On Dec. 22, 1973, the highest-ranking album to debut on the Billboard Top LP’s & Tape chart was at #33: Band on the Run by Paul McCartney & Wings. It would quickly go to #1.
Although it had been three and a half years since the last Beatles’ album, McCartney had already released five solo albums, three with the group Wings (which went from being a quintet to a trio on this LP). McCartney says Band on the Run was his second most enjoyable experience in post-Beatles recording (following his debut solo McCartney ). Much of the album was recorded over four and a half weeks at EMI Studios in Nigeria. Additional musical enhancements and the final mix were completed in London.
The album’s cover photo was shot against a brick wall at the 16th-century Osterly House’s stable, one of the last surviving country estates in London. The concept for the photograph was a prison break that’s been exposed. McCartney, his wife Linda and Denny Laine posed with actors Christopher Lee and James Coburn, Liverpool boxer and future Light-Heavyweight Champion John Conteh, journalist Michael Parkinson, singer Kenny Lynch, and celebrity chef Clement Freud.
One of my favorite tracks on the LP is the breezy, laid-back love song, “Bluebird.” The song has an island feel amid its acoustic, jazz-pop arrangement and harmonies. The breathy sax solo was recorded in London by Howie Casey, a Liverpool mate of Paul’s who was in one of the first Mersey Beat bands to get a London recording contract.
Band on the Run would be McCartney’s last release on Apple Records.