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McCartney's 'forgotten' album...,
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This review is from: Wings Wild Life (Audio CD)
'Wild Life' (1971) very much finds McCartney at a crossroads in his life. The Beatles had ceased to exist some eighteen months previously and with the group's break-up had come the demise of McCartney's pivotal and long-standing friendship and creative partnership with John Lennon.
Ahead lay new challenges... Having already released two solo albums, 'McCartney' (1970) and 'Ram' (1971) to mixed reviews, McCartney wasted no further time in establishing his new band, Wings, in the Autumn of 1971, consisting of himself and wife Linda, ex Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine and what became an ever-changing line up of disgruntled session musicians.
'Wild life' was the band's first album. In truth, however, it represented an inauspicious start, bearing all the hallmarks of having been thrown together with too little care (it was recorded in three days flat) and too much faith in spontaneous, haphazard working methods.
In this respect it is an extremely a-typical McCartney album, lacking his usual attention to detail and production polish. In many ways, it stands alone in McCartney's post-Beatles output, both in terms of its slight, lyrically nondescript compositions and the amateurishness of its recording. Indeed, he has never revisited many of the songs on this album in years of subsequent touring.
Needless to say, the album was slaughtered by the critics and divides even the most loyal McCartney fans to this day.
Having said all that, in many ways, 'Wild life' does have its redeeming features and, in a way, hindsight has revealed many of its charms. It has an endearing, quirky, off-the-wall quality and its unfinished feel and unbalanced collection of songs actually make it quite an honest and intriguing album.
One of Wild Life's main problems is that it starts with its two weakest tracks. 'Mumbo' and 'Bip Bop' are both extremely lightweight, blues-flavoured compositions, both curiously containing nonesense lyrics. 'Mumbo' was reportedly created on the spot in the studio and 'Bip Bop' is little more than a throwaway ditty, which while superficially amusing, quickly becomes tiresome.
Beyond this opening brace, however, the album improves significantly. 'I am your singer', 'Love is strange', 'Tomorrow', and 'Some People Never Know' are low-key, but nonetheless pleasant copositions, which showcase McCartney's enduring ability to produce effortless melodies almost at will. All have a slightly unusual, offbeat feel about them, perhaps exacerbated by their unusually long running time.
The album's two most memorable songs are the title track and the album's closing piece, 'Dear Friend'. In stark contrast to the rest of the album, both songs are emotionally intense and somewhat overwrought with a jarringly anguished vocal delivery from McCartney. Although lyrically vague (a probably deliberate act) both songs somehow seem to address the demise of McCartney's relationship with Lennon. Indeed, Lennon himself, saw 'Dear Friend' as a personal message.
All in all, 'Wild Life' is a strange, raw, largely unpolished, uneven album, veering from artless jamming, through cosy romantic fluff to anguished laments. It is the product of an artist struggling for form, but prepared to try out different ideas and a wholly different approach in order to spark his creativity. In this respect it didn't really work, but nevertheless, 'Wild Life' contains enough good moments to make it worthwhile.
Put it this way, if you like your albums slick and well-crafted with tons of production polish, you will absolutely hate this album. If you want to hear a very human, fairly quirky McCartney album from the early seventies with a sense of humour and regret then you may enjoy 'Wild Life'.
Just a word about the bonus tracks: 'Give Ireland back to the Irish' is uninspired pub-rock with, regardless of political content, absolutely terrible lyrics. 'Mary had a Little Lamb' is cloying Kindergarten pop and although cutely disarming it soon wears thin. 'Little Woman Love' is a jolly b-side throwaway complete with Fats Domino piano and a saucy double entendre. 'Momma's little Girl', although toe-curlingly twee is just about rescued by a nice tune and a sweetly-picked acoustic guitar part.
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Initial post: 22 Jan 2009 21:07:03 GMT
Mr. Christopher J. Welch says:
Thanks for commenting on my Abbey Road review - very kind of you. Nice Wild Life review although i think you are being very kind to what is a pretty poor album. In my opinion it's a 2 star at best - but each to his own.
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