USA, the first time - Nashville and New Orleans
We stayed outside Nashville, in a place called Lebanon, at the house of the songwriter Curly Putnam - the writer of Green Green Grass of Home. We rented his place for a couple of weeks and rehearsed in the garage. It was a good space to work the band, and at the end of that period, once we had got everything together, we vent into a studio in town and cut Junior's Farm and some other tracks.
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Nashville is a Mecca for songwriters and, though I'm not particularly into country and western, I liked all the players and the studios there. I'd always wanted to visit the Grand Ole Opry and Johnny Cash took us around one day. I was amazed at seeing rows and rows of old, dead chewing-gum stuck under the wooden pews. That's the kind of thing that sticks in my mind.
Geoff Britton didn't stay too long with Wings. I don't really remember why now, except that perhaps he didn't quite fit. While we were looking around for a replacement, a horn player called Tony Dorsey said that he knew a drummer who was really good, a guy by the name of Joe English. We met Joe and he was very interesting - he could do a lot of rhythmic things and was a really nice guy.
So Joe joined Wings and we all trooped off to New Orleans to record our next album, Venus and Mars. Marshall Sehorn and Alien Toussaint had a great studio there, Seasaint, and it was around Mardi Gras time, too. The line-up now was me, Linda, Denny, Jimmy and Joe, which I always felt was the best of Wings. I felt really comfortable with that band.
I had written the Venus and Mars songs in Jamaica - we were getting around a bit in those days! - and had the album pretty much mapped out.
We took a couple of days off and enjoyed Mardi Gras. Linda and I dressed up as clowns, thinking that no one would recognise us, but people in the street said ’Hi, Paul’ We were shouting at all the guys coming past on the floats, 'Throw us something, mister!' We got millions of beads.
We were big fans of the group the Meters, so while we were in New Orleans we went to one or two shows. The r&b scene there is great, with some fine musicians, so when we hired a riverboat and went on the bayou the Meters played for us. Included with the Venus and Mars album is a photograph of Linda with a top hat, taken that night.
Joe English did a lot of very good playing on Venus and Mars. Even though we didn't use the style of New Orleans on the album, it influenced the way we felt about the music and added to the spirit. Joe was sure to drum funkier in New Orleans than if he was in Lancashire.
We also cut a song called My Carnival. Carnival was in the air and a were picking up on the New Orleans thing, which is a very particular music, funky Cajun type ling. Someone came to the studio and filmed a little bit of it, and Professor Longhair saw it on tv. It was really a steal from his stuff but he liked it - he thought it was a tribute - so he came to the studio, which again was great because he was a hero.
Having recorded Venus and Mars we decided to go a Wings world tour, the biggest we'd done. Wings' three core members - me, Linda and denny - had been getting better and better, and now, with Jimmy and Joe, it really seemed to be gelling. Jimmy was a cool guitar player. Henry had been too, but Jimmy seemed a bit special. And Joe was the final ingredient. We were ready to hit the road.