Making the transition to the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed band of all time, The Beatles, could have been difficult for Paul McCartney. However, towards the end of the 1970s, McCartney followed trends rather than imposing them.
During their time together, Wings had a solid run, releasing seven records, four of which topped the charts in the United States. For a while they were the perfect foil for his artistry, but all good things must come to an end, and the band’s latest album, Back to the eggmarked the beginning of their inevitable separation.
At this point, McCartney had almost been in the music business for two decades, and deep down he knew Back to the egg was not of the same caliber as most of his earlier work. His hunch was echoed by scathing reviews of the record in the press, who were unhappy with Macca’s attempts at the new wave. Although commercial success is not a thorough metric to measure an album, it is telling that Back to the egg was the lowest catalog record for Wings, excluding their US and UK debuts.
In an interview with ReverberationMcCartney looked back at the record and recalled, “The interesting thing is, looking back on some work, some stuff, it’s better than you think, but because it was so harshly criticized… from me. The reviews gave us a hard time, but I was especially hard on us. I remember looking at a book, there was an album we made , I think it was Back to the eggwhich didn’t work out well, and I remember thinking, “My God, a complete disaster.”
However, through a conversation with David Bowie, McCartney later reassessed his stance on the album. He recalled: “Years later I remember watching it with Bowie in that old book – one of those who-does-what Charts pounds, looking for it – and it was like No. 8 in America.
Macca added: “And I thought, ‘Most people would give their fucking right arm to be No. 8.’ But eight, and I wasn’t happy, the Beatles had been No. 1. That’s is good, it keeps you going. But yes, a lot of things are underestimated, because of that.
Although McCartney now regards the album more as a “complete disaster”, Back to the egg was a signifier that the wings were heading for the exit door. Additionally, their UK tour for the album was equally unfortunate. Their split was made official in 1981 after they attempted to rehearse for another album. Still, it became clear to everyone that McCartney had to fly out of the nest and leave the band behind due to creative differences.
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