It’s time to shine the Vinyl Spotlight! Every now and then on Paloozapalooza, I like to focus on a random LP from my collection. This week, we have:
Wings – Wild Life (1971)
Have you ever noticed how often Beatles fans seem to pick sides between John and Paul? “I’m a Paul guy!” “You’re crazy! John all the way!” Well, when I first discovered the Beatles back in the day, I was most definitely a John guy.
That phase ended for good, though, when I finally dove head first into the full McCartney catalog. I picked up all of the Wings albums, his early solo stuff, and just let it all soak in. Now, I feel like I listen to Paul’s various solo efforts more than I even put on the Beatles anymore. And I almost never reach for any of John’s solo work.
One of my favorite things about Paul is how carefree and relaxed much of his early solo music was, and his albums never got more carefree or relaxed than 1971’s Wild Life. Wild Life was recorded in a rush, and many of the performances are first takes. Apparently Paul had been listening to a lot of Bob Dylan’s current music at the time—Self Portrait and New Morning both came out in 1970—and he liked how it was quick and raw, without a lot of excessive overdubs and studio trickery. So we ended up with this: eight straightforward songs that sounded like they were written on the spot, because … well, they probably were!
Luckily, Wild Life is still a hugely enjoyable listen. The title track, for instance, is more than six minutes of slow-burning guitar and keyboards while Paul sings in almost blues-like cadence to his voice. And “Some People Never Know” features Paul and his wife, Linda, sharing vocal duties on what is easily the album’s strongest actual composition.
Another highlight is album closer “Dear Friend,” which finds Paul singing to John and trying to fix a friendship that had gone sour quicker than an old glass of milk. “Dear Friend” has a sleepy, repetitive piano part, and it sounds like the drummer had no idea what was going on, but the song still somehow works.
The rest of Wild Life … well, you know, it’s enjoyable enough. This isn’t a classic by any means, but it is one of the world’s most popular songwriters playing stripped-down music that clearly came straight from the heart.
Two years later, of course, McCartney and Wings would drop Band on the Run. Talk about a classic …