Wild Life

Paul McCartney & Wings

Capitol, 1971

http://www.paulmccartney.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/06/2007

Following two solo albums in which ex-Beatle Paul McCartney was finally starting to find his own musical voice, it seems a bit odd that he would try to put his own band together. Yet this was the next step, as McCartney put his solo career on hold and became the frontman for Wings.

Their first album, Wild Life, sounds more like guest musicians sitting in on a Paul and Linda McCartney jam session in which more than a bottle of wine is passed around. The original release is a slip-shod, haphazard mess that is barely listenable. Ironically, in the age of bonus tracks, it’s later releases that became part of the Wings discography that help pull this one out of the muck.

No matter where you start with this disc, it’s obvious that this is still very much the McCartney show, and the band had not properly gelled together yet. In fact, some say that this would not occur until 1973’s Band On The Run – but since it’s been eons since I listened to Red Rose Speedway, I’ll withhold comment on that. Whatever the case, from the outset it sounds obvious that this band was not ready to really record anything.bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250

Unfortunately, caution is thrown to the wind, and the listener is hit with a one-two punch of “what the hell were they thinking?” tracks in “Mumbo” and “Bip Bop” – the latter being proof that Linda McCartney should never have been allowed to sing lead. (In her defense, the times she adds harmony vocals on the disc are not bad at all.) Their cover of “Love Is Strange” does not help matters – in fact, this one almost makes me forget how atrocious Mickey and Sylvia’s version was. Almost.

It is not until “Some People Never Know” that any flashes of hope or genius are seen on Wild Life – and by then, the damage is done. Featuring a catchy vocal and rhythm line and arguably the best songwriting on the disc, this track could have been a single (had it been chopped down from six minutes) and put Wings on the map early. The same goes for “Dear Friend,” though its simplistic chord progression grows tiresome quickly.

You need proof that Wings wasn’t ready to launch at this time? Why else would there be “Mumbo Link” and “Bip Bop Link” -- two snippets under a minute long -- to further pad this album?

Had the world never seen re-issues with bonus tracks, the review would stop here, and I’d be telling you to pass on this turkey. It is interesting to note that the four tracks tacked onto this release actually help pull it back from the brink a little.

I can’t say that I fully understand the furor that “Give Ireland Back To The Irish” caused, having been born on the opposite side of the pond. But it features a band that is more solidly working together, and THAT makes quite a bit of difference. Likewise, anyone who puts a nursery rhyme like “Mary Had A Little Lamb” to music deserves to be drawn and quartered (and I’m well aware Stevie Ray Vaughan did the same thing), but the musicianship on this one alleviates some of the lyrical banality.

The final two bonus tracks, “Little Woman Love” and “Mama’s Little Girl,” show the most promise for Wings on the whole disc. Sad, then, that these weren’t included the first time around in place of some of the chaff that weighs down the original version.

Even with the addition of the bonus tracks, Wild Life is a painfully difficult disc to get through, especially the weak first half, and shows no sign that Wings would become a supergroup in its own right.

Rating: D

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Comments

by paint on July 6, 2007 07:04:16 AM
Mickey and Sylvia made one great record. "Love is Stange" lights up my radio every time I hear it. I do agree that "Wild Life" is a Piss-Poor album.
by dvfounder on March 5, 2008 06:03:48 AM
Oh, God, you had to remind me of Mickey & Sylvia... when I worked at Osco Drug a few years ago, the automated music went to '40s and '50s pre-rock, and this song played an average of once every 90 minutes. It got so bad we started dubbing in our own dialogue.

"Sylvia?"
"Yes, Mickey?"
"I'm putting my head in the oven if I have to hear this one more f---in' time."

Personally, I like the touch that Everything But The Girl gave to this track. Check it out if you get the chance.

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© 2007 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol, and is used for informational purposes only.