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MINING THE FILM AND VIDEO ARCHIVE
Mark Lewisohn ventures inside the projection room to view some rather special reels of film
THE BAND ON THE RUN PHOTO SESSION
As his car eased into the driveway of one of London's finest houses, Paul McCartney is unlikely to have realised that he was just five weeks away from releasing his most successful work since the Beatles and, by common accord, his best-loved: the Wings album Band On The Run. He also is unlikely to have realised that the finishing touch he was about to apply to this LP, cassette and cartridge release would swiftly secure a place in the pantheon of The World's Most Recognisable Pieces Of Cover Art.
The date was Sunday 28 October 1973. Two days earlier Wings, mightily productive, had released 'Helen Wheels' as their new single; now they were going to create the sleeve for their second album of the year. Already its recording had proven the veritable triumph in the face of the veritable adversity, for as the five-piece Wings combo were set to fly to Nigeria to begin recording, two of those pieces - drummer Denny Seiwell and guitarist Henry McCullough - informed the other three that they wished henceforth to be forever thought of as ex-Wings. So Paul, Linda and the remaining Denny Laine, went to Lagos as a trio and there - denuded but most definitely stirred - they laid down the tracks that would sell by the crate-load just a few months later as Band On The Run.
The idea for the album cover echoed ever so slightly another record with which Mr McCartney was strongly associated: Sgt Pepper. For that sleeve, back in 1967, four real people had posed among cardboard cut-outs and wax effigies that combined to make up a crowd of famous faces. Now, depicting yer actual band on the run, there were nine famous people, in prison uniform, breaking out of gaol and intending to go - yes! - on the run. About to scale a wall to complete the breakout, however, the nine were framed in the harsh glare of a guard's searchlight.
Three of these nine comprised the aforementioned Wings trio, the other six were celebrities, certainly recognisable to the British observer, two or three of them known also beyond the UK's shores. Sleevewise, left to rightwise, the Band trying to Run numbered Michael Parkinson (the journalist best known for his Saturday-night TV chat show), Kenny Lynch (the singer, friend, occasional actor and TV wagster), James Coburn (the American actor - he happened to be in Britain at the time filming The Internecine Project), Clement Freud (the gourmet, raconteur and wit who later went into politics), Christopher Lee (the actor best known for his Dracula movie roles) and John Conteh (the boxer from Liverpool who went on to become Light-Heavyweight champion of the World).
All six had been summoned to Osterley Park in west London, a mere vapour trail away from Heathrow Airport, where - in the landscaped, lake-dotted 140-acre grounds of the 16th century Osterley House - a brick wall adjacent to a gravel path had been selected as the prime location for the cover photo. One by one the Band wishing to Run arrived, to find not only the McCartneys and their chosen photographer, Clive Arrowsmith (he also shot the cover photos for Wings At The Speed Of Sound, Wings Greatest and Off The Ground) but also a film crew from London company Newglade Productions, recording the events on to 16mm stock.
Handily, or perhaps it wasn't a coincidence, Sunday 28 October was the first date of 1973 British winter time, Britons having turned back their