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    Onwards and upwards

    Melody Maker, 1 December 1973, page 48

    The quaint early ’60s custom of ‘going the rounds’ was revived last week – by none other than Paul McCartney. With wife Linda and baby Stella, he popped up to Melody Maker and spoke to Chris Welch about the upheavals in Wings, the band’s new album and Eric Clapton…     When the Prime Minister, royalty or a Rear Admiral makes a tour of inspection of a naval establishment, there is a flurry of activity. Flags and bunting are flown, everything is given a fresh coat of paint, and the men lineup to salute.     When Paul McCartney, Linda and their baby Stella visited the MM offices this week, half the staff had disappeared, smitten by food poisoning and a plate of assorted crisps and meat sandwiches were offered for the visitors’ delectation. “We were expecting lunch,” said Paul hopefully. But he accepted this Fleet Street-style kwik-snak in good humour.     In order to chat, of Wings and records and Africa and things, the family outing adjourned to the imperial Melody Maker boardroom, where great decisions affecting all our lives are made. Paul in his bright red drape jacket looked like a cheerful teddy boy and Linda carefully divided her time between backing up Paul and preventing their child from scribbling on the wallpaper.     “We couldn’t think of anywhere else to do the interview,” says Paul. “We thought we might as well come to you. It takes me back ten years at least, when we used to come touting ourselves round, although this time we’re not touting ourselves.”     The last time we had heard from Wings, they have been riven by splits, when drummer Denny Seiwell quit along with guitarist Henry McCullough, just prior to the group’s trip to Lagos to record. What caused all that, and how were the McCartneys received in Nigeria?     “We enjoyed it eventually. We’re all a bit British, y’know. You’ve the different food and climate and stuff, so you’ve got a lot of adjusting to do. It was at the end of the rainy season when we went. We thought it was going to be tropical, warm and fantastic. It turned out to be a torrential monsoon.     “And we got robbed while we were down there. Some guys robbed us – with a knife. We got held up walking out at night – you’re not supposed to do that. They took our tape recorder and cameras and gear. So that didn’t help.     “And then Fela Ransome Kuti accused us of trying to steal black African music. So I had to say, ‘Do us a favour, Fela. We do all right as it is, actually. We sell a couple of records here and there’. He’s welcome to their music. It’s very nice. I love it and I wish I could do it, but he’s welcome to it.     “But he does have a fantastic band out there, one of the best live bands I’ve ever heard. It’s funky and not very sophisticated. You saw it in Ginger Baker’s film, but it didn’t come off at all well in the film.     “There was one and a half weeks of pretty bad vibes. It felt a bit dangerous and raw and you’re not sure how you’re going to figure.     “The press were fine, very charming. But it’s funny what they pick up. They picked up that I was ‘the one who introduced drugs to The Beatles’.”     What lured them to Africa?     “Sunshine,” said Linda.     “We got a list off EMI of all the studios around the world. It’s a big company. We checked on the availability of Lagos and it turned out to be free for the three weeks we wanted to record. So we thought, ‘Great – lying on the beach all day, doing nothing. Breeze in the studios and record.’ It didn’t turn out quite like that. But that was why we went – it was for an adventure. We did seven tracks there and came back and did a couple of tracks and mixed here.”     How did they get on with, er, the insects?     “Oh, not too bad. It does bother some people. We’re not creepy-crawly freaks. Linda and lizards – great. She doesn’t mind. But somebody else, for instance the engineer (Geoff Emerick) we took out, who did ‘Sgt Pepper’ and ‘Abbey Road’, he couldn’t stand them. So a couple of the lads put a spider in his bed. It was all a bit like scout camp.     “The worst a lizard can do is bite you, so we’re not freaked out by that, not like Ringo’s wife who can’t stand a fly in the room. She has all their positions charted, and if one comes near her, she freaks.”     HAVING JUST HEARD a portion of the album, it didn’t sound at all African influenced. “It isn’t,” agreed Paul. “Well, it is, but you wouldn’t be able to hear it.     I know it was influenced by Africa, just because of the atmosphere rather than the music. In Africa I felt like you had to come-on.     “In England you can lay it back, and be timid and you get away with it, because nobody minds. Out there, you’ve got to be very forward. And there’s no way you can lay on the modern Western liberal crap. So in a way we were influenced by the challenge of the people and country.     “Linda thought I had died one night. I was recording and suddenly felt like a lung had collapsed. I went outside to get some air and there wasn’t any. It was a humid, hot tropical night. So I fainted.”     Said Linda: “I laid him on the ground and his eyes were closed and I thought he was dead!”     Paul went to the doctor who advised he had been smoking too much. When the McCartneys got over their initial worries, they found Nigeria was an exciting friendly country. But only three of Wings made the trip, What happened to the others?     “Only Denny (Laine) was with us. You know two of them left? Denny (Seiwell) and Henry quit – Denny rang up an hour before we left from Gatwick, to say he couldn’t make the album, so that was panic time.     “Henry left over what we call ‘musical differences’. And it was actually that. We were rehearsing and I asked him to play a certain bit, he was loath to play it and kinda made an excuse about it couldn’t be played. I, being a bit of a guitarist myself, knew it could be played and, rather than let it pass, I decided to confront him with it and we had a confrontation. He left rehearsals a bit choked, then rang up to say he was leaving.”     How did they make up the numbers?     “There was just the three of us, on the album, except for the orchestral overdubs, which we didn’t play. We got Tony Visconti to help with the arrangements.     “One guy, Remi Kebaka, who is from Lagos, ironically, turned up in London for a loon and we got him on one track playing percussion. He’s the only other person on the entire album, except for the orchestra. I played all the drums and bass. Denny sometimes doubles on bass.”     When did Paul first get into playing drums?     “For years I, like, suggested to Ringo a lot of what he might play. I first got into it listening to ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’, where there was a drumbreak around the kit. I would ask Ringo to play some variation on that. And at sessions I would climb on the drumkit and start having a go.     “In Hamburg one week Tony Sheridan’s drummer got sick and I drummed for him for the extra cash for a week. So I’ve done a bit of drumming, including a couple of Beatles tracks, but nothing much that I can remember. We always used Ringo because he’s a real drummer. There’s nothing flash to the drumming on the Wings album, nothing difficult.     “But I can hold quite a good beat. Liking drums anyway, it gave me a chance to fulfil an ambition.”     MOST OF THE songs on the album, called ‘Band On The Run’, incidentally, were written in Scotland, at the McCartney retreat. “It’s a collection of songs, and I’ll leave it to you to say if they are good or not. The basic idea about the band on the run is a kind of prison escape. At the beginning of the album the guy is stuck inside four walls and eventually breaks out. There is a thread, but it’s not a concept album.”     Does it apply to Wings escaping from The Beatles?     “Sort of, yeah. I think most bands on tour are on the run.”     How much satisfaction has Wings given the couple since its inception?     “Got us on the road,” said Linda. “Which is what it’s all about.”     “I wanted some way I could feel easy about appearing live again,” explained Paul. “It was very difficult after The Beatles, because at the time, they weren’t interested in going live except on really big gigs. I was more interested in playing smallish things and getting near audiences again. Like the pub rock bit.     “It was selfish reasons really, I just wanted to play live! But we got a good British tour out of it and the second half of the European tour was good. And we loved the University tour because that was really down home.”     What kind of market is Wings aimed at?     “General market really. We’ll turn up at Butlin’s, anywhere people want to listen to some music. We’re not directed at any one audience.     “But we’re just quietly looking around for a really nice guitarist and drummer. I still don’t know in my mind yet exactly what I want.     “We just took Jimmy McCulloch from Blue, who’s rehearsing with Chris Stainton, and we did a couple of tracks with Jimmy in Paris. We’re just playing with people to get the feel of what we want, and what they like.     “We had one track of Linda’s which we tried to include in our albums but it never seemed to fit. So, what we’re going to do is a bit like Derek And The Dominos. We’re doing a thing with Linda, not like, ‘I am Linda McCartney, come and listen to me, I’m going to be a big star,’ and all this big hype. That she doesn’t want and I don’t fancy either because it’s too pompous. She’s not ready for it, she’s still an apprentice, which is cool because she doesn’t mind. So we’re doing this thing called Suzie And The Red Stripes. And she is Suzie!     “We’re not trying to hide the fact that it’s her, but it’ll be like Derek And The Dominos, a slight anonymity.”     PAUL BEGAN TO recall the great days of the discotheques, when raving was the nightly routine and stars flocked together. Did he miss those days?     “I feel a lot of the community spirit in rock has gone, but it’s changed. You meet people for dinner a bit more. We went out for dinner with Elton John the other night and I see people around studios and they ring up. You don’t seem to meet anyone down at clubs, although if you happen to be at Tramps you might see Gary Glitter, Rod Stewart, Keith Richard and myself looning around. Or Mick’n’Bianca.     “Rod Stewart asked me to do a song on what’s supposed to be his last solo album… wink. I don’t think it will be. So I did a song for him and apparently it’s really great, although I haven’t heard the track yet. It’s called ‘Mine For Me’. It’s a custom-made song for him. Those are the kind of ways you meet people now.     “He’s cheeky but a nice lad. And being a hack, I’ll write a song for anyone. I always have seen myself as a hack. That’s why I did the Bond theme, it only has to appeal for me and I’ll do it. I don’t like to be ‘a major influence on the music scene’, I don’t believe that and it would be unsafe if I ever did. But I must say, I still love the scene. We were even thinking of opening a club. We stayed up one night in Scotland, and designed it and everything.     “It would have been a fantastic place. And I must say, hearing the discussion on the Old Grey Whistle Test the other night about pub rock, I thought everyone was wet, except the one with the fly-away collar from Melody Maker. He seemed to actually know what was going on.     “Kilburn & The Highroads were on and I got the feeling the cameras were putting them off and they hadn’t been filmed a lot. The singer was trying to get it on despite the BBC film team and big lights. I imagine a lot of gutsy, raw music will come out of that scene. I’d like to have the freedom to play in a pub. I’d still like to play to, say, 56,000 people and then the next night go play a pub.     “I don’t care if it’s Jagger, Rod or Bowie. They’ve all got a pub rock band inside them. And why else would Led Zeppelin wanna go and do the Marquee that time? Or David? Gigging is the whole trip.”     But when an artist achieves fame and success, isn’t there always the danger of a reaction against the scene – of not wanting to do anything or speak to anybody? Didn’t this happen to Paul?     “Well, immediately after the break-up of The Beatles and not because of any of the other reasons, but just because a good band had broken up, I felt, ‘What am I going to do?’ I needed at least a month to think a bit. I went into a period of what everyone called being a recluse, a hermit in isolation. All sorts of little snide articles appeared saying, ‘He’s sitting up in Scotland, looking into his mirror, admiring his image.’     “It was not at all true, I was just planting trees. I was just getting normal again and giving myself time to think.”     Did you feel… abnormal?     “Yeah. I’m sure about the time Eric was being called God, I’m sure it got to him. You can’t help it, you do have a reaction, like George Best, against the pressures, y’know?     “I never used to understand when they used to say, ‘What are you going to do when the bubble bursts?’ A joke question and we always used to say, ‘Ha, ha, we’ll burst with it.’ I never once took that question in. What did they mean ‘bubble burst’? And the pressures – what about the pressures?     “While I could see there were pressures, I couldn’t feel them. I was just a rocker, doing my business. But if something dramatic like The Beatles breaking up happens, that’s when you can begin to feel pressures.     “I don’t know if that’s the problem with Eric, but he should just play and not give a damn. It doesn’t matter anyway. Then you can start to come out with music and enjoy things. That’s the way I feel now, so that’s why I’m not sweating about turning Wings into an almighty supergroup.     “One chapter is finished now, we just want to take it easy, still do music, still play live.”     Hasn’t Paul now created his own environment, which he can control more than the old Beatles-Apple set-up?     “No, that’s just journalese. We were always pretty in control as The Beatles. People used to say that we were manipulated. We were never manipulated.     “Maybe subtly and in the business sense because we didn’t know anything about business. Brian Epstein came to us once and said, ‘I’m going to sell you to Bernard Delfont,’ although he put it nicer than that.     “We said, ‘Right man, if you do that, we’ll never play another note. We’ll just play ‘God Save The Queen’ on every record and see how you like that.’ That was an instance of attempted manipulation That was a long time ago, about halfway through The Beatles. We were big and it was getting a bit too much for Brian, so he thought, ‘I’ll sell out,’ and put us with a good pro agency, which they still are. But we just didn’t like the idea of being sold.     “Eventually we got Apple and gave it all away, as Roger Daltrey says.”     Did Paul read Richard DiLello’s The Longest Cocktail Party, about Apple?     “Yeah, but he didn’t know. It’s entertaining and good and it’s about what went on in the press office. In fact the book’s almost about Derek Taylor really, because it’s Derek’s whole personality that Apple office. ‘Oh Paul can’t make it. Tell ’em we’ll give ’em Ringo.’ Actually it was only half of the truth. In the other room, there was all other stuff going on.     “It’s a long weird, and involved story, and if anyone ever gets it down, it will be very interesting.”     Is Paul completely in control of his own affairs now?     “Not completely, but beginning to be, and I advise anyone who’s going to sign up with any agency to take a look if there’s a possibility they can own it. Because there always is and no-one ever knows it. Particularly with songs. If you write a good song, I maintain, you should own it totally. But no publisher will let you own the copyright.     “I’m always harping on about ‘Yesterday’ because it is a big song of mine and probably the only big song I did on my own. Well, I don’t own the copyright of that, that’s been sold and lost in the mists of time. Lew Grade owns it. No fault of his, he’s a good businessman and heard it was up for sale. But that’s why I say to anyone new coming into the business, check it out with an accountant or lawyer.     “I’d always trust rockers with my money, rather than sharks. George, for instance, just gives a lot of it away because he actually has got morals. Whereas certain people tried to put the Bangla Desh concert money straight into their pocket.     “During two years, none of The Beatles took anything out of Apple except expenses. All the money had to go into the company. At least some of the newer ones are hip to all this. I think Paul Simon owns ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and that’s fair enough.     “The old trick is to say, ‘We’ll set up your own company,’ and they set one up that gives you small rights and, not knowing anything about companies, you think you have your own company and they let you name it after yourself and you think, ‘I’ve got my own little office, my own little secretary,’ but if you ever check into it the actual money isn’t coming your way, and you’ll be getting like five per cent.”     Meanwhile Stella was growing impatient and bored the with MM conference room. She let out a petulant yell.     “Stop that!” warned Dad. “Do you want to go to bed? That’s the ultimate deterrent y’know.”     Paul, Linda and Stella decided it was time to end what had been a fascinating and surprising interview. But not before a tea lady had burst in, ostensibly looking for cups, but actually taking the opportunity to embrace the couple.     “Thanks for all the pleasure you’ve given us,” she said.     “Well,” smiled Paul through his last egg sandwich, “we must come and do this again.”

    Fly away, Paul

    Melody Maker, 20 September 1975, page 8

    As Wings take to the road on one of the hottest tours of the year, Chris Welch – the journalist among the entourage – reports from behind the scenes of a band on the run     Manchester appeared through the coach window – bits of flyover marching through a jumble of crumbling old buildings, halfcompleted landscaping, a huge abandoned railway terminus, boarded up shops, and rain swept concrete blocks, once a 1950s dream of the future – now an aimless, broken mess. “God, the property developers have been at work,” I observed.     “And what are you going to do about it?” demanded Paul McCartney, squarely. I thought for a second. “I’ll write a few scathing attacks.”     “And I’ll write a protest song,” smiled Paul, as the coach drew up outside an elderly hotel that maintained past splendours in defiance of the surrounding shambles. The band on the run had come to rest in another town, for another concert. And the stars would be right for another night – Venus and Mars – Linda and Paul, working their way around Britain on a tour unique in recent rock history.     “Why are you doing it?” demanded a puzzled press, as Wings dropped in on town after town. The answer was plain to see, in the ecstatic reaction the band received from audiences who cared not one jot that Paul had a previous existence. Only the press seemed to have difficulty in acknowledging the fact that Wings have their fans, just as The Beatles had theirs.     At press conferences and TV recording sessions the same old questions were asked, understandably, as they are geared for mass consumption, but as Linda said after one session: “They’ll be asking if The Beatles will reform when we’re old and grey.”     Of all the aspects to emerge during a three-day stay with Wings on the road, my greatest impression was of McCartney’s sheer musicianship and instinctive professionalism. Despite his repeated protestations that both he and Linda were “very ordinary people”, McCartney’s all-round ability puts him into a special category reserved for very few.     Watching a succession of shows by one group is sometimes a chore, but in this case it’s a privilege. A Wings concert is everything that a true pop concert should be. And yet, when Paul read his daily reviews in the national press, he found himself receiving such glib dismissals as: “McCartney is a throwback” and “Paul should go solo”.     “What do they mean?” he demanded, his face contorted by a mixture of pain, bewilderment and resignation. “Don’t they think I’m the centre of the show already? But I think I can see what this guy means when he says I’m a throwback. I suppose I am from another age…” He tried to look convinced. It is not difficult to understand why, when Paul refers to the press he makes a screwing motion, as if operating some medieval instrument of torture.     By the time I caught up with the tour in Bristol on Wednesday last week, the band had already played its opening date in Southampton the previous night,and had been greatly pleased by the response. Each night saw progressive improvement, while the party surrounding Paul and Linda grew by the hour, as they commuted between hotels and concert halls.     The basic Wings line-up includes Linda on keyboards, Denny Laine on guitars and Joe English on drums. They are augmented by a four-piece brass section: Tony Dorsey on trombone, Thadeus Richard (sax/clarinet), Howie Case (sax), and Steve Howard Jr (trumpet), all from the States, with the exception of Howie, an old Liverpool friend from the Hamburg Star Club days.     Add to this entourage erratic, likeable publicist Tony Brainsby; Wings’ manager Brian Brolly, a sophisticated urbane gentleman of slow and thoughtful speech; an ever changing polyglot of EMI representatives; Rose, the McCartney children’s nanny (honoured on the ‘Red Rose Speedway’ album); the McCartney children, the band’s children, a young tutor to keep up their book learning; a gentle, immensely strong looking West Country bodyguard; chauffeurs in peaked caps charged with care of the two Rolls-Royces that accompanied the coach; representatives of tour promoter Mel Bush and of course the boys from Showco, the American rock tour experts, and you have a modern equivalent of a touring circus.     Quite a team, that spent many minutes of each day phoning each other, waiting to assemble. It was one of those ‘hurry up and wait’ situations, where “five minutes” means an hour. Added to this pool of people waiting to see who would move first and where, were the folk who drifted on and off the tour, TV crews and interviewers, more reporters and photographers, including MM’s own Bob Ellis, who is also official Wings’ photographer, and Kate Simon, a charming American who was crushed, bruised and lost her film to the fans, while attempting to take pictures at Cardiff.     The Post House Hotel, 11 miles from Bristol was made base-camp for two days and was booked to capacity. As a result I had to stay in a nearby hotel which locked me out the first night, as I stayed up to 2am watching Woody Allen’s Play It Again, Sam at the nightly Wings film show. BRISTOL HIPPODROME, WEDNESDAY, 8PM.     Fans are jammed in the tightly-packed seats of the grand circle and stalls as the show starts promptly. It runs for two hours, without supports or any other deviation from Wings’ appointed course.     Like the feeling generated within the band there is a strong family atmosphere, a sense of reunion, that affects the youngest Wings fans who know best the music of ‘Band On The Run’ and ‘Venus And Mars’ and can sing along softly to the words of every ballad; and the mix of young marrieds and adults come to hear their favourite songwriter of the decade.     The band lined-up with the brass section, somewhat distant at the right of the stage, raisedup but discreetly at the back, with Linda’s array of keyboards parked sideways, at the right. Jimmy and Denny spread out in front of Joe English’s diminutive drum kit, while Paul essays between the grand piano virtually hidden behind Linda, and a place at the microphone in line with the boys. A clever layout – nobody disappears to dominate anyone else.     The measured, plaintive tones of the ‘Venus And Mars’ theme introduce our hosts and then it’s into ‘Rock Show’ and ‘Jet’, stalwart rousing statements, custom-built for a touring band, which seem to epitomise the rock ethos. Like Elton John, Paul has a sense of history.     As the gig picks up momentum it becomes increasingly apparent that all past hints of amateurism and stories of incompetence have ever been expunged. A great amount of rehearsal had gone into ensuring that arrangements are delivered with accuracy, that solos slot into each appropriate moments, and above all to ensure that the confidence of each performer is unimpaired. As a result, Wings frequently sound like an orchestra.     It’s a strange band in many respects. Denny Laine, the Midlander who has experienced success and disappointment in his long career with The Moody Blues, his own String Band and later Ginger Baker’s Airforce, is flanked by the diminutive figure of Jimmy McCulloch, a chirpy, sometimes aggressive Glaswegian, who has been a respected lead player since he was a mere lad, working in such bizarre settings as Thunderclap Newman’s band, or with John Mayall and, most recently, Stone The Crows.     Both are prone to outbursts of wild behaviour offstage and display symptoms of inner frustration that can grip many a professional musician. Joe English however, has the business-like approach of the American engaged in advancing his career, his drumming funky and direct, its roots in the South. Whatever their differences in age, personality and background, somehow the group works, displaying a discipline that would be hard to find in many a band that has grown up together. “See if you remember this one,” says Paul, and ‘Lady Madonna’ has the audience clapping to the barrel-house beat. The band swap around instruments a lot. Denny plays bass, or doubleneck guitar as the occasion demands and Jimmy helps on bass too.     Meanwhile we’re into the measured grandeur of ‘The Long And Winding Road’, with its emotive brass arrangement from Tony Dorsey, emphasised by Joe’s sonorous tom-tom accents. A tremendous outburst of cheering greets his performance, but here is a pause onstage as Wings sort out who is going to announce the next tune, the only hint of disorganisation.     There is barely any stage gimmickry throughout the concert. No dry ice, laser beams or pantomime horses, just an occasional slide projection. And yet it holds the attention and provides more continuous enjoyment than any concert I can recall this year. Barely any of the songs extend beyond four minutes and there is none of the mind-wandering boredom that can be induced by bands who say virtually nothing in 30 whole minutes of blathering.     “All right – a bit of rock’n’roll!” yells Denny as at length the band return and launch into ‘Hi Hi Hi’ and eventually double the tempo to a shattering finale. The group return after more thunder to take a bow, but there are no more encores. Wings have literally exhausted themselves and have no arrangements left to play.     A babble of voices beak out as the crowds struggle to quit the building. You can judge a show’s appeal by the terse comments passed in the gents’ loo. “Didjer enjoy it?” “Yeah – really good.” Oddly enough, no one suggested “the throwback” should “go solo”. THURSDAY: POST HOUSE HOTEL, OUTSIDE BRISTOL.     Despite claims by some of the band to be hardcore ravers, there were no overnight excesses, such as might be endured on a tour with Zeppelin or The Who. Thus, Wings nose relatively early the morning after the Bristol triumph. The film shows seemed to provide a good substitute for aimless boozing and the talk was of treats to come, like Blazing Saddles, and French Connection II. Rumours of Deep Throat proved unfounded.     Even so, Wings were somewhat bleary-eyed when it was time to face the cameras for two lunchtime interviews set up in the hotel for BBC TV and Harlech TV. There was some delay while the band were being aroused and assembled and the crews jested, somewhat nervously, that it was: “Like waiting for an audience with the Pope – or General Amin.”     Eventually PR Tony Brainsby arrived, beaming through his glasses and singing: “We won’t be long!” to an old Beatles tune. “Right – yer on,” he added. “No screaming.” Paul and Linda led the way, Linda muttering an aside to the MM: “Am I ready for this?” The rest of the band followed, including Denny Laine’s baby, known to all as “Lainey”, who seems to have struck up an interesting line in dialogue with Paul, consisting entirely of them blowing raspberries at each other.     “OK, quiet please,” said the master TV technician above a burst of raspberries. The interviewers have assured they will discuss Wings and incorporate all of the Wings personnel. In the event the camera stays mainly on Paul who is asked why, as one of the most famous men in the world, and a rich ex-Beatle he carries on touring. Just what kept him going? “Drugs,” replied Paul earnestly.     “I must have them. No… I just like music.” Had he seen The Beatles lately? “We run into each other and stuff – we’re just good friends.” Was Wings really a logical development from the Beatles? “Well, I’ve always written songs, but with The Beatles we only ever rehearsed for three days – at the most. With this band we rehearse a lot.”     Was he looking forward to playing in Cardiff? “Of course,” begins Paul, but there is a rumble from Denny Laine, who says to nobody in particular: “When are they going to start speaking English there?” End of first interview.     Second interview. Why did Paul decide to go back on the road? “Well, either we sit at home and do it, or we play in front of people. Now it’s a pleasure to do it and we want to keep on working.” Would Wings ever become as big as The Beatles? “I think it could be, funnily enough. The whole thing is bigger now. We’re having a great time – we like to play music and people like to come and hear it.”     How different was Wings from The Beatles? “They scream at our concerts, but they don’t scream as much. People used to come and scream and didn’t hear any of the music. Now they can.” Did Paul want to bring back The Beatles?     “It wasn’t within my power to bring back The Beatles. It was a four-way split and we all wanted to do different things. We’re all very good friends. John is keeping very quiet at the moment while, fortunately, I’m out working… I like it.”     Paul tries to find new words to fit an old theme. What can you achieve now? “I don’t know – that’s a bit heavy that question. What do you want to do? I want to make really great records. Maybe your ambition is to do a really great interview and, when you do, well, you won’t want to give up, will you? You don’t ever give up. Everyone goes on.”     It was time to make a move and as the TV men packed up, Paul and Linda dived into a black Rolls-Royce, heading for Cardiff and the afternoon soundcheck. As we drove along the motorway, the TV crew zoomed alongside, filming through the window.     They weren’t angry, but the McCartneys seemed genuinely perplexed at the interest in things past when they had Wings fresh and new, waiting to be discussed. “I think they’ll go on asking those questions for ever,” sighed Linda. “The guy asked me what was there left to achieve, as if I’d done it all,” said Paul. He kept repeating to himself, “What is there left to achieve?”     It seemed to me that Wings had achieved a lot as a band that made its first tentative appearance on a secret tour of colleges a few years back. They seemed remarkably rehearsed and professional. “That’s the difference,” said Paul. “As I said, in the old days we might rehearse for three days. But we’ve spent months rehearsing with Wings.”     Said Linda: “If you’re going out into the world, it’s got to be good.”     “It’s better than I thought it would be,” said Paul: “We had worried that it’ll be over-rehearsed. We haven’t played to anybody for years and we were a bit nervous. I didn’t mind the silences during the songs at all and nobody seemed to mind the tuning-up when Jimmy broke a string last night. We saw Dave Mason’s concert in London, and he tuned up between every number and I used to think that was death.     “We rehearsed the band down in Rye in Sussex in an old cinema last summer, learning all the numbers. We could have rehearsed the chat between numbers too, but we thought that might make it seem to formal. Originally we weren’t going to allow that – chatting ad-lib. But audiences don’t seem to mind and, in any case, they seem to be Wings fans, calling out requests for old Wings B-sides.     “After The Beatles – well, I didn’t think anyone could be a Wings fan. The TV man kept asking me why I kept going and I wish I’d told him about Wings fans. That’s what’s left for me to do! I can see their point when they say, ‘You’re a family man now,’ but Charlie Chaplin didn’t stop after making one film.     “They say ‘Sgt Pepper’ was the best period for me and it was the best music at the time, but some of the stuff that happens now is better than The Beatles.”     Said Linda: “You could go on talking about The Beatles forever and all of them get so bored with it.”     “Why can’t they let us get on with something new?” demanded Paul.     “They’re still talking about… ‘George is the religious one,’ and ‘John is the nasty one,’ and ‘Ringo is making movies,’” Linda laughed. “They don’t seem interested in the fact that this is a working band. The people are up-to-date. It’s the press who don’t know what’s going on.”     “Do you still see John?” said Paul rhetorically peering out of the window at the TV crew still coasting alongside at 50mph. “I always feel a bit weedy when I answer those kind of questions, as I should have done more. Maybe I should have gone to see John more often. Maybe I should send him a telegram.”     “Maybe, if we do so many interviews, the press will get bored with us,” suggested Linda brightly. “I can’t think of anything that the word ‘press’ means that is nice,” said Paul with unexpected bitterness. But he cheered somewhat as the conversation turned to the choice of music for Wings concerts.     “Well, we wanted to choose stuff from ‘Band On The Run’ and ‘Venus And Mars,’ and we thought people would like to hear ‘The Long And Winding Road.’ The records are the arrangements. We could either play the songs like the records or stretch them out. We thought people would like to hear them just like the records. Tony Dorsey has done the brass arrangements and he used to work with Joe Tex.     “We’ve worked with the brass players individually before and Howie Casey is an old mate from Liverpool. The only problems we have had have been in rehearsals, where they were ironed out. Denny Laine turned up one day with a cut finger and couldn’t play for a couple of weeks. At last night’s show, I thought ‘Junior’s Farm’ was jinxed and Jimmy was breaking strings, so there was lots of bass and drums cover up. Before this tour started, I thought we should learn all the songs, and get them right.     “But we all have different musical tastes, and there is a lot of room for development. For instance, Joe doesn’t do a drum solo and we could bring that in later on.”     Did Paul enjoy the acoustic guitar section?     “I’d never been onstage on my own before and I was a little bit nervous. Then I remembered I’d sung ‘Yesterday’ on The Ed Sullivan Show in front of 40 million people. I love doing it.”     I expressed surprise at Paul’s skill as a pianist and guitarist.     “I started out as a guitarist. My first guitar was a Rosetti Lucky 7 – which was a plank of wood with strings. Then one night in Hamburg at the Star Club, I went on piano while Stu Sutcliffe was on bass. I used to play piano on a lot of Ray Charles numbers like ‘Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying’. So really I’ve been playing the piano long enough, so I should be able to play it!”     Paul hinted that he actually played a lot of lead guitar solos on old Beatles records, but said he didn’t like to put about his various skills as an instrumentalist. “I like to surprise people,” he said gently. Did Paul feel the Wings tour was a drain on his and Linda’s energy?     “Thirteen dates is not a heavy tour. And we’ve got two weeks complete holiday before we do a bit of recording. In November we go to Australia and all this is practice for that.” As the Rolls drew up behind the stage door, Paul remarked: “What makes me want to go out on tour again – is a decent audience.”     He disappeared into the thick of a crowd of fans, who magically materialised seeking autographs, while all around the office windows were filled with faces gazing down on the star in their midst.

    Goodbye to Yesterday

    Melody Maker, 19 November 1977, page 8 From the Virgin Islands to ‘Mull Of Kintyre’, Paul McCartney talks to Chris Welch about pipe bands and punk rock and explains why he will never play his most famous song ever again     Paul McCartney swears he will never play ‘Yesterday’ again. Not since a review in which, he claims, I said that I thought he would play it forever.     “Surely not,” quoth I. “Oh yes, you did. Prat,” says Paul. “Pranny.” And a lot worse besides. But I didn’t remember saying anything worse than the last Wings concert in London had lacked the spontaneity of their earlier round-Britain concerts.     Surely I didn’t slag off ‘Yesterday’, one of the great popular songs of our time? Why, it always brings a lump to my throat or a tear to the eye. “Oh yes you did,” insisted Paul. “I remember everything. All that stuff about ‘Yesterday’ – it’s engraved on me forehead. I’ll never play it again.”     But somehow I don’t think Paul would take such advice or a less than enthusiastic review too seriously. For someone who has been at the centre of the rock whirlpool for 15 years (count ’em) he is a bit too long in the tooth and experience to start getting belligerent or suicidal.     He reserved himself a go back, which was delivered in forthright, but unmalicious tones.     “I thought your review was shit,” he greeted me pleasantly, in the bowels of number two studio at Abbey Road last week. It was here that Paul and the rest of The Beatles recorded so many classics – ‘Yesterday’ included.     Now it was decorated like a Parisian pavement café with tables and umbrellas and plants.     “Just to give it a little atmosphere,” he explained. While Wings seem to have been quiet since those last concerts (still referred to by radio DJs as among the greatest they have ever seen), in fact, they have been busier than ever. Paul and Linda have added another child, baby James, to the family, but Paul kept on recording, first on a floating studio near the Virgin Islands, then up in Scotland. The results are a new album due out in February, and a new single, ‘Mull Of Kintyre’, out now.     Wings have also suffered the loss of two of their number in recent months. But as Paul explained, he wasn’t too worried. He would be quite happy to play at Joe’s Caff with Denny Laine, his old mate, on guitar. And they may even do that next year.     But first Paul gave me an ear-bashing for smiting his work. What could I say? If more artists spoke up for themselves instead of brooding or plotting violence, a good deal of the unpleasant tension that afflicts rock today would be dissipated. Paul explained how even his daughter, as a member of the public, had fallen foul of duff reviews.     “My daughter went to see The Stranglers. She’s into punk… well, she’s the right age. She came back a changed person, over the moon, just loved it.     “And the next week, a review appeared in one of the papers… and it was a terrible review. ‘The bass player was inefficient’, same old technical crap, y’know. Reviews are always wrong. But come on, let’s get off critics.”     Paul had been strangely inactive for a year.     “No,” he said firmly. “Not inactive. Very active. But in the studio and on boats. We went to the Virgin Islands.     “We hired a charter boat that people use for holidays. The captain went spare when he saw all the instruments. We remodelled his boat for him, which he wasn’t too keen on.     “We converted his lounge into a studio and we turned another deck into a sound control room, and it was fantastic.     “We had a recording boat and two others we stayed on. We didn’t have any problems with salt water in the machines or sharks attacking us. At night there was much merriment, leaping from top decks into uncharted waters and stuff. I had a couple too many one night and nearly broke something jumping from one boat to another. But then you always break yourself up on holiday.     “The studio worked out incredibly well and the very first day we got a track down. There was a nice free feeling. We’d swim in the day and record at night.     “We had written most of the songs beforehand. Denny and I wrote a lot of stuff last summer. We stayed a month on the boat and by the time we recorded it the songs just seemed to work.     “You’ll have to tell me when you’ve heard the record if there is any boat feeling in the music. I think there is.     “We’ve come back to Abbey Road here to finish it all off. We’re overdubbing and putting main vocals on. We did nine tracks on the boat.     “I’d like to play you some of the stuff but I can’t really, because it’s gonna be so far in advance of release it would be silly to play you anything now.     “You’ll hear a track and say it’s very nice and then we’ll change it all around. But there is an up feel to the music from being on a boat. We got moved on a lot for being naughty rock’n’roll people infesting the waters.     “We moored at the island called St Johns and it’s a national park. You must not play amplified music. I think they mean trannies.     “But we had a whole thing going. You could hear it for miles. We got fined $15.     “I’ve been working out of London for a long time and when it’s raining and it’s boring and there are power strikes, you do start to think, ‘It would be great to get away.’”     Did many great new songs come out of this aquatic experience?     “Well, I never really like talking about it. I like it. People who’ve heard it like it. It’s nothing like the live album of course. It’s just a new studio album with a lot of songs on it and no big concept idea.     “But you can never tell, you know. ‘Sgt Pepper’ wasn’t supposed to be a concept. That was just a collection of songs.”     But not a bad collection.     “You can’t tell, they may all suddenly run together and mean something. It won’t be out ’til February, so I don’t want to start dropping titles yet. It’s cooler to wait until the time comes.     “There’s no title for the album. I didn’t get where I am today by giving titles ahead of time.     “Jimmy McCulloch and Joe English (guitar and drums), who are not longer with us, did all their stuff before they split.         “They were on the boat, and now Denny and I are just finishing it off. Wings is a trio at the moment.     “A couple of years ago I used to worry if anyone left; ‘Oh God, I can’t keep a group together.’     “But I don’t worry now – there’s no need to keep it altogether all the time. I’m more interested in the music and, if we can do that, I don’t mind how it has to be done.     “Next year we won’t do anything live until the album is out, because we wanna go out with some new stuff.     “I mean, you didn’t like us playing all the old stuff. Yes, I could quote your bloody reviews to you, Welch. We’ll get some new stuff together and think about going out again.     “We’re not worried at the moment. Joe needed to go back to America because he is extremely American and isn’t struck on Britain.     “It’s not everyone you can persuade Britain is an OK place to live, you know. He’s used to things like late-night telly and hamburgers. Linda is not really American, in inverted commas. She doesn’t miss any of that at all, so she tells me anyway.     “Jimmy’s thing was… another type of thing. He wanted to make a move. I don’t know how long he was with us. I don’t keep track of time. Since before ‘Venus And Mars’, whenever that was.”     Jimmy was quite an extrovert I believe?     “Well, yeah. He’s a good lad, Jimmy, a good guitar player, but sometimes he’s a bit hard to live with. It’s pretty well known in the biz and we just decided it would be better if we didn’t bother any more.     “It got a bit fraught up in Scotland. He’s with the Small Faces now, but he’s done a lot of nice guitar on the new album and on the boat he was incredibly together. He’s really into playing heavy rock.”     Was Paul looking for a replacement guitarist?     “No, not really. I’m getting letters from guitar players. But me and Denny both play guitar, and if it’s not live we can work out the guitar things. And if we need to overdub, I can play drums too.     “I did the drumming on ‘Band On The Run’ and, er, that did all right. I can’t drum technically very well but I can hold the beat and to me that’s what you should be able to do if you’re a drummer.     “It’s nice to be a bit fresh but I like a drummer who just holds the beat. So here we are – back to being a trio! No sweat. We’ll just continue like this.     “It’s easier now there are less people to deal with. We can make decisions quicker among ourselves.”     But what will Paul do if concerts are planned? They can’t play live as three-piece surely?     “Well, gigs have started to come up. But with having the baby this year… that sounds a bit un-rock’n’roll, doesn’t it? But these are the realities you’ve got to face, and I just didn’t fancy Linda being onstage at the Peterborough Empire and having to rush off to hospital. It’s a big number, having a baby.     “So, we decided to get ourselves a drummer or guitarist. Or we may have another think. We might change the whole line-up and go out with something different.     “But seeing as we’re not accepting any dates at the moment, we’re not bothering. It’s no big sweat. We could always go on as me and Denny with a couple of acoustics. We’d have a laff anyway!     “Denny and I have written together on previous albums but never more than one tune. Then, in summer ’76, we sat down and wrote a bunch together. It’s good to have someone to bounce off.     “To tell you the truth, we haven’t got really into songwriting together yet, but we did write a few where we’d patch each other’s songs up.     “The next stuff we write will be more half and half. We haven’t actually tried sitting down and writing from square one. We’ve been helping arrange each others’ songs.”     At this point we are joined by Denny Laine and Paul introduced us thus: “This is that cunt who gave us that bad review. Fuckin’ ’it ’im.”     “No hard feelings,” said Denny with surprising warmth. I began to feel like a traitor to the cause. All we needed now was Miles Davis and Ian Anderson to walk in, waving back issues of the MM.     Denny joined us at the table and began strumming his guitar. Paul pointed out the various features in the famed studio. “‘Love Me Do’ was done about where Denny is playing right now.     “The studio hasn’t changed since then because they don’t want to change the sound.”     Meanwhile, here was Paul, 15 years later, talking about yet another single, in the room where so much history was launched. This time it’s ‘Mull Of Kintyre’ and, says Paul, “It’s Scottish. It’s different from the songs we did on the boat, we thought it should be a single, and it sounds very Christmassy and New Yeary.     “It’s kind of a glass of ale in your hand leaning up against the bar tune. We had the local pipe band join in and we took a mobile studio up to Scotland and put the equipment in an old barn.     “We had the Campbeltown Pipe Band and they were just great – just pipes and drums. It was interesting writing for them. You can’t just write any old tune because they can’t play every note in a normal scale.     “They’ve got the drone going all the time so you have to be careful what chord you change over the drone, so it’s a very simple song.     “I had to conduct them very heavily. It’s a waltz and an attempt at writing a new Scottish tune because all the other Scottish tunes are old, traditional stuff. And I like bagpipes anyway.     “But it’s a double A-side. The other one, ‘Girls’ School’, I wrote after reading the back pages of those American entertainment guides. These days there are whole pages of ‘X’-rated films, you know the porn page?     “It’s all titles like School Mistress and The Woman Trainer. I just put them all together in the lyrics and called it ‘Girls’ School’. It’s about a pornographic St Trinians.     “We made it a double because the B-sides always get swallowed. You never hear them. At least ‘Girls’ School’ will get played a bit.     “‘Mull Of Kintyre’ is different from anything we’ve done before… but sure, it’s Wings. It’s definitely not punk. No, I’ve not seen any punk bands. Yeah, it’s a good thing innit? Like everyone says?     “In interviews, everyone says, ‘It’s very good for der business… it’s for young people… it’s good to see it.’ Waaal, you’ve gotta have something of your own, haven’t you?”     Had Paul lost his audience in the meantime?     “What, to punk? Nah, it’s a different audience altogether. To me, punk is more important than glitter, and a lot of the stuff that’s been going down in the past few years, just because it’s got a bit more balls to it.     “It’s a fashion, so it would be silly for us to attempt to go along with it. It’s not what we’re about.     “We never even used to do that when The Who was doing it. Know what I mean? I can hear a lot of Who in it, Bryan Ferry and Dylan too, and Lou Reed.     “It’s Velvet Underground, New York stuff type stuff, but the British kids do it best at the moment. But I’m not into it, I wouldn’t pretend to be. It’s just a different kind of music.     “Instead of sitting down, they’re jumping up and down. Great, nice one.”     I thought I detected just the faintest hint of sarcasm in Paul’s otherwise encouraging noises.     A film is being prepared of Wings on the road in America. How was that progressing?     “It’s being mixed and the sound is being put on by Chris Thomas out at Wembley and they’re thinking of putting the concert stuff together with some documentary stuff and making a TV show.     “It’s working out great, but I don’t know when it will be released. You can’t worry, because other people have tried the same thing and it hasn’t worked.     “If you’ve got a film, you’ve just got to finish it and see if it works. That’s the stage we’re at.     “We’ve got all the stuff shot. It was going to be a concert movie but we decided, as we don’t go to concert movies ourselves, and we’d rather see One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, we’d make it a TV special, so at least you don’t have to go out of your nice warm house to see it.     “It sounds a bit boring, but it’s better than it sounds! I didn’t even see Gimme Shelter. I just don’t think they work somehow. I’ve seen so many psychedelic rock dreams – climbing mountains and stuff.”     In the New Year, would Linda want to go on the road again?     “Yeah, I think so. It’s just different for us. A couple of years ago, I used to read the papers and think, ‘You’ve got to be like everyone else. If everyone else is putting make-up on, well you’ve gotta do it.’     “But now I’ve grown out of that, realised whatever I do is my thing.     “There was one point where we felt we had to be onstage every night if we were going to be any good.     “But when it comes around to the right time, we’ll do it – go out and play.     “We actually fancy playing in some small, steamy clubs and get back to the people right there and playing to them for a laugh.     “So we’ll probably do that next year. We keep wanting to do a residency. We’d like to get a little club somewhere and build an audience. We’d like to get a great little scene going for a couple of weeks.     “We did it on our old university tour, which was the first thing we did. And cheap tickets. I love all that – if we could charge 50 pence or something. People expect bootleg prices all the time.     “There’s a scene in the film we’re doing where a fellow is offering a girl £3 tickets for £20. We’d like to get away from that situation of ‘You are now coming to see this extremely expensive group!’     “I’d much rather have people come in at lunchtime, or after work, have a little dance and a cheese roll. We might have a couple of lunchtime sessions next year.     “I fancy getting into all that, where it’s not as precious. That’s what ’appens when you get… big. I suppose that’s what the punks are up against.     “You can get trapped in all that tinsel and glitter, like Rod Stewart. I’m sure he doesn’t really want to be like that. The first thing you want to do when you see someone on a pedestal is knock ’em down isn’t it?     “But what we want to do is find a gig in the centre of London, so all the kids who are working in the offices can come and hear us.     “It’s based on the old Cavern idea. You tumble out of bed, play a couple of sets, have a couple of pints, and tumble back to bed. No, not at the posey places, somewhere like Joe’s Caff, in the basement.     “We’ll see. We’ll probably end up doing 50,000 dates in America! The real truth is, we’ll do what we fancy at the time.”     Was Paul happy to be in Wings as a working environment.     “Oh sure. We’ve actually done quite well, despite all the slagging off and the bad reviews. The main thing is the music, it’s not the bread, it’s not the fame, it’s not the acclaim, it’s not even the reviews, it’s down to whether you like the music or not. And this stuff we’re doing now… we like,” said Paul emphatically.

    Wings Fly

    Melody Maker, 20 November 1971, page 32

    Paul McCartney talks to Chris Charlesworth about his new band, but reveals how the legacy of his old one is still holding him back     I just want the four of us to get together somewhere and sign a piece of paper saying it’s all over, and we want to divide the money four ways.     “No-one else would be there, not even Linda or Yoko, or Allen Klein. We’d just sign the paper and hand it to the business people and let them sort it all out. That’s all I want now. But John won’t do it. Everybody thinks I am the aggressor but I’m not you know. I just want out.”

        Paul McCartney is at home in the control room of studio two at EMI’s Abbey Road studios. He sits in the switchboard and looks around at the familiar studio walls. Classic Beatles songs were constructed in this very spot in London’s St John’s Wood.     He’s in the mood for talking. The gathering was set up to listen to the new album from Wings, but conversation shifts inevitably to other things. There are so many things Paul can talk about.     Denny Seiwell, Wings’ drummer, and guitarist Denny Laine obviously aren’t too happy about Paul’s constant references to the past. Neither is Linda, whose hand is in constant contact with Paul. Neither too is Shelley Turner, Paul’s general secretary.     “He’s talking about money now. That’s one of his pet points. He’ll never stop. Denny and Denny are protesting, but there’s nothing I can do,” she says before I face the action. “Please get him on to talking about Wings. That’s why we are here after all. The others can’t join in talking about The Beatles. I wish he wouldn’t go on like he does. There’s really no stopping him.” THE ACTION IS fairly fast when I reach the control studio. It’s as if Paul wants to get all he has to say out of his system. The Beatles, Wings, money, Apple, Dick James, John and Yoko, George’s Bangla Desh concert, Allen Klein, the Scottish farm and the press are all brought up.     Paul is being very honest and straightforward – probably too honest. “Don’t print this but…” is the preamble to many of his remarks.     The names have been changed to protect the innocent. Paul’s bitterness towards Allen Klein is obvious, but his attitude towards the other three Beatles seems more of concern than of dislike. He worries about their affairs but is tired of warning them. They are tired of his warnings, so Paul just wants to get out.     There is no bitterness when he talks of John. “John and Yoko are not cool in what they’re doing. I saw them on television the other night and thought that what they were saying about what they wanted to do together was basically the same as what Linda and I want to do.     “John’s whole image now is very honest and open. He’s alright is John. I like his ‘Imagine’ album, but I didn’t like the others. ‘Imagine’ is what John is really like, but there was too much political stuff on the other albums. You know, I only really listen to them to see if there is something I can pinch,” he laughs.     And how do you sleep? “I think it’s silly. So what if I live with straights? I like straights. I have straight babies. It doesn’t affect him. He says the only thing I did was ‘Yesterday’ and he knows that’s wrong.”     Paul motions to the studio below. “I used to sit down there and play and John would watch me from up here and he’d really dig some of the stuff I played to him. He can’t say all I did was ‘Yesterday’ because he knows and I know it’s not true.”     ‘Yesterday’, it seems, is a bone of contention with Paul; in fact all the Beatles classics that he is associated with. He doesn’t own them, but feels he ought to. “I don’t own anything I write because of the old contracts. We get royalties from them, but now when I write with Linda they sue me because they claim she can’t write. Well, I know she can.     “The song publishers claim that they made the songs as popular as they were but they didn’t. It was us because we bloody well wrote them. I’ll never own ‘Yesterday’ – not in 50 years, not even when I die. I’m prepared to forget that. I just want to own the things I do now, but I can’t because of The Beatles’ contract.”     The contract, Paul says, has another seven years to run. Until then, by law, he’ll be a Beatle. In the eyes of the world he’ll always be a Beatle. “The Beatles never actually copped for all this money,” he says. “Everyone else did. I wouldn’t care but you’d think we could have a new deal now. You’d think they’d release us. They’ve made a lot of money and we could shake hands and part company but now we can’t. I’m being sued for a million pounds in New York by Northern Songs. It’s so complicated.”     Paul shrugs his shoulders, seemingly indicating that he doesn’t want to talk about money any more, but during the conversation the subject crops up again. So does Lennon, so does Klein and so do The Beatles. He could go on forever…     “You know I was asked to play George’s concert in New York for Bangla Desh and I didn’t? Well, listen. Klein called a press conference and told everyone I had refused to do it – it wasn’t so.     “I said to George the reason I couldn’t do it was because it would mean that all the world’s press would scream that The Beatles had got back together again and I know that would have made Klein very happy. It would have been an historical event and Klein would have taken the credit.     “I didn’t really fancy playing anyway. If it wasn’t for Klein I might have had second thoughts about it but I don’t know, really. Allen’s a good talker. The others really dig him, but I’ve made the mistake of trying to advise them against him and that pissed them off. I think they might secretly feel that I am right though.     “You know when ‘Let It Be’ came out there was a little bit of hype on the sleeve for the first time ever on a Beatles album. At the time we were strained with each other and it wasn’t a happy time. It said it was a new phase Beatles album and there was nothing further from the truth.     “That was the last Beatles album and everybody knew it. There was no new phase about it at all. Klein had it re-produced because he said it didn’t sound commercial enough.”     Talk turned to Beatles live shows – or lack of them. “John wanted to do a big thing in Toronto but I didn’t dig that at all. I hear that before he went onstage for that thing he was sick, and that’s just what I didn’t want. Like anybody else I’d have been nervous because of the Beatle thing.     “I wanted to get into a van and do an unadvertised concert at a Saturday night hop at Slough Town Hall or somewhere like that. We’d call ourselves Rikki & Red Streaks or something and just get up and play. There’d be no press and we’d tell nobody about it. John thought it was a daft idea.     “Before John said he was leaving The Beatles I was lying in bed at home one night and I thought I would like to get a band together like his Plastic Ono Band. I felt the urge because we had never played live for four years. We all wanted to appear on a stage but not with The Beatles. We couldn’t do it as The Beatles because it would be so big. We’d have to find a million seater hall or something.     “My best playing days were at the Cavern lunchtime sessions. We’d go onstage with a cheese roll and a cigarette and we felt we had really something going. The amps used to fuse and we’d stop and sing a Sunblest bread commercial while they were repaired.     “I’d walk off down the street playing my guitar and annoying the neighbours. I couldn’t do that now, but it’s what I want to with this new group.” WINGS, IT SEEMED, had at last been drawn into the conversation. A look of relief passed among the audience when I asked about how Paul formed the group and what plans he had for it.     “We met Denny (Seiwell) in New York when we were looking for a drummer for the ‘Ram’ album.     “We worked on ‘Ram’ together and finally got to know each other, so he was the obvious choice of a drummer when it came to forming the group.     “Then I was thinking of getting another guitarist and I knew Denny (Laine) and thought he was a good singer and he wasn’t really doing anything.”     Denny: “I was, actually, but…”     Paul: “I thought ‘Go Now’ was fabulous. He came round to see me and brought a guitar and we played some things together and it was great. We just rehearsed a couple of numbers together.”     It seems that, within reason, just about everybody plays everything on the album. The drums, naturally enough, are Denny’s main concern, although additional percussion is contributed by all. Paul plays most of the lead guitar – “I’d always fancied myself as a lead guitar” – while Denny plays harmony lead, chords and some bass. Paul too plays bass and mainly the basslines on the album have been overdubbed. Linda plays most of the piano and organ lines.     “Linda isn’t very experienced so the keyboard parts tend to be very simple and that is, I think, very valuable. It has an innocence rather like a child’s painting,” said Paul.     Linda: “We’ve put the rock songs on one side and the slow songs on the other. That’s so you can play it at parties. When you want to dance you play side one, when you want to croon you play side two.”     The conversation turned, this time to Paul’s other two solo albums, both of which were heavily criticised on release.     “Well, the first one was just like testing out a studio. I played all the instruments and did everything myself. It was simple, and I was just having a play.     “‘Ram’ was more of an album concept. With this album I tried very hard and I really hoped people would like it. I liked it myself and I still do.     “It was probably a little too important to me to feel that people ought to like my music. I really wanted them to like ‘Ram’. I thought I had done a great album. I don’t see how someone can play it and take in all that stuff and turn round and say, ‘I don’t like it’ just like that. You may well feel differently after some weeks.”     It seems that Wings could make a live appearance tomorrow, next week, next year or never. The whole band is very, very loose but it seems there are no immediate plans for a live show. But that doesn’t rule out the possibility of Paul turning up and making an unscheduled appearance.     “We just don’t know how we are going to do. I don’t want to start with a Wings concert at the Albert Hall with all the world watching and analysing. I just want to play a small dance and rock a bit,” said Paul.     “We will start by just turning up at a place we fancy visiting and just playing a straightforward gig. We might use another name to keep it quiet. We have rehearsed and we can play live together. In fact it sounds quite good. It doesn’t really matter that much.     “I don’t want Wings to become a media group, with our signatures on knickers which are sold for promotion. I don’t like that now. I was happy with that situation in The Beatles, but it died in the end. We are starting off as a new band, but if we ever get to be huge like The Beatles it will be very difficult.”     Why did Paul choose to come to England to record Wings? “I decided it was a better studio here in England. It’s all big business in New York. It’s a nicer atmosphere here. We all like England better.”     Britain turned to Scotland and Paul seemed happy to talk about life on his Scottish farm, bought purely for privacy. “We have a great time in Scotland but don’t appreciate people coming to see us up there. We’ve 60 acres of very rough land and it’s the kind of farm that everyone else has given up bothering with. We’ve over 100 sheep and five horses and we sell the wool. I shear the sheep myself.     It’s back to nature for me up there. The air is so clean and grass is so green. Last time we were in New York I went for a walk in Central Park and there was a layer of dirt on the grass everywhere.     “It’s very out of the way. You need a Land Rover to get to it. It was only this summer that I had hot water put in. There’s no luxury up there for is.”     Paul doesn’t want to talk too much about the farm because it’s very personal to him. A place where he can, for once, be an ordinary human being. I ask whether there are any current rock artists he admires.     “I like T.Rex. They seem to be getting to be the new generation Beatles, with the girls tearing their trousers off. It’s great at first but they’ll soon tire of it all.     “I like what Graham Nash is doing. We met him for dinner in LA, but the atmosphere was strained and we didn’t really get to know each other. Have you got the new Beach Boys album, ‘Surf’s Up’? That’s good, too.”     Lastly I enquired whether Paul still wished to be associated with Apple. “Well there’s a delay with the record because we didn’t want a picture of an apple on the label but it looks as though we will have to. We didn’t want to be on Apple but we can’t get out of it.     “The sleeve won’t even mention my name on it. Everyone knows who Wings is, and there’s no need to tell them who I am is there?”     It was time to go for the group intended to use the studio to cut a single.     “Well it’s been good to see you,” said Paul as I made my way out. “Hope to see you again sometime. I’m only human, you know.”