The Beatles

[The Beatles][twocolumns]





1973: Wings' 'what if'-album Red Rose Speedway

Wings' second album Red Rose Speedway was originally intended as a double album, but under pressure from record company EMI, it was reduced to a normal single LP. To the disappointment of the band members; none of whom were satisfied with the final result.

After the hastily recorded Wings Wild Life, and the devastating criticisms that followed, McCartney realized that he had to get up with something better. The band decides to take their time for the sequel, and the recording sessions are being spread over a year. If there's an opportunity, Wings will jump into the studio for a series of recording sessions.

The expectations for Wings' second album were high in 1973. This is especially due to the album track and hit single My Love, the McCartney classic who topped the charts a few weeks before the release of Red Rose Speedway. On the whole, the album does not actually contain really weak songs, but outstanding tracks, such as My Love, are not part of it as well. Although the closing medley consisting Hold Me Tight / Lazy Dynamite / Hands Of Love / Power Cut is very special. It’s almost as ingenious as the Abbey Road medley, especially because of the Power Cut outro, where the guitar solos of Hold Me Tight, Lazy Dynamite and Hands Of Love alternate.

Video: My Love
In a sense, you can see Red Rose Speedway as a follow-up to RAM. First of all, it contains two songs from the RAM sessions, Get On The Right Thing and Little Lamb Dragonfly. And Red Rose Speedway begins where RAM is about to end: The last line of the reprise Ram On "Who's That Coming Round That Corner? Who's That Coming Round That Bend?" are the first ones on the opening track Big Barn Bed.

Video: Big Barn Bed

Because the band has taken so much time for the recording, there is more than enough material available to make a double album. But EMI has little faith in it and has convinced McCartney to refrain, especially for commercial reasons; After all, a double album is more expensive and after the commercially disappointing Wild Life, the record company wants to play safe. A missed opportunity, according to Wings' guitarists Henry McCullough and Denny Laine:
From what you heard on the album, there was another side to it that brought out the best in McCartney. And I thought, 'Great, at last he's doing something that my friends are going to like!' He was starting to rock out a little bit. But it only came out as a single and the rest was never released.
Henry McCullough

I thought Red Rose Speedway was good as a double album and more of a showcase for the band. So when it came out as a single album, I didn't like it as much as Ram.
Denny Laine

The question is, was Red Rose Speedway actually better as a double? If you look at other examples of double albums in pop music, then there always appears to be a discussion about whether a single album was not better. It happened to Prince, with his album Sign Of The Times and widely known is George Martin's criticism on The Beatles' White Album, which, according to him, would have been much stronger if it had been shortened. Even about Bruce Springsteen's masterpiece The River, such a discussion took place.

In case of Red Rose Speedway, the question is reversed. And to be honest, I do not think a double album was actually much better. What does strike me is that, in particular, the rougher, rockier tracks didn’t made it to the final album, with the result that Red Rose Speedway gives a somewhat distorted picture of the band as it was back then. A double had not been better, but it would be more complete. And in that sense, it's a pity that it became a single album.

Track list double album:
Side 1:
1. Big Barn Bed
2. My Love
3. When the Night
4. Single Pigeon

Side 2:
1. Tragedy
2. Mama's Little Girl
3. Loup (1st Indian on the Moon)
4. I Would Only Smile

Side 3:
1. Country Dreamer
2. Night Out
3. One More Kiss
4. Jazz Street

Side 4:
1. I Lie Around
2. Little Lamb Dragonfly
3. Get on the Right Thing
4. 1882 (live)
5. The Mess I'm In (live)
André Homan

André Homan is a Dutch writer and journalist.

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