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Paul McCartney has trophies, honors and accolades to fill a large warehouse. And they are deserved. His combination of raw talent, a stunning work ethic and a creative drive are the stuff of legend.

Not many groups have a genius. Someone who can perform, arrange and write at an extraordinary level. The Beatles had two - John Lennon and Paul McCartney. That fact goes a long way to explaining The Beatles enormous and long lasting popularity. It was also at the root of the group's dissolution. Geniuses can be hard to work with and be incredibly demanding.

As time passed John wanted to slow down, explore other interests (or just lie in bed all day getting high). For over a decade The Beatles had been Lennon's primary focus and largely his responsibility. He was the founder and the leader but it had taken an enormous toll. Meanwhile, McCartney was working (overtime) to keep The Beatles going, moving forward. It got to the point where John might contribute 2-3 songs to an album, George Harrison got his cursory 2 tracks and Ringo Starr had one. McCartney was responsible for the rest.

In short order, the other three resented McCartney's demanding, workaholic nature and what was perceived as his "bossiness." The Beatles' collapse had more to do with the faltering Lennon-McCartney dynamic than the contentious business decisions, spousal influences or Harrison's growing frustration at being treated like a 'junior partner'.

It was McCartney who wanted The Beatles to play live in the late '60s (the group stopped touring in '66) and he pushed the ill-advised "Let It Be" project which made the end inevitable. Not that the breakup was his fault, though his departure in April '07 did spell the end. Rather, McCartney was in a different place than the other three. Easily the most social and outgoing member; writing, recording and performing were an integral part of his being. The other three may have felt the same way but their intensity could not even begin to match McCartney's.

Unlike John, George or even Ringo, whose post-Beatles careers were largely solo efforts, Paul leaned toward a group environment. His post-Beatles career was more successful than his former bandmates combined. And he was the only ex-Beatle to launch, not one, but several successful world tours.

Having fought the hardest to keep The Beatles going, Paul was the only one to successfully establish and sustain another major group. Yes, Lennon had the short-lived Plastic Ono Band and Ringo had his All-Starr Band but despite the talent involved, neither was comparable to Wings - gold and platinum records and mega tours - the big leagues. Ironically, the same issues that killed The Beatles would eventually snuff Wings.

The group resulted from McCartney's desire to perform live again following the release of his first two solo albums "McCartney" ('70) and "Ram" ('71).

Unlike The Beatles (a partnership of at least two creative equals) Wings was firmly under McCartney's control. That led the other band members to feel stifled creatively. McCartney tried to finesse this by allowing each member a lead vocal per album and shared songwriting credits. That really didn't do much good. A song here or there rarely assauged a musician's delicate ego and only rarely were these efforts comparable to what McCartney produced.

Having bitterly complained, along with George and Ringo, at Yoko Ono's constant presence during Beatles' recording sessions Paul now installed his wife Linda (keyboards and vocals) as a band member. Former Moody Blues' guitarist Denny Laine and drummer Denny Seiwell were also added. The following year ('72) guitarist Henry McCullough joined.

After a series of low key, often unannounced concerts, Wings was ready to fly. With "Wings Wildlife" ('72) and "Red Rose Speedway" ('73) the group built a decent reputation but it was snatching victory from certain defeat that sealed Wings' reputation. Prior to the group's departure to record in Nigeria, both Seiwell and McCullough quit. Paul, Linda and Laine decided to go on. The result was Wings' high water mark "Band On The Run" ('73). They continued the streak with "Venus and Mars" the following year. Capping a hugely successful U.S. tour, the live "Wings Over America" was released.

Soon though, the magic was gone as Wings began a slow, comfortable decline. Even with the addition of guitarist Laurence Juber and drummer Steve Holly, Wings could not rise above mediocrity as McCartney dabbled in disco and other pop styles. Wings splintered yet again. This time Paul (with Linda) finally gave up on the group concept and embarked on a solo career.

Wings Discography

The best Wings albums, which were recorded between '73 and '75, are "Band On The Run" and "Venus and Mars." They are clearly more pop than Rock but they have their moments. From "Band On The Run," both "Jet" and "Helen Wheels" are great guitar driven pop-Rockers. But the outstanding tracks are Laine's haunting "Time To Hide" and Paul's "Let Me Roll It," which is the best Lennon impersonation ever recorded. After all, McCartney worked with the guy for fifteen years.

"Venus and Mars" contains the title track along with the inventive "Rock Show" and the rollicking "Medicine Jar." McCartney's remaining output with both Wings and his eventual solo career features pop and MOR material.


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