Paul McCartney’s “Wild Life!” The Disastrous Debut Of “Wings!” McCartney’s Plea To John Lennon!

Lennon McCartney feud

It began as a Beatles battle, became a plea to John Lennon, and ended up the formation of a new band!

Beatles fans know all about the breakup, but here’s the story of a failed reconciliation between the John Lennon and Paul McCartney…

Paul+McCartney+and+Wings+Wild+Life+509155

Paul McCartney’s Disastrous “Wings” Debut! His Plea To John Lennon!

It’s one of McCartney’s least popular albums ever – and it was the first official Wings release – and his first attempt to reconcile with John Lennon – time to look at the creation of “Wild Life!”

First, let’s set the stage: The Beatles had broken up, Paul was being sued by the other band members, and he had released one solo album, “McCartney”:

paulmccartney-mccartney 1970

The album included one McCartney masterpiece, “Maybe I’m Amazed”, and while he looks happy – the “Battle Of The Beatles” was causing him severe financial hardship:

You-Never-Give-Me-Your-Money

This book takes a great look at the financial battle over the band’s breakup – check it out here:


https://johnrieber.com/2012/03/19/beatle-eagle-big-battles-best-music-books-pt-1/

Facing all of these legal battles, Paul retreated to his farm with Linda to record his masterpiece “RAM”:

paul-mccartney-ram

Widely considered his second solo album, it was in fact credited to “Paul & Linda McCartney” – his only album that credited Linda as well…it was recorded at a time of music animosity towards Paul – not only from the other Beatles, but from fans and music press as well. you can click on my story here to read about the many subtle and overt digs that Paul included on “RAM” toward his fellow ex-Beatles:

https://johnrieber.com/2012/08/20/macca-ram-on-paul-mccartneys-masterpiece-john-lennons-fury-a-beatles-c-c-c-catfight/

It was in this atmosphere that Macca decided to form a band and tour again – one of the factors behind the breakup of The Beatles – Paul’s desire to perform live…which leads us to the disastrous debut of Wings!

Wings wild life cover

“Wild Life” was the debut album by Wings and was recorded during July–August 1971 at Abbey Road Studios by Paul, Linda, session drummer Denny Seiwell, and Denny Laine, formerly of the Moody Blues.

Wings first band photo

Let’s begin with some music! Here is a recently released piece of promotional footage with the first 90 seconds of “Wild Life” being rehearsed!

wings worst album paul mccartney

Paul and his newly formed Wings recorded their first album in just over a week! Paul wanted the songs to be instant and raw in order to capture the freshness and vitality of a live studio recording. Five of the eight songs were recorded in one take!

Paul McCarntey first Wings album

The Music Of “Wild Life!”

“Wild Life” is, frankly, a wildly fractured collection of songs. The album begins with two slight numbers that feel like rehearsals: “Mumbo” and “Bip Bop”…as pointed out, most of the album was recorded in one take, but the “verite” feel is a strange way to begin…hard to know what point Paul was trying to make. What follows next is a COVER! Yes, the song “Love Is Strange” is a cover of someone else’s song!

wildlife

To this point, the album feels like you are sitting in on a fun jam session with Paul and the band – the music is relaxed, a bit experimental, and as a listener, I’m not sure what Wings is supposed to be…then comes the title track.

Paul McCartney Wild Life songs

I love this song – “Wild Life” is a haunting, slow rumination that showcases McCartney’s ability to tell a story and evoke images…it begins with a short introductory line before the song begins:

“Applies to the words ‘You’ and ‘Me’
While takin’ a walk through an African park one day
I saw a sign say, ‘The animals have the right of way’

Wild life, whatever happened to
Wild life, the animals in the zoo?

We’re breathing’s so hot, a lot of political nonsense in the air
You’re making it hard for the people who live in there
You’re moving so fast, but, baby know not where”

Here is a video promoting the 2012 remastered version of the album – with the title track “Wild Life” in its entirety:

Paul+McCartney+and+Wings+Wild+Life+509155

Side two consists of “Some People Never Know”, a likable song that could have fit on “RAM”, then “I Am Your Singer” and “Tomorrow” – songs that seem like pleasant album cuts, but there was still no single to be heard…suddenly, the album ends with a plea to an old, and estranged friend…

John Lennon Paul McCartney

“Dear Friend!”

The most poignant song on the album is “Dear Friend”, which was actually recorded during the Ram sessions! It was Paul’s attempt at a reconciliation with John Lennon.

1968_yoko-ono-john-lennon-paul-mccartney

Paul’s Attempt To Reconcile With John Lennon!

“‘Dear Friend’ was written about John, yes,” Paul said later. “I don’t like grief and arguments, they always bug me. Life is too precious, although we often find ourselves guilty of doing it. So after John has slagged me off in public, I had to think of a response, and it was either to be [to] slag him off in public—some instinct stopped me, which I’m really glad about—or do something else. So I worked on my attitude and wrote ‘Dear Friend,’ saying, in effect, let’s lay the guns down, let’s hang up our boxing gloves.”

Beatles abbey-road

This fan video was posted on youtube by “philippemarin17” – using a myriad of shots of the two over the audio of the song:

Here are the song’s lyrics in their entirety – repeated over and over:

“Dear friend, what’s the time?
Is this really the borderline?
Does it really mean so much to you?
Are you afraid or is it true?

Dear friend, throw the wine
I’m in love with a friend of mine
Really truly, young and newly wed
Are you a fool or is it true?
Are you afraid or is it true?”

wings wild life bonus version

“Wild Life” Bombs!

“Wild Life” was released to almost universal disdain – the album sold poorly, and critics took glee is pointing out Paul’s failure with The Beatles.

In 1993, “Wild Life” was remastered and reissued on CD as part of ‘The Paul McCartney Collection’ series with singles “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb” as well as B-sides “Little Woman Love” and “Mama’s Little Girl” — all recorded in 1972 except for “Little Woman Love”, which was a Ram outtake — as bonus tracks.

Many of these songs ended up on a number of legal – and illegal – McCartney reissues like this:

cold_cuts paul mccartney

You can see music videos for “Give Ireland Back To The Irish” and “Oh Woman Oh Why” by clicking on my story here:

https://johnrieber.com/2015/09/12/paul-mccartneys-cold-cuts-classic-macca-one-beatles-legendary-single-gems/

Macca fans know that he released so much great music – just not always on the right album! In this case, many of his best songs of the early 70’s were only released as singles!

Paul-McCartney-and-Wings-Another-Day-300996

Wings took off very poorly, and it was conceivable that the band would never take flight at all. That said, you have to give Paul McCartney credit – after the horrible reception “Wild Life” received, many would have retreated to lick their wounds – but not Paul, he just kept moving forward, and it was only a year later that a new Wings album emerged:

Red_Rose_Speedway

“My Love” Rules The World!

Paul instinctively knew that a hit single was needed, and he gave the world his biggest ever: “My Love” was a worldwide smash, and so was the album “Red Rose Speedway”…but did you know that it could have been known as “RAM II?”

best Paul McCartney songs

A few of the songs on “Speedway” were originally recorded during the “RAM” sessions! See more about his great album here:


https://johnrieber.com/2015/08/21/paul-mccartneys-brilliant-ram-2-wings-soar-with-red-rose-speedway/

McCartney never looked back after that point, with hit after hit throughout the 70’s…but “Wild Life” will always remain as the strange, disastrous Wings debut…leave me a note and let me know what you thought of it!

Wings wild life cover



Categories: 70's Music, Art, Books / Media, Classic Rock, London, Memoirs, Music, Obscure Music, Talent/Celebrities, The Beatles, Uncategorized

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24 replies

  1. I also did not even know Wild Life existed until today when I sort of stumbled upon the cover photos. I thought of myself as a Wing Fan back in the day when Wing was actually producing. I had a complete set of the records and Wings Over America, but this record was just not there in the bins so I never had the chance to buy it at the time. I don’t know why Wings disbanded. I think it had to do with either the drug charges against Paul or Linda getting cancer. I like Denny Lane contributions. I would have preferred to see Paul carry on with Lane as John was not available.

  2. I got it when it first came out as I did most of the McCartney stuff at the time. I liked it well enough. I particularly remember that I liked the song ‘Tomorrow’ I also really liked his background vocals on the cover of ‘Love is Strange’.

  3. Good article, just one inaccuracy, Paul was never sued by the other Beatles. It’s McCartney who brought about the legal separation of the band by suing them and this happened in January 1971. He spent some agonising time over the christmas holidays in 1970 and was faced with only one solution. His legal adviser (Linda’s brother) told him he could not sue Allen Klein as he was not managing McCartney and he wasn’t a member of the Beatles so he HAD to sue John, George and Ringo. Although McCartney won and the Beatles were no more, he never managed to extricate himself from the Apple label until the contract with EMI expired around 1975/76.

  4. I love that lp because it sounds raw and live. It sounds like he made it in his living room. h sounto head.ds like it has

  5. I liked it. Some cuts better than others, but I really liked it. It is in the shadows of Ram. Ram , for me was his masterful early work; “keep it raw and rock it pure”. The energy of Ram is that of a master. I had not included Wild Life in my CD collection. It was buried and I had forgotten. Recently I went looking for it. Very hard to find. I did see it in imports and at a price of $60.-….so, I’m keeping my eyes open for a better price. I miss it and want in my collection. I did sit back with headphones on and listened to it on You Tube, the complete album. It was a start up album for a new band. Early Beatles, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, and many others grew from their early works into something great to mastered. I think Ram was really a great first album of a new band with Paul at the helm. As I enjoy the early works of many bands, so do I with Paul’s Wild Life. Some Critics saw a big name in the business and very small place to grab him and just beat the crap out of him. There is a lot of that going on. As for this new band in the day called Wings, well the rest is history. Makes me wonder how many other new bands were destroyed in the reviews, that just killed them; but had they the support, would have grown into something wonderful? Paul’s strength to carry on is also inspiring.

  6. Wild Life was the first McCartney I bought. Bip-bop had a fair amount of radio play in New Zealand at the time it was released and, although a novelty track, probably helped sell a few copies of the album. I still like it and don’t rank it his “worst”. The playing is raw and pretty basic, but there are some lovely harmonies and Denny and Linda bring a less polished, but more real, feel to the project. “Dear Friend” remains a favourite – I’ve never come across a live version, which is a pity cause it’s such an underrated song. Almost 45 years later and Macca’s still churning out the great music.

    • Yes he is still making great music! A shame this album gets no live coverage, but “Too Many People” from “RAM” was only played recently live…on one of his live DVD releases…refreshing to hear! Thanks for the comment!

  7. I never knew Wild Life existed until I found it at a yardsale last year and I enjoyed it,I am a Wings fan but only half of his albums I enjoy.This article is good insight to me being I was only 6 when the Beatles broke up.I have all the Wings and almost all the Beatles on vinyl and I decided to keep the mediocre LPs because I may “catch” on.Thank you for the article.

    • Thanks for the note! It’s always interesting to discover something – and if you look at the context of the release, Paul was getting slammed by all sides, so there was no winning for him…the offbeat nature of the album didn’t help, but he popped right back with hit after hit after hit for the rest of the decade…thanks again for your comment!

  8. I got it when it was first released (on 8 track) and thought it was strange then. Not one of my favorite albums from Paul, but it is part of his journey to his place in history as a solo artist.

    • Thanks for the note! Yes, a different musical journey to be sure – I knew I’d get a wide variety of feedback – and you are absolutely right, this was a crucial step that led to a decade of huge Wings hits

  9. Though not his best album, “Wildlife” was neither his worst. That honour goes to “Press To Play”. That said, “Wildlife does have its moment. I especially like ‘Bip Bop’ and ‘Some People Never Know’..

  10. used to think wildlife was a bit odd and definatly not my favorite back in the day BUT over the years, it has become a little treasure and I think Paul was intentially trying to NOT make a hit record ( especially after Ram which should have gotten more attention). It has a certain charm I cant quite put my finger on , perhaps like you mentioned that it has that raw live feel to it with yet again, that record in the bedroom feel…… it now ranks up there with some of Pauls best at least for me. Ram is still my favorite with Venus and Mars and of course “over America” close behind. I think Wings were planning on releasing a live album in 1980 called ” live in Shotland ’79” Glasgow with the lead off single Coming Up which went to number one. I have the complete concert recorded on pro-equipment by Pauls people I believe. Of course, with Johns death everything ended for a long long time , even though Tug of War was great indeed and brought Paul into the ears of youngters once again. I know cause I was there.

  11. I don’t think Wild Life is a bad album at all. And to me Band On The Run is the great masterpiece from that era, not Ram even being a great record. Paul McCartney is the great genius of our time, a much better musician than the other Beatles and with an unbelievable repertoire with more and more good music composed and performed life through the years. Critics and many fans are simply stupid or ignorant.

  12. Dear Friend had me mesmerized. So soulful Glad to know there was still love there.Thanks for this

  13. Personally I like to put this cd on when I am traveling in my car. I like McCartneys hard raw sound as he gives it his all. RAM and Band On The Run still my favorites though. Good write though I wish he and John could have got back together and we could have seen a Beatles comeback that was always my biggest wish. The closest we got was on the RINGO album and that’s is so sad.

    • Thanks for your comment – I agree that RINGO had them all, just not together…was interesting to hear John’s rough demo of “I’m The Greatest” on his box set years later…thanks again for taking the time to comment!

Trackbacks

  1. “Band On The Run!” Paul McCartney’s Triumph Over Adversity! Classic “Chaos & Creation!” – johnrieber
  2. Paul McCartney’s “The Space Within US” Concert DVD! Iconic Beatles Hits! Obscure Solo Gems! – johnrieber
  3. Paul McCartney’s “Silly Love Songs!” Wings Soar “At The Speed Of Sound!” – johnrieber
  4. Paul McCartney’s “Rockestra!” The Last “Wings” Single! First New Grammy! Macca Rocks Kampuchea! – johnrieber

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