The Story of Paul McCartney and Wings’ Difficult ‘London Town’
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Paul McCartney was on a roll when he entered Abbey Road Studios in early 1977 to begin work on Wings’ sixth album. But he found it difficult to continue that winning streak with London Town, which fell a little bit short despite a few good songs.
The previous year was one of his all-time best, rivaling his Beatles era for popularity. Wings at the Speed of Sound spent seven weeks at No. 1, and the single “Silly Love Songs” spent five weeks at the top of the chart, making it one of McCartney’s biggest hits ever. A live album culled from the tour, Wings Over America, also reached No. 1 in 1976.
But then wife (and Wings member) Linda got pregnant, and two other band members quit mid-sessions, leaving Wings a trio. So with some time on their hands, Paul and Linda McCartney — along with Denny Laine — began building London Town piece by piece until its release on March 31, 1978. Coming in at 14 songs deep, and clocking in at more than 50 minutes, London Town was one of McCartney’s heftiest records.
And in some ways it’s one of his most ambitious. After the Top 40-friendly Wings at the Speed of Sound, London Town sounds positively adventurous at times. But it’s also scattered, unfocused and possibly a deliberate attempt to strengthen Wings’ softball image. In the end, it comes off lazy and bored. Still, there are a handful of good songs: the title track, the ballad “I’m Carrying,” “Girlfriend” (which Michael Jackson covered on his 1979 album Off the Wall), the solid rocker “I’ve Had Enough” and “With a Little Luck,” which became McCartney’s sixth solo No. 1.
Still, London Town stopped short on the album chart, reaching No. 2 (McCartney’s first album since 1971’s Wild Life to not hit the top spot). In addition to “With a Little Luck,” “I’ve Had Enough” and the title cut were released as singles. Neither was able to break into the Top 20.
Wings made one more album, 1979’s Back to the Egg — a critical and commercial mess that reflected McCartney’s growing disinterest in the group, which pretty much had disintegrated midway through London Town’s recording anyway. That left McCartney, at the turn of the ‘80s, open to launch the second part of his solo career.
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