Wings’ rhythm guitarist Denny Laine lived on a houseboat, so he suggested making their next album (which would end up being called LONDON TOWN) on the water. So in May 1978, the group set up shop on the yacht Fair Carol in the Virgin Islands.
The band established a routine of a three- or four-hour session in the morning, followed by water skiing, swimming, and eating lunch cooked by the captain/chef. When they played, dolphins would swim around the boat digging the sound.
The song came about when McCartney was in Hawaii reading the back of the newspaper where they had the ads for the porno flicks. McCartney wrote down the titles—School Mistress, Curly Haired, Kid Sister, The Woman Trainer—and made up a song based on them. It was another creation in the Beatles tradition of “found art,” like when Lennon lifted all the words for “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” from a vintage poster.
Lead guitarist Jimmy McCulloch loved rocking out in concert and was generally frustrated by the low-key songs of LONDON TOWN, but here he had a perfect vehicle to let it rip with Laine.
As was McCartney’s wont, he held prime cut “Girls’ School” off the album to serve as the rocking B-side to the softer A-side (in this case, “Mull of Kintyre”), a tradition going back to “Another Day”/“Oh Woman Oh Why.” Like that earlier B-side, this one sports a riff that seems strangely reminiscent of a tune on the album LED ZEPPELIN III, in this case, a simplified “Celebration Day.”
In the United Kingdom, the A-side “Mull” became the biggest non-charity single of all time, yet it flopped mysteriously in the United States. “Girls’ School” did better in the States, reaching number thirty-three. It would’ve been a great video to see them on the yacht rocking this one out to the dolphins.
“Café on the Left Bank” is another propulsive mid-tempo rocker from the sessions. The lyrics and McCulloch’s guitar work carry some of the cosmopolitan glamor of Duran Duran’s “Rio” and “Hungry Like the Wolf” four years early. It’s a travelogue sketch of hanging amidst Parisian crowds, dancing in the nightclubs, staggering back to your car and eating breakfast in the bars.