Below is part a great interview with former Wings guitarist Laurence Juber, from around 2001. Its taken from his website www.laurencejuber.com
One of the interesting sections is talk about remasters and reissues of all the Wings albums, because they can be done much better than the 1993 versions.
AB: Now over to the year 1979. How did you get into Wings?
LJ: How did I get into Wings? Through Denny Laine. I had worked with him on a TV show with David Essex - english pop star - and Denny liked my playing and recommended me.
AB: So you had an audition?
LJ: I had an audition. I didn't know any Wings tunes.
AB: Was that hard for you?
LJ: Ah, it was kind of fun actually. It's Paul McCartney! (lacht) But he was very friendly and I didn't have to know any Wings tunes. It worked out fine.
AB: What did you play?
LJ: Some Chuck Berry, some Reggae …
AB: What do you think is the difference between you and the previous Wings lead guitarists Jimmy McCulloch and Henry McCullough?
LJ: Well, in Jimmy's case … Jimmy is no longer alive … (lacht) I think that for me my style, my approach to music is a little more versatile. I can do many more things. Jimmy didn't really play acoustic guitar much, maybe a little bit. And Henry … both of them were more coming from strictly rock point of view: Whereas my playing intended a little bit of Jazz, a little bit of …
AB: Maybe a bit more Blues roots?
LJ: Well, I have a lot of Blues roots too. It's kind of incorporated into more the pop kind. I think I was more the pop guitarist for Paul. But I think also, that I got the chance to do more guitar stuff at that time, because there was room to do that. And I kind of took the space to do that. So I think I got to play some guitar
solos which is kind of unusual. Not too many McCartney albums have many guitar solos. Maybe "Flaming Pie"! (lacht)
AB: As a teenager or as a child, did you ever spend a thought on maybe playing one day with Paul McCartney?
AB: Was it a childhood dream or were the Beatles just one of many bands?
LJ: No, I was a big fan of the Beatles … and the Stones, the Animals and the Yardbirds …
AB: Small Faces …
LJ: Yeah, all the English bands. But, you know, as a little kid it was like "Wouldn't it be great to play with the Beatles?". Well, actually three out of four. That's not bad.
AB: Three out of four?
LJ: Yeah, I played with George and with Ringo too.
AB: The Sessions for "Stop And Smell The Roses".
LJ: "Stop And Smell The Roses" and then with George for "Shanghai Surprise".
AB: Oh, I didn't know that. The song "Shanghai Surprise"?
LJ: No, "Breath Away From Heaven", the version of it in the movie. It's different from the one on "Cloud Nine".
AB: Did the expectations you possibly had before joining Wings come true?
LJ: That's a complicated question! Because I knew Paul had a reputation for being a little bit difficult to work with. And that didn't come true. Mostly he was actually easy to work with. Except when he decided to carry marihuana into Japan. Generally he was a very easy person to work with and I found it was a great education for me. I learned a great deal from doing it. The one expectation that I had in joining the band was that I was giving up a very successful career as a studio musician because I couldn't do both.
AB: But what did you learn? I mean, you are maybe technically better than Paul …
LJ: Yeah, but I learned how to make records. I learned how to write songs, I learned how to take are of the business side of songs. A lot of stuff. I learned it's okay to work with your wife.
AB: Since that famous argument Paul had with George in the film "Let It Be" everyone knows how Paul McCartney can dominate others. Did you have a certain freedom for your guitar parts during the recording of "Back To The Egg"?
LJ: I had a great deal of freedom. I mean, there will be times when I will be playing a solo and Paul would be there. I would be playing for him. There was only one occasion when he told me what to play and that was on "Daytime Nighttime Suffering", because that's what he wrote. And also on "Coming Up", the riff from "Coming Up" he wrote (summt) diddlelittlelitditdit…, that bit, and he told me that's how he want it to be played.
AB: I often have the impression that the solos the studio guitarists play for Paul are almost identical with his style.
LJ: Mine isn't that way. If you compare my style of playing on "Back To The Egg" with the way Paul plays it's quite different. And Paul didn't play … like on "Spin It On" or even the live "Kampuchea". The "Let It Be" solo that I did … that is pretty typical of the way that I play. He doesn't play that way. He doesn't come from that space …
AB: So, did Paul ask you to make any suggestions for recording?
LJ: Oh, he was very open for ideas. Really feeling into ideas. Sometimes he would say, you know, to me and to Denny, "That's not what I want" and then he go "That's how I want it". You know, anyone has the freedom to do that. But most of the time I was free to do what I want. Even when we were mixing the tracks he said "You take your guitar part" and I controlled my guitar part.
AB: That's very surprising. You always hear "Paul is such a bad guy" and …
LJ: But it wasn't like that.
AB: Seems like everyone of the former Wings members has positive things to say: Denny Seiwell …
LJ: Yeah. Denny I know very well. He is my neighbour.
AB: Oh …
LJ: He lives one street over.
AB: How was the harmony in the Band? In the documentary "Wingspan" you got the impression as if there was some sort of tension…
LJ: That was not very well presented. It wasn't really true the way that they presented it. Because with that last version of Wings it was actually quite successful. We had … even though "Back To The Egg" wasn't a huge hit in America … it sold quite a few million copies. A lot more records than his solo singles. We won a Grammy for "Rockestra". "Rockestra" was a big hit all over the place. "Goodnight Tonight" was a big hit. But it wasn't addressed in "Wingspan". Because maybe they had two minutes. The first half hour on the breakup of the Beatles. This is because it was made for Network TV in America. And Paul apologized …
AB: And I don't like the compilation of "Wingspan" …
LJ: That's another issue.
AB: 17 songs that have nothing to do with Wings.
LJ: (…) It's "Paul McCartneyspan" (lacht) … Paul apologized to me before "Wingspan" came out. He explained that they were really making it for a TV show and it wasn't gonna be entirely accurate. So
later he said "Did you see yourself on 'Wingspan'?" I said "Yes, a little". (lacht)
AB: Were there any hints that Paul thought 'Maybe this could be the last Wings album" or was he rather enthusiastic about the future of the band?
LJ: He was enthusiastic but I really … I think after Japan in particularly, because after he got busted, he was in jail … Then they said "Do we really wanna be doing this after all?" It was a change. It was a big change. He was 40 years old … it wasn't the same. So it was clear that there were some questions as to what was gonna happen. But, you know, prior to going to Japan we already had plans to do an American tour and then I think there would have been a European tour too. So, the tour in 1980, if we would have done that tour, it would have been a different thing. Then it would have been "Okay, now the band has got its energy for live, now let's make another record".
AB: But in the UK it wasn't a big production like "Wings Over America" …
LJ: No, it wasn't a huge production. It was more basic … "Back To The Egg" meant come back to basics and Chris Thomas produced, came from the Sex Pistols, was working with the Pretenders … a different approach. And "London Town" was a strange album. It was almost like a folk record.
AB: You recorded at Ranachan Ranch …
LJ: Ranachan. It was up in Scotland, yeah. And also Lympne Castle down at the south coast of England.
AB: Tell me about the "Rockestra" sessions.
LJ: That was great.
AB: That was obviously a big production with all that superstars coming in…
LJ: All the guys in the studio. But nobody behaved like superstars (…)
AB: Some of your own idols?
LJ: Oh yeah! I mean, look at the guitar section. Pete Townshend and Hank Marvin and Dave Gilmour. Jimmy Page … Jimmy Page never showed up. His amplifier was there but he never came. John Paul Jones is on
the record and John Bonham. No Jimmy Page. When we did it live Eric Clapton was supposed to come but he fell asleep …
AB: London Hammersmith?
LJ: Hammersmith, yeah. It was great, it was a great, great session. It was easy.
AB: How much time did it take?
LJ: Two songs - three hours. Professional musicians.
AB: How did you like Linda?
LJ: Linda was great. She was very Rock'n'Roll. She didn't really get the kind of respect that she deserved. She was a great photographer. She was not a great musician, but she was good. A good band member.
And she was very reliable. When she had parts to play they were always there.
AB: So, would you agree with Mick Jagger who once said "I wouldn't take my old lady on the road"?
LJ: Well, you know, my wife produces my records. Actually I've been on stage with her because she used to have a band called "TheHousewives". A comedy Rock'n'Roll band and I would play in the band. And John Mayall with his wife Maggie …
AB: By the way, "Hope" (Hope Juber, seine Ehefrau) is a strange name …
LJ: It's American. In Spanish it's "Esperanza".
AB: "Hoffnung" auf Deutsch.
LJ: Yeah, but that's not unusual in America.
AB: Speaking for myself, "Back To The Egg" is beside "Venus And Mars" and - of course - "Band On The Run" the finest Wings album.
LJ: Oh, I'm glad you think so.
AB: But the reception back then of album and tour wasn't too positive.
LJ: Then, then it wasn't particularly that positive. Now … I think it "Rolling Stone" reviews of all the albums it went from two stars to four stars, because it's one of the few albums that still sounds good. It has real energy to it. Some of those other Wings albums … they might have been good at the time but they don't really have the … life? But "Back To The Egg" still sounds pretty fresh. And I'm still waiting to … you never really heard the record, because it's never been mastered like … except for "Rockestra" on "Wingspan" was
remastered and that sounds really good as does "Goodnight Tonight" and maybe "Daytime Nighttime Suffering", that's still a little bit debatable. But I've been trying to … We have been talking about reissuing all the Wings CDs and I would like to be able to give a listen to the remaster.
AB: But I thought they were remastered. Beginning of the 90s, the white edition?
LJ: Yeah, that's not the same. They do it much better now. My friend Joe Gastwirt, he just did all the Grateful Dead CDs. He does great remastering. All analogue.
AB: What's his name?
LJ: Joe Gastwirt. They just put out all the Grateful Dead CDs completely remastered. He did the best version of "Pet Sounds" too.
AB: The box set?
LJ: I think so, yeah.
AB: So, can you explain why "Back To The Egg" maybe didn't work so well?
LJ: I couldn't tell you.
AB: For the audience, for the critics …
LJ: What was going on in America, it wasn't Boston, it wasn't Aerosmith, it wasn't that kind of Rock'n'Roll and in Europe it wasn't Disco. Such as "Goodnight Tonight"! If "Goodnight Tonight" had been on the album, I think it would have sold more copies, because "Goodnight Tonight" was a big hit.
LJ: But that was part of that whole record making. It's hard to explain. I think, you know, there were certain things about the album that could have been better. I think if "Goodnight Tonight" had been on it, if "Reception" had not been on there (…)
AB: There is that fine little tune "Maisie" which is on various bootlegs. And that was recorded during "Back To The Egg". Was it ever considered as your contribution to the album?
LJ: It was recorded as part of that, but it never … You know, I think it would have been a more interesting album if that had been on there too. And I have been asking if maybe we can put it on the remastered version so it would be more complete.
AB: … because Joe English and Jimmy McCulloch contributed to "Wings at The Speed Of Sound" …
LJ: Right, but Steve Holly didn't have anything on "Back To The Egg" either. We all for example … there was part of "Old Siam Sir" that was really a group jam … but it didn't really come out as a jam.
AB: Did you ever re-record it? Maisie?
LJ: Yes, I did a solo version of it on "Naked Guitar", which is my second CD … could we break for a minute?
(Unterbrechung, da Laurence beim Soundcheck verlangt wird)
AB: What are your memories of the sessions for Ringo's "Stop And Smell…" album?
LJ: Well, that was fun, because we went to the south of France. It was in the summer and I remember sitting there with an acoustic guitar and there was Paul and there was Ringo and I was thinking "Yeah!" That was great. I remember we had Lloyd Green playing pedal steel guitar and that was very cool. Those sessions
were very smoothly, it was very simple. The music wasn't very complicated. We did one song a day … and we did also "Love's Full Glory" with Linda at the same time which was on … (überlegt)
AB: "Wide Prairie"
LJ: Yeah, "Wide Prairie". And also a song called "You Can't Fight Lightning" with Ringo. That was … strange. Ringo was playing one of my guitars and he cut his finger while he was playing and he was bleeding and you can still see inside the guitar the specks of blood. It has Beatle-blood in it! (lacht)
AB: Never washed it?
LJ: No, you can't. It soaks into the wood.
AB: What songs did you rehearse for the UK tour that didn't make it on the setlist?
LJ: "With A Little Luck" I think was the only one. When we were going to Japan we changed the setlist. I remember we did "Another Day", we were gonna do "Live And Let Die" … I forgot … a few other things … Oh! We almost did "We Can Work It Out". Paul pulled out the acoustic one day. We just never quite got that, but it would have been cool.
AB: The only Beatle track that didn't make it on the setlist?
LJ: Yeah, that's right.
AB: Tell me about that tour and how Wings came to an end?
LJ: Well, the UK tour was actually a pretty good tour. I mean, every venue we played was sold out. The band really started to get very tight. The Glasgow concert, when we recorded the whole concert - you may have heard that there's a bootleg - the band sounds pretty good that night. After we did "Kampuchea" we had like Christmas off, and everybody is kind of too full of that Christmas spirit. But even then I thought we played quite well. The band was just starting to really kind of be a good band. And Paul was playing great! I mean,
his bass part was fabulous. But then after Tokyo when there was no touring we were still working. We got back together, we mixed "Coming Up" for the single. We were working on and off all through that year. We rehearsed some of the stuff that ended up on "Tug Of War". But the problem was that you had a band that was really kind of rock band playing tunes that were not rock tunes. If we've just gone into the studio instead of rehearsing and rehearsing and knocked out and got straight back out on the road like, you know, we would normally do, I think things would have gone very well. But then George Martin got involved. So by the end of 1980 Paul was working on "Tug Of War" but the band was still together, because we then went into the studio and finished up some of that he called "Cold Cuts". I looked at the situation and said, you know, "This is not gonna continue" and I started planning to move to New York. So, actually I left for New York at the beginning of January '81. Wings officially didn't break up until April in '81 but I was already gone because there was nothing to do.
AB: Continuing your career after the breakup, was it rather good or a burden being a former Wings member?
LJ: Mostly it was good. It kind of opened some doors for me, that people were more prepared to listen to me. That's always been a kind of useful thing. Much like studying at London University or Liverpool University … McCartney University! (lacht)
AB: Is it more fun for you these days making you own albums as playing with Wings?
LJ: Well, I have certainly more responsibilities now. I compose for television, for movies and I play on movie scores, TV shows … and make my own records and I play in a blues band and … I have a very diverse career. With Wings you'd do that one thing and the phone rings and Paul needs you. It's hard to raise a family when you do that.
AB: I read, that you had a small Wings reunion in '97?
LJ: Yes, in New York with Denny and Steve. That was fun.
AB: What did you play?
LJ: I don't remember.
AB: It was just that one occasion?
LJ: Yeah …no, I actually played with Denny a couple of times. We played in Liverpool, I think in '92 or '93.
AB: Are you still in contact? Even with Paul?
LJ: Yes, I saw him a couple of weeks ago when he was in L.A. in Anaheim.
AB: Among the music press Paul's latest album "Driving Rain" is highly acclaimed. On the other hand, the sales are rather poor. Did you hear that album?
LJ: I've listened to it a number of times. I just think he could have done a better job.
AB: Ever thought of a Wings acoustic album?
LJ: Yeah, Paul actually. When I told Paul I did an album with Beatle tunes he said "What about Wings?". I have "My Love". I do it on my latest CD "Different Times"
AB: Final questions: What are you favourite guitar players?
LJ: You got a week? (lacht) Many, many players, all different styles. Classical and Jazz … it's too many. Joe Pass, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Django Reinhardt, Julian Bream …
AB: O.K., thanks a lot.
LJ: I thank you. You're very welcome.
Q: Mr. Juber, thanks a lot for this conversation!
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