Feature Title

The McCartney Legacy, Volume 1 | 1969-73


by Allan Kozinn & Adrian Sinclair

Hardcover: pr6730836

Dec 2022

Check out our latest feature title review from Library Bound's Chris Beckett!

More than 50 years after they split, books about The Beatles are still plentiful. There’s certainly a nostalgia factor at play here, but interest is constantly being stirred by new generations discovering the music and events that shine a new light on the band’s lone decade in existence. One such event was the Get Back documentary series, which, given its 8 hour running time, might have seemed to many like too much of a good thing, but was received with rousing enthusiasm. One aspect many commentators agreed was a highlight was the opportunity to watch Paul McCartney at work, casually pulling the song “Get Back” seemingly from the air, with his bandmates looking bored, as if they were witness to him creating songs with half-century-plus shelf lives on a regular basis (and to be fair to them, they were).

So the time seems right for the first McCartney biography to begin as The Beatles were ending and focus on the time afterward. The tendency for solo Beatle bios to date has been to examine the familiar story of the quartet in forensic detail, then toss off the solo careers in a small, anticlimactic afterthought to the text. Not many would argue that the solo careers could match the strange alchemy of what they achieved as a group, but McCartney has had #1 albums in every decade since the 60s, so there is clearly more there than previous attempts have tried to excavate.

Kozinn and Sinclair’s book is the first of a multi-volume project examining McCartney’s first years as a solo artist and the formation of his band Wings in the same kind of detail that Beatles bios receive. It’s easy to carry around the image of McCartney as the confident hitmaker elder statesman, enduringly popular, so this portrait of a man completely at sea when the band in which he’s spent all of his adult life is pulled away from him. Months spent depressed and barely functional are ended by his new wife, Linda. His first two solo albums, one a collection of seemingly barely-finished sketches, and the second an eccentric, rough-edged pop collection, were met with some chart success but absolutely brutal reviews. His first album with Wings is largely met with indifference by the press and the public. His label refuses to release Wings’ ambitious second LP in the two-disc format the band created, and goes out as a single that satisfies few, in spite of a huge hit single. Only at the end of this volume do we see McCartney finding commercial AND critical success with the Band on the Run LP, but only after losing two band members at the last minute and having to make a go of it as a trio. All of this work has been reassessed in recent years in McCartney’s favour, but seeing it unfold as a series of seeming failures is fascinating.

Packed with detail about every session and every song, and all of the circumstances surrounding them, The McCartney Legacy Volume 1 is an ambitious and exciting beginning to a project that the authors can hopefully see through to completion.

- Chris Beckett | Cataloguer

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