CD / DVD Reviews

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WINGS
Wings Over America

MPL / Hear Music / Concord Music

 

 

(Click on the highlighted song titles to see videos.)

Back when I was a kid, I stumbled across a TV broadcast of Wings' Rockshow and, in some ways, it changed my life. Yes, I had already heard and loved many Beatles songs and I knew many of McCartney's solo hits, but hearing them all in the context of a live concert event (alongside so many great deep cuts) affected me in a different way. After seeing this concert, I knew that the magic in the music was real beyond a couple of little speakers. It was palpable. It was possible to experience it in person. As soon as I was old enough, I began going to every concert that I could. I eventually became a music journalist and formed my own bands so I could experience it from both sides of the stage. All of that can be directly linked to coming across the video version of the tour that is represented in the grooves of the Wings Over America live album.

To this day, the mythology contained in the songs Venus And Mars and Rock Show is my ideal of what a rock concert should be. I'm so happy that the triple-album that documented the 1976 Wings Over America tour has finally been remastered and released.



Due to the shadow of Paul McCartney's history with The Beatles, Wings never got the credit that they deserve.The Wings Over America album should've set that right. This collection shows that Wings deserved to be remembered not simply as what McCartney did after The Beatles, but as one of the best bands of the 70s on their own merits. Wings Over America is the perfect introduction.

The Wings Over America tour of '76 came on the heels of 4 consecutive number 1 albums and a slew of top ten singles. In fact, this triple live album was the 5th and final consecutive # 1 album for McCartney when it peaked on the chart in January of 1977. The hit single of Maybe I'm Amazed was taken from this collection, and not from McCartney's debut album (though revisionist history seems to have forgotten tat the actual hit version was live).



Necessary contemporary hits such as Band On The Run, Silly Love Songs, Jet, My Love, Listen To What The Man Said, Hi, Hi, Hi, and Live And Let Die are attacked with confidence and a rawness comes across that one would never get from the glossy studio single recordings.

This tour was also the first one where McCartney dared to perform Beatles tracks live. Lady Madonna, The Long And Winding Road, Blackbird, and Yesterday are all represented along with the post-Beatlemania screams that were inevitable.

To me, though, it's the lesser known songs that are the real draw. From the ultimate opening double shot of Venus And Mars / Rock Show to the show's final encore of Soily (which is only available on this album), Wings proves themselves as truly top tier. Let Me Roll It grooves and is anchored by a blistering guitar riff. Letting Go swings and You Gave Me The Answer is an irresistible and goofy turn that is quintessential McCartney.



Many people have forgotten that McCartney wasn't the only lead vocalist in Wings. Guitarists Jimmy McCulloch and Denny Laine also get their chances to shine. Jimmy's bar rock ode to rock star excess, Medicine Jar, is (sadly) prophetic and propulsive while Denny Laine's starring turns are among the highlights. Spirits Of Ancient Egypt flirts with psychedelia with '70s flair and style and (in the same way that McCartney revisits his Beatles catalog) Laine performs the biggest hit that he had as a member of The Moody Blues, Go Now. The acoustic set even features Laine covering Paul Simon's Richard Cory.

The sprawling Wings Over America triple live album contains 30 songs and captures an epic show from a band at the top of their game. It's a shame that this wound up being the only tour that Wings ever did in America but it's wonderful that this tour was not only captured, but captured with a sonic quality that truly reflects the rock and roll energy of those Bicentennial summer nights.



Back when I first started desperately looking for Wings Over America on CD, it couldn't be found. Eventually, I had to order an Australian import of it. I've treasured it since that time, but thanks to this release, my old copy is now superfluous. The sound of this remaster easily surpasses that earlier CD release and I'm very happy that everyone will now be able to find their copies with ease.

Chris McKay / ConcertShots.com

 

 

 

 

 

Comments and questions should be directed to chris@concertshots.com

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