Band on the Run Review

By Rachel Brown
144The Beatles’ careers were never the same after the group disbanded in 1969. Though their own solo careers certainly proved successful, none of the four men ever achieved the same musical artistry separately that they did collectively. But while Lennon developed a much more political persona and Harrison wrapped himself up in Eastern religious doctrine, McCartney steered his music in a somewhat “pop-ier” direction with the help of his new bride Linda Eastman, composing a bevvy of feel-good ballads concerning love and whimsy. However Paul McCartney & Wings were nothing to sneeze at, and their quintessential album, Band on the Runcould be no more deserving of the term “flawless” than The Beatles themselves.

The album, though strewn with several pop selections, begins with an overview of the entire record that could hardly be classified as anything other than rock n’ roll. “Band on the Run” soothes its listener to sleep with the harmonious blends of Macca’s voice but, after several twists and turns, erupts in its final melody. The ups and downs of this first song seem to reflect the entirety of the album, which sways back and forth between tunes like “Bluebird” and “Mamunia” and anthems like “Jet” and “Mrs. Vanderbilt.”

The effect The Beatles had on McCartney is no more blatant than in the construction of this particular album, which may be one reason it continues to stand out among the rest of Wings’ repertoire. Much like Abbey Road and its iconic medley (beginning with “You Never Give Me Your Money” and concluding with “The End”), Band on the Run is cyclical and results in a reprise of the title track at the end of “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five” as the song fades out, linking each individual ditty together to embrace one comprehensive vision.

Depending on the label you listen to, the record may or may not include Wings’ hit single, “Helen Wheels.” Upon its original release in the UK, Band on the Run did not include this head-banging pick-me-up, but Capitol records quickly added the tune for its release in the States. Personally, this critic prefers to listen to the album with the addition, as it feels somewhat incomplete without it. The song almost serves as a brief preview of the raucous “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five” that closes the album, buffered by “Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me)” in between.

Either way you listen to it, Band on the Run is one of McCartney’s finest ventures after the inevitable split of The Beatles, and deserves all the praise this critic can give it. But don’t take my word for it, listen to it yourself both ways and see what you think.

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