Welcome to The Beatles Rarity of the Week. Paul McCartney & Wings released a relatively softer rock album in 1978 called London Town, shortly after the departures of late guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and drummer Joe English. Paul’s idea afterwards was to return to a more raw version of straight rock and roll and get Wings back on the road. To do that he would need to get the band back up to touring strength and hired on Laurence Juber as the new lead guitarist. Laurence gave up a very successful position as a session guitarist to join Wings and had already worked with former Beatles producer George Martin on an album by English jazz singer Cleo Laine. Steve Holly was hired on as drummer and was probably made known to Paul through his work work on Elton John’s album A Single Man. He’d also played with Kiki Dee’s band previously as well as the English band Horse. With these new members, original members Denny Laine and his wife Linda, Paul recruited the assistance of Chris Thomas in the studio, who had worked with The Beatles early in his career on the White Album, and began putting together Back To The Egg. Although not planned that way, it ended up being the final album by Wings.
Most of the album was recorded in the latter half of 1978 and along with the new line-up of Wings, included some additional musicians from some other big-name bands of the time. Specifically two songs on the album “Rockestra Theme” and “So Glad To See You Here” featured David Gilmour (Pink Floyd), John Paul Jones & John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Pete Townshend (The Who), Gary Brooker (Procul Harum) and Ray Cooper (Elton John Band). Combined with Wings, this “supergroup” was dubbed as the “Rockestra” line up. Rockestra also included Paul’s horn section used on his 1976 world tour: Howie Casey, Steve Howard, Thaddeus Richard and Tony Dorsey.
The singles released from Back To The Egg included rockers “Old Siam, Sir” (U.K.) and “Getting Closer (U.S. & U.K.). A keyboard-oriented track called “Arrow Through Me” was a departure from the raw rock sound Paul was going for on most of the album, yet it was released as the second single from the album in the U.S. The “Rockestra Theme” was released on a single in France.
I’ve recently had a request to get something out from this later Wings period that featured Denny Laine and my offering this week is presented to do just that. This rehearsal for “Getting Closer,” written and sung only by Paul on Back To the Egg, has him sharing the vocals with Denny here. The sound quality is not quite as good as a commercial release and you may also note that the lyrics are different throughout much of the song. Since these lyrical differences occur when Denny sings, it’s likely because he just didn’t have the words down yet. Denny starts the performance off by singing the first verse and duets with Paul throughout the remainder of the track, playing guitar along with Laurence, while Paul plays bass and, of course, Steve Holly mans the drums. The keyboards played by Linda McCartney on the commercial version are not present here, though you can hear her backing vocals. This recording took place at Abbey Road Studios on October 10th, 1978. Later in the day they nailed the basic track and added overdubs the following month.
Wings - Getting Closer
Back To The Egg was released on May 24th, 1979 in North America and June 8th, 1979 in the U.K. It peaked at #8 on the Billboard Top 200 album charts in the U.S. and #6 on the U.K. album charts (Record Retailer).
Here are some Amazon links to read more on, or purchase, some music and media related to this post:
1) Back To The Egg -CD remaster of original 1979 LP featuring finalized version of “Getting Closer,” “Old Siam, Sir,” “Rockestra Theme” and “Arrow Through Me.”
2) Wings Over America [Standard Edition] – just recently released remaster of 1976 3-LP set with bonuses and different purchase options available (deluxe, standard, CD or vinyl). Features several Wings performances by Denny Laine.