Listen to Wings' epic 'Band on the Run' as you've never heard it before with the new 'underdubbed' mix

7 December 2023, 12:55

Rockshow film trailer starring Paul McCartney and Wings

By Mayer Nissim

Hear the classic 'Band of the Run' with no strings (or brass) attached.

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As the pop world mourns the genius of Denny Laine, many of us have been putting on our Moody Blues and Wings records in his memory.

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of arguably Denny and Paul McCartney's greatest work together – Wings' Band on the Run.

"Band on the Run is a great album," none other than John Lennon told Rolling Stone in 1975, having frequently slated his ex-bandmate's work in the same magazine in previous years.

"Wings is almost as conceptual a group as Plastic Ono Band. Plastic Ono was a conceptual group, meaning that whoever was playing was the band. And Wings keeps changing all the time. It's conceptual.

"I mean, they're backup men for Paul. It doesn't matter who's playing, you can call them Wings, but it’s Paul McCartney music. And it's good stuff. It's good Paul music."

Band On The Run (Underdubbed Mix)

The album didn't actually get off to the best start, and original demo recordings are still thought lost forever, having been stolen at knifepoint in Lagos, Nigeria.

"It was stuff that would be worth a bit on eBay these days, you know?" McCartney told Clash in 2010. "But they didn’t know, and we reckoned they’d probably record over them."

But that doesn't mean the inevitable 50th-anniversary release of Band on the Run won't be a very special one indeed, and we don't just mean 'Helen Wheels' keeping its place as track 8 as it appeared on the US album and 25th-anniversary version.

Wings: Linda McCartney, Paul McCartney and Denny Laine in the studio in 1973
Wings: Linda McCartney, Paul McCartney and Denny Laine in the studio in 1973. Picture: Getty Images

The original album, which the band stuck around in Nigeria to record the bulk of before finishing things off back in London, will be accompanied by what's being called the "underdubbed mixes".

What's that all about then? Well, Wings drummer Denny Seiwell and guitarist Henry McCullough left the group shortly before the album was made, with Macca, his wife Linda, and Denny Laine recording it as a trio – Paul naturally filling in the gaps.

Impressed by his work with T. Rex, McCartney also enlisted David Bowie's regular producer Tony Visconti to write and conduct the orchestral arrangements for the album.

Paul McCartney & Wings 'Band on the Run' (Lyric Video)

In collaboration with McCartney, Tony did a remarkable job, especially given he had just three days to write the arrangements and they were all laid down in a single day at AIR studio.

That included the whopping 60-piece orchestra for the opener/title/single 'Band on the Run', which added all that depth to the three-part epic.

But while there's absolutely nothing wrong with Visconti's arrangements – this wasn't a repeat of the Phil Spector Let It Be debacle – we have always wondered what the album would sound like a little bit more... naked.

Wings - Band on the Run 50th anniversary edition
Wings - Band on the Run 50th anniversary edition. Picture: Capitol

To whet our appetites, McCartney has this week released the underdubbed mix of 'Band on the Run' and it's every bit as wonderful as the finished version. You can listen to it now near the top of this article, ahead of the album's re-issue next year.

The full tracklisting for Band On the Run (50th Anniversary Edition) is as follows:

CD1 - Band on the Run

  1. Band on the Run
  2. Jet
  3. Bluebird
  4. Mrs. Vandebilt
  5. Let Me Roll It
  6. Mamunia
  7. No Words
  8. Helen Wheels
  9. Picasso's Last Words (Drink to Me)
  10. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five

CD2 - Band on the Run (Underdubbed Mixes)

  1. Band on the Run
  2. Mamunia
  3. No Words
  4. Jet
  5. Bluebird
  6. Mrs. Vandebilt
  7. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
  8. Picasso's Last Words (Drink to Me)
  9. Let Me Roll It