Last week was the forty-eighth anniversary of one the most maligned albums of Paul McCartney and Wings short tenure together – “Wings Wild Life”.
Recorded very quickly, this was the debut album by McCartney’s follow-up band to The Beatles and because this new band, Wings, would be scrutinized mercilessly it was all out warfare on Paul McCartney in the music press of the day as most reviews were scathing.
Originally released on December 7, 1971, the debut album by one of the most successful pop/rock groups of the 1970’s sort of landed with a thud. It did okay commercially for most bands, it landed in the Top Ten in the U.S. and #11 in the U.K., but for an ex-Beatle this album didn’t set the world on fire that’s for sure.
Truth be told the first time I heard the album in the late 1970’s I was also less than enthused – at least by Side 1. I’ve always enjoyed the songs on Side 2 but could see where the sparse production and lack of polish would put people off especially having been released only a couple of years after The Beatles ultra-polished “Abbey Road”.
Fast forward many, many years later and I along with a number of critics have grown much fonder in their appreciation of this album’s rough and tumble charm.
Looking back this album seems like one of McCartney’s free form aural experiments much like his later more critically acclaimed excursions as the Fireman. I love the looseness and rawness of this album and McCartney was still at the peak of his vocal powers which is still a wonder no matter what he’s signing.
Last years reissue of this album (which included a terrific set of rough mixes of the entire album) has even further cemented this album as a fun experiment in McCartney’s catalog that along with McCartney II from 1980 stands as one of the few times McCartney got this loose on commercial product released under his own name.
So with all that aside, I thought it might be fun to take a look at the first issue of this album on CD – one from the UK and two from the US.
For me the first UK release of this album on CD may be the best issue of this album in digital. I love the 2018 remaster which sounds a lot like this first issue but the first UK CD issue is a more relaxed listen and sounds great.
The UK issue came out way before the US versions so by the time this album reached the states in CD form it had been treated to a bit of No Noise (a process popular in the late 1980’s in which tape hiss was removed from recordings) thus the timings of the two releases are different and they sound a bit different.
The first UK CD has a run time of 50:11 vs the two US CD pressings which have a timing of 50:02.
I actually think the use of No Noise on the US CDs was slight as I think they sound pretty good. The US CDs actually sound a tad louder than the first UK CD issue and a bit more muted on a couple of songs but they sound pretty darn good anyway. I still prefer the sound of the UK release but the Us version is fine as well.
The interesting thing about McCartney solo CDs releases in thew States is that the first issue Capitol CDS don’t contain the MPL clown logo (the logo for Paul McCartney’s McCartney Prodcuction Ltd) and have artwork, especially on the disc itself, that differs from the UK issues.
The later US McCartney CDs add the MPL logo and add artwork that is more in line with the UK CD releases (see photos above).
Some of McCartney’s MPL logo Capitol CDs really overhaul the artwork but as you can see above it’s mainly the disc itself that has a more stylized Wings Wild Life font that matches the original album artwork.
I just happened on the MPL Capitol CD pressing this week as a matter of fact so I thought it might be fun to celebrate the anniversary of this album with a look at the first CD issue.
I know, I know only the true blue Beatles/McCartney freaks will care about this but since I am one of them, what can I tell you? Enjoy! I’ll post more McCartney US CD releases in the future as some of them have drastic artwork changes between issues which is really fun to examine.
Anyway, that’s all for now.
Until next time be well and remember … it’s only 12 days until Christmas! Yikes!