Monday, July 26, 2010

album of the day: Band On The Run

After the Beatles broke up, each Beatle pursued a solo career of markedly different direction, commercial and critical success. The most lucratively successful Beatle, Paul formed Wings in order, reportedly, to have a rock-and-roll band, and then he proceeded to record almost all parts of their studio recordings himself. Now, I'm not calling Sir Paul a liar. He doesn't need me for that, or for anything else, for that matter.

John Lennon wrote, in one of his fairly typical early-post-Beatles exercises in aggression, "How Do You Sleep?": "The only thing you done was Yesterday..." meant as a direct accusation that Paul McCartney lacked creativity, musicianship, fortitude, grace, intelligence, thoughtfulness, humanity, or any other desirable trait.

You wanna know how stupid Band on the Run is? Paul wrote a rejoinder to John for it, "Let Me Roll It," in which he grudgingly acknowledges John's contribution, then dismisses it as masturbatory.

You wanna know something else about how stupid this album is? So the story goes, the band (i.e., Paul) decided it'd be a good idea to record in some exotic location, and they chose, at random, Lagos, Nigeria. During the period of recording, they were mugged, extorted by the local constabulary, subjected to such extreme daytime heat that they could only work after about 1 am, and ultimately escaped, feeling lucky to have all their supply of limbs with them.

In addition, with the exception of "Jet," and the ridiculously precious "Bluebird," not one of the songs makes the slightest bit of sense whatsoever, and three of them are suites of unrelated sections of both music and lyrics. The songs don't hold together, they don't make coherent sense as an album, most of them are, each on their own, downright silly.

If you think any of that means I have anything less than boundless affection for this album, you'd be entirely wrong. The whole thing is great fun to listen to, and Paul had a genius, John to the contrary, for incredibly catchy tunes, melodies, and singing delivery. Paul McCartney can friggin' sell a song.

One day, for kicks, you might get two cd players in a room, play this on one of them and, say Radiohead on the other, and let them fight it out.

No comments: