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In the same way as, after the breakup of the Beatles, Paul McCartney turned away from performing any songs from that era; after the demise of Wings, he often seemed reluctant to discuss his post-Beatles band until recently. In this book, author Tom Doyle, takes an in-depth look at this period - from the first solo album, through to the Japanese drug bust and the murder of John Lennon, which effectively caused the end of Wings.
The book begins with the messy Beatles breakup, including the public feud with Lennon and Paul's decision to legally file to dissolve the Beatles. The legal ramifications led to financial problems, much soul searching over his decision and, if not a total breakdown, certainly depression and a loss of confidence in his abilities. It also led to the birth of Wings. It had been an idea Paul had touted within the Beatles - to go on the road and play small gigs again. Unable to get his former bandmates to agree (probably sensibly), Paul decided to form a new band and do it himself. Of course, one (if not THE) most contentious issue was Linda joining the band, but one thing that does stand out in this book is that, for all the troubles Paul faced during the decade of the 1970's, his problems were not marital ones. While John and Yoko seperated, and George and Ringo both got divorced, Paul and Linda were solidly a couple throughout their marriage - no rumour of any breakup or possibility of divorce, or even affairs, being mentioned. Linda seemed determined to keep temptation from Paul's door - banning other Wings members from bringing wives and girlfriends along; but Linda was in the band because Paul wanted her and he appreciated her commitment, when he knew she would rather be at home with the kids.
Although there was little that was actually new to me in this book, it is a good retelling and analysis of Paul's career in the 1970's. It take Wings from a fledgling group doing small university gigs, to the first European tour; through several lineups and onto success with the Wings Over America tour. It also highlights the drugs problems - busts, arrests and substance abuse within members of the band, which plagued them during this time. Every album is mentioned and appraised, including some huge hits, other misguided record choices and a few forgettable singles.
Of much interest to fans, of course, is Paul's relationship with John Lennon. The decade began with John's star in the ascendent - huge albums, such as "Plastic Ono Band" and "Imagine" and vicious verbal attacks on his former bandmate. Interestingly, though, is the way John essentially blew hot and cold throughout this decade - using intermediaries to send letters to Paul, both praising and damning him in interviews and, in later years, causing Paul to cut contact for a while after some admittedly 'frightening' phone calls. It was obvious that the press used one against the other and, also obvious, that John had some jealousy of Paul's success - both musically and financially. By the time the pair met up again in 1974, Lennon was living in La La Land with Ringo, Harry Nilsson and Keith Moon (not a great combination for a healthy lifestyle). Having split for a time with Yoko, John was living with May Pang. He was threatened with expulsion from the States, suffering lawsuits and financial problems, his marriage and his career in freefall. Although it looked at the beginning of the decade that Paul had been left behind by his bandmate's solo music, now he had "Band on the Run", "Live and Let Die", a new band and a successful tour behind him. He was successful in his own right and, frankly, shocked when he visited Lennon and Nilsson at the "Pussycats" sessions. For anyone who has heard the jam recorded that day, "A toot and a snore in '74", it is obvious that musically nothing worth listening to came out of John and Paul playing together again. However, as Lennon said later, the others playing were more interested in watching, "me and Paul." To his credit, despite the arguments, Paul had spoken to Yoko and helped reunite John and Yoko; a fact which Yoko has also spoken about in interviews.
Overall, then, this book looks at a little documented era of Paul's life. A time when he reinvented himself; forging a new musical career from the shadow of the Beatles. Although all the former Beatles tired of reunion rumours and questions about each other, they only really came to terms with their legacy,it seems, after the death of John Lennon and the realisation that their Beatles past could never be put behind them. Many people forget that McCartney had a huge solo career - that he had massive World tours without playing more than one or two Beatles songs and that his Wings career would be enough to be proud of, if that was all he had done. Filled with interviews, revealing insights and unbiased analysis of the man and his music, this is a great addition to any fan's bookshelf.