Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • Wild Life [Apple, 1971] C-
  • Venus and Mars [Capitol, 1975] B+
  • Wings at the Speed of Sound [Capitol, 1976] B-
  • London Town [Capitol, 1978] B
  • Wings Greatest [Capitol, 1978] B+
  • Back to the Egg [Columbia, 1979] C

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Wild Life [Apple, 1971]
McCartney is coming to terms with his own fluff--the overproduction sounds less cluttered this time--but it's still fluff, and not even goosedown. Maybe the thrill of leading his very own band has him distracted. (Yes, Linda is in it--that's the good part.) C-

Venus and Mars [Capitol, 1975]
Superficially, which counts for a lot with McCartney, his New Orleans venture is his most appealing post-Beatles album--straight rock and roll with a few pop detours and one excursion into "When I'm 64" nostalgia. So clear in its melodies, mix, and basic pulse that his whimsical juxtapositions--robots on Main Street, Rudy Vallee cheek by jowl with Allen Toussaint--sound like they might make some sense. Don't get me wrong--they probably don't, because McCartney's a convinced fool. But when the music is coherent it doesn't matter so much. B+

Wings at the Speed of Sound [Capitol, 1976]
The only substantial talent in this group is bassist-producer Paul McCartney, and he's at full strength only on the impassioned "Beware My Love," although "Let 'Em In" and "Silly Love Songs" are charming if lightweight singles, and "She's My Baby" sounds like an outtake from the "white" double-LP by McCartney's former group, the Beatles. In any case, the supporting cast is disgracefully third-rate. The vocals of guitarist Denny Laine are even lamer than those of McCartney's wife and keyboard player, Linda. B-

London Town [Capitol, 1978]
McCartney's lyricism is so capricious, so given to inanity and icky-poo, that only at its very best--"With a Little Luck" and the affectionate goof on "Famous Groupies"--does it come on strong. But from its slices of life to its romantic reassurances this is nowhere near as feckless as the Old Band on the Run claque claims--even on the one about the fairy who'll invite us to tea Linda adds a few harmonies that are as charming as they're meant to be. And at the very least you have to be impressed by how steadfastly Paul has resisted supersessions--he's been loyal to his group, which has now recorded longer than the Beatles. B

Wings Greatest [Capitol, 1978]
Twelve songs, five of them hits not on any previous Wings album, running 54:11 in all, replete with rhythm shifts and subthemes and counterplots and flights of fancy and forays into abject nonsense. In short, pop for potheads. All I could ask is a stylus-width scratch across "My Love." B+

Back to the Egg [Columbia, 1979]
Whew. Sixteen titles on an untimed LP that must run forty minutes if not fifty--or seventy-five. When he's on, Paulie's abundant tunefulness passes for generosity. Here he's just hoping something will stick. C