While Paul McCartney was still reeling from the Beatles’ breakup, he faced a much deeper scare. In September 1971, his wife, Linda, had gone into labor, only to suffer complications requiring an emergency C-section.
By McCartney’s telling, he “prayed like mad,” seeing a vision of his late mother surrounded by golden wings. Their daughter Stella was born perfectly healthy; in relief and celebration, McCartney and his wife named their first post-Fabs project Wings.
On Friday (Dec. 7), McCartney will unveil remastered editions of Wings’ first two albums, 1971’s Wild Life and 1973’s Red Rose Speedway. The albums will be available separately and together on the box set Wings 1971-1973.
Back then, the public was dazed by the Beatles’ breakup; they gave Wings a bad rap for lacking Fabs-level experimentation. But with these fresh reissues headed for our ears, listeners in 2018 can knock down that tired, rockist lore for themselves.
Although their new band began on a prayer, the public didn’t see Wings as exactly heaven-sent. One month after Stella’s birth, McCartney and Linda would record Wild Life, a jaunty, carefree album recorded in just over a week. Instead of continuing the buzz of prime Beatles, it was deliberately low-key and low stakes. For those reasons, critics hated it.