Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Man On The Run Paul McCartney In The  70’s
Tom Doyle
Polygon Publishing

Ahh! I know what you are thinking….”Not another Paul McCartney book?”
Well yes, but this is a book with a difference. This book concentrates on the seventies a period that many Beatle fans think that Paul lost the plot with the formation of Wings and some slightly odd albums. Well the truth is Yes Paul did form Wings and a bloody fine band they were in all their various incarnations although apart from the Wingspan DVD and CD a few years ago the seventies are sometimes brushed over in favour of Paul’s Beatle years or the late eighties when he made his live re appearance and became a touring phenomenon.  Whilst Paul started the decade off as a solo artist quickly becoming a duo with Linda on the Ram album Wings grew out of Paul’s desire to get back to a “Group” rather than just be a solo performer as the other ex-Beatles had opted for bearing in mind that Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band was more a concept than a real band.

So having laid out his table with the title, Tom Doyle has chosen possibly one of the mist divisive periods of Paul’s career to focus on for a book. On the one hand there was much success both critically and commercially although some of the critical brickbats must still hurt when read in the cold light of day and throughout the seventies it seemed that every critic was measuring his success alongside the success of his previous band  a band that McCartney himself admitted was a “Tough act to follow”. Tom Doyle as not written a whitewash account of the period he has been honest and thorough in his research and for people like me who have read a great many Paul McCartney books over the years it is refreshing to go back over what I personally consider a quite exciting period in Paul McCartney’s career. In fact I will nail my colours firmly to the mast and admit my favourite period of Paul’s career was the period from Ram through to Wings Over America and of course as a teenager I would devour everything I could find on Wings even though unlike some fans I did remember the Beatles, I wasn't old enough to have seen them live so the first time I saw Paul in the flesh as it were was during the 1972 tour of Europe.

I have seen Paul every time he has toured since then but for me it will always be the early seventies and the early days of Wings. Tom Doyle goes into great detail concerning the members of the band and the band politics talking to most of the members of the band through its many incarnations. Whilst musically there is much to talk about there is  of course the high profile drugs busts which was pretty much par for the course for many musicians of the time although bagging a "Beatle" would have proved to be a bigger feather in the cap of certain Police Officers I am sure and Paul and Linda certainly seemed to be targeted due to his well-known comments and high profile advocating of marijuana . That aside what does come across is the fact that Wings despite many of the problems both brought to bear inside and outside the band always managed to deliver the goods  and while it seemed that it was sometimes one step forward two steps back the band’s batting average was pretty high

The book covers all the relevant line ups of Wings and all those involved and in actual fact Paul Linda and all the other members of Wings do come out of this really well. The background story, and let’s face it it is a big one is the then on-going story of Paul’s relationship with the other ex-Beatles throughout the seventies, all of it fascinating but not nearly as interesting to me  as the in group politics of Wings between 1971 and 1981.
For me it really is the story of Wings and again if I am honest I doubt anyone will write a better book on this period of Paul McCartney’s long career making this particular tome almost definitive if there ever could be such a thing. This book as I have said does cover possibly the most interesting part of Paul McCartney’s life as a musician he had everything to gain and really nothing to lose following the Beatles. True many more people will probably wait for the definitive Beatles story or life story, if it ever comes along that is but this book will certainly find a large and willing fan base who will love the contents.

The book includes some excellent photographs from the period many rarely seen before and as a whole I can highly recommend this to anyone with a passing interest in Paul McCartney’s life during the seventies. Paul certainly may have seemed a “Man On The Run” but in spite of all the odds the seventies actually turned out to be pretty good for Paul McCartney and reading this book you get a better idea of what has now become Paul McCartney’s “Middle Period” a period all too readily overlooked.  

 "The seventies actually turned out to be pretty good for Paul McCartney and reading this book you get a better idea of what has now become Paul McCartney’s “Middle Period” a period all too readily overlooked".  

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