Band on the Run is an album by Paul McCartney & Wings, released in 1973. It was Wings' third album. It became Wings' most successful album and remains the most celebrated of McCartney's post-Beatles albums. It was 1974's top-selling studio album in the UK and Australia, and revitalised McCartney's critical standing.
In 2000 Q magazine placed Band on the Run at number 75 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. In 2003, the album was ranked #418 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. 1 November 2003. Retrieved 10 December 2009. A contemporary review by Jon Landau in Rolling Stone (issue #153) described the album as 'the finest record yet released by any of the four musicians who were once called the Beatles'.
It was the last McCartney album issued on the Apple Records label.
Background and recording
After the success of Red Rose Speedway and "Live and Let Die" - the new James Bond theme song - Wings began contemplating its next album. Paul and Linda McCartney began writing new songs at their Scottish retreat soon after concluding their 1973 tour. Bored with recording in the UK, they wanted to go to an exotic locale. After asking EMI to send him a listing of all their international recording studios, Paul happened upon Lagos in Nigeria and was instantly taken with the idea of recording in Africa. Alongside the McCartneys, guitarist and pianist Denny Laine, lead guitarist Henry McCullough and drummer Denny Seiwell also were set to go. However, a few weeks before departing in late August, McCullough quit Wings in Scotland; Seiwell followed suit the night before the departure. The band neglected to enquire about the state of the Lagos recording studios prior to departing for Nigeria on 8 August. This left just the core of the band - Paul, Linda and Denny Laine - to venture to Lagos, along with former Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick who was needed to record the basic tracks due to the obsolete recording equipment found in the Lagos studios.
Upon arriving in Lagos in, the band discovered a place far in contrast to their visions of paradise. The country was run by a military government as a result of an earlier coup and corruption and disease ran rampant. The studio, located on Wharf Road in the suburb of Apapa, was ramshackle and under equipped. The control desk was faulty and there was only one tape machine, a Studer 8-track. The band rented several houses near the airport in Ikeja, an hour away from the studio. Paul, Linda and their three children stayed in one while Denny Laine, Geoff Emerick and Wings' two roadies stayed in the other. The band established a routine of recording during the week and playing tourist on the weekends. Paul temporarily joined a country club where he would spend most mornings. The band would be driven to the studio in the early afternoon where recording would last into the late evening and sometimes early morning. To make up for the departed band members, Paul would play drums and lead guitar parts while Denny playing rhythm guitar and Linda adding keyboards.
More incidents would plague Wings' Lagos stay. While out walking one night against advice, Paul and Linda were robbed at knife point. The assailants made away with all of their valuables and even stole a bag containing a notebook full of handwritten lyrics and songs, and cassettes containing demos for songs to be recorded. At one point, Paul was laying down a vocal track and began gasping for air. According to Geoff Emerick, Sound Engineer for the album: "Within seconds, turned as white as a sheet, explaining to us in a croaking voice that he couldn't catch his breath. We decided to take him outside for some fresh air... once he was exposed to the blazing heat he felt even worse and began keeling over, finally fainting dead away at our feet. Linda began screaming hysterically; she was convinced that he was having a heart attack...The official diagnosis was that he had suffered a bronchial spasm brought on by too much smoking."Here, There and Everywhere" by Geoff Emerick" Another incident was the confrontation with local Afrobeat star and political activist Fela Ransome-Kuti who publicly accused the band of being in Africa to exploit and steal African music after their visit to his club. Ransome-Kuti even went to the studio to confront McCartney who played their songs for him proving that they contained no local influence whatsoever. Later on drummer and former Cream member Ginger Baker invited the band to record their entire album at his place, ARC Studio in Ikeja. Though not wanting the invitation, Paul agreed to go there for one day. The song "Picasso's Last Words" was recorded at ARC with Baker contributing a percussive tin of gravel.
Recording of the album was completed by the third week of September and the McCartneys hosted a beach barbecue to celebrate the end of recording. They flew back to England on 23 September 1973 where they were met by fans and journalists. In October, two weeks after the band's return to London, final overdubs and orchestral tracks were added and the album was finished at George Martin's AIR Studios (George Martin was not present). "Helen Wheels" was released as a non-album single at the end of the month, becoming a worldwide Top 10 by the end of the year. As Band On The Run was being prepared for release, Capitol Records, which distributed Apple Records in the US, slotted "Helen Wheels" into the album although it was never McCartney's intention to do so. Although "Helen Wheels" is not included on UK versions of the Band on the Run CD (except as a bonus cut on the 1993 "The Paul McCartney Collection" edition of the CD) it has always been included on US editions of the CD starting with the initial Columbia Records release in 1984. Early versions of the Capitol release fail to mention "Helen Wheels" on the label or the CD insert, making the song a "hidden track".
Release and reception
Band on the Run was issued to glowing reviews. The commercial reaction was slow, with the album gradually inching its way up the charts, but by the spring of 1974, bolstered by the hits "Jet" and the title track "Band on the Run", Band On The Run was a major success. It reached #1 in the US on three separate occasions, and eventually went triple platinum. In the UK, it spent seven weeks at the summit that summer, becoming the top selling British album of 1974. Its lingering success was also beneficial in allowing Wings the time to locate a new guitarist and drummer, and to integrate them into the band before beginning new recordings.
In early 1975, Paul McCartney & Wings won the Grammy award for "Best Pop Vocal Performance By a Duo, Group or Chorus" for Band on the Run. In 1993, Band on the Run was remastered and reissued on CD as part of "The Paul McCartney Collection" series with "Helen Wheels" and its b-side "Country Dreamer" as bonus tracks. In 1999, a special 25th Anniversary Edition was released. On this version, "Helen Wheels" was track 8, between "No Words" and "Picasso's Last Words (Drink to Me)". In May 2007, the album was made available through the iTunes Store.
The 8-track tape version of this album has the distinction of being one of the few 8-tracks that is arranged just like the record album. The song "Bluebird" is divided in two parts, but the rest of the songs are complete. It was also released in quadrophonic. In 1996, it was released in 5.1 Music Disc.
The cover photo was taken on 28 October 1973 by photographer Clive Arrowsmith against the gable end wall of the stable block in Osterley Park, Hounslow. It depicts the now well-known shot of Paul, Linda and Denny plus six other well-known people dressed as convicts caught in the spotlight of a prison searchlight. They are:
* Michael Parkinson (chat-show host and journalist)
* Kenny Lynch (actor, comedian and singer)
* James Coburn (actor)
* Clement Freud (columnist, gourmet, raconteur, Member of Parliament, Just a Minute panellist and grandson of Sigmund)
* Christopher Lee (actor)
* John Conteh (Liverpool boxer who later became World Light-Heavyweight champion)
References to the cover were to be made later by McCartney himself (in the video for "Spies Like Us", along with Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd) as well as others.
25th Anniversary Edition (1999 re-release)
Band on the Run: 25th Anniversary Edition is a special extended edition of the album, which was released in 1999.
Released to coincide exactly twenty-five years after the album began to take off in March 1974 after a slow start, the package includes an extra disc of live renditions of songs throughout the years, as well as brief new renditions by McCartney. Spoken testimonials are also included from such luminaries as McCartney himself, late wife Linda (to whom this retrospective release is dedicated), Denny Laine, Dustin Hoffman (the inspiration behind "Picasso's Last Words (Drink To Me)"), and some of the celebrity faces on the cover, namely Christopher Lee and James Coburn who was in Britain at the time filming The Internecine Project.Calkin, Graham (2001). "Band On The Run".
For this one occasion, McCartney released the package according to the original US release, with "Helen Wheels" in the line-up. It was left out of most editions of Band on the Run.
:The first disc features the original US version of the album.
Disc 2: Bonus Materials
#"Paul McCartney (Dialogue Intro)/Band On The Run (Nicely Toasted Mix)" - 1:12
#"Band On The Run (Original)/Paul McCartney (Dialogue link 1) - 2:17
#"Band On The Run (Barn Rehearsal - 21 July 1989)" - 4:59
#"Paul McCartney (Dialogue link 2)/Mamunia (Original)/Denny Laine (Dialogue)/Mamunia (Original)/Linda McCartney (Dialogue)/Paul McCartney (Dialogue link 3)" - 4:23
#"Bluebird (Live version - Australia 1975)" - 0:55
#"Bluebird (Original)/Paul McCartney (Dialogue link 4)" - 0:23
#"Paul McCartney (Dialogue link 5) /No Words (Original)/Geoff Emerick (Dialogue)" (Paul McCartney/Denny Laine) - 1:24
#"No Words (Original)/Paul McCartney (Dialogue link 6)/Tony Visconti (Dialogue)/Band On The Run (original)/Tony Visconti (Dialogue)" (Paul McCartney/Denny Laine)/(Paul and Linda McCartney) - 1:47
#"Jet (Original from Picasso's Last Words)/Paul McCartney (Dialogue Link 7)/Jet (Original from Picasso's Last Words)/Al Coury (Dialogue)" - 2:55
#"Jet (Berlin Soundcheck - 3 September 1993)" - 3:52
#"Paul McCartney (Dialogue link 8)/Clive Arrowsmith (Dialogue)" - 1:44
#"Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five (Original)/Paul McCartney (Dialogue link 9)/James Coburn (Dialogue)/Paul McCartney (Dialogue link 10)/John Conteh (Dialogue)" - 3:24
#"Mrs. Vandebilt (original) / Paul McCartney (Dialogue link 11) / Kenny Lynch (Dialogue)" - 2:10
#"Let Me Roll It (Cardington Rehearsal - 5 February 1993)"/Paul McCartney (Dialogue link 12)" - 3:52
#"Paul McCartney (Dialogue link 13) /Mrs. Vandebilt (Background)/Michael Parkinson (Dialogue)/Linda McCartney (Band On The Run Photo Shoot) (Dialogue)/Michael Parkinson (Dialogue)" - 2:25
#"Helen Wheels (Crazed)/Paul McCartney (Dialogue link 14)/Christopher Lee (Dialogue)" - 5:32
#"Band On The Run (Strum Bit)/Paul McCartney (Dialogue link 15)/Clement Freud (Dialogue)" - 1:01
#"Picasso's Last Words (Original)/Paul McCartney (Dialogue link 16)/Dustin Hoffman (Dialogue)" - 4:22
#"Picasso's Last Words (Drink To Me) (Acoustic version)" - 1:11
#"Band On The Run (Nicely Toasted Mix)/Paul McCartney (Dialogue Link 17)" - 0:42
#"Band On The Run (Northern Comic Version)" - 0:37
The album was re-released by Hear Music/Concord Music Group on 2 November 2010 as the first release in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection. It was released in multiple formats:
*A single CD featuring the original UK version of the album
*A 2-CD/1-DVD Special Edition which includes a CD and a DVD of bonus material in addition to the original album
*A 2-CD/2-DVD Special Edition sold only at Best Buy which includes a CD and two DVDs of bonus material in addition to the original album
*A 3-CD/1-DVD Deluxe Edition which has the aforementioned material as well as an audio documentary originally produced for the album's 25th Anniversary release. It comes with a 120-page hardbound containing photos by Linda McCartney and Clive Arrowsmith, a history of the album and additional material
*A 2-Disc Vinyl Edition containing the same audio material as the Special Edition
*High Resolution 24bit 96 kHz limited and unlimited audio versions of all 18 songs on the remastered album and bonus audio disc
:The first disc features the original UK version of the album.
Disc 2: Bonus Tracks (Special, Vinyl and Deluxe Editions)
#"Helen Wheels" - 3:44
#* "Helen Wheels" was included on only the US edition of Band on the Run in 1973
#"Country Dreamer" - 3:08
#* Released in 1974 as the B-side to "Helen Wheels" single
#"Bluebird" (from One Hand Clapping)
#"Jet" (from One Hand Clapping)
#* this is a different take of "Jet" than appears in the One Hand Clapping film
#"Let Me Roll It" (from One Hand Clapping)
#"Band on the Run" (from One Hand Clapping)
#* this is a seemingly different take than appears in the One Hand Clapping film, featuring an alternate guitar solo.
#"Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five" (from One Hand Clapping)
#"Country Dreamer" (from One Hand Clapping)
#* Released in June 1974 as the B-side to "Band on the Run" single in the United Kingdom
#* Theme from the UK TV series "The Zoo Gang"
Disc 3 (Deluxe Edition)
This disc contains an audio documentary of the album originally produced for its 25th Anniversary reissue in 1999. See "Disc 2: Bonus Materials" in "Re-release" section of this page for track listing.
DVD (Special and Deluxe Editions)
#"Band on the Run" (music video)
#"Mamunia" (music video)
#* Featuring "Band on the Run," "Mrs. Vandebilt," "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five," and "Bluebird"
#"Helen Wheels" (music video)
#Wings in Lagos
#* Edit of mute black and white footage of a day out in Lagos during the recording sessions with a soundbed based on an alternative version of "Band on the Run"
#* Edit of behind the scenes footage at the album cover photoshoot featuring all participants
#One Hand Clapping
#* Documentary programme originally made for TV featuring studio performances filmed and recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London, August 1974
##One Hand Clapping Theme
##Little Woman Love
##Maybe I'm Amazed
##Let's Love (previously unreleased)
##All Of You (previously unreleased)
##I'll Give You A Ring
##Band On The Run
##Live And Let Die
##Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
Bonus DVD (Special Edition sold only at Best Buy)
Best Buy's version of the new "Band on the Run" reissue adds a fourth disc with a bonus DVD to the 2 CD/1 DVD version package.
# Band on the Run 2010 EPK
# Jet - taken from "Good Evening, New York City."
# Mrs. Vandebilt - taken from "Good Evening, New York City."
# Band on the Run - taken from "Good Evening, New York City."
*Paul McCartney – vocals, lead, rhythm, acoustic and bass guitars, drums, piano, keyboards, percussion.
*Linda McCartney – organ, keyboards, vocals
*Denny Laine – rhythm, lead, acoustic, flamenco and bass guitars, keyboards, percussion, vocals
*Howie Casey – saxophone
*Ginger Baker – percussion
*Remi Kabaka – percussion
*Tony Visconti – orchestrations
*Ian and Trevor – backing vocals
*Geoff Emerick – Producer and Sound Engineer
Chart positions (reissues)
*McGee, Garry “Band on the Run: A History of Paul McCartney and Wings", Taylor Trade Publishing, 28 April 2003, ISBN 0-87833-304-5
Category:Albums produced by Paul McCartney
Category:Apple Records albums
Category:Columbia Records albums
Category:Albums with cover art by Storm Thorgerson
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