100 Greatest Songs of the 70’s #89 Wings – Jet

Released : 1973

In the words of one famous Scouser of later times, “Self doubt and selfism were the cheapest things I ever bought”. It seems crazy now to even consider the notion that a former Beatle – with most of the world still hoping they would reform – would be regarded as creatively under pressure, but a string of underwhelming releases, both solo and as Wings, were considered as proof that the quartet were less than the sum of their parts.

The circumstances surrounding the third, make-or-break, Wings album Band On The Run have gone down in legend. Before a note was struck the quintet were reduced to a trio, guitarist Henry McCullough and drummer Denny Seiwell both quitting, whilst later they arrived in Lagos to find their studio was little more than a shed. McCartney was then mugged and had all the demo tapes stolen in the process, then to top that was incapacitated on health grounds and confined to bed.

Yet a mojo had been well and truly discovered. Winning back almost as much ground critically as he’d lost, on release Band On The Run was greeted with the fervour of a returning prodigal son. It’s definitive track was Jet, a triumphant slice of rock opera which some regarded as the singer’s best output in that oeuvre since Back In the USSR. Best of all though, it didn’t feel like a former Beatle trying to be a current one; knowing what we do now about the band’s complex chemistry it seems possible it wouldn’t have made it past the idea stage. Self doubt had shoved Paul McCartney’s back up against a wall; it all turned out rather well, thank you.

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