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The Beatles McCartney versus Wings McCartney

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Skel, Feb 14, 2006.


  1. Skel

    Skel

    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Hi all, I remember hearing "Wings" songs, and although they were pretty good, IMO the bass tone didn't sound anything like the Beatles. The tone was not as deep and rich sounding. I'm pretty sure McCartney was using his Ric for the Wings stuff, just as he was for the later Beatle recordings.

    Also, I really don't remember ever hearing any "phenomenal" bass lines in anything from "Wings" - yea, it was good enough, but not "knock your socks off". I wonder if he did his best stuff on songs John or George wrote.

    Obviously his producer changed, but any ideas as to why his tone changed so much (provided anybody agrees with me)? It sounds almost like he switched from both pickups to just the bridge pickup.

    Skel
     
  2. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    In Wings he used a Wal 5 string bass among other things, but I think his bass tone changed for the better. I think what was missing was the energy and the group dynamic the other members of The Beatles provided.
     
  3. JimK

    JimK

    Dec 12, 1999
    Wings were from the '70s...Wal basses were not around back then, right?

    McCartney used Wals in the '80s/'90s...these bands/projects were not called Wings.
     
  4. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    UK
    maybe because he had so many more hats to wear in his post-Beatles stuff, he had a finite amount of time he wanted to spend on the bass... on some Beatles songs he just had to play the bass and maybe overdub some vocals, wheras at times on his solo stuff he had to do everything... you get the impression from the White Album onwards he was gradually less & less interested in being a bass player

    notice how his Beatles lines got a lot more busy once they'd stopped touring..? knowing you'll have to slog round the world playing something night after night and singing lead at the same time, like he did with Wings, must concentrate your mind on stripping your bass lines down to their bare essentials

    as for his tone... well maybe he fancied changing things round a bit... it'd be a bit stagnant if he'd spent the last 40 years using the Sgt Pepper bass sound over & over...

    add to that fact that there's a streak of homemade amateurishness to a lot of Paul's post-Beatles stuff that means he was probably not as interested in getting as amazing a bass sound as we might want
     
  5. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Maybe you weren't listening? I'd recommend starting with "Silly Love Songs", then "Goodnight Tonight". Then listen to the rest again, starting with the "Band On The Run" and "Venus And Mars" albums through.

    With Wings, Paul mostly used his Ric, a Jazz Bass, and in the later years a Yamaha. The 5 string Wal didn't come until the late 80's early 90s, and I think he did some of his best playing with it. He was not shy with the low notes that's for sure, I love the bass on "Flowers In The Dirt" and "Off The Ground".
     
  6. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    Seems I was wrong about him using it in the 70's but they were indeedaround in the late 70's, back when they were leather clad basses!
     
  7. Skel

    Skel

    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Well, what comes to my mind is stuff like "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite", and (hope I have the title right) "She's so Heavy/I want You", - these both lend such an almost frightening dynamic to an already great, but non-McCartney'ish song. His line on "Nowhere Man" was another that I loved - using the same line over one chord, then the chord changes, but bass line doesn't change since it's still relavtive. I guess I'm saying I really love what he did with songs other than his own, and I might have to say that IMO, Lennon and Harrison wrote less predictable songs. For his own stuff, he did a great intro to "Michelle" (even he's proud of this), and "Penny Lane" was a great walking bass line with an unpredictable note/chord change at the end of each verse. But I wish somebody would tell me if they agree, nevermind his playing, but - did his tone change, or is it just me? It just sounded more "boingy" and "floppy" on the Wings stuff - not deep and punchy. Who knows, maybe in Wings he was finally getting the sound he really wanted, and in the Beatles it was George Martin who controlled the bass tone. No matter what, don't misunderstand me, Sir Paul is a marvelous human being and musician, and I'm not trying to be critical at all.

    Skel
     
  8. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    California
    Well, the recording and amplification technology made a lot of strides in the decade between the Beatles and Wings.
    In part that's because the Beatles were a band that rehearsed and grew together, while Wings were not.
     
  9. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    Quite true.

    The Beatles were a band, a group of young guys who had the same vision about rock 'n roll, didn't they gig heavily in Britain and Germany, sometimes 8 hours a day, for like 6 days a week? They were close but this experience, the way they lived, how immersed they were in the music, playing & writing songs, it must have been very difficult but also very exciting, an extremely creative time for them. This was when they were really writing Lennon/McCartney tunes. You can imagine them staying up late, exchanging ideas, motivating each other.

    Those same conditions weren't there for Wings. No creative tension like with John and George, Paul is clearly the driving force, his band. He made different choices for everything, having money let him. His material alone too. He could produce things with more utility than was available with the Beatles, and who wouldn't do that? Tones that appealed were bound to be different.
     
  10. visa

    visa

    Dec 17, 2005
    you can't compare anything to the beatles.
     
  11. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    California
    ...except the Beach Boys.
     
  12. BassChuck

    BassChuck

    Nov 15, 2005
    Cincinnati
    And therein lay the problem for Paul. If, post-Beatles, he tried to do the same thing, at best he would be a copy of himself, and at worst he would show himself to be dependent on John.

    Throughout this forum there is plenty of praise for McCartney and his life work. Fantasic Singer, Composer, Bassist, Producer... you name it. But in the end, one of the greatest accomplishments he had was to change his compositional vocabulary totally from Beatles to Wings. I can think of only one other composer who was able to make such a change and that's Miles Davis.

    So if the character of Paul's bass lines are different in Wings from Beatles... so be it, and more power to him for making it.
     
  13. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    California
    How was his post Beatles compositional vocabulary different? I thought it just evolved with the times...
     
  14. Skel

    Skel

    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    No, that's an interesting idea that I never considered. Maybe he was trying very hard *not* to be a copy of himself. I do think his bass playing "changed", and I didn't really buy the argument that he had so much other responsibility and all that. Paul's way to good to become "not that good".

    Skel
     
  15. JimK

    JimK

    Dec 12, 1999
    I hear what you are saying & I don't disagree with you, how's that? ;)
    One could never go wrong with George Martin as your recording enginneer.

    Too, the Ric was more omnipresent during Wings...bass during the mid-70s was getting a little more on the treble/bright side(Disco), etc.
    On a whole-
    I guess I would agree that the Wings' bass tone was not as phat as the Beatles' bass tone.
     
  16. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    So I guess you like Paul McCartney as a collaborator/bassist. He is excellent in that role and hasn't done it much since the Beatles. Check out the Elvis Costello song "Veronica" for a very rare post-Beatles example of this type of collaboration.
     
  17. If you handed me a Beatles album and a Wings album, I'd hand you back the Beatles album and fire up my turntable for some Wings.
    "1985" had a pretty good bassline...
    C7
     
  18. Megavega4

    Megavega4

    Aug 3, 2005
    I have one thing to say on the matter... EVOLUTION is good. Take any bassist who recorded for more than 10 years and I will assure you that 9 times out of 10, his or her bass tone and style will have changed somehow. Sting is a GREAT example of that, as is Flea. Geddy Lee also comes to mind, as do John Entwistle and Chris Squire. All great bassist who evolved with the times. I'm sure there's a whole bunch of you out there who think that we should all still be playing a P-Bass with flatwounds ( yes I DO have one in my collection).

    Paul is always going to be Paul, no matter what bass he plays or what era he records in. And this is a GOOD thing...
     
  19. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Oh, yes it certainly did!
     
  20. Max

    Max Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2000
    Bakersfield, CA
    I highly recommend Wings Over America. I have been listening to this live cd extensively for about a month now. I listened to it a lot as a youngster when it first came out. It's not the greatest live album by any stretch. And I don't think it's Paul's greatest bass playing. But it's a very, very good sampling of Paul performing, with his RIC in 74 and 75 and the mix of this album really emphasizes the bass, flubs and all. His bass lines are so melodic and they are very pronounced in this record during Venus and Mars (Rockshow) Let Me Roll It, Listen to What the Man Said, Silly Love Songs. The sleeper song on this record, IMO, comes at the end: Soily. The bass rif is simple and repetative, but very cool.