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Music / Band on the Run

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If I ever get out of here, thought of giving it all away
To a registered charity; all I need is a pint a day

"Band on the run
Band on the run
And the jailer man and Sailor Sam
Were searching everyone
For the band on the run
For the band on the run..."

Band on the Run is the third studio album by Wings, and Paul McCartney's fifth overall since leaving the Beatles.

Released in December 1973, this was seen by Paul as an "all or nothing" effort to prove that he was a capable artist on his own. It worked: this album became the highest-selling of 1974 in the British and Australian markets, and went on to become one of McCartney's most celebrated post-Beatles efforts.


Side One
  1. "Band on the Run" (5:12)
  2. "Jet" (4:09)
  3. "Bluebird" (3:23)
  4. "Mrs. Vandebilt" (4:40)
  5. "Let Me Roll It" (4:51)

Side Two

  1. "Mamunia" (4:51)
  2. "No Words" (2:35)
  3. "Picasso's Last Words (Drink to Me)" (5:49)
  4. "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five" (5:28)

Bonus tracks in the 1993 reissue

  1. "Helen Wheels" (3:44)note 
  2. "Country Dreamer" (3:07)

Principal Members:

  • Paul McCartney - vocals; acoustic, electric and bass guitars; piano; drums and percussion
  • Linda McCartney - keyboards and vocals
  • Denny Laine - vocals; acoustic, electric and bass guitars; keyboards; percussion

"Tropes on the run... Tropes on the run!"

  • Book Ends: The closing track, "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five", finishes off with a brief reprise of the opening song, "Band on the Run".
  • Call-Back: "Picasso's Last Words (Drink to Me)" has short reprises of "Jet" at the middle and "Mrs. Vandebilt" at the end. Additionally, "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five" ends with a reprise of the chorus to "Band on the Run".
  • Canon Immigrant: "Helen Wheels" was originally a standalone single, but was added to the US version of the album.
  • Central Theme: Most of the songs on the album deal with the themes of flight, escape, and freedom. Band on the Run is sometimes described as a Concept Album due to this, but McCartney described it as "a thread, but not a concept."
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Seen in "Jet":
    And Jet, I thought the Major
    Was a Lady Suffragette
  • Face on the Cover: In addition to the band members (Paul, third from left; Linda, crouching down to the right of him; Denny, kneeling at bottom right), there are cameos from friends of the band—interviewer/presenter Michael Parkinson (far left); singer Kenny Lynchnote  (between Parkinson and Paul); James Coburn (standing at the back); Christopher Lee (middle right, staring directly at the camera); writer, comedian, presenter, politician and grandson of a certain famous psychoanalyst Clement Freud (balding, above Linda); boxer John Conteh (far right, bent over).
  • Happy Rain: "Mamunia". Paul sings about how rain fills the rivers and seas, rain makes plants bloom, and it's fun sometimes to put your umbrellas down and go out in the rain to get soaked.
  • In the Style of: A major reason why this album was well-received compared to earlier McCartney projects is that it was so steeped in Beatles styles, referencing both the group's recordings and Paul's ex-bandmates' solo material. "Bluebird" called to mind "Blackbird" but also was similar to John Lennon's love songs. "Let Me Roll It", with the heavily-reverbed vocals and the Epic Riff, sounds like something from John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, and it borrows its title phrase ("Let me roll it to you") from "I'd Have You Anytime", the opening track of All Things Must Pass. "No Words" has the classic vocal harmony style of Beatle songs like "This Boy" and "Because", along with George Harrison-like guitar.
  • Inspector Javert: "And the county judge/Who held a grudge/Will search forevermore/For the band on the run."
  • Listing Cities: "Helen Wheels" is about a road trip south from Scotland, mentioning Glasgow, Carlisle, Kendal, Liverpool, Birmingham and London.
  • Mood Whiplash: In title track "Band on the Run". The singer starts off morose and depressed ("stuck inside these four walls/sent inside forever"), shifts to cranky and restless as he growls the "If I ever get out of here" part, then bursts into pure joy as the song shifts yet again to the main section where the singer (and apparently his band) have escaped to freedom.
  • Never Going Back to Prison: "Band on the Run". In fact, the album itself is a metaphorical take on the idea, as Paul wanted to break from the idea that he wouldn't be successful without the Beatles.
    Well, the night was falling as the desert world
    Began to settle down
    In the town they're searching for us everywhere
    But we never will be found
  • Ripped from the Headlines: "Picasso's Last Words (Drink to Me)" was inspired by the actual Pablo Picasso's death, which McCartney learned about while on vacation in Jamaica four months before recording started. The chorus quotes what were widely reported as Picasso's last words before he went to bed and died of a heart attack in his sleep at the age of 91.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In "Jet", the title character is referred to as both a major and a "lady suffragette" in quick succession, referencing the David Bowie songs "Space Oddity" (whose main character is named Major Tom) and "Suffragette City" (whose parent album came out the year before this record).
    • "Helen Wheels" contains one to the title track:
      Sailor Sam, he came from Birmingham, but he never will be found
  • Silly Love Songs: "Let Me Roll It", about two and a half years before the Trope Namer.
    I can't tell you how I feel
    My heart is like a wheel
    Let me roll it
    Let me roll it to you
    • "Bluebird" may count as well, given how fluffy it is.
  • To Absent Friends: Invoked in "Picasso's Last Words (Drink to Me)":
    The grand old painter died last night
    His paintings on the wall
    Before he went he bade us well
    And said good night to us all
    "Drink to me, drink to my health
    You know I can't drink anymore."

"And the county judge
Who held a grudge
Will search forevermore
For the band on the run
The band on the run
For the band on the run
The band on the run..."