- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Run Devil Run Official album.
- Timeline See what happened in March 1999
- EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road
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From Paul McCartney: A Life, by Peter Ames Carlin:
[…] Paul called Chris Thomas, the young Beatles engineer who had gone on to build a reputation among the punk revolutionaries of the late seventies before working on that last Wings album, Back To The Egg. An old friend, an old hand at rock music, he was always eager to spend a few days in the studio With Paul and knew now exactly what spirit Paul needed to get going again. “He wasn’t thinking it was going to be the next big record,” Thomas says. “He was just free to enjoy himself.”
Paul dialed a few musician friends, enough to form a basic rock ‘n’ roll band, and booked time in studio two at Abbey Road, the ancestral homeland of his work as a recording artist. When Paul showed up, carrying his old Höfner bass, the faces were friendly and familiar. Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour on one guitar, while another Liverpool veteran, Mick Green, held down the other guitar. Ian Paice from Deep purple sat at the drums some days, Dave Mattacks played on others. Keyboard duties were divided between Pete Wingfield and Geraint Watkins. As Paul had already told Chris Thomas, the point was for them to just play and have fun. Nothing should be fussed over; no time could be spent on applying spit and polish. They had a week to record as many songs as they felt like playing, and whatever happened was exactly what should happen. “We were just going to do the songs, and that was it,” Thomas says. “No postproduction, all very quick.” Paul had a list of songs he wanted to play. Mostly the titles of the records he had brought home to play during that first rock ‘n’ roll year in 1957. Elvis and Little Richard, Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent.
He had a couple of originals he could throw in, too, tunes he’d written with the same three-chords-and-a-howl attitude. So he stepped to the mike and counted down the first song, and they were off.
“These were just incredible performances,” Thomas says. “The wild abandon came back, and his smile came back.” Paul ‘s fingers were flying up and down the Höfner’s thin neck, the great surging bass runs that not only sustained the rhythm but also created a whole new layer of melody and harmony. That was great, yet still not as awesome as his singing, which had renewed strength and vitality, plus also an unhinged wildness he hadn’t displayed in decades. “When I asked him to do that for ‘Oh! Darling’ in 1969, he shrugged and said, ‘Well, I’m too old,’” Thomas says. “But now, thirty years later, he could do it again.”
Yes, he could. And then some. Paul released the sessions a few months later under the title Run Devil Run, and you don ‘t have to listen long to hear the voice of a man only just brushing past the hellhound that had been tailing him through the last few years. All but three of the songs are old rock ‘n’ roll songs, products of other pens and most often traced from other singers’ interpretations. Yes it is, in its way, the most deeply autobiographical album of Paul ‘s career. For once, he holds nothing back. Instead, he crafts a map to the headwaters of his musical imagination; a musical description of the link between his most overwhelming emotions and the artistry they fueled.