Paul McCartney & The Wings - London Town
Vinyl VG Sleeve VG
London Town is the sixth studio album by Wings, released in 1978. The album had a long and tumultuous gestation which saw the loss of two band members, the birth of a baby and the release of the then best-selling single in British history.
After the commercial zenith of 1976 with Wings at the Speed of Sound and its well-received Wings Over the World tour, Wings' leader Paul McCartney planned on making 1977 a similar year. However, things did not quite work out as planned.
In February 1977, Wings began recording sessions at Abbey Road Studios, which continued until the end of March. Here, Wings recorded five songs: "Girls' School", "Name and Address", "London Town", "Children, Children" and Linda McCartney's "B-Side to Seaside", later issued as the flip-side of the Wings single "Seaside Woman" (issued under the name "Suzy and the Red Stripes"). The initial plan of touring the US again was thwarted by Linda's discovery that she was pregnant with her and Paul's third child. (Mary had been born in 1969 and Stella in 1971). With the knowledge that they were not going to tour and had time at their disposal – and once again looking for different locales to record in – Wings found themselves moored on a yacht called "Fair Carol" in the Virgin Islands during the month of May where several new songs were recorded. Reflecting the nautical locale, the album's initial working title was Water Wings. As Linda's pregnancy progressed, the band halted the sessions for the album, save for the recording of a new track called "Mull of Kintyre" that August and the completion of the already begun "Girls' School", which would be released as a single – Wings' one and only release in 1977.
Before the single's release came two defections from Wings. Drummer Joe English had become homesick for America and returned home, and lead guitarist Jimmy McCulloch left to join the Small Faces that September. For the first time since 1973's Band on the Run, Wings were down to the core three of Paul, Linda and Denny Laine, reflected on the picture sleeve of the single, which showed the three remaining members.
In November, two months after the birth of son James, and shortly after sessions for London Town resumed, the Scottish tribute "Mull of Kintyre" was released to enormous commercial success, becoming the UK's biggest-selling single (outstripping The Beatles' largest seller "She Loves You"). Although it would be topped in 1984 by Band Aid, "Mull of Kintyre" still ranks as the UK's fourth biggest selling single and the largest selling non-charity single.
After some final overdubbing in January 1978, London Town was completed and preceded by the US No. 1 "With a Little Luck" that March, while the album was released a week later. The album also features the song "Girlfriend" which was also recorded by American pop star Michael Jackson, who featured it on his 1979 album Off the Wall. London Town generally fared well with the critics and in the charts, reaching No. 4 in the UK and No. 2 in the US where it sold over one million copies and went platinum. But after its strong start, it did not have the staying power of Wings' previous releases, with subsequent singles "I've Had Enough" and the title track becoming small hits. Although the advent of punk music (which sent the music industry into a period of change) would certainly have contributed to the slightly smaller sales of London Town, the album is now considered to mark the end of Wings' commercial peak and the beginning of a minor commercial slump for McCartney. On 14 May 1978, Paul and Linda McCartney were interviewed for BBC Radio's The Simon Bates Show to endorse the album and the single "With a Little Luck".
Paul McCartney was reportedly displeased with Capitol Records in the US, where "Mull of Kintyre" fared poorly (its B-Side, "Girls School," did make a modest dent in the Top 40, reaching No. 33), and was further dismayed at what he viewed as lacklustre promotion for London Town. With his contract at an end, he signed up with Columbia Records for North America only (remaining with EMI worldwide) and would stay there until 1984, before returning to Capitol in the US.