Wings recorded a cover version of Mickey & Sylvia’s 1956 R&B hit ‘Love Is Strange’ for their debut album Wild Life.

The song was written by Bo Diddley, and based on a guitar riff by Jody Williams. Diddley gave the composer credit to his then-wife, Ethel Smith.

‘Love Is Strange’ was widely covered. McCartney is likely to have first heard skiffle performer Lonnie Donegan’s recording, the b-side of his 1957 single ‘Cumberland Gap’, but the song was a hit for The Everly Brothers in 1965 and Buddy Holly posthumously in 1969.

We were in Scotland one summer, I was painting the roof and Linda’s got this reggae record, one of the Tighten Up records. We were just playing it and it was great music. We just loved it, so we started with a backing track.
Paul McCartney
The Beatles: The Dream Is Over – Off The Record 2, Keith Badman

Wings’ version was recorded on 24 July 1971 at EMI Studios, Abbey Road. It was initially an instrumental known as ‘Half Past Ten’, before the band realised that the melody for ‘Love Is Strange’ fitted perfectly.

We got the band together and just started to play the reggae thing. We did the backing track and decided that ‘Love Is Strange’ would fit over it so we started singing over it and that’s how it ended up. Reggae is the newest and best beat around. There are more possibilities with reggae than anything at the moment.
Paul McCartney
The Beatles: The Dream Is Over – Off The Record 2, Keith Badman

An edit of ‘Love Is Strange’ was scheduled for release as a single in the UK in January 1972, with ‘I Am Your Singer’ on the b-side, but it was pulled after white label copies were pressed. It was, however, included in the 2022 box set The 7″ Singles Box.

‘Love Is Strange’ was the lead song on a five-song Mexican EP, which also featured ‘I Am Your Singer’, ‘Bip Bop Link’, ‘Tomorrow’, and ‘Mumbo’.

Previous song: ‘Bip Bop’
Next song: ‘Wild Life’
Published: |