Red Rose Speedway
|Red Rose Speedway|
|Studio album by Paul McCartney and Wings|
30 April 1973 (US)|
4 May 1973 (UK)
|Recorded||March–June 1972 and September–December 1972|
|Studio||Abbey Road Studios, Olympic Sound Studios, Morgan Studios, Trident Studios, Island Studio, London|
|Genre||Rock, pop rock, soft rock|
|Paul McCartney and Wings chronology|
|Singles from Red Rose Speedway|
Red Rose Speedway is the second studio album by Paul McCartney and Wings. The album was released in 1973 after the relatively weak commercial performance of Wings’ previous album, Wild Life. Red Rose Speedway reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart in the United States and "My Love" was a No. 1 single in the US and the most popular track from the album.
In early 1972, McCartney decided to expand Wings to a five-piece band, by adding another guitarist, and to begin touring with the group. The group spent several months on the road across Europe, beginning with a tour of British universities.
Despite not releasing an album in 1972, Wings managed to release three singles: "Give Ireland Back to the Irish" which was banned by the BBC for political reasons; "Mary Had a Little Lamb"; and "Hi, Hi, Hi", which was banned by the BBC for drug references and sexually suggestive lyrics.[nb 1]
Recording for Red Rose Speedway began in March 1972. It was initially planned as a double album, and McCartney decided to include some unreleased songs that had originally been recorded during the Ram sessions prior to the formation of Wings. Two of those songs, "Get on the Right Thing" and "Little Lamb Dragonfly", appeared on the final album. Beginning on 19 March, sessions were held at Olympic Studios in London, after which recording continued sporadically throughout the year. Glyn Johns was invited to produce the Olympic sessions, but left after only a few weeks due to disagreements with McCartney. At the start of the sessions McCartney asked Johns to not think of him as Paul McCartney but rather just as "the bass player in the band" but then wasn't receptive to Johns' input. Johns was also unimpressed with the quality of the material, reading the newspaper in the control room while the band smoked marijuana and jammed aimlessly in the studio. More recording took place over October and November 1972 at Abbey Road Studios and Olympic. Morgan, Trident and Island were the other London studios where the band recorded that year.
– Linda McCartney to Sounds magazine, 1976
The album was cut down to a single disc by McCartney – according to Henry McCullough, in an attempt to release a more commercial and less expensive record. The decision came about through EMI, however; in addition to believing that the material was not of a sufficiently high standard, the record company were mindful of the modest commercial performance of Wild Life and Wings' early singles. The album ends with an 11-minute medley of the songs "Hold Me Tight", "Lazy Dynamite", "Hands of Love" and "Power Cut", which was made in a similar style to the Beatles' Abbey Road medley. "Power Cut" was written during the 1972 miners' strike. Laine later expressed his disappointment that only a single album was issued, saying that in its original form, Red Rose Speedway was "more of a showcase for the band". Among the omissions were his composition "I Would Only Smile", and "I Lie Around", on which Laine also sung the lead vocal. McCullough was similarly disappointed that several of McCartney's rock-oriented tracks were cut from the album, which focused instead on the more lightweight material.
"Live and Let Die", the title song to the James Bond film of the same name, was recorded during the sessions for Red Rose Speedway, but would instead be released on the Live and Let Die soundtrack album. Laine included "I Would Only Smile" on his 1980 solo album Japanese Tears. "Mama's Little Girl" was recorded during the sessions and would later turn up as the B-side of McCartney's "Put It There" single in 1990. Among the other discarded tracks were "Night Out", "Jazz Street", "Best Friend", "Thank You Darling", "The Mess" and a cover version of Thomas Wayne's song "Tragedy".
The album was preceded by the March 1973 release of its lead single, "My Love" backed with "The Mess". The latter song was recorded live during the band's summer 1972 European tour. With Apple Records giving precedence to two Beatles compilation albums – 1962–1966 and 1967–1970 – Red Rose Speedway was not issued until 30 April 1973, in the United States, with the UK release following on 4 May. The album's packaging included a 12-page booklet stapled into the gatefold sleeve, featuring pictures from Wings' live shows as well as montage art that included numerous semi-nude images of women from previous eras. Its cover design – with the cover shot of a Harley-Davidson shovelhead engine by Linda McCartney – was by Eduardo Paolozzi, while the back cover contains a Braille message of "We love ya baby" for Stevie Wonder.
"My Love" peaked at number 9 on the UK singles chart, and topped the US Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard Adult Contemporary charts. It raised expectations for the album, which peaked at number 5 in the UK and went to number 1 in the US.
The original compact disc version, released by EMI's Fame label on 5 October 1987,[nb 2] contained three bonus tracks: "I Lie Around", "Country Dreamer" and "The Mess (Live at The Hague)". An LP version of this CD edition was also released on the same day, omitting the bonus tracks.[nb 3] In 1993, Red Rose Speedway was remastered and reissued on CD as part of 'The Paul McCartney Collection' series, with "C Moon", "Hi, Hi, Hi", "The Mess (Live at The Hague)" (the B-side to "My Love") and "I Lie Around" (the B-side to "Live and Let Die") as bonus tracks. "Country Dreamer" was later added to the reissue Band on the Run from the same series.
|The Essential Rock Discography||5/10|
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Red Rose Speedway received a mixed response from contemporary music critics, many of whom dismissed its songs as mediocre. According to author and critic Bob Woffinden, writing in 1981, the album was an example of McCartney "continu[ing] to exasperate his audience" before he and Wings would finally win full respect with the late 1973 release of Band on the Run. John Pidgeon of Let It Rock found the side-two medley typical of McCartney's "lazy" attitude to songwriting and said: "Red Rose Speedway sounds as if it was written after a big tea in front of the fire with carpet-slippered feet up; listening to it takes about as much as going ten rounds with a marshmallow fairy." Pidgeon concluded by likening the album to The Emperor's New Clothes, ruing that McCartney appeared to have no one to challenge his judgment or "kick his arse". Village Voice critic Robert Christgau derided McCartney's reliance on "aimless whimsy" and described the work as "Quite possibly the worst album ever made by a rock and roller of the first rank". McCartney himself later dismissed the album, saying "After I heard Wild Life, which was Wings' first album, I thought: "Hell. We have really blown it here." And the next one after that, Red Rose Speedway, I couldn't stand."
According to author Michael Frontani, however, a generally favourable review in Rolling Stone, written by musician Lenny Kaye, signified a turnaround from a publication that had been openly hostile towards McCartney since 1970. Frontani adds: "While McCartney's music would continue to be criticized by some commentators as vacuous and facile, Kaye's review appears to mark the point where art of consequence was no longer required of McCartney by rock critics …" Ian Dove of The New York Times noted that McCartney's work continued to pale beside that of his former bandmates John Lennon and George Harrison but deemed Red Rose Speedway his best album yet. Writing in the NME, Tony Tyler acknowledged that the album was "lightweight" and lacking in "intellectual posture" but added: "with all the current heaviness and after-me-the-apocalypse brainstuds around, I for one am bloody pleased to discover a lightweight record that not only fails to alienate, but actually succeeds in impressing via good melodic structure, excellent playing and fine production."
Like the NME, Rolling Stone soon changed its opinion of Red Rose Speedway. Writing in The Rolling Stone Record Guide (1979), John Swenson said that the album displayed "the worst aspects of McCartney as solo artist and band-leader" and was "rife with weak and sentimental drivel". In his 1977 book The Beatles Forever, Nicholas Schaffner described it as "pleasingly plump music – charming, harmless, entertaining fluff … a perfect background to lazy afternoons in the sun".
AllMusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine considers Red Rose Speedway to be McCartney's "most disjointed album" and "deliberately slight … in the way a snapshot album is important to a family yet glazes the eyes of any outside observer", but he adds: "Work your way into the inner circle, and McCartney's little flourishes are intoxicating – not just the melodies, but the facile production and offhand invention." Beatles biographer Robert Rodriguez views it as "a wildly uneven assortment of songs", of which the selections comprising the Abbey Road-style medley "aren't merely half-finished – they're half-assed". While describing Glyn Johns' disparaging comments about the finished album as "harsh", Howard Sounes writes: "but in a record review one couldn't award it more than three out of five stars."
- "Big Barn Bed" – 3:48
- "My Love" – 4:07
- "Get on the Right Thing" – 4:17
- "One More Kiss" – 2:28
- "Little Lamb Dragonfly" – 6:20
- "Single Pigeon" – 1:52
- "When the Night" – 3:38
- "Loup (1st Indian on the Moon)" – 4:23
- "Medley: Hold Me Tight/Lazy Dynamite/Hands of Love/Power Cut" – 11:14
|1987 CD bonus tracks|
|1993 The Paul McCartney Collection bonus tracks|
Original double album track listing
Originally planned as a double album, this is the track listing from the acetates of the early incarnation of the album dated 13 December 1972. Most tracks left off the released version ended up on B-sides, but some are still officially unreleased.
Other songs recorded during this period that did not make the final album include:
- "Thank You Darling" – A duet featuring Paul and Linda McCartney. This song has yet to have an official release.
- "Seaside Woman" – Linda McCartney lead vocals. This was later released as a single under the pseudonym Suzy and the Red Stripes in 1977 then later on Linda's posthumous compilation Wide Prairie. The title of this song is featured in the inner sleeve artwork of the LP release of Red Rose Speedway.
- "Soily" – A live recording was mixed down but did not make the short list of the album. McCartney made other attempts at recording this song in studio including a version recording in his home studio in January 1972, and in McCartney's unreleased "studio performance" film One Hand Clapping. This song was finally granted an official release when a version from McNichols Sports Arena in Denver appeared as a live recording on Wings' 1976 live album Wings over America.
- "Henry's Blues" – A song featuring lead vocals and slide guitar from Wings guitarist Henry McCullough. A live recording was made during Wings' European tour of mid-1972, this has never officially been released
- "Best Friend" – A live recording was mixed as well as a studio version, but to date this song has not had an official release.
- "1882" – This song dates back to 1970 when it was first recorded as a demo around the time of the McCartney album. A home studio version was recorded in January 1972. A live recording from the same concert as "The Mess" (at The Hague on 21 August 1972) had studio overdubs added but has still yet to see an official release.
- "I Would Only Smile" – A song featuring lead vocals from Denny Laine. It was later released on Laine's solo album Japanese Tears.
- Paul McCartney – vocals, bass, piano, guitars, electric piano, mellotron, celeste, Moog synthesizer
- Linda McCartney – vocals, piano, organ, electric piano, electric harpsichord, percussion
- Denny Laine – vocals, guitars, bass, harmonica
- Henry McCullough – guitars, backing vocals, percussion
- Denny Seiwell – drums, percussion
- Hugh McCracken – electric guitar (track 5)
- David Spinozza – electric guitar (track 3)
- Alan Parsons – recording engineer
- Dixon Van Winkle – recording engineer (track 3 & 5)
|Canada (Music Canada)||Platinum|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold|
- The BBC banned the song due to the lyrics "I want to lie you on the bed, get you ready for my body gun", however, the actual lyric of the last words is "polygon". The BBC thought of the former due to incorrect lyric sheets sent by the song's publisher, Northern Songs.
- UK Fame CD-FA 3193/CDM 7 52026 2
- UK Fame FA 3193
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