During the 1950s and 1960s, people got used to pianos, then synthesizers, in Rock N’Roll. This was subdued and gradual, further into the 1970s, where a good Rock song could be almost entirely built on pianos, acoustic and digital ones. Let ‘Em In, opening track of PAUL MCCARTNEY’s solo band WINGS, on surface was a piano-synth showcase – collective mumbling and tinkering sounds aside, it falls apart as a fairly sketchy piece of abstract pop. Moodier than the average, heavy emphasis on alternations, by 1976 it crawled, unafraid, into its dwelling in a receptive collective unconsciousness. Also bearing a compressed brass section, as 1973’s Jet, Let ‘Em In could have been a lounge standard in a parallel dimension – such a scene had already become the mainstream.
The Note You Never Wrote is adorned with ominous synths overcompensating for Linda McCartney’s voice in the wilderness. Another moody piece, preceding PORTISHEAD, if not for the rising percussion and watery acoustics. It quickly becomes closer to early Dream Pop (by PINK FLOYD, reaching as far as early COCTEAU TWINS). Regardless of an agonizing solo dying in your mind’s eye – Progressive cliché by 1976 – The Note You Never Wrote is experimental, yet Soft Rock in the best assertion of that genre during the 1970s. Ignited by Post-Psychedelic sheen, it etches in your subconscious like few things PAUL did past 1967.
Bubbling, non-amusing Pop reminiscent of BEATLES’ She’s a Woman (lyrics) and many fluffy items from PAUL’s forgery. She’s My Baby is harmless in its lack of a heartfelt singalong, even though PAUL sing-alongs all the way down repetitive bridges, throwing commonplaces, lacking climax, with a timbre reminiscent of ELTON JOHN. Bouncy bass and DANNY LAINE’s round guitar are also included, in a vapid number mismatching 1976 Pop to borrowing time.
Crawling commonplaces to impending doom – PAUL recaps his early BEATLES netherworld vocals. Beware my Love seems GEORGE material, but done exquisitely ambitious, featuring bright surroundings instead of gloomy guitar melodies. A church organ ignites proceedings with earnest zeal, quickly resolved into pensive acoustics. Even PAUL’s commonplaces it’s all about melody preparing a gorgeous chorus, wouldn’t sound out of place in a BEATLES recording – hurried up. Then, a Progressive section with PAUL straining his pipes in Hard Rock echo. Over simmering piano, John British’s martial drumming is fairly adequate. Theatrical and preposterous – a STYX number¿ Breezy backing vocals prove the contrary.
Guitar man Jimmy McCulloch co-pens Wino Junko, Soft Rock item that screams 1976. Like scorches of similar songs, it will hardly hijack your gaze, but a guilty pleasure all the way down to McCulloch’s fragile voice, shining sound effects and tossed-off guitar solo. Overtly too long, it ends up casually endearing – you go down again, not bad, can’t say no.
Smacking critics and smouldering another hit single – those activities got under MCCARTNEY’s skin during the 1970s. Silly Love Songs ranks among his greatest twofold feats, punning infidels and drawing hordes of admirers to fluffy craftsmanship. Co-penned with Linda, it effortlessly bubbles from pansy brass to ironic lyrics and sedated choruses. The world is overloaded with love songs full of simplicity – a few close to those echelons of candour and connectivity.
Ever since 1970’s The Lovely Linda, Linda McCartney has been a thorn in PAUL fans’ earrings’. Fusing mid-pace LITTLE RICHARD with amateur vocals was an odd idea. Cook of the House could have worked, if not for lyrics. Girl group backings help lift the song a little during the final portion.
Driven by digital harmonicas, Denny Laine’s Time to Hide fuses Soft Rock with basses more useful in early 1980s’ New Wave. Plodding PAUL’s work saves the track from (Laine’s voice’s) convoluted conventionality. Keyboards were unusual in such settings, by 1976 they sound right in place. Nice chorus, in spots it hints at some needed pathos. Overall a keeper, no grower.
Dizzy keyboards introduce (fade not to return) Must Do Something About It, Folk-Rock with no greater aspirations than to provide precedent to 2005’s A Certain Softness. Thriving in acoustics, lacking choruses, PAUL gives drummer Joe English a chance to display his compelling pipes in continuously endearing slow burner. Stunning relief is conferred to low-key approach, after so many bloated epics.
San Ferry Anne, wealthy acoustic number, could pass off as STYLE COUNCIL’s epochal picturesque – just quirkier. Manoeuvring through moody backings, declining brasses dispose of bourgeois decadence in strictly mid-1980s manner – check out the lumpy saxophones. Extemporaneous surprise asunder, PAUL’s song-writing ambitions stand still, in tandem with his lack of focus.
Somewhere in between Maybe I’m Amazed, Let it Be and OASIS’ Wonderwall (lyrics include allusions to Morning Glory), PAUL found his piano for Warm and Beautiful. Love fades when you are touched by sadness – the poignancy of old MACCA alone with adorned sentimentality scores a few points. Inspiration ever after stems from a love that stands the test of many sillyu songs and some earnest ones as this low-key ballad. Unexpected way to bookend this uneven, pretentious record. See ya.
File under: Family affair
Related PAUL MCCARTNEY reviews:
1973 Band on the Run
2005 Chaos and Creation in the Backyard
* * * * Let ‘Em In
* * * * 1/2 The Note You Never Wrote
* * * She’s My Baby
* * * * Beware My Love
* * * 1/2 Wino Junko
* * * * 1/2 Silly Love Songs
* * 1/2 Cook of the House
* * * 1/2 Time to Hide
* * * * Must do Something About it
* * * 1/2 San Ferry Anne
* * * 1/2 Warm and Beautiful
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Great Music to Play While: Going to Sleep