With Wings: A Photographic Memoir, by Laurence Juber (2014)
May 24, 2014 By Nick Deriso, Somethingelsereviews.com
Guitar With Wings makes clear that Laurence Juber,
during a sideman stint that lasted some three years, learned things large and
small from Paul McCartney. He spends this sumptuous photo book celebrating the
, a hit single, the chance to work alongside a
childhood hero) and forgiving the bad (the silly love songs, the silly drug
bust that essentially ended Wings, McCartney’s even sillier assertion that
George Martin broke them up).
seems Juber, a member of Wings from 1978-81, always had a keen sense of what
this opportunity meant — absorbing everything he could from McCartney, but also
from his other bandmates and from McCartney’s photographer wife. Guitar
With Wings, in many ways, wouldn’t have been possible but for Linda’s passion
for shooting pictures. Juber caught the bug, too.
Meanwhile, the McCartneys relationship proved inspirational,
as well. “The couple-consciousness of Paul and Linda McCartney,” Juber says,
“proved to be a template for my own romantic and creative relationship with my
In keeping, Guitar With Wings, due May 28, 2014 via
Dalton Watson Fine Books, is about more than music, about more than Juber’s
lone full-length contribution to the McCartney discography, 1979
to the Egg. It’s about a young musician whose dreams suddenly came
completely true, but one who brought a surprisingly mature perspective to the
Together with Juber’s brother Graham, who took some
priceless photographs from Wings’ late-1970s appearances, the guitarist is able
to tell not just the story of the final incarnation of McCartney’s typically
underrated post-Beatles outfit, but also his own. Juber pieced together his own
genealogy for Guitar With Wings,connecting his roots to this period, and
then carefully sewing it into the larger tapestry of his own life.
Juber’s introduction into Wings was one of happenstance.
He’d met fellow former Wings member Denny Laine while a house member of local
television show band. Laine, there to perform his old Moody Blues hit “Go Now,”
appreciated Juber’s turn on the guitar — and made the introductions with McCartney.
To that point, Juber had served as a sideman on recordings by Alan Parsons and
Rosemary Clooney, been a part of the score for James Bond’s The Spy Who
Loved Me, had even worked with the Beatles’ producer George Martin before,
on a Cleo Laine date. His resume was in order. Still, joining Wings brought
with it a staggering level of scrutiny, not to mention reflective fame.
He rose to the challenge. Wings would emerge from the
rounded edges of London Town with a tough, new wave-influenced attack
— thanks in no small way to the addition of Juber and drummer Steve Holley.
Credit also goes to producer Chris Thomas, a long-time Beatles associate who
was in between helming debuts for the Sex Pistols and the Pretenders. “To You,”
a crunchy, Cars-esque rocker, would become the first song they recorded
for Back to the Egg, and it
. Juber traces this transformation — for the band, and for
him personally — through intimate photographs and song-by-song recollections
that include both incisive technical insights and fascinating personal
In sessions that moved from the McCartney’s rural farmhouse
in Scotland to the comparably posh Abbey Road studios, this new edition of
Wings began to take shape not just as musical collaborators but as friends.
When Juber was offered a sessions date with Yes’ Rick Wakeman, not long after,
McCartney asked that he not take it — in order to preserve the group’s growing
bond. They had a No. 5 hit with “
featuring a dramatic flamenco-style flourish from Juber, but wouldn’t mount a
tour for some 18 months. In fact, by the time this version of Wings hit the
stage, they were already performing a track from McCartney’s forthcoming 1980
solo effort, called “Coming Up.” Their
would become Wings’ final No. 1 hit.
Bootlegs from these dates, notably
a December 1979 show at
Glasgow, illustrate just how tightly integrated Wings had become. They were
easily the equal of more celebrated touring editions like the one that
producedWings Over America three years before. Back to the
Egg went platinum, reaching No. 3 in the U.S. after a trio of pre-Juber
Wings projects had gone to No. 2. They won a Grammy for “
Then came a marijuana-related arrest for McCartney, just as
Wings was to embark on a series of Japanese concerts, followed by the murder of
McCartney’s former bandmate John Lennon. McCartney suddenly had no desire to
tour, or, ultimately, for Wings as a concept. When he began work on what would
′s solo project Tug of War, he told Juber
that Martin wanted to cast each song with different musicians. So, the
guitarist returned to sessions work, even before an official announcement was
made. Juber’s last major date with McCartney was actually on a Ringo Starr album,
and Smell the Roses.
As the fates would have it, however, the U.S.-bound Juber
met his future wife on the very day after Laine’s departure signalled Wings’
ultimate demise. A family, and a second solo career beckoned. “Having graduated
from McCartney University didn’t guarantee me a job in my new home in Los
Angeles, but it had refined my studio skills, buffered my resume and ignited my
own creative fire.”