"Run Devil Run" session #1

Monday, March 1, 1999 • For Paul McCartney

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Run Devil Run Official album.
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Master release

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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.

Songs recorded



Written by Bernie Lowe, Kal Mann


Album Officially released on No Other Baby / Brown Eyed Handsome Man


I Got Stung

Written by Aaron Schroeder, David Hill


Album Officially released on Run Devil Run



Written by Johnny Green, Gus Kahn, Carmen Lombardo


Album Officially released on Run Devil Run



Paul McCartney:
Vocal, Electric guitar, Producer, Bass guitar
Mick Green:
Electric guitar
David Gilmour:
Electric guitar
Ian Paice:
Pete Wingfield:

Production staff

Geoff Emerick:
Chris Thomas:
Paul Hicks:

Going further

Eight Arms to Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium

We owe a lot to Chip Madinger and Mark Easter for the creation of those session pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details!

Eight Arms To Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium is the ultimate look at the careers of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr beyond the Beatles. Every aspect of their professional careers as solo artists is explored, from recording sessions, record releases and tours, to television, film and music videos, including everything in between. From their early film soundtrack work to the officially released retrospectives, all solo efforts by the four men are exhaustively examined.

As the paperback version is out of print, you can buy a PDF version on the authors' website

Shop on Amazon


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