Tuesday, March 20, 2012

1979 "Back to the Egg" Sessions and Documentary

Back to the Egg paulmccartney.filminspector.com
Back to the Egg.

Above are tracks from Wings recording sessions for their final album, "Back to the Egg," during the period 29 June 1978 through April 1979. You can listen to that, but let's go off on a tangent and talk a little bit about the context of "Back to the Egg."

"Back to the Egg" was the last Wings album in 1979. While not forgotten, it is about as well-remembered as "Wild Life," an earlier and notorious Wings misfire. Paul McCartney's journey through the 1970s wasn't all "Band on the Run" and "Wings Over the World" - it had its share of highs and lows. "Back to the Egg" must be considered a low point for the band.

Back to the Egg paulmccartney.filminspector.com

There was a rare British documentary (which, if it hasn't been deleted is above) accompanying the release of "Back to the Egg." It offered some revealing glimpses into Paul McCartney's background. It focused on Paul's return to Liverpool on tour. There were fascinating clips of various locals who knew Paul as a boy recalling him somewhat fondly. There also were some odd moments, with Paul not seeming particularly enthusiastic about the whole affair at times (I think he was going through "a phase," as my mother would say). At times, Paul even sounds a bit confrontational. The documentary is surprisingly "real" and not the packaged product from Paul. One of Paul's old teachers (who looks very uncomfortable) reports that he had only seen Paul once since graduation when Paul returned to repay his wife "a sixpence" that he had borrowed to see a movie. Did millionaire Paul repay her with something more than sixpence? Hmmmm, the teacher didn't mention that. Now, why was Paul borrowing money from his teacher's wife...

Back to the Egg paulmccartney.filminspector.com

There were a few amusing moments, such as when a clueless reporter notes at a McCartney family gathering that the family is tight (meaning close-knit). Paul replies, "Well, they'll be tight (drunk) in a minute." There is a strong class undercurrent throughout the documentary that is just... odd. For instance, Paul rhapsodizes about how his kids are in public school and how, despite high unemployment rates at the time, everyone can still get ahead in life just like he did. Paul adds that his job as a musician has become boring, "just like your job." There is an "I'm just an ordinary working bloke like anyone else and I'm tired of it like you are" theme that is a bit jarring when juxtaposed with the typical "peace and love" image that Paul and Ringo usually liked to present (and still do).

Auntie Jin paulmccartney.filminspector.com
Paul McCartney with his Auntie Joan (Jin).

In the documentary, we get to see brother Michael, Auntie Jin, sister Susie, and cousin Ian. These folks all figure into Paul's music at some point, so it is nice to see who Paul is referencing in "Let 'em In," for instance.  The documentary includes a couple of interesting Wings performances of Beatles tunes ("Got to Get You Into My Life" and "Yesterday"),  and no Wings numbers, which again is just ... odd. Paul was not in the habit of performing a lot of Beatles material in the 1970s, and doing so is perhaps a tip-off that he realized that "Back to the Egg" wasn't his strongest material.

Anyway, placing "Back to the Egg" in context may help with your enjoyment of the music itself.


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