Three decades before Paul McCartney got his Kisses On The Bottom, his last Wings lead guitarist, Laurence Juber, took his own trip into Standard Time — with McCartney’s encouragement and, on one track, assistance. Now Juber is happy to have that long out-of-print collection back in the land of the living — or at least the digital living.
Juber re-released Standard Time, which includes classics such as “Stormy Weather,” “Dinah,” “Autumn Leaves,” “The Christmas Song” and more (mostly from song copyrights McCartney owned), along with the unreleased Wings track “Maisie,” this month. It was originally released as a vinyl EP back in 1982, and the new version presents the full set after Juber was able to get the rights to the recordings and release them on his own label, HoloGram Recordings. “I felt like there’s this album that deserves to be available digitally,” Juber– who was with Wings from 1978-81 and played on 1979’s Back To The Egg album — tells Billboard. “It kind of went off my radar for a while, but when I did my book Guitar With Wings three years ago I was able to get hold of the masters from McCartney’s company for a bonus CD with the special edition. Revisiting it, it actually still sounds fresh even if stylistically there are some kind of ’70s-era touchstones. And it’s such an eclectic collection; I had no idea what category to put it in. But that’s OK; I like doing stuff that isn’t easily categorized.”
Though he was flying high with Wings at the time, Juber says the Standard Time material was “more reflective of the kind of musical world I worked in as a studio musician before I joined Wings.” An alumnus of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra in England, Juber was no stranger to that repertoire and enjoyed “the challenge of creating the trumpet section, the sax section, all the solos, in a guitaristic way. The idea was to have some really cool recordings that would be available in a music library, but with the capability of releasing it as a full album. I just didn’t realize it was going to take the better part of 40 years.”
Standard Time‘s marquee track is “Maisie,” a twangy instrumental that Juber composed during the initial Back To The Egg sessions during July of 1978 on McCartney’s farm in Scotland. The album version features McCartney on bass, as well as Wings cohorts Denny Laine and Steve Holley. “I had been sitting outside and started writing this Chet Atkins-style piece, kind of finger-picking, maybe a little bit of Ry Cooder ’cause I’d been listening to a lot of him at the time,” Juber recalls. “A couple days later Paul said, ‘Hey, do you have any tunes,’ so we recorded (‘Maisie’). Of course it wasn’t really the kind of thing Back To The Egg was oriented towards so it didn’t make the cut, but I’ve always been proud of that particular piece of music and it’s very cool to have Paul McCartney playing bass and Denny Laine playing some harmonica and Steve Holley on drums.”
Juber went on to record a number of solo albums, including collections of Beatles songs. He also contributed a rendition of “Pink Panther Theme” to the Grammy Award-winning 2004 compilation Henry Mancini: Pink Guitar. These days he’s working on educational endeavors as a consultant to the Los Angeles public school district, though he’s also working “on a new batch of arrangements and some compositions” and continues to do session work — including the theme song for the relaunched Rosanne sitcom on ABC, which premieres March 27.
“I played on the original, as well as Home Improvement,” says Juber, whose wife, singer-songwriter Hope Juber, is the daughter of TV pioneer Sherwood Schwartz. “It was a great session — an actual group of musicians under union contract in a room together, playing. It’s great way to make music, even though nowadays you’re lucky if the cues you record last more than a second and a half, whereas when I started doing session work in L.A. during the ’80s a show like Happy Days would have a full horn section, string section, two guitars, bass, drums — maybe 15, 20 musicians in the studio. Now it’s mostly somebody with a laptop. It’s easy, but you don’t get that same sensibility in the way the music is created.”