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.
- “Wide Prairie” – 4:33
- Recorded by Wings on 20 November 1973 in Paris, and in June 1974 in Nashville, Tennessee.
- Linda McCartney – Lead vocals, Mellotron, Backing vocals
- Paul McCartney – Bass, Piano, Rhodes, Electronic organ, Backing vocals
- Jimmy McCulloch – Electric guitar
- Denny Laine – Acoustic guitar
- Davey Lutton – Drums
- Vassar Clements and Johnny Gimble – Fiddles
- Thaddeus Richard – Alto saxophone
- Hewlett Quillen – Trombone
- William Puett – Tenor saxophone
- George Tidwell and Barry McDonald – Trumpets
- Norman Ray – Baritone saxophone
- “New Orleans” – 3:13
- “The White Coated Man” (Paul McCartney, L. McCartney, Carla Lane) – 2:13
- A song critical of the practice of vivisection, recorded 21 March 1988 and 18 July 1989.
- Linda McCartney – Lead vocals, Casio keyboard
- Paul McCartney – Hofner bass, Emulator strings, Drums, Electric guitar
- Robbie McIntosh – Electric guitar
- Steve Johnson – Synth strings, Trumpet, Bass kurzweil
- Carla Lane – Spoken verse
- “Love’s Full Glory” – 3:46
- “I Got Up” (L. McCartney, P. McCartney) – 3:19
- “The Light Comes from Within” (L. McCartney, P. McCartney) – 2:57
- “Mister Sandman” (Pat Ballard) – 2:50
- “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
- “Oriental Nightfish” – 2:49
- “Endless Days” (L. McCartney, Mick Bolton) – 3:11
- “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
- “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
- “B-side to Seaside” (L. McCartney, P. McCartney) – 2:38
- “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
- “Cook of the House” (L. McCartney, P. McCartney) – 2:37
- “Appaloosa” (L. McCartney, P. McCartney) – 4:44
All songs by Linda McCartney, except where noted.
- Published By – MPL Communications Ltd.
- Phonographic Copyright (p) – MPL Communications Ltd.
- Copyright (c) – MPL Communications Ltd.
- Phonographic Copyright (p) – MPL Communications Inc.
- Copyright (c) – MPL Communications Inc.
- Licensed To – EMI Records Ltd.
- Phonographic Copyright (p) – EMI Records Ltd.
- Copyright (c) – EMI Records Ltd.
- Mastered By – Greg Calbi
- Producer – Linda McCartney, Paul McCartney, Lee Perry & Ian Maidman
Released: 26 October 1998
Recorded: 27 November 1972 – 18 March 1998
Label – Parlophone Records