Review of the Wings Album London Town (1978).
Somewhat ponderous in my opinion. The video is way too cute (this was Michael Lindsay-Hogg's final video for Paul). The horn work in the back gives it a very staid British sound, which I'm sure is what Paul was aiming for, but doesn't translate well as pop material in the States. Paul goes for a sparse sound which is pleasant enough, and the lyrics are actually pretty good for Paul. However, the song sounds sad to me, I'm not sure why you would open the album with a sad ballad. The hook is OK (though a little repetitive), the harmonies with Denny are polished, but it needs to be livened up. A delicate song like this could have used more Linda, but she curiously only turns up at the end. Paul finally makes an attempt to inject some energy around the 3 minute mark, but it's much too late. Nice drumming and (when it finally appears) nice guitar work. The song did not register with me at all when it came out in 1978 (unlike, say, the much-maligned "Let 'Em In" or "Listen to what the Man Said") and I still don't particularly care for it unless I'm in a sad mood.
Cafe on the Left Bank
This is a great song! Certainly better than anything on "Back to the Egg." Much livelier than the title track, with a slight Caribbean feel at the start and occasionally thereafter. It "feels" like the Left Bank, slightly off-kilter and out of control, which is a great marriage of sound and theme. Once again the drumming is superior, and it has a much fuller sound than "London Town." The lyrics don't mean much to me, but this is one of those songs you can tell Paul was going for the sound, not meaning, and that's fine. You get nice classic Wings harmonies to close it out. I wanted it to be a bit longer, always a good sign. If it were me, I would have put this song first and buried "London Town." "Cafe" would be killer live, like "Wild Life" or "Maybe I'm Amazed," but I don't think he does it in any shows. One of Paul's best album tracks, up there with "1985" and "Mrs. Vanderbilt."
One of Paul's ethereal ballads. It is a little precious for my taste. Paul simply sounds better to me when he keeps his voice lower, he almost sounds like he is whining at times on this tune. Nice guitar plucking, but the backing strings are a bit heavy throughout. This required Mr. Martin's touch, but he wasn't around. Sounds almost like an attempt at a Christmas tune that didn't quite make it. As so often with Paul, he has a nice thought - carrying a gift to someone - and never goes anywhere with it. Nice enough as an album filler.
Nice jolt after the sleep-inducing "I'm Carrying." Heavy on the backup vocals and synthesizer/organ/whatever it is, and way, way, way too short. One of Paul's "song fragments" that populates so many of his albums. Great opening which reminds me of another memorable song that's not coming to my mind right now, but no follow-through. Not itself very memorable because it feels incomplete, another minor album filler that could'a been a contender.
Very '70s instrumental. I expect to see Starsky and Hutch ride by or the SWAT team jump out of its van any minute. Good background music, this could have gone on for 20 minutes and you'd never know it, since it all sounds the same without any variation. Paul and the group were probably just jamming and somehow it made the album.
Very nice child-like feel. Denny does a fine job on vocals, but he is kind of drowned out by Linda's backing vocals and it is difficult for me to understand him. I am old school and feel that if you have lyrics, they should be clear and distinct. The sound is very nice, rustic and folk-ish, this would have worked well for Peter, Paul and Mary (who were touring in the late 1970s btw, I saw them in New Jersey). Has a very English feel to me, much more than "London Town" itself. Kind of an abrupt ending doesn't help it. A worthy addition to side one. Yet another one that could have been longer.
Paul again goes with the higher register here - much higher, almost falsetto - and it works better than it ought, but not much. Very feminine sound to it, and has a nice, consistent sound throughout, something that almost defines this album. Good song to follow "Children Children" just to keep the album from getting boring. Drumming on this is solid. It reminds me of a song off of Lennon's "Double Fantasy," where it would have fit right in. Unlike the other songs on side one, this one goes on a touch too long for my taste.
I've Had Enough
Wings closes out side one with a solid rocker. This is the direction Wings was headed in as it lurched toward "Back to the Egg." Too bad this didn't get radio play, it's one of the best songs on the album. Has a bit of a '50s feel, with a touch of Elvis thrown in, hinting at rockabilly. Once again, the drumming is superior. Paul can still hit the notes on this, he is in very good voice. Satisfying close to a very sold side one.
With a Little Luck
Just as Side One opened with a painfully slow ballad, side two has one of Paul's most laid-back songs. "It's slow-dance time," they called out when this came on. Everybody knows this top hit, the '70s synthesizer work makes the song (it sounds at times like Captain and Tennille got into the studio somehow). There is a nice bass line. Paul at his affable best, supported by under-appreciated harmonies from Linda and Denny. I know most hard-core fans don't like his big hits and it is chic to deride them, but this was a nice contrary offering during the high-disco era. Often came on in between "Sultan of Swing" and "I Will Survive" as a kind of rest stop. One of the most mellow hits of a mellow decade, it will calm you right down. A favorite of mine, but then, I also like "Let 'em In."
A true throw-away. You can tell nobody is taking this song seriously, they are just having fun, and for that reason alone it works as a kind of free-spirited romp. Almost a joke song, "hey, let's abruptly switch tempo here, OK mate?" Paul does some funny voices and everybody throws in a little business here and there. Not something to put on the radio, but a nice album filler.
Deliver Your Children
Another Denny Laine lead, though is is almost a duet with Paul, and again he does a fine job. Paul's steady bass work supports the whole edifice. The guitar work is the real star, somebody (Denny? Paul?) is doing some fine picking on this tune. Paul and Denny should have done more collaborations like this (and, of course, "Mull of Kintyre"). Paul always needed a good lyricist, though he would deny that to the death. The song doesn't really mean anything, it's just good sounds, which is Paul's specialty.
Name and Address
Very strong Elvis sound (Paul even said this at one point in a radio interview), Elvis obviously having passed away shortly before Wings began work on this album (though Paul said he came up with it before then). Kind of a "Blue Suede Shoes" sound, with a little "Guitar Man" thrown in. The guitar solos in the middle almost have a Jerry Reed quality, which is paying it quite a compliment. Paul played them. Just a very talented fellow at so many things.
Don't Let it Bring You Down
Has a very classic and traditional feel to it, like "Greensleeves" or "Scarborough Fair" or something like that. Sounds like something Simon and Garfunkel would have sung in 1966. Paul goes low with his voice on this, and to my ears it sounds a lot better than his whining up high. It can't be easy to get that traditional feel, but Paul and Denny were on a songwriting roll at this point.
Morse Moose and the Grey Goose
Disco, baby! Nice up-tempo song to end the album on an energetic note. "This is the rubber ducky, what's your 10-4, good buddy?" is what this reminds me of (you have to know your '70s songs to get that one). You can tell when Denny's contribution comes in, you get poetry rather than tone poems and meaningless repetitive phrases, a nice addition to the Wings sound. This is a very '70s song, with all the flourishes and the dramatic disco background. Kind of refreshing, but once again I don't think they were taking it too seriously and just threw stuff in to jumble it up. One of the few songs that dates the album. Goes on too long, a little undisciplined, are we?
Paul goes slightly un-pc with this song. I have no problem with that, and he should have done it more. It is a good rocker, my complaint is that, from the master of changes in tempo and feel within songs, this one has almost no variation whatsoever. In that way it is very out-of-character, and reminds me of the later "Spies Like Us" in its constant beat, droning on and on. Linda's breathy and "turned up to 11" back-up vocals give it that distinctive "Wings" sound. It's a nice, pedestrian rocker, not one that I personally would have chosen as a single in the States, especially over "Mull of Kintyre" of all things. More of an adequate "B" side. Top-notch guitar playing from the master, Jimmy McCulloch, but a mediocre guitar orgy that would have fit right in with the other such offerings on "Back to the Egg."
Mull of Kintyre
Almost a national anthem for Scotland, I suppose, and they really play up that aspect on the video, which I will admit is simply brilliant. I also must admit that this is NOT a favorite of mine, but it has grown on me over the years. I just don't cry over how lush the scenery is, how fair the mists on dewy spring morns, or whatever. Talk about corny and schmaltzy! But as an appeal to national pride, it is undeniable. You can really tell Denny's contributions in the songwriting, it is pure poetry, never mind the classic melody which was more than likely Paul's. This was virtually unheard in the States, and believe me, it would not have fit into the top-40 playlists (or any other) of the day at all. Paul is in awesome voice for this record, and the harmonies are superb. Just a great marriage of sound and theme, Paul by himself usually gets one or the other, not both. Denny helped him out on this one big time, it's a shame he had to sell his share of the songwriting proceeds to Paul in the '80s.
Best thing about the album: Linda's earrings in the "London Town" video.
Worst thing about the album: Should have included "Wanderlust" (written during this time) in place of "I'm Carrying" or "Girlfriend" or "Famous Groupie." Also, should titled the album "Cafe on the Left Bank" and put that song first.
Most memorable aspect of the album: This ended Paul's "young" phase in my opinion. Check out the classic Paul boyish head bobs on the "London Town" video, you won't see those much after this. He later tried to appear more mature and lost interest in Wings, entering his true middle phase, with decidedly mixed results.
Do I Enjoy this album: Yes, this is almost as good as "Band on the Run," but not quite. It does not have the same energy or focus.