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Wild Life

Apple 3386
Released: December 1971
Chart Peak: #10
Weeks Charted: 18
Certified Gold: 1/13/72

Denny SeiwellDenny LaineLinda McCartneyPaul McCartneyIn late 1971, Paul McCartney and wife Linda decided to form a band of their own, which they christened Wings. Linda, to whom Paul was giving elementary music lessons, would sing harmonies and play occasional keyboards. Her unskilled presence, Paul said, would bring to is music a certain "innocence... like a child's painting." The lineup was completed by the guitar of Moody Blues co-founder Denny Laine -- who had sung lead on "Go Now," the Moodies' first big hit -- and the drums of Denny Seiwell, whose skins had graced Ram.

Wings - Wild Life
Original album advertising art.
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Hearing that Dylan cut his albums in three days, McCartney decided to be no less spontaneous and "natural" on his first Wings album. "I was inspired by Dylan, the way he just kind of comes in the studio and everyone falls in and makes a track." Unfortunately, what might pass for "rough-hewn" with Dylan translated into "half-assed" in the case of Wild Life, released in the last weeks of 1971, and from which McCartney's customary musical craftsmanship was totally missing. The entire record was sloppily performed, musically listless, and lyrically excrutiating. The opening track, "Mumbo," was made up on the spot while the tapes rolled -- and sounded like it. Another song consisted mainly of the lyric "bip bop bip bom bop bip bop bip bom bam" repeated endlessly to a lobotomized three-note melody. This was the one George said he found hard "to relate to." C'mon Paul, we know ya can do better than that! Even the one or two half-decent tunes, like "Tomorrow," were suffocated by Linda's gloppy oohs and aahs unaccountably mixed as high as the lead vocal. And the liner notes were just as cutesy-pie as the music: "Inside this wrapper is the music they made. Can you dig it?"

The rock critics not only couldn't "dig" Wild Life, they gored it with a vengeance. Most of them were already inclined to take Lennon's side in the Beatles' civil war; Paul was viewed as a traitor to the counterculture, who had split up the Beatles and sold his soul to bubblegum. In its end-of-1971 awards, Crawdaddy wished Wings a "crash landing." Bootleg Beatle albums appeared with covers caricaturing Paul as a bloated pig, while A. J. Weberman staged demonstrations outside the Eastmans' Park Avenue pad. The anti-McCartney hysteria got pretty silly, but Wild Life certainly didn't help Paul's case any.

Wild Life first appeared on the Billboard charts on December 25, 1971, reaching #10 and spending a total of 18 weeks.

- Nicholas Schaffner, The Beatles Forever, pg. 151.

Bonus Reviews!

Ever since Paul McCartney traded in John Lennon for Linda Eastman, he hasn't made much memorable music. But he does seem to be getting better all the time. After Ram, which was something of a disaster, Wings' Wild Life sounds really good. It still doesn't come up to the best stuff he did as a Beatle, but at least it isn't irritating. Like Lennon, oddly enough, he seems to be moving back toward simpler, cleaner music. The album's would-be rockers - "Mumbo" and "Bip Bop" -- won't give you an unquenchable urge to boogie, but in the quieter cuts, such as "Dear Friend," there are real echoes of his fine early melodies. And even if including a Hawaiian jump version of Micky & Sylvia's "Love Is Strange" was a tactical error, it at lest proves that great rock songs are not easily killed.

- Playboy, 3/72.

Many people think this album is a step down for McCartney, but I don't agree. After listening to this album a few times I was aware of the love that Paul and Linda have for each other from the lyrics to many of the songs and the sound of enjoyment and fun they had recording it.

The songs range from soft rock, love songs ("Some People Never Know" and "I Am Your Singer"), then switching to a few hard sounds ("Wild Life," which has a beautiful backup vocal from Linda).

Then there is an unrehearsed song that has a good beat for dancing, "Mumbo," and a song referring to John Lennon, "Dear Friend." In my opinion Paul and Linda are a brilliant songwriting team. Linda has proved her talent.

- Hit Parader, 10/72.

This group is composed of Paul and Linda McCartney, Denny Laine and Denny Seiwell. I was very disappointed with the first two songs, "Mumbo" and "Bip Bop." The title of these songs indicate what they sound like -- a bunch of mumbo and a lot of bip bopping. "Love Is Strange" is one of the best songs on the album, and "Wild Life" sounds very much like the wild life.

The whole second side is a lot better than the first side. "I Am Your Singer" is the best song on the album. "Dear Friend" is a very soft song. The softest song on the album, "Tomorrow," vaguely reminds me of the old Beatle song, "Don't Let Me Down."

Truthfully, if someone asked me if I liked Ram or Wings' Wild Life, I'd say that I liked Ram better because it has something that Wild Life hasn't quite captured. Maybe this is because the group is not used to recording together.

It seems to me that McCartney's Ram has more Paul McCartney in it. This is also true of his album McCartney. When I buy a McCartney album, I want to hear McCartney and not a bunch of mumbo jumbo or bip bopping junk. I wish McCartney would get down to some serious recording as he has done before.

- Randall Helsem, Hit Parader, 7/73.

The first album credited to Paul McCartney's group Wings is a collection of slight material (most of it written by Paul and Linda McCartney). Worst is the lyrically challenged "Bip Bop," which even comes with a reprise! This was the album that gave evidence to anyone who'd ever dismissed McCartney as a lightweight. (The CD version of the album added three non-LP singles tracks: "Oh Woman, Oh Why," which had been the B-side of McCartney's first solo single, "Another Day," and both sides of the single "Mary Had A Little Lamb"/"Little Woman Love.") * *

- William Ruhlmann, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

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