16th May – The Number One Album in Australia – 1974 (Paul McCartney & Wings – Band On The Run)

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The Number One Album in Australia on the 16th May, 1974 was Band On The Run by Paul McCartney & Wings.

After the break up of The Beatles in 1970, McCartney recorded two albums: McCartney (1970) and Ram (1971) with wife Linda McCartney.

In 1971, Paul McCartney and Wings were formed by Paul & Linda McCartney with former guitarist from The Moody Blues Denny Laine and session drummer Denny Seiwell.

The band was active until 1981 and had the reputation for numerous line up changes having had three lead guitarists and four drummers, with the core trio of the Laine and the McCartneys remaining intact, throughout the tenure of the group.

The third album that McCartney recorded post The Beatles was Wild Life, the first to credit Wings as the artist, and saw release on 7 December 1971.

Paul McCartney and Wings was the new name for the band for the Red Rose Speedway album, which was recorded over a period of seven months and across two continents, ultimately being released in 1973; it delivered the Number 1 hit single in the States My Love.

One of the high points of Paul McCartney & Wings career came in the summer of 1973, building on the momentum and success of My Love, which saw the release of the theme tune for the James Bond film Live and Let Die. This song had been recorded at the end of the Red Rose Speedway album sessions and saw Sir George Martin, the Beatles producer, reunited with McCartney.

New songs were being written by Paul & Linda McCartney at their retreat in Scotland after concluding their British tour throughout May & June 1973; soon thereafter saw Paul McCartney & Wings heading into rehearsals for the next album, Band On The Run.

Wanting a change for the recording sessions it was decided to go to an international studio, with the ultimate destination being chosen was Lagos in Nigeria.

Unfortunately the album process didn’t run smoothly, with lead guitarist Henry McCullough leaving the band in Scotland, with drummer Denny Seiwell also breaking away from the group the evening before the planned departure for Nigeria on 8 August 1973.

The core of the band – Paul, Linda and Denny Laine with former Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick – continued on with album project heading to Lagos as planned for the recording.

What they discovered upon their arrival was a country run by a military government; with the studio being under equipped, with only one tape machine, an 8-track Studer, and a faulty control desk.

Paul McCartney rose to the challenge by playing drums and lead guitar parts, to make up for the departed band members; whilst Linda would add keyboards and Denny would play rhythm guitar.

Though the challenges for the album project didn’t end there.

One evening, Paul and Linda were robbed at knifepoint, with the assailants making away with a bag containing a notebook full of handwritten lyrics and songs, and cassettes containing demos for songs to be recorded.

Another time, Paul McCartney suffered a health problem which was diagnosed as a bronchial spasm.

By the third week of September, recording of the album was completed, with final overdubs and orchestral tracks being added with the album being completed at George Martin’s AIR Studios in October 1973.

The Band on the Run album was a major international success reaching No. 1 in the US on three separate occasions, and achieving more than Triple Platinum sales (3+ million copies).

At home in the UK, the record became the top selling British album of 1974, topping the charts for seven weeks.

The hit singles Jet and Band On The Run, propelled the album to the pinnacle of the Australian charts for seven weeks in 1974.

Band On The Run became the most successful album of Paul McCartney & Wings ten year career.

Personnel

Paul McCartney: vocals; acoustic, electric and bass guitars; piano and keyboards; drums and percussion

Linda McCartney: keyboards and vocals

Denny Laine: vocals; acoustic, electric and bass guitars; keyboards; percussion

Additional personnel

Howie Casey: saxophone

Ginger Baker: percussion

Remi Kabaka: percussion

Tony Visconti: orchestrations

Ian and Trevor: backing vocals

Geoff Emerick: producer / sound engineer

Track listing

Side One:

Band on the Run – 5:10

Jet – 4:06

Bluebird – 3:22

Mrs Vandebilt – 4:38

Let Me Roll It – 4:47

Side Two:

Mamunia – 4:50

No Words – 2:33

Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me) – 5:50

Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five – 5:27

All songs written by Paul & Linda McCartney – except No Words by Paul McCartney and Denny Laine

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