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icon Music February 28, 2004
Band on the Run
1973 (re-issued 1999)

The cover to Band on the Run, with it's collection of celebrities, suggests it might be a darkly comic, bare-bones sequel to the Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band. In many ways, it is. Of course, this album's cover suggests escape rather than a posed portrait -- escape from drug laws, tax laws, and the spotlight. McCartney endured all manner of hardship during the making of the album (as chronicled in the 25th anniversary reissue's booklet and bonus disk), including a near-fatal mugging in Nigeria (wife Linda pleading for his life), respiratory problems, and two band members quitting just before recording was to begin. The confidence of the Beatles is replaced by insecurity and an up-against-the-wall feeling. Out of this adversity, two of his most enduring songs, "Jet" and the title track, emerged, kicking off a very coherent and listenable album. "Picasso's Last Words" ties it all together in a cubistic manner, and "1985" ends it all in a symphonic blast only to return to the pop simplicity of the title track, sampled briefly, inviting another play.

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