Wild Life

Wild Life album artwork - WingsRecorded: August 1971
Producer: Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney
Engineers: Alan Parsons, Tony Clark

Released: 15 November 1971 (UK), 6 December 1971 (US)

Paul McCartney: vocals, guitar, bass guitar, piano, recorder
Linda McCartney: vocals, keyboards
Denny Laine: guitar, recorder
Denny Seiwell: drums

Bip Bop
Love Is Strange
Wild Life
Some People Never Know
I Am Your Singer
Bip Bop Link
Dear Friend
Mumbo Link

Recorded and released quickly towards the end of 1971, Wild Life was the first album released by Paul and Linda McCartney's group Wings.

Following the solo album McCartney and the ad hoc session musician-recorded Ram, Paul McCartney was keen to work once again with a regular band. Recalling the back-to-basics days of The Beatles' ill-fated Get Back/Let It Be project, he decided to recruit a new set of musicians, write and rehearse original material, and go back on the road to test it in front of a live audience.

McCartney was partly inspired by the swiftness with which Bob Dylan recorded his 1970 album New Morning, much of which was recorded over a five-day period.

Dylan inspired Wild Life, because we heard he had been in the studio and done an album in just a week. So we thought of doing it like that, putting down the spontaneous stuff and not being too careful. So it came out a bit like that. We wrote the tracks in the summer, Linda and I, we wrote them in Scotland in the summer while the lambs we gambolling. We spent two weeks on the Wild Life album all together. At that time, it was just when I had rung Denny Laine up a few days before and he came up to where we were to rehearse for one or two days.
Paul McCartney

McCartney enlisted drummer Denny Seiwell, who had previously played on Ram, and Denny Laine, formerly of The Moody Blues. Guitarist Hugh McCracken, who had also performed on Ram, was invited to join the new group but declined following some early rehearsals.

[Denny Laine] came round to see me and brought a guitar and we played some things together. We showed him the chords and we went straight into the studios, worked on the backing tracks and, within two days, it was finished...

I was thinking of getting another guitarist and I knew Denny and thought he was a good singer. I thought Go Now was fabulous. He was an old school friend of mine. When we evacuated during the war, we went to Birmingham and then he was Brian Hines, which is his original name, and we went around a bit. I met him later when he was in The Moody Blues. We [The Beatles] toured with them and this cemented our friendship.

Paul McCartney

McCartney was pleased with the early sessions, and on 3 August 1971 announced the line-up of his new, as-yet unnamed, band to the press. He had considered a number of names for the group, and on 13 September decided on Wings.

We were thinking of all sorts of names. We had a new group and we had to think of a name. We had a letter from an old gentleman in Scotland, which said, 'Dear Paul, I see you are looking for a name for your group. I'd like to suggest The Dazzlers.' So we were nearly The Dazzlers, with the big sequinned jackets. But we thought, no, we need something a little more earthy, so we thought of Turpentine. But I wrote to the guy in Scotland and told him that and he wrote back, 'I don't think you'll be calling yourselves Turpentine because that's something used to clean paint off,' so we thought of Wings.
Paul McCartney

The name Wings came to McCartney when Linda was giving birth to their daughter Stella. Their third daughter was born by Caesarean section, and during the operation Paul had to remain in a waiting area. While there, clad in a green apron and praying, the name Wings came to him.

I thought of the name Wings when Linda was in hospital having Mary [sic] and had persuaded the hospital to let me have a camp bed in her room to be with her. I wanted something that would become a catchphrase like The Beatles. You know, people would say things like, 'We've got beetles in the kitchen,' and there would be some crack about it being us. Anyway, I was thinking for some reason of wings of a dove, wings of angels, wings of birds, wings of a plane. So I said to Linda, 'How about Wings?' It was a time when most people would be thinking about a name for a child, and there we were talking about a pop group.
Paul McCartney

Cover artwork

Wild Life featured a simple picture, taken by Barry Lategan, of the group standing in a creek. There was no band name or title on the front, although in America a yellow 4"x2" sticker proclaiming "WINGS WILD LIFE" was added. A second blue sticker stating "Paul McCartney and Friends" was added to later editions.

The rear cover featured graphics by Gordon House and sleeve notes by Clint Harrington, the latter a pseudonym of McCartney's. The inner sleeve housing the vinyl was plain yellow.

At the time of Wild Life's release, McCartney was attempting to extricate himself from Apple, The Beatles' business partnership. He was unable to do so, but the labels on the vinyl discs were the first post-1968 Beatles-related album not to feature Apple's Granny Smith logo. Instead there was a picture of Paul taken by Linda on the a-side, and one of Linda by Paul on the b-side.

11 responses on “Wild Life

  1. Joseph Brush

    I love the impromptu feeling of this album. The lack of production and calculation after “Ram” was most welcome to me.
    The first two tracks are FUN.
    The title track and “Dear Friend”
    and especially “Tomorrow” are among my favourite all time Macca songs.

  2. Tweeze

    I admit – after 40 years I still can’t get through this collection of semi-music. I was making this kind of crap on my own already and I was still in my mid-teens. I didn’t need this from Paul, too. I can’t even get through ‘Tomorrow’ – it grates – but I think it is more likely the performance that is killing my enthusiasm than the song.

  3. Barry

    I’ve always considered WILD LIFE a solid album, from start to finish. “Some People Never Know” is my favorite track. Though it’s not as well known in the McCartney catalogue. “Mumbo” is an awesome rocking opener… I love the organ part as well as the cranked up guitars. “Tomorrow” could have been a hit single.

  4. GK

    I have defended this album since it was released ! At school, I was 13, virtually no one like it , where as Ram was loved ( by most ) eventually ! I love & still do, the rougher side to Paul. Spontaneity was fresh then & it was not supposed to sound over produced ! Had anyone heard or played reggae before ” Love Is Strange ” ? Tomorrow & Some People Never Know are classy songs ! Wild life it self is years ahead of its time ! Dear Friend was the answer to John……………………I even liked the instrumental links ! All the songs apart from I Am Your Singer maybe, are sung superbly !

  5. Brian

    WILD LIFE is neither as bad as the critics made it out to be at the time nor as good as revisionist reviewers rate it today. It is a lazy album (or 2/3 of an album). Only 8 songs. Two nonsense songs (one too many: “Mumbo” is fun, but “Bip Bop” is terrible) and a cover tune. In addition, some of the other songs (“Wild Life”, “Some Peolple Never Know”, and “Dear Friend”) aredecent 3 minute songs padded in length to 5 minutes plus to fill out the album. “Tomorrow” is the standout song here. In short, this is an OK album, but McCartney should be making albums that are much more than “OK”. Had he released this as a reduced price double EP or something it might have been charming. As a full fledged album it was a bit of an insult to the record buying public.

  6. johnnylivewire

    I love Side 2 of this album (so from “Some People Never Know” to “Dear Friend”). Side 1 is a bit hit and miss (with the exception of the song “Wild Life” itself). If you flip it and play Side 2 first and then side 1 as an album it works.

  7. Amy Godiva

    It’s always been an underrated album and an unacknowledged influence (as with Ram) on loads of later (and current) indie rock. Sure, Mumbo has no real lyrics or profound statement to make but it feels spontaneous and is powerful – great guitar breaks. Bip Bop is a great rootsy rocker with casual but humorous lyrics. Love Is Strange is a really strong, unique take on reggae as opposed to so many cod reggae songs of that and later eras. Wild Life, again, is simple but powerful and has grown on me over the years owing to the heartfelt lyrics (not always a given for Macca) and vocals. I Am Your Singer received a slagging when released, primarily for Linda’s vocals but, again, has an indie feel to it that works even better today (including LM’s vox). Some People Never Know and Tomorrow, to me, are better than anything on Red Rose Speedway, and arranged differently could have been Beatles tracks. The two “link” pieces feel like they could fit in quite well on McCartney or Ram, and Dear Friend is the true masterpiece of this album – I find it kind of shocking that it didn’t make the final cut on Ram, perhaps in place of Eat At Home or Long Haired Lady. Hey Diddle would have fit well on either this LP or Ram (though written between the two). And why weren’t Sunshine Sometime, A Love For You or Rode All Night included on Ram or Wild Life (let alone RRS)???!!!

    I might agree with a previous commenter that a couple of the songs on Wild Life were stretched out a bit longer than they needed to be but not to the point that I skip over them when listening to the album. It’s also a fair criticism that could be applied to songs like I Don’t Want To Be A Soldier or Oh Yoko on Imagine (How Do You Sleep gets a pass because it’s such a remarkable arrangement/performance despite the nasty – though clever – lyric).

  8. Caine

    I found a copy of Wings Wild Life. It is a Promo LP it is on “Right On Records” the LP cover is colored like a drawing. Does anyone know anything about this? I cannot find anything online about this Promo Lp. If you can shed any light please do.

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