Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Got to roll tonight

How many members were in Talking Heads? This became a tricky question during the Remain in Light period, when some would argue that Talking Heads became a huge entity with nearly a dozen members, others would argue (using the album cover as evidence) that Talking Heads was still the same four-member group as always, others would argue that Talking Heads was David Byrne alone, and still others would claim that Talking Heads had no members (during my radio days at KRRC, someone wrote "File Under Eno" on the cover of the vinyl LP).

How many members were in Wings? This became a tricky question during the Back to the Egg period. Specifically, it became tricky on October 3, 1978 when the following personnel got together at Abbey Road Studios and recorded the "Rockestra Theme":

Guitars - Denny Laine, Laurence Juber, Dave Gilmour, Hank Marvin, Pete Townshend.
Drums - Steve Holly, John Bonham, Kenney Jones.
Bass - Paul, John Paul Jones, Ronnie Lane, Bruce Thomas.
Pianos - Paul, Gary Brooker, John Paul Jones.
Keyboards - Linda, Tony Ashton.
Percussion - Speedy Acquaye, Tony Carr, Ray Cooper, Morris Pert.
Horns - Howie Casey, Tony Dorsey, Steve Howard, Thaddeus Richard.

So, at least on that day, one could claim that Wings had 23 members. (When counting, don't forget that Paul McCartney and Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones did double duty on bass and piano.)

However, the purists would argue that the recording was actually made by Wings Mark VI, formed in June 1978 and consisting of Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney, Denny Laine, Laurence Juber, and Steve Holly. To this day I wonder where Steve got the job because of his last name.

Of course, there's also a school of thought that claims that Wings was pretty much Paul McCartney and Paul McCartney alone, but I disagree with that school for reasons that I'll state later.

But back to "Rockestra Theme."

On second thought, forget it; I don't really care about "Rockestra Theme." It's a nice tune, but IMHO it's not as good as the other song that was recorded that day - or mostly recorded that day. While Paul had all of his buddies around him, he recorded a second song, "So Glad To See You Here" (lyrics here). If the title doesn't ring a bell, this is the song from later on Side 2 of Back to the Egg in which Paul pretty much screamed his head off. If you've never heard it, you may be able to hear it on last.fm, YouTube, or goear.

So that was the other song that was recorded on October 3 - or, mostly recorded on October 3.

November - December 1978 at Replica Studios, an exact replica of Abbey Road #2 Studio built in MPL Headquarters, London.
Here, overdubs for the album tracks are added, along with new endings for "Spin It On" and "So Glad To See You Here".

Ah, yes, the ending, in which a group of voices perform a reprise of the Wings song "We're Open Tonight."

Specifically, a group of three voices.

Yup, Paul, Linda, and Denny were pretty much Wings. The only people who were there for the whole run of the band, and the only people who were there in critical parts of the band's history (especially Band on the Run).

But whether we're talking about 3 or 23, a film was made of the October 3 proceedings:

On hand to capture the proceedings is a film crew, using five 35mm Panavision cameras, hired by Paul and featuring the direction of Barry Chattington, who previously worked with Paul on the unreleased 1972 Bruce McMouse concert film. In 1980, Paul edits together (from a total of 80,000 feet of film taken on the day), a 40-minute programme comprising 5,500 feet of film from the events, and calls it simply Rockestra. This film remains unreleased, save for a brief 15-minute excerpt, which is screened at the Back To The Egg launch party on Monday June 11, 1979 (see entry).

Paul recalls the filming: "I asked the fellow who was going to film (Barry Chattington), if he could film it like they film wild life. You know, they sit back off wild life and just observe it and they just let it go on with its own thing and when you try and film our session it's a bit like the same sort of thing. If everyone notices the cameras and lights, they all freeze up and won't talk naturally and they all get embarrassed. So they (the cameramen) put all the cameras behind a big wall and no one could see the cameras and a lot of them didn't even know it was being filmed. John Bonham had no idea it was filmed ... in fact he is suing us!" Paul jokingly concludes.

Unfortunately, people weren't joking later. Keith Moon had already died (explaining Kenney Jones' presence at the session), John Bonham was about to die, and Paul McCartney was about to get the inspiration for a song that he would call "Frozen Jap" - a song that would appear on an album entitled McCartney II, which was about as far from a rockestra as you could get.
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