Linda McCartney – Wide Prairie (1998)

Wide Prairie is a posthumous compilation by Linda McCartney. The album is composed of songs recorded between 1972 and 1998, some of which were previously released while others are unreleased Wings era recordings. The idea for the album was inspired by a fan who wrote in inquiring about “Seaside Woman“, a reggae song which Wings had recorded in 1972 under the name Suzy and the Red Stripes featuring Linda on lead vocals. Lead guitar on the song “The Light Comes from Within” is played by the McCartneys’ son, musician/sculptor James McCartney. The album reached number 127 in the UK charts, while the title track made the top 75, at number 74. “The Light Comes from Within” also charted, at number 56 in the UK charts.

Toward the end of her life, Linda McCartney compiled an album of her solo recordings with the assistance of her husband Paul. She died before she had a chance to complete it, but Paul proceeded to finish the album, Wide Prairie, and release it in the fall of 1998 as originally planned. Clearly, it was a labor of love for the pair, since they spruced up 25-year-old tapes and recorded brand-new songs, all when she was suffering from breast cancer. Consequently, it’s hard to say anything bad about Wide Prairie, since that would be distasteful, but the fact remains that the album is wildly uneven. Much of that is due to the fact that it contains every scrap of tape Linda recorded over 25 years, a tactic that could never produce a coherent record. That is a bigger problem than her meager musical talents, actually, since even weak songs can gel into a homogeneous listen. Wide Prairie, however, jumps all over the place, and while there are a couple of songs in a similar style, such as two bizarrely innocuous covers produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry, they’re separated by several songs. Such an approach makes the compilation feel like the McCartneys’ albums from the early ’70s (McCartney, Ram, Wild Life), complete with a similar ramshackle charm. The difference is, the songs aren’t there. There are a few enjoyable tunes (more than you might expect, actually), but they’re slight, albeit endearing. Ultimately, that’s the key to Wide Prairie — sure, it’s uneven and Linda‘s musical talents were limited, but it’s hard to dislike the album if you’ve ever been a fan of the McCartneys’ early-’70s albums, since you’ll be predisposed to accept the loose ends and silliness that distinguish the record. Even if Wide Prairie doesn’t establish Linda McCartney as a significant musical talent, it does function as a loving tribute to a woman who, from all accounts, was kind, generous, and loving, which is all it ever needed to do.

Tracklist

  1. “Wide Prairie” – 4:33
  2. “New Orleans” – 3:13
    • Recorded in New Orleans February 1975 during Wings sessions for album Venus and Mars, with further recording taking place on 24 May 1979.
    • Linda McCartney – Lead vocals, Piano
    • Paul McCartney – Bass, Piano, Backing vocals
    • Denny Laine – Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
    • Joe English – Drums
  3. “The White Coated Man” (Paul McCartney, L. McCartney, Carla Lane) – 2:13
  4. “Love’s Full Glory” – 3:46
  5. “I Got Up” (L. McCartney, P. McCartney) – 3:19
    • Recorded 11 November 1973 and 20 March and 9 July 1998.
    • Linda McCartney – Lead vocals, Backing vocals
    • Paul McCartney – Bass, Organ, Piano, Backing vocals
    • Jimmy McCulloch – Guitar
    • Denny Laine – Backing vocals
    • Davey Lutton – Drums
  6. “The Light Comes from Within” (L. McCartney, P. McCartney) – 2:57
    • Recorded 18 March 1998, in what turned out to be Linda’s final recording session before her death.
    • Linda McCartney – Lead vocals, Electric piano
    • Paul McCartney – Hofner bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Wurlitzer, Electric piano, Backing vocals
    • James McCartney – Electric guitar, Acoustic guitar
  7. Mister Sandman” (Pat Ballard) – 2:50
  8. Seaside Woman” – 3:54
    • Recorded 27 November 1972. Released as a single 31 May 1977.
    • Included in a short film by Oscar Grillo that won the Palme d’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival.
    • The first song Linda ever wrote, according to Paul.
    • Linda McCartney – Lead vocals, Electric piano, Backing vocals
    • Paul McCartney – Bass, Backing and Harmony vocals
    • Denny Laine – Piano, Guitar, Backing vocals
    • Henry McCullough – Guitar
    • Denny Seiwell – Drums
  9. “Oriental Nightfish” – 2:49
    • Recorded 5 October 1973 during sessions for the Wings album Band on the Run.
    • Included in a short film titled Oriental Nightfish by Linda McCartney and Ian Emes.
    • Linda McCartney – Lead vocals, Moog, Electric piano
    • Paul McCartney – Bass, Drums, Guitar, Mellotron
    • Denny Laine – Flute
  10. “Endless Days” (L. McCartney, Mick Bolton) – 3:11
    • Recorded 21 October 1987.
    • Linda McCartney – Lead vocal
    • Mick Bolton – Piano, Keyboard
    • Ian Maidman – Bass and Drums
    • Geoffrey Richardson – Mandolin, Slide guitar
  11. Poison Ivy” (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) – 2:54
    • A cover version of the original by the Coasters. Recorded 21 October 1987.
    • Linda McCartney – Lead vocal
    • Ian Maidman – Bass guitar, Drums, Electric guitar, Backing vocals
    • Mick Bolton – Piano, Keyboards, Backing vocal
    • Steve Fletcher – Backing vocals
  12. “Cow” (L. McCartney, P. McCartney, Lane) – 4:24
    • Recorded 24 July 1988.
    • Linda McCartney – Lead vocals, Casio keyboard, Harmony vocals
    • Paul McCartney – Hofner bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Harmony vocals
    • Carla Lane – Spoken verse
  13. “B-side to Seaside” (L. McCartney, P. McCartney) – 2:38
    • As the title might suggest, recorded on 16 March 1977 specifically as a B-side for a single featuring “Seaside Woman”.
    • Linda McCartney – Lead vocal, Backing vocal
    • Paul McCartney – Drums, Mellotron, Backing vocals, Electric guitars, Piano, Moog, Congas, Banjo
  14. “Sugartime” (Charlie Phillips, Odis Echols) – 2:06
    • A cover version of the original by the McGuire Sisters. Recorded in Jamaica at The Black Ark studio, 20 June 1977 and 7 July 1998.
    • Linda McCartney – Lead vocal
    • Paul McCartney – Wurlitzer, vocals
    • Billy Boy – Rhythm guitar
    • Boris Gardiner – Bass guitar
    • Mike “Boo” Richards – Drums
    • Winston Wright – Keyboard
  15. Cook of the House” (L. McCartney, P. McCartney) – 2:37
    • Recorded January–February 1976.
    • Originally released in 1976 on the Wings album Wings at the Speed of Sound and also as the B-side to “Silly Love Songs“.
    • Linda McCartney – Lead vocal, Piano
    • Paul McCartney – Upright bass, Mellotron, Piano
    • Denny Laine – Electric guitar
    • Joe English – Drums
  16. “Appaloosa” (L. McCartney, P. McCartney) – 4:44
    • Recorded 7 March 1998.
    • Inspired by the history of the Nez Perce tribe and their Appaloosa horses.
    • Linda McCartney – Lead vocal
    • Paul McCartney – Drums, Hofner bass, Clarinet, Wurlitzer, Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar

All songs by Linda McCartney, except where noted.

Companies, etc.

Credits

  • Mastered ByGreg Calbi
  • Producer – Linda McCartney, Paul McCartney, Lee Perry & Ian Maidman

Notes
Released: 26 October 1998
Recorded: 27 November 1972 – 18 March 1998
Genre: Pop
Length: 52:08

Label – Parlophone Records

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