Band on the Run (1974)

1. Band on the Run 2. Jet 3. Bluebird 4. Mrs. Vandebilt 5. Let Me Roll It 6. Mamunia 7. No Words 8. Helen Wheels 9. Picasso's Last Words 10.Nineteen Eighty-Five


There were those in the early seventies, after the breakup after The Beatles, that accused Paul McCartney of not putting out anything "serious". His work that was released was very light weight indeed, and although his music had its charms, many critics and fans were wanting something of the "Abbey Road" style. Whether or not this album is a response to those accusations, or whether or not this album was released the way it was because "Paul felt like it" is unclear, but this one silenced the critics. This was not only the best Paul McCartney solo album, but, by far, the best solo album of any of The Beatles. It even rivals many of the great releases from the fab four.

He's back with Wings, but unlike the cover of this album (or even the title and/or song), this really isn't a "band". The "band" are Paul, wife Linda and guitarist Denny Laine. Some of the instrument work - such as the drums, are obviously McCartney, and the songs are definitely not as professional in some of these areas as one might wish. Completely irrelevant since every song holds up magnificently. A wide variety of styles and influences that show us once again that diversity was probably Paul's biggest strength as a singer/songwriter/music producer.

Speaking of diversity, one need not look any further that the opening title track that changes time signatures and styles three times within the song during the five minutes and fifteen seconds. You can't get much closer to the style of "Abbey Road" than that, and the song has evolved, deservedly, as one of the all time Paul McCartney classics. Things just get better on the second song/single Jet, in which McCartney has discovered something called a synthesizer - and man can he ever play it. This song has since been famous as a "second" song. He seems to always play this song second at every concert, as if to tell the audience - "yes my opener rocked your world, but things are only going to get better".

Let Me Roll It is another fan favorite that he still includes in many of his shows. This is his "Lennon-like" song that is actually a kindhearted response to Lennon's bitterness during the time period. You would never know that such anger existed during this time - which is probably just fine. The song should be enjoyed, not analyzed. Bluebird is a bit of a throwback to The Beatles "Blackbird". Weird to think about it now, but only about five years had elapsed since The Beatles' "White Album" and this release, yet the music styles have evolved so much during that period. The song here is much more produced, more rich, but very pleasant regardless.

Probably the best "story" about this album is the song Picasso's Last Words, another brilliant song. It seems as though good friend Dustin Hoffman was trying to pick McCartney's brain on how he writes songs. He didn't believe Mac when he said that you could just pick up anything out of thin air and write a melody around it. So then, as legend has it, Hoffman found a Time magazine article about Pablo Picasso, tossed it to McCartney, gave him a challenge, and the rest is history. Just in case you were wondering how such an odd topic made its way onto the album.

Yes, Paul McCartney was still a genius, and this album was warmly received by everyone - even winning (for whatever it's really worth) Rolling Stone's album of the year for 1974. A must for any Beatles fan.

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