In Praise of Paul McCartney's London Town

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by DeYoung, May 14, 2022 at 1:38 PM.

  1. DeYoung

    DeYoung Forum Resident Thread Starter

    The current round of speculation about the next Archive release made me go back and listen to London Town again. And I'm convinced, more than ever, that this is one of the best-ever Wings albums. It's tuneful and melodic, impeccably played, and despite some lazy lyric-writing in spots really holds its own. I suppose it was seen as soft in 1978, coming out in the middle of punk and disco. But history, I believe, has unfairly consigned it to the scrap heap of lesser McCartney records. I like it better than Venus and Mars or Speed of Sound, I think the songs are consistently better. I'm one of those who've always thought Band on the Run was overrated - I'll take London Town over that one, too. I now think "Morse Moose & the Grey Goose" is on a par with "Robber's Ball," "Tropic Island Hum" and the other "wacky Macca" songs. I even like "Famous Groupies." If he had put "Girls School" on it, instead of, say, "Girlfriend" or "Name and Address," the album would have killed. "Waterspout" would have been great, too. Sure, it's not perfect - what McCartney album is? - but it's a terrific listening experience.
  2. plugmeintosomething

    plugmeintosomething Forum Resident

    History has judged it correctly. It is a lesser McCartney record. Still better than much of what the 80s would bring.
  3. Slightly off topic but...

    I never bothered getting 'Off The Ground' when it was released. I had read it was a mediocre effort and McCartney had gone off my radar.

    About a year ago or so though I saw a copy at the thrift shop and splurged a couple of bucks on it.

    I was pleasantly surprised. No masterpiece but an enjoyable listen with several solid tracks.
    Sean, Big Pasi, cwitt1980 and 13 others like this.
  4. UnderTheFloorboards'66

    UnderTheFloorboards'66 Forum Resident

    San Francisco, CA
  5. DeYoung

    DeYoung Forum Resident Thread Starter

    My feeling is that 'Back to the Egg' is the real clunker. A lot of half-assed melodies, and cod lyrics that somehow made it to the master.
  6. Swansong

    Swansong From Planet Earth

    I really appreciate London Town, and I certainly hope it gets the remastered treatment soon. I also love Back to the Egg, so I guess I’m in the minority here, but they both deserve to be remastered like any of the choices already made.

    Off the Ground certainly has some nice moments, but as a whole, it lacks a coherent feel. Not terrible at all though.
  7. humpf

    humpf Allowed to write something here.

    I like London Town. Include the single and then cut the thing down to like 40 minutes - and you get one of the best McC albums.
    Wildest cat from montana and 905 like this.
  8. 905

    905 Senior Member

    St. Louis
    I wish Mull of Kintyre was on it, just to add to a travel theme.
  9. 905

    905 Senior Member

    St. Louis
    I'm one of those people that like Egg, though once again I wish the single replaced lesser album tracks.
  10. jfire

    jfire Forum Resident

    The first Macca LP I purchased upon release. I was 12 and had just gotten into the Beatles. I know it's not the best LP, but I have a nostalgic fondness for it.

    Some good tunes, in my opinion: Title track, Girlfriend, With a Little Luck (which got quite a bit of airplay when I was a kid), and, particularly, "Deliver Your Children," which has nice Paul/Denny vocals.

    I agree that Mull of Kintyre is a good fit, and was included on the 1993 CD reissue along with Girlschool. I think Mull is a nice tune, to this day, likely because I grew up in the States and wasn't subjected to hearing it endlessly like folks in the UK were.

    I'm looking forward to Archive releases of both this and of Back to the Egg.
  11. MikeP5877

    MikeP5877 Uh Huh

  12. Mccook

    Mccook Forum Resident

    Portland, OR
    The album suffers based on the track list. It’s all over the place in a way that seem distracted rather than quirky.

    The song writing isn’t fantastic. Cafe On The Left Bank and Famous Groupies are bottom tier songs. Many of the song arrangements feel unfinished, lacking and uninspired. I think Paul needed to spend more time working the material.

    I do think Deliver Your Children is a great tune. There are other highlights, but this is an album I rarely would listen to in full.
    Remy and steepien like this.
  13. jricc

    jricc Senior Member

    Jersey Shore
    I'm also a fan of London Town. It is softer in places, a little British folky in places. But one of the things I like most, is the use of acoustic instruments...and Backwards Traveler is a cool (possibly unfinished) song.
  14. Musician95616

    Musician95616 Forum Resident

    I like London Town, but also Back To The Egg, Press To Play, and Off The Ground.

    I draw the line at liking the singles "Freedom" and "We All Stand Together"
    Jerquee, fer2, Nightowl and 1 other person like this.
  15. Ryan Lux

    Ryan Lux Senior Member

    Toronto, ON, CA
    It's a fun record, that's for sure. Probably not the best thing to follow up a career defining tour with but hey, that's Paul. I'm REALLY excited for the Archive edition as I expect a major upgrade in sound.
    leeroy jenkins and Horse Brunsby like this.
  16. JamieC

    JamieC Senior Member

    Detroit Mi USA
    And here I go really liking all three. Famous Groupies is a hoot. Then there is Cafe with "English speaking people drinking German beer"(forming human pyramids and frightening the children*).
    *See Monty Python
    Lewisboogie and Folknik like this.
  17. Chemguy

    Chemguy Forum Resident

    Love London Town. Always will.
    Paul H, Ryan Lux, 905 and 5 others like this.
  18. maccafan

    maccafan Senior Member

    The good is really good with Cafe On The Left Bank being an absolute highlight of the album! The guitar playing on that song is just fantastic!
    Folknik likes this.
  19. Folknik

    Folknik Forum Resident

    Band On the Run is probably Wings' best album, but London Town is my favorite, and the closest Wings ever came to making a folk album. It definitely sounds like they had been digging some Pentangle and Fairport Convention, and Denny Laine shines on this album more than on any other one. Being recorded on a yacht probably went a long way toward giving much of it a bit of a nautical vibe. The many people who dismiss it as "soft" and "bland synth pop" are somehow missing the tough acoustic textures on much of the album. Neither the Beatles nor Wings was ever an exclusively hard rocking band, and an album doesn't have to hit us over the head with decibels to be great.
    Side 1:
    1. London Town - Beautiful melody, evocative lyrical imagery, and gorgeous rainy day atmosphere.
    2. Cafe On the Left Bank - Great melodic rocker with more evocative imagery.
    3. I'm Carrying - Lovely folky melody, and a favorite of George Harrison.
    4. Backwards Traveler - Edgy acoustic guitar-driven folk rock with a sci-fi dimension, segueing into...
    5. Cuff Link - A rather short but proggy instrumental bit that reminds me of some of ELP's synth excursions.
    6. Children Children - A very nice lilting childlike folk tune and one of Denny Laine's gems.
    7. Girlfriend - A prime piece of mellow blue-eyed soul that Paul said was influenced by the Jackson 5, and a year later, Michael Jackson covered it.
    8. A tough rocker that gives the album some contrast without sounding out of place.
    Side 2:
    1. With a Little Luck - A beautifully lilting melodic pop song with the word "damn" in it. Almost 6 minutes long with a multi-layered suite-like structure, it's similar to "Silly Love Songs" but better.
    2. Famous Groupies - A quirky, offbeat, but funny and edgy folk tune. This is where the album's folk groove takes over and almost doesn't let up.
    3. Deliver Your Children - My favorite song on the album, and one of Denny Laine's finest moments. Great acoustic guitar work and darkly funny and cryptic lyrics.
    4. Name and Address - For me, the album's only weak link. A rockabilly throwaway that clashes with the folk tour de force of the rest of Side 2. Would have worked better as one of those non-album B sides Paul was so fond of releasing.
    5. Don't Let It Bring You Down - A slow, dirgelike folk tune with a beautifully dark minor-keyed melody. Omitting "Name and Address" and letting "Deliver Your Children" lead right into this one would have been marvelous.
    6. Morse Moose and the Grey Goose - A delightfully eerie 6-minute prog-folk track that sounds like Uncle Albert and Admiral Halsey singing a sea chantey while sipping Monkberry Moon Delight. After the frenetic tempo of this one, IMO, the album should have closed with the beautifully folk-flavored "Mull of Kintyre", replacing the clashing "Name and Address", making Side 2 consistently folky (Even "With a Little Luck" has a folk-informed melody) and ending the album on a nice mellow mood. Paul said in an interview that "Girls School" did not fit the mood and texture of the album, but there's no way he could have truthfully said that about "Mull of Kintyre."
    Topping the 50-minute mark, the album gave us real bang for our buck, and to my ears, it's a near perfect album. A colossal improvement over the democratic but uneven Speed of Sound album.
  20. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    For me, it's my favorite song on the album, and I wish he did an entire album like this.
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  21. Ken.e.

    Ken.e. Spinning music since...

    I like it. It's not a masterpiece but a great album. I thought With A Little Luck was an amazing single.

    I think it aged well and only a single dud for me and that's I've Had Enough
  22. adm62

    adm62 Senior Member

    Toronto, Canada
    I don't. It's artificial and awful (and Denny has his eyes closed)
  23. Harman

    Harman Forum Resident

    Better than anything he did in the 80s. IMHO
  24. Remy

    Remy Forum Resident

    Brooklyn NY
    I don’t hate it but it’s totally the lightest thing he ever did. The inclusion of Girls School and the exclusion of Morse Moose would have helped.
    Blue Cactus likes this.
  25. edrebber

    edrebber Forum Resident

    New York
    Mull of Kintyre is on the reissue from '93.
    Cool Chemist likes this.

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