Having spread their wings (see what I did there?) on "Ram", Paul and Linda, now fortified by double Denny, were ready to get the show on the road and so launched the debut album from their new group. Considering the impressive springboard of "Ram" we could be forgiven for expecting a refreshingly bold and confident flight.... oh dear. Instead, Paul played his old card of going back to square one and aiming for something raw, basic and spontaneous. It didn't work on "Let It Be", it didn't work on "McCartney" and it positively nosedives here. We are instead left with a chronic mishmash of tuneless, squally demos and jam sessions. That almost had a certain limited charm on "McCartney" which did at least contain two or three nice tunes. But "Wild Life" is awful. Rushed, self indulgent, repetitive, shapeless, boring. Very much a retrograde step from Paul.
Mumbo- is he rehearsing here? flexing his tonsils in a screechy, gargling sort of vocal limber up whilst the band jam together and tune their instruments? Hmmm - if so, at almost four minutes of noisy, tedious repetition it's hardly the best way to grab the listener by the ears. A dreadful start.
Bip Bop - hang on, he's having a joke now, right? I mean, the silly Popeye voice, the nursery rhyme lyrics, the babyish simplicity. This one just goes around in circles. And around. And around. And around. And around. He's winding us up isn't he? he is though isn't he?
Love Is Strange - it must say something when you're three quarters of the way through side one and the highlight so far is a reggaed-up cover version of a pedestrian 1950s throwback. A nod to Linda's love for the Jamaican sound, and a passing wave from Paul to The Everlys, but a numbingly uninspired rendition. Takes forever to get off the ground aswell. Poor.
Wild Life - Packing a sincere punch on behalf of animal welfare, a beefy vocal (which nonetheless misses, wobbles, falters and strays on more than one occasion - this entire album has to be one of Paul's worst vocally) is backed up by solid harmonies (the best thing about the track) and a darkly plodding, minimalist bluesy backdrop. The guitar solo is horrible though. If only it wasn't so long... at over six and a half minutes the political message loses any semblance of urgency and the overall effect is stultifying.
Some People Never Know - a song in search of a tune in my opinion. One of those tracks which I've forgotten within a minute of it ending. But at least it was an attempt at a proper song (rather than a rehearsal/out-take) and Paul's and Linda's voices do gel together nicely. I only played it a moment ago but if you asked me to hum or whistle it I couldn't. Forgettable froth.
I Am Your Singer- this is more like it. For one thing, at a suitably palatable two minutes plus it is pleasantly digestible and once again demonstrates the sweet vocal harmony between Mr & Mrs McCartney. Is that a recorder, a tin whistle, a flute? whatever it is it gives the track a nice little topping. A charming, simple yet sincere little number with a nice melody - the most pleasing thing on the ear so far.
Bip Bop Link - We've got the message Paul, you like to slip in these little musical reprisals towards the close. Stop it now, please, this just sounds pointless.
Tomorrow - from the man who gave us Yesterday, here comes Tomorrow. The most complete and well rounded song on the album, spoiled only for me by Paul's uncharacteristically weak, reedy vocal. Lacking the gravity which he usually summoned so easily, the wobbly singing is thankfully bolstered by a sublime backing harmony from Linda and Denny L, now well and truly into their stride. Apparently half the tracks on "Wild Life" were whipped off in a single take (and boy does it show!). Was this one of them? I wouldn't mind betting it was - and if so, it deserved better.
Dear Friend - an open letter to his estranged partner John, Paul at last retrieves his vocal touch and delivers a haunting little elegy; Linda is the one who matters to him now, make no mistake. A shame that it rumbles on through too many repeated cycles - the unfortunate hallmark of this album.
Mumbo Link - he just won't let it drop will he? It's brief but horrible. STOP DOING THIS!
Well, that's my assessment, for what it's worth. A Paul McCartney album shouldn't be an endurance test. But this one truly was. Very disappointing in the wake of its excellent predecessor.