The Wings album Paul McCartney called a “disaster”

Making a transition from 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 the trends rather than set them.

During their time together, Wings had a strong run, releasing seven records, of which four topped the charts in the United States. For a while, they were the perfect foil for his artistry, but all good things eventually come to an end, and the group’s final album, Back To The Egg, marked the beginning of their inevitable split.

By this point, McCartney had almost been in the music business for two decades, and deep down, he knew Back To The Egg wasn’t the same calibre as most of his previous work. His gut feeling was echoed by scathing reviews of the record in the press, who were dissatisfied with Macca’s attempts at new-wave. Although commercial success isn’t a thorough metric to measure an album, it’s telling that Back To The Egg was the lowest-charting record from Wings’ catalogue bar their debut in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

In an interview with Reverb, McCartney looked back upon the record and remembered: “The interesting thing is that, looking back on some of the work, some of the stuff, it’s better than you think it was, but because it got such harsh criticism … from me. The critics gave us a hard run, but I was particularly hard on us. I remember looking at a book, there was an album we did, I think it was Back to the Egg, which didn’t do well, and I remember thinking, ‘God, complete disaster.’”

However, thanks to a conversation with David Bowie, McCartney later reassessed his stance on the album. He recalled: “Years later, I remember looking at it with Bowie in this old book — one of these who-did-what Hit Parade books, looking it up — and it was like No. 8 in America.”

Macca added: “And I thought, ‘Most people would give their right bloody arms to be No. 8,’. But eight, and I wasn’t satisfied, The Beatles had been No. 1. This is all right, keeps you going. But yes, a lot of the stuff is underrated, because of that.”

Although McCartney now longer views the album as a “complete disaster”, Back To The Egg was a signifier Wings were heading towards the exit door. Furthermore, their UK tour for the album was similarly ill-fated. Their split was made official in 1981 after they tried to rehearse for another album. Still, it became clear to everybody that McCartney needed to fly from the nest and leave the group behind due to creative differences.

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