Album of the Week: Linda McCartney’s Wide Prairie (1998)

Did you know that Linda McCartney recorded at Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Black Ark Studio in Jamaica? This unexpected tidbit led me to Wide Prairie, a posthumous compilation album and in a sense the only solo album from the late Linda. The Black Ark tracks, covers of “Mister Sandman” and “Sugartime”, are nothing mindblowing. However, they help Wide Prairie paint a picture of Linda as a versatile and fun-loving artist.

One thing I like about Paul McCartney’s 70s material is that a lot of it sounds like he was just hanging out and getting stoned (which I’m pretty sure is what The Beatles did too): see McCartney II and its bizarre single “Temporary Secretary”. Wide Prairie, with half of its 16 tracks culled from various 70s sessions and Paul’s voice scattered throughout, feels the same way. The title-track is half cinematic atmosphere, half honky-tonk. Standout “Seaside Woman” is a groovy reggae hit, and its cheeky counterpart “B-Side to Seaside” is included here as well. “Oriental Nightfish” has a classic soundtrack vibe with Linda’s strange narration on top.

As far as the post-70s material, it’s a mixed-bag, but “Love’s Full Glory” and “Endless Days” are both pretty little ballads. “Cow” is a weird drum-machine tune that sounds like a half-computerized lullaby with a wicked guitar solo – an awesome song. There are some stinkers here (I’m looking at “Poison Ivy” and “Appaloosa”), which might explain NME’s 2/10 rating back in 1998. Yes, Wide Prairie is an odds-n-ends affair, but it’s got hidden gems and is recommended for any McCartney fan.

Listen to Wide Prairie here.

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