Of Kintyre straitjacket - most potential listeners are put off by this pigeonholing (a bit like the Beach Boys and the surf boy straitjacket) and I have to admit to approaching this album with some trepidation to say the least. Aside from Lennon's Imagine album (and a couple of compilations) I did not own any other Beatles solo CDs prior to purchasing this one. I have to say that my fears were allayed very quickly - the first listen of this CD had me hooked and I've not let it out of the CD player for several days! Sure, it's not as good as Sgt Pepper or Abbey Road but in places it could pass off as the Beatles - in fact I'm sure if the Beatles had continued into the 1970s this is what they may have sounded like, the majority of songs being really catchy and this is - perhaps a little surprisingly for Wings - a very rocky album in places. I had obviously heard the title track many times but the album is full of really classy material. If there's only one solo McCartney album that you must have, this is it. The 25th anniversary packaging is really good too - the bonus CD offering an insight into the way this album developed in the studio and the liner notes being well written and informative. The Beatles never produced anything as good on their own as they did when they were a group but this comes pretty close. A classic album.
on 16 May 2006
In '73 time was pressing for Macca; RAM and the first solo-album (let's forget Wild Life)are quite a cult-succes now, but for people who were used to the Beatle-albums in the late '60's were still waiting for a sign that McCartney was still able to make great music.
There are still very Beatlesque tracks here:
Let Me Roll It; sounds like a Phil-Spector-produced Lennon track and also it's very John-like in its lyrics.
No Words: sounds very much like a '71 George Harrison.
And these are the lesser known tracks! Jet, 1985 and the title track have a nice, luxurious rock-sound to it, Bluebird is a nice acoustig ditty, Mrs. Vanderbilt is catchy as hell!
I think this is overall the best Macca-album ever; catchy tunes, good ballads, nice rockers and no weak tracks!
on 16 September 2005
Old Macca tends to get a lot of stick, and the comment, 'he's never really done anything that good since the Beatles though has he?' will no doubt be familiar to most! This accusation is unfair and usually based on a severe lack of knowledge. There are many tracks and albums deserving of high acclaim ("Venus and Mars", "London Town", "Flowers in the Dirt" to name but a few). Despite this there is one that he usually gets away with (i.e., 'yea, OK, that one was alright'), and that's "Band on the Run". The album is a great example of Macca's unmatchable talent for experimenting with conventional pop formats without losing sight of the rock 'n' roll routes that orginially sparked his talent and, in turn, in great music of the Beatles. To call the album a 'concept' album would be erroneous, though 'a song cycle' might be an accurate description, particularly with the recapitulation of the 'Band on the Run' chorus at the end of the final track, 'Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five'.
There is a distinct folk feel to the album, although it opens with a standard seventies rock sound in the introduction that pre-empts 'Band on the Run' (an idea that Macca developed on later Wings' albums):
Stuck in side these four walls
Sent inside forever
The introduction shifts into a more hard rock riff (incidentally, probably the best moment on the entire album) as the singer contemplates escape. Another shift takes us to a brass transition into the famous title track. The second track is the hit single 'Jet' with its memorable (and often plagiarised) brass riff. Lyrically, the track is typical Macca nonsense but this is surely the intention and the track seems to more represent that fact that Macca is a league above most when it comes to the art of rock song writing. 'Bluebird', in contrast is a very mellow acoustic love song (with an extended use of percussion). The lyric is very corny, but again probably intentionally, and the display of Macca's mastery of harmony is what makes the track stand out. We are taken through a variety of sounds from the rock-folky 'Mrs. Vandebilt' (with its bizarre but addictive "Ho! Hey-Ho!" chant), to more raw/hard rock ('Let Me Roll It') to 'Picasso's Last Words (Drink to Me)' with its French folk style. This song is interjected with strange abrupt passages that recapitulate the chants from 'Jet' and 'Mrs Vandebilt'. The exact reason for this is elusive but it does make for interesting listening and the "Ho! Hey Ho!" fades out and into the final track. 'Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five' is a straight forward rock track which concludes with an extensive play-out and use of string and brass sounds mixed with various sound effect builds the music to and explosive brass cadence which reminds us of the transition from the introduction to 'Band on the Run'. The final chord sounds and after a short pause we hear the 'Band on the Run' chorus fade out.
The album almost achieved a cult status in its time, but it did not quite make it. This is unfortunate as it would probably have permitted McCartney to be taken more seriously as an artist post his Beatle days. In any case, it is testimony to the fact that he did make good music and should be reassessed by those that ostracise him in this light. If you do like the album don't stop there! Make your way through some other Wings' albums and if you're still interested, then turn to some of the solo stuff. There's plenty to go around, for Macca still persists, releasing a record as recent as 2005.
on 3 November 2010
This is a really, really well-done package.
The remastering has a great clarity to it, so much so that you get a better sense of studio acoustics and can here little things which weren't apparent before (Such as Paul shouting in the background to 1985). These are small details, but they do add to your enjoyment.
It is also worth noting the packaging. It has been done fantastically, the cds are housed in a nice, chunky feeling cardboard flip-cover with a fairly hefty little book packed with photos. I really love the way that the cds are held in top-loading (rather than sideways on) cardboard slips with little holes in the front so that they look like l.p paper inserts. Its really cool and a really nice touch.
The contents are great value for money too. The album has been restored to its correct sequencing, so Helen Wheels is on disc 2 which also includes Country Dreamer, Zoo Gang (Which used to be a bonus on Venus and Mars but was always chronologically closer to Band on the Run) and the One Hand Clapping tracks.
But my favourite little extra is the dvd, which has the music videos, extra footage of Lagos and the making of the cover. The real stand out is the One Hand Clapping programme which is just brilliant. It is a documentary from 1974 which lasts for around an hour and I loved every minute of it.
The set is really top notch, especially for the price, and I would highly recommend it. A great place to start if you have never bought a McCartney cd but also with lots of little things for fans who may already have a copy and are wondering whether to upgrade.
If the other remasters in the collection are up to this standard, then they will be excellent.
A classic album given a well deserved re-issue. I remember playing this non stop when it came out, I had enjoyed the wings stuff and while McCartney's first few albums after the Beatles all contained some fantastic tracks - this was the one where it all came together with a strong set of tracks that have survived the test of time. It's nice quality although I agree with a previous reviewer that it's hard to really appreciate the re-mastering if you listen with an 'average' ear like myself. While I am agreeing with the same previous reviewer he is also right about the strange lack of Denny Laine - I'd love to know how he feels about this re-issue and the memories.
An interesting booklet and Gambaccini piece, I think I can actually remember the 1973 interview it came from which is a little worrying, but those were the days where anticipation was half the pleasure..
A good second cd with the extras, I rather enjoyed the one hand clapping stuff some nice versions in there and worthy of repeated listening.
While the dvd is mildly interesting I kind of doubt it is one I will watch very often much of it is not great quality and I am not sure it adds much to the whole package - I would rather have had a copy of the Channel 4 documentary shown the day before this was issued.
As I lurched through my teens in the 70's I think I was kept sane by Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Mike Oldfield and McCartney. Here Band on the Run gets the treatment it deserves and has brought back some very happy memories, Goodness knows how my Dad put up with me playing this non stop!!!
If this is not in your collection, now is the time to add it. Recommended, this is one of the world's greatest at the top of his game.
on 4 November 2010
The 2CD/1DVD is certainly the version of this remastered classic to buy. A supremely good value package. The remastering is so much better than the one done in the 1990s. The sound is richer/fuller with a much improved and clearly defined stereo image. Listening on audiophile quality equipment I also note that the very low level background noise evident on the EMI remaster has been entirely eliminated. The bass lines and percussion are crystal clear as well. Even when played on a middle of the road car CD the improvement is noticeable.
The audio bonus disc is entirely complementary to the main course. Lots of interesting live tracks that sound amazing given the less than perfect source tapes from the early 1970s. I can only imagine what the remastered 'Wings Over America' will sound like when it is released in 2011. I'm salivating at the thought!
The DVD is okay but covers a lot of old ground for the faithful. It is however an excellent intro to the BotR legend to the new generations of Wings fans.
The only slight reservation I have about this release is the cardboard (eco friendly?) cover. How will it stand the test of time? I have my doubts. As the audio discs are not copy protected I shall keep this purchase safely away from regular usage and burn a back up copy for day to day use.