Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Paul McCartney & Wings - Band On The Run (1973)

Note: the CD I listened to was the 25th Anniversary Edition released in 1999 with a bonus disc, excellent liner notes, and a reproduction of the poster that came with the LP.

Last night I read a NME blog post which called Paul McCartney the "Greatest Living Songwriter."  I thought about that statement for only a few seconds before fully agreeing with it.  Who else could it be?  So I'm listening to some McCartney this morning.  What a great way to start the day.

From Sir Paul's own website:
Band on the Run is one of those rare albums that spans a magically self-contained world. From the unfolding promise of its title track – itself a pocket symphony of dawning optimism and thrilling new horizons – this is music that takes us places. Is it a ‘concept album'? Not exactly. There is no continuous narrative nor any hidden pattern. The beauty of Band on the Run is simply that it feels complete. Released in late 1973, Band on the Run was Paul's fifth album since the break up of The Beatles and it triumphed both critically and commercially. The Grammy award-winning album was recorded in Lagos and became Wings most successful album. Band on the Run was the top selling album in the UK in 1974 and reached no.1 in the US on 3 separate occasions. It went on to sell 7 million copies world-wide. Its success has endured and in 2000 the album was included in Q magazine's list of Greatest British Albums Ever, as well as Rolling Stone magazine's 500 greatest albums of all time list.
The Grammy? Best Pop Vocal Performance By a Duo, Group or Chorus.  Band On The Run lost Album Of The Year honors to Stevie Wonder's Fulfillingness' First Finale.  I'm glad I wasn't asked to help with that decision.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart:  #1 (4 weeks between April 13 - July 6, 1974)

Tracks:  5 of the 10 tracks appear on the Wingspan compilation (Band On The Run, Jet, Bluebird, Let Me Roll It, and Helen Wheels).  It's a mystery to me as to why Let Me Roll It wasn't a massive hit.  In my mind, the chorus of that song is a insistent earworm; I find myself singing it often (usually in inappropriate locations/situations).  The other 5 songs are clearly filler, but they're McCartney filler, so even in a song like Picasso's Last Words there are moments when you think "that's a clever little thing he did there."

Bonus disc:  On the back cover, this disc is described thusly:
The newly-produced additional CD relives the period when the album was made and includes the voices of Paul and Linda McCartney, Dustin Hoffman and the celebrities who appear on the cover.  Running in excess of 50 minutes, the programme also includes previously unreleased versions of some Band On The Run tracks.
Based on that description, my expectations were low.  It turns out that it's a fairly decent, cohesive disc in the style of a self-important radio special, containing interviews, rehearsal outtakes, and sound checks from more recent tours.  I don't listen to it often, but it's not a wasted hour.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD:  None

Previously revisited for the blog:
Chaos And Creation In The Backyard (2005)
Wingspan: Hits and History (2001)
Flaming Pie (1997)
Unplugged: The Official Bootleg (1991)
All The Best! (1987)
Tug of War (1982)


  1. Can you believe I was listening to "Let Me Roll It" on the 2013 Archive version of Wings Over America when I opened this post? Coinkydink.

    While we are in harmony on Sir Paul's melodies in general and this album in particular, I must rescue "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five" aka "1985" from the "filler" pile. It has nonsensical lyrics, sure, but musically, it is the epitome of McCartney's finest work with his hallmark bouncing bassline, disjointed tempo changes, clarinet and even a cinematic orchestra.

    My history with "1985" began with many listenings to Dad's 8-track version when I was a wee lad. Consequently, I don't view "1985" as so much as the album's closer but rather as the opening salvo followed by a brief explosion (Ka-Chunk!) and then those familiar opening notes of the title track.

    If I remember correctly, that 8-track was one of the few I ever heard that had the same playing order as the vinyl version. Of the six
    versions of this CD sitting behind me as I type this:

    1984 UK
    1987 US
    1993 UK as part of The Paul McCartney Collection
    1993 DCC Gold
    1999 25th Anniversary [2CD]
    2010 Archive Remaster Deluxe Edition [3CD]

    my favorite sounding one is the 2010 hi-rez FLAC files, though I always boost the bass up a bit when "1985" comes on. The whole album is a headphone headtrip, a journey into sound - coincicdence that both Band On The Run and Dark Side Of The Moon came out in 1973? Maybe. Never had the opportunity to experience the quad mix of the album. (sigh)

    Been in a mono mood lately so it's worth noting that there are mono versions of both the title track (in a sacrilegious, sub-four minute edit for US radio) and "Jet", released as promos. They can be heard on disc two of the aptly named fan-made 10 disc compilation The Paul McCartney Singles Collection 1971-1990 which should not be confused with the equally unofficial release Paul McCartney UK Singles Collection 1971-2004.

    Thanks for the reminder of what a great disc Band On The Run is. Now if I can chisel out a 45 minute chunk of my weekend to listen to the hi rez files in their entirety with headphones clamped to my noggin, I'll be a happier man. I'm happier already just thinking about it.

  2. Found the time to enjoy this CD in its entirety this weekend. Even followed it up (a few hours later) with Dark Side Of The Moon. Looking at some of the other albums that came out in 1973: Innervisons, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Alddin Sane, Brothers and Sisters, Tubular Bells, Catch A Fire, Piano Man, Burnin', (pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd), Let's Get It On, Head Hunters, There Goes Rhymin' Simon, Dixie Chicken, Montrose, Tres Hombres, Queen, Desperado, Ringo, Houses Of The Holy - 1973 was a very, very good year indeed.