Paul McCartney Looks A bit Chilly In “London Town!”
As a fan of Paul McCartney, I have purchased a number of his remastered albums from the 70’s, like his first solo album, “McCartney”…
Throughout the remainder of the 70’s McCartney released a number of brilliant albums, both as a solo artist and with his band Wings…leading to a number of remastered versions of those albums as well:
“Band On The Run” Indeed!
“Band On The Run” is arguably his most acclaimed work from the decade, but that title has significance related to one of his most neglected masterpieces:
Wikipedia’s synopsis sums up the unique position that the album holds in McCartney’s career:
“London Town is the sixth studio album by Wings, released in 1978. Recording the album was a long and tumultuous project which saw the loss of two band members, the birth of a baby and the release of the best-selling single in British history.”
Welcome Home To the Neglected “London Town!”
Hard to call a hit album “neglected”, but when you are Paul McCartney, the world’s most popular Artist at the time, this great album does indeed feel neglected, flying under McCartney and Wing’s radar, even with the hit “With A Little Luck” – here’s a nice video reminder of this beautiful Macca ballad:
“London Town” is full of great Macca gems like the 50’s-infused “Name And Address” and the “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”-infused “Morse Moose And The Grey Goose”, but what I hear most of all is a terrific collaboration between Paul and Linda.
There is no doubt that Paul and Linda loved each other. It’s a well known bit of trivia that they were only apart for 9 days while they were married, when Paul was jailed in Japan for pot in 1979!
“Wings Take Flight!”
After the huge success of the Wings album “At The Speed Of Sound”, along with the “Wings Across America” tour and live album in the mid-70’s, the McCartneys were ready to record new music and tour again…but there was one “small” problem:
Linda discovered that she was pregnant with Paul and Linda’s third child! So Wings found themselves recording music on a yacht called “Fair Carol” in the Virgin Islands. Reflecting the nautical locale, the album’s initial working title was “Water Wings”.
Because of the pregnancy, the band only recorded a new track called “Mull of Kintyre” that year, along with a great rocker called “Girls’ School”, which would be released as the single — the only Wings song released in 1977. Yes, “Mull” was the b-side…more on that in a moment…
Wings Torn Apart!
Before the “Girls School” single was released, it was indeed “Band On The Run” again! Wings Drummer Joe English left the band and lead guitarist Jimmy McCulloch bolted to join the Small Faces. For the first time since 1973’s “Band on the Run”, Wings were once again just Paul, Linda and Denny Laine.
Still, the now-trio soldiered on and in 1978 “London Town” was released.
Here is an obscure music video for the title track, a beautiful song that underscores the relaxed, effortless style of the album…
“London Town” has a “Penny Lane” feel to it, and the album is full of songs that reinforce McCartney’s great songwriting style. The album includes such classic McCartney songs as “Girlfriend”, which Michael Jackson turned into a hit single – here is his music video:
Yes, Paul McCartney wrote “Girlfriend”, and his upbeat spirited version is on “London Town”, as well as the gorgeous ballad “I’m Carrying” and “Deliver Your Children”, which evokes memories of the first McCartney solo album.
Paul Had Enough!
The “London Town” album was a hit, largely based on the single “With A Little Luck”. But McCartney was frustrated by the lack of support the label had for the album…in fact, a fun upbeat rocker from the album, “I’ve Had Enough” failed to become a big hit, even with this music video:
Even with fun behind-the-scenes shots like this, Macca wasn’t happy with his record label, especially since “London Town” is full of Paul’s beautiful songwriting and production.
Here’s a great behind-the-scenes look at the making of “London Town” from the Wingspan documentary…
Mull of Kintyre Out Rocks Girl’s School!
Now, back to the Wings single from 1977. The song “Girls School” is a classic Macca rocker in the vein of “Helen Wheels” and The Beatles’ “Get Back”, but the song wasn’t a big hit at all…
“Three Cheers For The Girls!”
If you don’t know this song, you are missing one of Paul’s more raucous songs – like “Hi Hi Hi!” Here is a montage of images over the song:
The Beauty Of Scotland Becomes The Biggest Song Of McCartney’s Career!
The b-side of “Girls School” was a beautiful anthem, the kind that Paul seemed to write in his sleep. It was McCartney’s gorgeous ode to the beauty of a region of Scotland known as the “Mull of Kintyre” – and it became his biggest hit ever in the UK!
“Mull Of Kintyre” became the UK’s biggest-selling single of all time! And no, it didn’t even chart in the US!
Here is the music video for Macca’s biggest hit ever – and check out those bagpipes!
So, why isn’t “London Town” remembered more? Well, to begin with, “Mull Of Kintyre” and “Girls School” weren’t even included on the album! McCartney has a history of releasing singles that don’t end up on any album…so his biggest hit ever didn’t have an album to buy!
McCartney was also unhappy with the promotion of the album – even with a number of catchy songs, the fact is that “London Town” was released in 1978. It had a laid-back, “organic” quality at a time when the music industry was changing:
Yes, punk rock had changed the face of music, and it made McCartney’s music feel out of place…the raw energy and anarchy of “London Calling” made “London Town” feel “out of touch”…but the album is a masterpiece – full of great songs, expert musicianship, and a real sense of family…worth finding and enjoying again!
Macca Is Special!
Of course, all McCartney fans have been relishing the special editions of many of his classic albums, both solo and with Wings…
McCartney’s solo music has been released in expanded editions, so make sure you re-discover the great “Venus And Mars”, with “Rock Show”, “Listen To What The Man Said” and more…click on my story here:
This was McCartney at his “stadium rock” best…
If you loved his “Wings Across America” triple live album, check out this story about his visit to Seattle before the Kingdome was imploded!
Of course, you can’t forget to listen to this remastered special edition:
“RAM” is without a doubt one of his greatest albums, recorded in the midst of a bitter feud with John Lennon! Read all about that musical feud here:
I mean, look at how Lennon responded to the “RAM” cover…
I you want to read more about the bitter Beatles feud, there is a book that really digs into the financial battle between the band:
This is a great inside look at the breakup of The Beatles…read about it here:
And make sure to give “London Town” another spin!