Sunday 28 July 2019

They're Only The Band The Beatles Could've Been

I've mentioned "definitive compilations" before in previous insane outpourings, and I am going to suggest another.

Wings Greatest

12 tracks plucked from the 1970 to 1978 offerings from the band formed by Paul McCartney, his wife Linda and Denny Laine after the demise of The Beatles
Admittedly two tracks here are not actually Wings, being his first solo single "Another Day" and a track from 'Ram' ("Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey").

The tracks were chosen by Paul himself to fulfill the Capitol records contract in the America, hence allowing the band to change label.
It was released in late 1978, so contains nothing from 'Back To The Egg' (the last Wings album before (a) he went back to full-time solo naming, (b) he was detained in Japan on drugs charges, and 9c) the band split/retired/was brought to an end due to a combination of (a) and (b).
  1. "Another Day"
  2. "Silly Love Songs"
  3. "Live and Let Die"
  4. "Junior's Farm"
  5. "With a Little Luck"
  6. "Band on the Run"
  7. "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"
  8. "Hi, Hi, Hi"
  9. "Let 'Em In"
  10. "My Love"
  11. "Jet"
  12. "Mull of Kintyre"
What is missing from this compilation is Paul's attempt at political comment "Give Ireland Back To The Irish", the 1975 Top 10 single "Listen To What The Man Said", Wings rendition of "The Crossroads Theme", and "Girlschool" - the B Side to "Mull Of Kintyre" (or in truth, the double A Side) added to the single because McCartney wasn't convinced of the commerciality of "Kintyre".
Minor quibbles, because what you have here is the core of Wings singular output.

There was a period of time (probably primarily driven by Paul McCartney's few live performances) when his Beatles and Wings past was rarely re-visited.  The solo album/film venture 'Give My Regards To Broad Street' revisited his Beatles past, but save for "Live And Let Die", Wings were effectively consigned to history.
A Paul McCartney solo compilation ('All The Best') did include a few Wings tracks, but it wasn't until 2001 that the Wings legacy was properly re-appraised with the release of the compilation 'Wingspan: Hits and History' which covers the above tracks and adds the omitted singles of the period, choice album tracks, alongside later solo ventures.

CD1: Hits
  1. "Listen to What the Man Said"
  2. "Band on the Run"
  3. "Another Day"
  4. "Live and Let Die"
  5. "Jet"
  6. "My Love"
  7. "Silly Love Songs"
  8. "Pipes of Peace"
  9. "C Moon"
  10. "Hi, Hi, Hi"
  11. "Let 'Em In"
  12. "Goodnight Tonight"
  13. "Junior's Farm"
  14. "Mull of Kintyre"
  15. "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"
  16. "With a Little Luck"
  17. "Coming Up"
  18. "No More Lonely Nights"
CD 2: History
  1. "Let Me Roll It"
  2. "The Lovely Linda"
  3. "Daytime Nighttime Suffering"
  4. "Maybe I'm Amazed"
  5. "Helen Wheels"
  6. "Bluebird"
  7. "Heart of the Country"
  8. "Every Night"
  9. "Take It Away"
  10. "Junk"
  11. "Man We Was Lonely"
  12. "Venus and Mars/Rock Show"
  13. "The Back Seat of My Car"
  14. "Rockestra Theme"
  15. "Girlfriend"
  16. "Waterfalls"
  17. "Tomorrow"
  18. "Too Many People"
  19. "Call Me Back Again"
  20. "Tug of War"
  21. "Bip Bop/Hey Diddle"
  22. "No More Lonely Nights"

Wings Legacy?
I think the band will forever be known as "The Mull Of Kintyre Hitmakers", despite it being somewhat unrepresentative of their oeuvre.
OK, so they're never going to stand toe-to-toe with The Beatles, but hey this is Paul McCartney making Paul McCartney sounding music, and there is nothing on there that makes you go "Eh? What is that"

Trivia aside:
The first UK record to sell 1 million copies was The Beatles - She Loves You
The first UK record to sell 2 million copies was Wings - Mull Of Kintyre
The first UK record to sell 3 million copies was Band Aid - Do They Know It's Christmas

The B Side of the Band Aid single featured a spoken message from Paul McCartney, meaning he had been involved with the 3 biggest selling singles of the last 20 years
A designation that remained until Elton John's re-working of "Candle In The Wind" outsold everything before (and probably everything since).
One can't help but wonder if Paul McCartney had been asked to perform at the Princess Diana's Funeral, he could've maintained this record of being on the best selling UK single - although a re-working of "Live And Let Die" may not have gone down too well.

Paul McCartney is often quoted, when asked about The Beatles, saying "they were a great little Rock & Roll band", and on their day so were Wings.
Yes, they may have had the pressure of expectation upon them, been the butt of many jokes (specifically about Linda McCartney's musicianship) and at times fallen back towards the mass appeal MOR ("My Love", "Mull Of Kintyre", "Silly Love Songs") but they could also rock as hard as anyone ("Hi Hi Hi", "Juniors Farm", "Live And Let Die").
And in the words of Paul himself: "what's wrong with that, I'd like to know"

a song it is not easy to listen to without visions of Alan Partridge jumping on his bed in the Lintion Travel Tavern

Hi Hi Hi
The second Wings song banned by the BBC (after "Give Ireland Back ...") for it's "suggestive lyrics"

Rockestra Theme
Credited to Wings, and on the 'Back To The Egg' album, but in truth a "supergroup" featuring Wings, plus David Gilmour, Pete Townshend, Hank Marvin, Tony Ashton, Gary Brooker, Bruce Thomas, Ronnie Lane, John Paul Jones, John Bonham and Kenney Jones.

Friday 12 July 2019

Mattiel - Satis Factory

Yo know those moments when a song pops up on the radio, and you think "I know this.  Oh no I don't, it's definitely new.  Oh hang on, I'm sure I've heard this."
And then a bit of research shows there is a whole album available by the artist in question.

A case in point here is "Keep The Change" by Mattiel - coming across like a sort of lost Northern Soul stomper/60s Garage Rock mash-up sung by Nico (a curious mixture, but one that is apt)- and the attendant album ('Satis Factory') is more than satisfactory
(some albums bought on the strength of one track can lead to disappointment, not this one)

Anyway, this was the song that stopped me in my tracks, started questioning my ears, led to an Amazon order, and then resulted in me typing this guff for your entertainment (ridicule?)

Keep The Change

The parent album contains 12 tracks with echoes of recognition throughout - Garage Rock, Velvet Underground, Nico, Jefferson Airplane, Psychedelia, even a bit of Debbie Harry and Courtney Barnett are noticeable  - all adding to the "Retro, yet of itself" sound.  The music on this album, at some point, touches most of the varying styles of the rock genre.  But this is no pastiche of the styles, merely a starting point of recognition that hooks the listener in (or it did me anyway).
The 12 tracks each clock in around 3 minutes, meaning this is a fine way to spend half hour of life.

Opener "Til The Moment Of Death" is a sort of Velvet Underground meets Country affair, with Gothic undertones.  The VU references (with added 12 Bar Blues) continue "Rescue You" and most blatantly on "Millionaire" where the laid back groove imparts all the recognisable bits of "Sunday Morning", "Femme Fatale" and "All Tomorrows Parties".
Outside of the aforementioned "Keep The Change", "Je Ne Me Connais Pas" and the narrative/conversational "Food For Thought" are contenders for the next single.
"Populonia" and "Athlete" veer into Psychedelia territory.  And "Heck Fire" ups the funk quotient a couple of notches.
Penultimate track "Berlin Weekend" is my particular favourite at the moment, pulling all these styles together, adding a bit more, and creating a stomping song that will lodge itself in your earholes for a good while.

Despite all the references above, I repeat this is no pastiche or carbon-copy album, merely a comfortable starting point to ensure half an hours prime enjoyment.

Berlin Weekend