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Paul McCartney and Wings' 'Band On The Run' Listening Party Announced for Dec. 14

The group's iconic album, released in 1973, was listed in 2000 by Q as one of the '100 Greatest British Albums Ever.'

qpaul mccartney linda mccartney and denny laine from the band on the run promo shoot
Source: © 1973 MPL Communications, Ltd. / Clive Arrowsmith

Band On The Run - 50 Years On

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Paul McCartney is celebrating 50 years of 'Band On The Run' with a special online listening party Dec. 14.

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qpaul mccartney linda mccartney band on the run promo shoot
Source: © 1973 MPL Communications, Ltd. / Clive Arrowsmith

Paul and Linda McCartney, 1973.

The listening party for the album, also releasing as a special 50th Anniversary Edition with "underdubbed remixes" on February 2, is being hosted by Tunecast. You can log in with either Spotify or Apple Music at 5 PM GMT / 12 PM ET / 9 AM PT and "share memories with fans all around the world."

A staple of greatest album lists, Band On The Run is undoubtedly Wings' most successful and celebrated release. As McCartney has explained in a book by Bruce Spizer, "It's a collection of songs and 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 breaks out. There is a thread, but not a concept."

The album itself had an eventful, at times troubled genesis. Keen to record outside the UK, McCartney asked EMI to send him a list of all their international recording studios. Of these, he selected Lagos in Nigeria, attracted to the idea of recording in Africa. In August 1973, the band — consisting of McCartney and his wife Linda, ex-Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine, Henry McCullough on lead guitar, and Denny Seiwell on drums – started rehearsals for the new album at the McCartneys' farm in Campbelltown, Scotland.

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Source: © MPL Communications / Linda McCartney

Paul McCartney at EMI Studios in Lagos, Nigeria with Fela Kuti (right), summer 1973.

Unfortunately, McCullough and Seiwell soon left due to personal and professional disputes within the camp. The McCartneys (with family in tow), along with Laine and engineer Geoff Emerick, left for Lagos. McCartney had chosen Lagos as he felt it would be a glamorous location where he and the band could sun on the beach during the day and record at night; the reality, however, was that, after the end of a brutal civil war in 1970, Nigeria was run by a military government, with corruption and disease commonplace.

EMI's 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. On top of these challenges, the McCartneys were robbed at knifepoint, a bronchial spasm rendered the bassist unconscious, and he wound up in a confrontation with Afrobeat pioneer and political activist Fela Kuti, who publicly accused the band of being in Africa to steal African music after their visit to his club. Kuti went to the studio to confront McCartney, who played their songs for him to show that they contained no local influence.

Later on, drummer and former Cream member Ginger Baker invited Wings to record their entire album at his ARC Studio in Ikeja, just north of Lagos. McCartney agreed to go there for one day, and the song "Picasso's Last Words (Drink to Me)" was recorded at ARC, with Baker himself shaking a tin can filled with gravel on the track.

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qpaul mccartney wings  episode  wings in lagos   screenshot
Source: © MPL Communications, Ltd.

Linda McCartney and Ginger Baker at Baker's ARC Studios, summer 1973.

But out of all this stress and strife emerged what has become acknowledged as a classic. From the anthemic opening track to the rocket-propulsion of "Jet," the wistful "Bluebird," long-time live staple "Let Me Roll It" and climactic closer "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five," Band On The Run was eventually certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America and would go on to sell 6 million copies worldwide, becoming EMI's top-selling album of the 1970s in the UK.

Band on the Run (Underdubbed) presents Band on the Run’s nine classic songs for the first time without any orchestral overdubs, available digitally. The previously unreleased rough mixes were created by Geoff Emerick, assisted by Pete Swettenham at AIR Studios, on October 14th, 1973. The tracklist, newly ordered, mirrors the original analog tapes discovered in the MPL archives.

Band on the Run will also be available in Dolby ATMOS for the first time, newly mixed by Giles Martin and Steve Orchard.


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