Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wings Wild Life

Wild Life gets a bad rap. Maligned as a shoddy quickie, with sappy bubblegum tunes and too much Linda. It was the first Wings album, and John Lennon politely commented on the 'Mike Douglas' show that Paul could 'do better'.

It was the least successful of his early solo stuff, only managing to hit #10 on Billboard (the only one of his first seven LPs to miss the a #1 spot in either the US or UK, or both).

I've always been fond of it. I remember going through a new acquaintance's record collection back in the 80's and noticed he had Wild Life. We both embarrassingly admitted that we thought it was a fine album and have been friends ever since.

Listening to it the other day, I enjoyed it all over again.

Paul has a nice variety of vocal styles. He hits some sweet high notes, especially on "Dear Friend". On "Tomorrow" he has a weird throaty sound, and "Bip-Bop" has him doing an interesting soul/bubblegum hybrid. Linda does a nice job, too, especially on "I Am Your Singer".

Yes, it was recorded quickly. And no, it didn't have a hit (although, at the time, his cover of the Bo Diddley penned "Love is Strange" did get a lot of radio play. The song was originally covered by Mickey and Sylvia and credited to Diddely's wife for legal reasons).

In my mind, McCartney's catalog is in two phases, which coincide with the death of John Lennon. That is, most everything before Lennon's death is pretty good, and everything after is not. There are exceptions. His first post-December 1980 album, Tug of War, is good. As is Flowers in the Dirt (1989). And on the flippidy flop, two pre-December 1980 albums London Town and McCartney II, are weak.

With Lennon gone, did Paul lose the one critic he still wanted to impress? Or was he simply 'written out'? I know that they both listened closely to each other's records, so I vote the former. John being gone, he started to slack off. I don't think it's just a coincidence.


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