Music Routes Blog

Wings to Rain Tree Crow (SMLP #8: Hopelessly Warped Edition)

24 October 2009

Today's $1 purchase from the nearby second-hand store is Venus And Mars by Wings. Sadly, I didn't get to listen to this on the turntable. I made a rookie error. I purchased a hopelessly warped LP.

There is some ambiguity in the credits supplied on the back of the album cover.  Geoff Britton was the drummer in Wings when recording started, but he quit after tracking three songs.  Joe English (who, amusingly, is American—I'm easily amused) plays drums on the rest of the album.  What's not clear is whether English is also on the three tracks that feature Britton.  Perhaps he added percussion.  Perhaps the tracks are edited with some parts featuring drums by Britton and others featuring English.  Or perhaps English just plain isn't on those three tracks.  Anyone know?

The end point of this week's route is the eponymous record by Rain Tree Crow. This is the last of a small collection of LPs supplied by Anu a few weeks ago. We here at SMLP HQ thank him for his contributions!

The start of the route is "Rock Show" which was released as a single in edited form along with the title track (which acts as an introduction).  The single fared poorly, and listening to it (below), it's not hard to see why.  It's not awful, and it's nice to know that New Orleans legends Allen Toussaint and Kenneth "Afro" Williams are on the track.  But it's not among the most inspired songwriting efforts of Paul McCartney.  Nonetheless, as Robert Reid once correctly pointed out, "Great artists making iffy music (or perceived-to-be iffy music) is always more interesting [to talk about] than great artists making great music."  Here's the single edit version, which features "Venus and Mars" for the first minute and change.  It also apparently shaves several minutes off the album version of "Rock Show".

"Rock Show" and the entire Venus And Mars album is credited to Wings, which many people do not distinguish from Paul McCartney solo efforts.  The next track is a genuine McCartney solo effort from Flaming Pie, his worst-named record.  Despite the bad album title, this track is (in my opinion) far superior to "Rock Show".  It's called "Souvenir" and it's largely a two-man affair yet manages to have an enormous sound.  Jeff Lynne plays keyboards and guitars.  Paul McCartney plays those instruments on this track too, as well as bass and drums. The only other musicians are three horn players, including Dave Bishop on baritone saxophone.

Dave Bishop's baritone sax also appears on "Rehab" by Amy Winehouse.  Although Winehouse may be infamous as a notorious mess, she does have a crackerjack horn section (and rhythm section and...) on her record.  Jazzman Jamie Talbot is also on "Rehab" playing alto saxophone.

Jamie Talbot, in turn, is on "Slow Train To Dawn", the 1980s single by The The. The singers are Matt Johnson and Neneh Cherry. The latter is the step-daughter of free jazz trumpet pioneer Don Cherry. The trumpet on this track is handled by John Thirkell.

Thirkell is one half of The Phantom Horns. The other half is Gary Barnacle, another prolific session player and Thirkell's bandmate in Level 42.  Thirkell and Barnacle supply their phantom horns on the opening track of Rain Tree Crow, "Big Wheels In Shanty Town".  Rain Tree Crow, incidentally, is basically David Sylvian and Japan under a different name.

Best in set? "Souvenir" by Paul McCartney.