Back to the Egg
|Back to the Egg|
|Studio album by Wings|
|Released||24 May 1979 (US)
8 June 1979 (UK)
|Recorded||29 June – 27 July 1978,
Spirit of Ranachan Studios, Scotland;
11 – 29 September 1978,
Lympne Castle, Kent;
3 October 1978, March – 1 April 1979,
Abbey Road Studios, London;
November 1978 – February 1979,
Replica Studios, London
MPL Communications (UK)
|Producer||Paul McCartney, Chris Thomas|
|Singles from Back to the Egg|
Back to the Egg is the seventh and final studio album by Wings, released in May 1979 on Columbia in the US, and on June 1979 on MPL Communications in the UK. Wings members guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and drummer Joe English were replaced by Laurence Juber and Steve Holly, respectively, following the release of London Town (1978). Recording took place at Spirit of Ranachan Studios in June and July 1978, September at Lympne Castle, 3 October at Abbey Road Studios, November 1978 to February 1979 at Replica Studios, with sessions wrapping up in March and April at Abbey Road Studios. Prior to the release of the album in their homeland, "Old Siam, Sir" was released as a single in the UK.
Back to the Egg charted at number 6 and number 8, in the UK and US, respectively. Despite receiving poor critical reviews upon release, the album would eventually go gold in the UK and platinum in the US. "Rockestra Theme", recorded with several rock stars from bands such as Pink Floyd and the Who, received a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. A majority of the album's songs had promotional videos shot for them. The band toured the UK in November and December 1979, performing several songs from the album. The album was reissued in the late 1980s, in the early 1990s with additional tracks, and in 2007 for iTunes with another bonus track.
After the release of London Town (1978), Paul McCartney hired two new members, replacing in the process guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and drummer Joe English, with a view to recording a raw rock and roll album after the soft rock of London Town and getting Wings back on the road. Guitarist Denny Laine appeared on The David Essex Show while Laurence Juber was working behind the scenes. MPL Communications had got in contact with Juber six months later, asking if he would fancy partaking in a jam session with Laine. He was also told that Paul and Linda McCartney were to appear at this session. The pair jammed at Abbey Road Studios and were improvising on "Chuck Berry tunes and reggae-sort of things", before being asked if he would be doing anything in the following year. Juber joined Wings immediately "because you don't turn down that kind of job", as Juber recalled. Steve Holly jammed with the band when asked by Laine in March 1978, and even appeared in the promotional video for "With a Little Luck". Holly joined the band after a short jam session with Laine, and Paul and Linda, in London. Juber and Holly were paid weekly on a sum of $450 each, while the other members were getting paid at a rate of $2,500 per week. McCartney decided to join forces in the studio with Chris Thomas for Back to the Egg.[nb 1]
Music and lyrics
"Reception" is an instrumental, featuring a guitar-controlled synthesizer played by Juber. Heard throughout the song are various musique concrète sound effects, such as a piece of text reading by Dierdre Margary of "The Poodle and the Pug" by Vivian Ellis, heard in her opera, Big Ben (1946). "Getting Closer" was written in 1974; McCartney subsequently made a demo of it the same year. With an increase in tempo, the song was turned into a Wings song, which Laine and McCartney share vocals on. The lyrics are about a love triangle, with the first verse consisting of the singer to tell his love to keep away from his opponent, in the second the opponent requesting to see his love, and in the third the singer says to his love that the opponent is becoming friendlier to her. "We're Open Tonight" was written while McCartney was staying in Scotland, the name was the original title for the album before Linda suggested Back to the Egg. Holly's drum kit was placed in a large fireplace during recording of the song. The lyrics refer to a open door policy where people are coaxed into bringing their friends.
"Spin It On" was written in Scotland, it hints at the punk/new wave styles featuring nonsensical lyrics during the verses while the chorus refers to sex. "Again and Again and Again", composed by Laine, was the only track on the album that was not written by McCartney. The song was originally two separate pieces that were put together to have a complete song, after McCartney's recommendation. "Old Siam, Sir", with similar styles of "Spin It On", is about a woman who went to the UK from a village called Siam to find a man to marry. The woman nearly marries someone, but after speaking with a relative she goes back to Siam. During rehearsals, the song just consisted of a four-note riff, before being finished by McCartney and Laine later on. "Arrow Through Me" is sung from the singer's point-of-view as a rejected lover. "Rockestra Theme" is an instrumental that follows the pattern of intro-verse-bridge-verse-bridge-verse-outro. The bass line is similar to that of earlier McCartney-written songs "Dear Friend" and "Beware My Love".
In "To You", the singer repeatedly questions his love if she would enjoy people acting towards her badly in a way she treated the singer. Later on the singer mentions that if it were to happen, he would be able to handle the situation. The guitar solo, played by Juber with the aid of an Avonside harmonizer, was altered by McCartney by changing the harmonizer's settings while the latter was in the control room at the time Juber was recording the solo. The two gospel-influenced pieces that made up "After the Ball/Million Miles" were deemed by McCartney as not being of high quality to be left as separate tracks, thus combining them into a medley. The two are linked by a guitar solo; the structure of "After the Ball" is chorus-verse-chorus with "Million Miles" being its outro. The lyrics of "After the Ball" express an intimate tone in that the singer looks for forgiveness. "After the Ball/Million Miles" is followed by another medley, "Winter Rose/Love Awake"; "Winter Rose" had been demoed by McCartney alone in his home studio, Rude Studio, in 1977. "Winter Rose" consists of one verse and chorus, and "Love Awake" consists of two choruses, another verse and an outro. In the verse, the singer would bring his lover a rose for the forthcoming winter, in the chorus the singer talks about how the rose represents their love.
"The Broadcast" is an instrumental that is meant to give the impression of several radio stations interlaced. It features readings by Harold Margary of the books The Sport of Kings by Ian Hay and The Little Man by Jon Galsworthy. "So Glad to See You Here" follows a repeat of verse-verse-chorus and finishing off with a verse-link(instrumental)-outro structure. The verses involve the singer asking a friend over to their house, while in the chorus the singer greets their friend when they arrive. During the outro, a line from "We're Open Tonight" can be heard. "Baby's Request" was planned to be recorded by the Mills Brothers, after McCartney had showed him a demo of it he recorded, but did not happen after they had asked McCartney to pay them for recording it. As a result, the McCartney demo appears on the album.
On 29 June 1978, Wings settled into Spirit of Ranachan Studios on McCartney's farm in Scotland. Recording there lasted until 27 July,[nb 2] with the songs recorded as follows: "To You", "Arrow Through Me", the Laine–written "Again and Again and Again", "Winter Rose", "Love Awake", "Old Siam, Sir",[nb 3] "Spin It On", "Ballroom Dancing", "Cage", "Crawl of the Wild", "Maisie" and "Weep for Love".[nb 4] Sessions were paused to allow for summer holidays, with recording recommencing on 11 September at Lympne Castle in Kent until 29 September. Tracks record were: "We're Open Tonight", another version of "Love Awake", "After the Ball", "Million Miles" and "The Broadcast".
Sessions then moved to Abbey Road Studios on 3 October. On this day, Wings recorded two tracks, "Rockestra Theme" and "So Glad to See You Here" with many celebrity guests under the heading of Rockestra. Equipment used for this session included 60 microphones, a pair of mixing consoles and a 16-track recording desk. James Honeyman-Scott of the Pretenders, Hank Marvin of The Shadows, The Who's Pete Townshend, Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, John Bonham and The Attractions's Bruce Thomas all took part.[nb 5] Also featured was the brass section for the Wings at the Speed of Sound tour and Wings Over America tour, consisting of Howie Casey, Tony Dorsey, Thaddeus Richard and Steve Howard. Keith Moon was to appear but had died shortly prior to the session; Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton were also scheduled to appear.
On 10 October, versions of "Getting Closer" and "Baby's Request" were recorded at Abbey Road Studios. Overdubs for the were laid down in November and December to several tracks, at Replica Studios, located in MPL Communications' London offices.[nb 6] Sessions were paused, and continued in January and February 1979 at Replica Studios. Here, the band recorded "Goodnight Tonight" and "Daytime Nighttime Suffering". In March, recording moved back to Abbey Road Studios, where vocal overdubs were added to "Winter Rose/Love Awake" and synthesizer overdubs to "Getting Closer" and "Love Awake". On 1 April, McCartney was joined in the studio by Black Dyke Mills Band, who added their brass accompaniment to "Winter Rose".[nb 7] Further songs were recorded: "Robber's Ball", "Night Out" and "A Love for You", all of which appear on bootleg recordings.
Release and legacy
Wings issued the non-album single "Goodnight Tonight",[nb 8] backed with "Daytime Nighttime Suffering", on 15 March 1979 in the US on Columbia,[nb 9] with the UK release occurring on 23 March on Parlophone.[nb 10] The single reached number 5 in the US and UK. At the time McCartney had recently signed to Columbia; it made him the highest-paid recording artist in the music industry.[nb 11] McCartney was given the Frank Music Catalogue by parent company CBS as an incentive for signing with the company.
On 31 May, McCartney recruited Keith MacMillan, Phil Davey and Hugh Scott-Symonds to help him with promotional videos. MacMillan decided that seven videos were to be made, and filming was set to begin on 4 June. In the UK, "Old Siam, Sir" was released as a single on 1 June, backed with "Spin It On".[nb 12] On 4 June, filming started for the promotional videos, with the video for "Old Siam, Sir" being filmed at Lympne Castle. On 5 June, filming changed location to the inside of an aircraft hangar where the videos for "Spin It On" and "Getting Closer" were filmed. Outside of the hanger, the video for "Again and Again and Again" was shot in a nearby field. Late night filming was done with additional scenes for the "Getting Closer" video shot inside the hanger, and driving scenes were also shot. On the same day, "Getting Closer" was released as a single in the US, backed with "Spin It On".[nb 13] Filming continued at Lympne Castle on 6 June, where the "Winter Rose/Love Awake" video was filmed. Two days later, the band drove to Camber Sands where the "Baby's Request" video was shot. Later that day, the band journeyed to London to prepare for the launch party for the album.
Back to the Egg was released on 24 May in the US by Columbia,[nb 14] and on 8 June in the UK by MPL Communications.[nb 15] The album cover, which was created by Hipgnosis, involves Wings in a room looking through a hole in the floor, with the Earth in sight.[nb 16] The album had sold over 1 million copies in the US. Juber recalled the album as being "back-to-basics, garage band kind of feel". On 11 June, the launch party was held at Abbey Road Studios; McCartney told a reporter that Wings was to go "back out on tour towards the end of the year". On 13 June, filming continued, this time at Keef & Co.'s London studios, where the band taped the video for "Arrow Through Me" and further scenes for the "Getting Closer" video. With the album not living up to Columbia's and McCartney's expectations,[nb 17] McCartney spent the summer recording at home with the results becoming McCartney II (1980). On 14 August, the second single in the US was "Arrow Through Me", backed with "Old Siam Sir".[nb 18] "Getting Closer" was then used as the second single in the UK and released on 16 August, as a double A-side with "Baby's Request".[nb 19] "Getting Closer" would become Wings' last single in the UK.
In European countries, "Rockestra Theme", backed with "Old Siam, Sir", was used as a single.[nb 20] Throughout November and December, the promotional videos were aired as part of a Back to the Egg TV special on many US TV stations.[nb 21] "Rockestra Theme" was nominated for—and won—a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. The band toured the UK for 19 dates in from 23 November to 17 December, for what was planned as a world tour, their first in a few years.[nb 22] This UK leg ended on 17 December in Glasgow, Scotland.[nb 23] The band were to play in Japan, where they had previously been banned from playing due to drug convictions. However, the tour ended when the group entered Japan on 16 January 1980, McCartney was busted for possession of drugs when 7.7 ounces of marijuana was found in his luggage at the airport. The band were scheduled to play in Japan between 21 January and 2 February. Wings regrouped in for rehearsals in November 1980 for their next album, but were short lived and the group eventually broke up in April 1981.
In October 1985, McCartney had left Columbia to return to Capitol. On 20 June 1989, Back to the Egg, along with several other McCartney albums, was released on CD in the US. In 1993, Back to the Egg was reissued on CD as part of The Paul McCartney Collection with bonus tracks: "Daytime Nighttime Suffering", McCartney's solo 1979 Christmas single "Wonderful Christmastime" and its B-side "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reggae" as bonus tracks.[nb 24] Samples of tracks "Reception" and "The Broadcast" appear throughout The Fireman's Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest (1993) album.[nb 25] In 2007, Back to the Egg was released on iTunes, adding a remix of "Goodnight Tonight" as a bonus track.
In the UK, "Old Siam, Sir" charted at number 35, while "Getting Closer" charted at number 60. In the US, "Getting Closer" charted at number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, while "Arrow Through Me" charted at number 29. Back to the Egg reached number 6 in the UK and number 8 in the US.
Back to the Egg received poor critical reviews. In The Words and Music of Paul McCartney: The Solo Years, author Vincent Perez Benitez wrote that the album's songs were "uneven in quality" and the album "featured no standout singles". Allmusic reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine called the tracks "a set of [McCartney's] most undistinguished songs", which Erlewine noted as being "Part of the problem" as they "have no spark". McCartney biographer Howard Sounes suggested the album's title "indicat[ed] a return to basics". Timothy White wrote for Rolling Stone that the album was "the sorriest grab bag of dreck in recent memory" of McCartney albums up to that point. White pointed out the album does not feature one song that is "the least bit fleshed out", with the listeners given "an irritating display of disjointed images and unfocused musical snapshots". Music critic Robert Christgau mentioned that while McCartney's "tunefulness passes for generosity", however, for this album, "he's just hoping something will stick." Melody Maker's Ray Coleman wrote that while McCartney continued "to be most commercially successful" of his former band mates, he "seem[ed] to be on a treadmill of banality". Coleman noted that "Rockestra Theme" and "So Glad to See You Here" were "creditable, rolling, raunchy and at least efficient" and McCartney's voice was best suited to the closing track, "Baby's Request".
- Side one – "Sunny Side Up"
- "Reception" – 1:08
- "Getting Closer" – 3:22
- "We're Open Tonight" – 1:28
- "Spin It On" – 2:12
- "Again and Again and Again" – 3:34
- "Old Siam, Sir" – 4:11
- "Arrow Through Me" – 3:37
- Side two – "Over Easy"
- "Rockestra Theme" – 2:35
- "To You" – 3:12
- "After the Ball/Million Miles" – 4:00
- "Winter Rose/Love Awake" – 4:58
- "The Broadcast" – 1:30
- "So Glad to See You Here" – 3:20
- "Baby's Request" – 2:49
- Bonus tracks
|1993 The Paul McCartney Collection bonus tracks|
|15.||"Daytime Nighttime Suffering"||3:23|
|17.||"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reggae" (Johnny Marks)||1:48|
|2007 iTunes bonus track|
|18.||"Goodnight Tonight (extended version)"||7:16|
- Paul McCartney – lead and background vocals, bass, guitar keyboard, concertina on "Million Miles", piano and harpsichord on "Winter Rose"
- Linda McCartney – background vocals, keyboard
- Denny Laine – lead vocal on "Again and Again and Again", background vocals, acoustic guitar, rhythm guitar
- Laurence Juber – lead guitar, guitar synth, 12-string guitar, acoustic guitar
- Steve Holly – drums, percussion
- Additional personnel
- Black Dyke Mills Band – horns on "Love Awake"
- Dierdre Margary, Harold Margary – book readings
- Rockestra line-up on "Rockestra Theme" and "So Glad to See You Here"
- Denny Laine, Laurence Juber, Dave Gilmour, Hank Marvin, Pete Townshend – guitars
- Steve Holly, John Bonham, Kenny Jones – drums
- Paul McCartney, John Paul Jones, Ronnie Lane, Bruce Thomas – basses
- Paul McCartney, Gary Brooker, John Paul Jones – pianos
- Linda McCartney, Tony Ashton – keyboards
- Speedy Acquaye, Tony Carr, Ray Cooper, Morris Pert – percussion
- Howie Casey, Tony Dorsey, Steve Howard, Thaddeus Richard – horns
- Paul McCartney and Chris Thomas – producers
- Phil McDonald – engineer
- Mark Vigars – assistant engineer
- John Shaw – front cover photo
- Linda & Paul – back cover photo
- Hipgnosis – design
|1980||"Rockestra Theme"||Best Rock Instrumental Performance||Won|
- Thomas had worked as an engineer during the recording of The Beatles' self-titled album, The Beatles (1968), and on audio problems for Wings' film of the 1975–76 world tour. At the time, Thomas had recently worked with punk bands The Pretenders and the Sex Pistols, which resulted in the album making passes to the punk rock and new wave styles. Thomas and McCartney would later work again on McCartney's Run Devil Run (1999) album.
- Partway through the sessions, on 5 July, the group had recorded about a dozen songs for another McCartney project, a film version of Rupert the Bear.
- A fight almost broke out between Holly and Laine on the morning before recording "Old Siam, Sir"; both claimed to have come up with the riff for the song, while Holly blamed Laine for stealing it shortly before McCartney entered the studio.
- "Ballroom Dancing" recorded here was an early version; the track would later be re-recorded for Tug of War (1982), and re-recorded again for Give My Regards to Broad Street (1984), the soundtrack to the film of the same name. "Cage", which had been demoed under the title "Emotional Moments", would be replaced in the final track listing by "Baby's Request". "Crawl of the Wild" features ex-Traffic member Dave Mason. "Maisie" would later find a place on Juber's solo album, Standard Time (1982), while "Weep for Love" would appear on Laine's solo album, Japanese Tears (1980).
- The sessions were filmed by five 35mm cameras under the guidance of Barry Chattington; a 40-minute film, under the title Rockestra, was compiled from the footage. 15 minutes of the film was shown at a launch party for Back to the Egg on 11 June 1979.
- Replica Studios was a complete replica of Abbey Road Studios; it was built due to the unavailability of Abbey Road to McCartney on several occasions.
- McCartney previously worked with the Black Dyke Mills Band producing their 1969 single for Apple Records, "Thingumybob", backed with "Yellow Submarine".
- An extended version of the "Goodnight Tonight" was release on 12" vinyl on 26 March in the US (Columbia 23-10940), and on 3 April in the UK (Parlophone 12Y R6023).
- US Columbia 3-10939
- UK Parlophone R 6023
- McCartney's royalty rate was 20% of each copy of the album sold, which was $1.80 at the time. The label had the rights to reissue McCartney's back catalog after each album had reached its 5-year anniversary.
- UK Parlophone R 6026
- US Columbia 3-11020
- US Columbia FC-36057
- UK MPL Communications PCTC 257
- Hipgnosis previously designed the album covers for Wings' Band on the Run (1973), Venus and Mars (1975), Wings at the Speed of Sound (1976) and London Town studio albums, the Wings over America (1976) live album, the Wings Greatest (1978) compilation album, and McCartney's Thrillington (1977) album. Hipgnosis would later design the cover for McCartney's Tug of War (1982) solo album.
- CBS intended to release a compilation album to help regain the amount lost from Back to the Egg, however, McCartney instead recommended finishing off previous songs that had not made it onto other albums, pairing them with Wings hits and releasing them as a double album, Hot Hitz and Kold Kutz. CBS was not receptive to the idea and the album remained unreleased.
- US Columbia 1-11070
- UK Parlophone R 6027
- France Parlophone/Pathé Marconi EMI 2C008-63366
- The TV special premiered in the UK on 10 June 1981.
- Songs performed on the tour was as follows: "Got to Get You into My Life", "Getting Closer", "Every Night", "Again and Again and Again", "I've Had Enough", "No Words", "My Love", "Cook of the House", "Old Siam, Sir", "Maybe I'm Amazed", "The Fool on the Hill", "Let It Be", "Hot as Sun", "Spin It On", "Twenty Flight Rock", "Go Now", "Arrow Through Me", "Wonderful Christmastime", "Coming Up", "Goodnight Tonight", "Yesterday", "Mull of Kintyre" and "Band on the Run".
- Recorded during this live show was a song called "Coming Up", it was released as a single in the US the following year.
- UK Parlophone 7 89136 2
- The Fireman was a collaboration between McCartney and Youth.
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