Underrated: Cleared for take-off

If you go by simple arithmetic, a pop career pursued by one Beatle should be precisely a quarter as good as one pursued by four. The theory doesn't stand up, though, because it may be more or less true of George Harrison's solo output, but John Lennon's is generally about half as good without the other Fabs and Ringo Starr's is somewhere between a 100th and a 1,000th.

As for Paul, he has sometimes been nearly as good as the Beatles and sometimes nearly as bad as Ringo. Most of the superior songs happened under the umbrella of Wings, the band set up in 1971 as a casual touring outfit who, in 1973's Band on the Run, came up with one of the most tightly conceived albums of that decade. 'My Love' and 'Listen to What the Man Said' could easily have been late Beatles songs representing the two McCartney styles: mournful and down-tempo or cheery and up-tempo.

Wings signed off as they started: like Wings Wild Life (1971), Back to the Egg (1979) was a stinker that has its fragrant moments. In between, the quality of their albums describe a perfect parabola - rising from the patchy Red Rose Speedway to Band on the Run and Venus and Mars back down to the patchy Wings at the Speed of Sound. The only blip in the chart is London Town from 1978, an unfairly disregarded album in which McCartney's compositional skills range from the sea shanty through the yokel folk-song to melodic celebrations of childhood. Also there was the triple live album Wings over America, most of which is good enough to justify the decision not to skimp with an edited-highlights package.

Even though the whole back catalogue was recently released on CD, it is still regarded as something of an embarrassment to confess a fondness for Wings. The name is the first hurdle: they might as well have gone all the way and called themselves Feather or Furry Friends. Another problem was that they never quite slotted into any of the prevailing AOR trends of the time. Though fronted by one of the two most successful songwriters of the century, they weren't quite clever or solipsistic enough to be a singer-songwriter outfit. Despite a semi-dabble with the concept album on Venus and Mars, they weren't a pomp rock band either. Nor, despite perpetrating what at the time was Britain's biggest- selling single ('Mull of Kintyre'), were they just a singles band.

They invited scorn mainly because McCartney pressganged his tone-deaf wife into the band. Linda took her place on keyboards and backing vocals and even, on a paean to vegetarianism called 'Cook of the House', sang lead. It wasn't a great song, but then nor were a few of the numbers that, in a nod to democracy, McCartney allowed the rest of the band to sing.

Some of them were, though. His sidekick Denny Laine could never be Lennon but with the raspy nasal tincture to his voice you could close your eyes and pat him on the back for having a go. But as if to confirm that it was always McCartney who pulled the strings, Laine sold him his share of the writers' royalties for 'Mull of Kintyre' before going bankrupt in 1986. Since Wings disbanded, McCartney has had his biggest hits with 'Wonderful Christmastime' and 'The Frog Chorus'.

(Photograph omitted)

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

film
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment

film
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...