Wednesday, April 14, 2010

418. Band on the run- "You idiot! He was the most talented one!"

Album: Band on the Run
Artist: Paul McCartney and Wings.
Year: 1973
Genre: Rock

Tracks.

  1. Band on the Run
  2. Jet
  3. Bluebird
  4. Mrs. Vandebilt
  5. Let Me Roll It
  6. Mamunia
  7. No Words
  8. Picasso's Last Words (Drink to Me)
  9. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five

I've never fully understood how I could be such a huge fan of the Beatles and yet be completely indifferent to their respective solo careers. For some reason the four on their own produce music that does precisely nothing for me. Almost all their solo efforts leave me cold and uninterested. Is it because they're not as good or because I've elevated the Beatles to a magical level that none of the band could hope to replicate? As someone who wasn't born until the band fell apart I wasn't one of those people who eagerly awaited their solo releases and was subsequently disappointed. I can view the seventies releases of John, Paul, George and Ringo in the same dispassionate way I can look at any other album released in a time when the only music I knew came from sesame street and play school.

There's nothing on Band on the Run that deserves a place on any album by Paul's former band. I can't find a single song on this release that is a quarter as good as even some of the more mediocre Beatles efforts, which only goes to prove conclusively that the Beatles were greater than the sum of their parts. Well no it doesn't but still the point stands- this is a bit crap. In fact lots of these songs are just plain annoying.

Let me Roll It is a slow and ponderous dirge that plods along like a turtle trying to escape from the incredibly annoying guitar riff that follows it constantly. What's up with that guitar break? It's an atonal collection of notes that just appears randomly throughout the song. Did Paul forget how music works? He spent years writing great songs and then suddenly he unleashes irritation on us as if the music buying public deserved to be punished for screaming when he was trying to sing Yesterday. Almost as inexcusable is Bluebird which is a terribly sappy ballad with treacle-laden backing vocals and a dreadful melody. Again you have to wonder what's going through Paul's head. It's one thing to write a naff song that nobody wants to hear but why name it Bluebird and remind everyone of the infinitely superior Blackbird which he'd written a few years before? The only song I really liked much was Helen Wheels which I've discovered isn't really a part of this album. Apparently it was tacked on to the American release and shouldn't really be there. The final song on the album is an odd hodge-podge called Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five which contains every instrument and motif Paul could fling into it in order to make up for the fact that it doesn't really have any original melody worth getting excited about. It recalls songs that have gone before but not in a good way. An annoying "Ho- Hey Ho" chant that marred Mamunia is revisited to remind you of how much it annoyed you the first time.

The most celebrated song on Band on the Run is the title track which has always mystified me. It's definitely the best song on the album but I still don't know why it needs two false starts before it gets going. Before the song starts properly there are two other passages that aren't developed enough to call equal parts, they're just odd things tacked onto the beginning. The most frustrating thing is that both are actually better than a lot of the rest of the album. He could have exorcised them and developed each into full-blown tracks that would enable him to dump some of the duds and have a stronger release. Instead he was content to let them linger as weird intros to Band. The rest of the song is okay but nothing I could get excited about in the way that... well there's no point in me continuing that sentence. Nobody has approached the Beatles since they broke up but you'd expect the Beatles themselves to come closest.

Influenced by: The Beatles (except John, George and Ringo)

Influenced: Lots of people who started saying John was definitely their favourite Beatle

Highlight: Band on the run.

Lowlight: Mamunia

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: Of the ten songs on this record (not counting "bonus CD") I've only heard four, "Band On The Run", "Jet", "Bluebird", and "Helen
Wheels". For aught I know the other six are brilliant, but I don't care: the title song is so absolutely awful, it would sink a collection including Mozart's "Jupiter Symphony". Can you imagine McCartney proposing the song "Band on the Run" for a Beatles record? Martin, Harrison, Lennon, and Starkey would club him to death. ("Jet", "Bluebird", and "Helen Wheels" are pretty sickening too, especially "Bluebird".)

-Sorry but anyone who hasn't actually heard more than half of the album has no place writing a review of it.

So do you think Paul took flight when he formed wings or did he crash and burn? Let me know below.


6 comments:

  1. David,
    I'm a big fan of Macca and always will be. I wholeheartedly agree with the sum of the parts being greater than any one part. I think Paul's strength has always been with the fact that he doesn't have a song writing formula, every song sounds different. To his detriment though, he lost the only person he considered good enough to tell him when something was rubbish or could be improved by doing 'x'. It's his biggest downfall. Not to harp back to Chaos and Creation, but I think he might have taken more constructive criticism from Nigel Godrich than he normally would from a musician or producer other than GM.
    Cheers,
    Brad.

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  2. Hey,This was the second album I ever bought. I paid for it in 5 & 10 c pieces.I had saved up for over 6 months to buy it. So for my hard earned pocketmoney it had to be good. While not as good as any Beatle release it still gets a go won my record player. regards Chaos Agent #1

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  3. I agree with Brad's comment about Paul losing his best writing partner. And I'd never thought about Paul not having a formula before but now you mention it I'm inclined to agree. CA no1 I think we all want to know what the first album you ever bought was.

    Thanks for your comments guys,

    David

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  4. Its way too embarassing to tell you all that the first album I bought was the Slade album: Old New,Borrowed & Blue in 1974. I cant believe I did that. Revisited it recently. Oh No, what was I thinking? I made up for though, in 1991 I got Enya's Watermark record.

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  5. That's brilliant. Thanks for sharing that. I'm one of those disappointing people who isn't at all embarrassed by their first ever album purchase. I can hold my head up high and say the first album I ever bought was Monty Python's Contractual Obligations album.

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  6. There wasn't anything momentous or meaningful about my first album it was just the timing... 'Fore' by Huey Lewis and the News. :)

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