Throughout the final years of the Beatles, Paul had been the one who struggled to keep his beloved band together. He watched as the other three all took their turns at walking out, and as they each released solo albums. He kept them at the top by writing the majority of the late-period Beatles classics and vainly pleaded with them to return to live performances (though at least we got the rooftop concert). How ironic, then, that Paul was the first one to face reality and tell the public the truth - that the Beatles were no more. For years afterwards, then, he was branded as the "man who broke up the Beatles" (Yoko being the "woman who broke up the Beatles") and the critics sharpened their long knives.
By the time of Wild Life in 1972 he had released his first solo album "McCartney" in 1970 and its follow up "Ram" in 1971. Bear in mind most bands nowadays would take this long to record half an album. Both albums were huge hits with the public, but at the time were mauled by the critics for being too underproduced ("McCartney")and too glossy ("Ram"). McCartney must have known by now that he couldn't win with the critics, so decided to take his show to the public - for this he wanted a proper band, and Wings were born.
Their first album is, in my view, a classic to rank alongside John's "Plastic Ono Band". Not always pretty, its charm is in its very rawness, each song an uncut diamond, to all intents a live performance by a new band rather than something polished and refined by a rock aristocrat over months in the studio. It's not to everyone's taste as the reviews here, ranging from "crap" to "masterpiece", testify, but who's music is? There are even some people our there who don't care much for the Beatles!
Mumbo to me really rocks, fabulous riff, wonderful bass, tremendous vocal, it's a breath of fresh air and sounds like a precursor to grunge. If Nirvana had released this critics would have found new superlatives to praise it (and I love the even harder reprise later). Bip Bop is admittedly no great lyrical work, but that is missing the point - it is an amazingly addictive tune where the vocal, like in Mumbo, is used as an instrument in itself. The hypnotic Wild Life, with its harmonic layers, speaks up for animal rights in an era when civil rights was winning all the headlines. Love Is Strange is fun, though for me it does take too long to get started. I Am Your Singer is folk tinged and charming, yes Linda CAN sing, and Some People Never Know a delicate, beautiful, hook laden rebuke to John Lennon's vicious How Do You Sleep. Now to the two stone-cold classics. Tomorrow is an upbeat Yesterday, with wonderful piano and vocals from Paul. Dear Friend is simply magnificent, a sad, atmospheric, monumental song that makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. And yes, I believe this too is directed to John - Paul was never as unsubtle, or cruel, as his old friend.
Wild Life is unlike Paul's previous albums, and unlike those that would follow, when he decided to polish up his music and take the route to megastardom, leaving his old bandmates trailing in his wake. It has soul and integrity, and how I wish he performed some of these songs in his concerts today. As someone else said, if this is McCartney's weakest album, it only proves just how amazingly talented the man is. Pure genius. Buy it now. Don't even hesitate. And keep an open mind!