WINGS AT THE SPEED OF SOUND, released in 1976, was Paul McCartney''s seventh album after The Beatles, the fifth album for Wings, and the second with the lineup of Paul and Linda McCartney, Denny Laine, Jimmy McCulloch, and Joe English. For this album, Paul wanted Wings to be...
WINGS AT THE SPEED OF SOUND, released in 1976, was Paul McCartney''s seventh album after The Beatles, the fifth album for Wings, and the second with the lineup of Paul and Linda McCartney, Denny Laine, Jimmy McCulloch, and Joe English. For this album, Paul wanted Wings to be a full-fledged group, as The Beatles were, not just his backup band, so he gave all of the group members a chance to sing lead vocal, and in three cases, allowed them to write their own songs. The album was released twice on CD - in 1989 and 1993 - with the same bonus tracks: the Wings B-side "Sally G," and both sides of the instrumental single by the ad hoc group The Country Hams - "Walking In The Park With Eloise," written by Paul''s dad Jim, and Paul''s own "Bridge On The River Suite." All three of these tracks are now available on the new version of 1975''s
Venus and Mars
The best-known songs on this album are the mega-hits "Silly Love Songs" and "Let ''Em In," but there are other gems, including Paul''s rocker "Beware My Love," which I always considered a shot at the "Paul is dead" people; the funky "She''s My Baby" and the gorgeous "Warm And Beautiful," both of which were redone for Paul''s 1999 baroque work
; and the jazzy "San Ferry Anne." Denny Laine does two songs: Macca''s "The Note You Never Wrote," which features an unkind reference to "The Mayor Of Baltimore" (probably the only time the late William Donald Schaefer was mentioned in a pop song, albeit indirectly), and Laine''s own "Time To Hide," one of his best rockers. The late Jimmy McCulloch follows up "Medicine Jar," from VENUS AND MARS, with another anti-drug song, "Wino Junko." Unfortunately, Jimmy didn''t follow his own advice; in 1979, two years after leaving Wings, he died of a drug overdose. Drummer Joe English does well on Macca''s "Must Do Something About It," and the lovely Linda chips in with her first lead vocal on her own composition "Cook Of The House," an entertaining 1950s-style rocker. A year later, Linda would get a solo single of her very own, "Seaside Woman/B-Side To Seaside," released on Epic Records in the States (and in 1979 in the U.K., on A&M Records) under the pseudonym "Suzy And The Red Stripes." All three songs can be found on Linda''s posthumous 1998 CD,
, which is better than a lot of people think.
Because WINGS AT THE SPEED OF SOUND was recorded during the mid-''70s vinyl shortage, when most single releases were album cuts, there is not much bonus material available. Disc 2 (Bonus Audio) features demos of "Silly Love Songs," "She''s My Baby," "Let ''Em In," and "Warm And Beautiful" (an instrumental); a 24-second "Message To Joe" [English], spoken by Paul on a vocoder, sounding a lot like the "talking guitar" on an old Alvino Rey record; an alternate take of "Beware My Love," featuring the late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham; and Macca''s guide vocal on "Must Do Something About It."
The bonus DVD features the "Silly Love Songs" music video, with its original soundtrack, not the remastered stereo/5.1 version from
The McCartney Years
, and two mini-documentaries, "Wings Over Wembley" and "Wings In Venice," both filmed during the 1975/76 world tour.
Again, the sound quality is superb, better than any previous release: the Universal Abbey Road team did their usual amazing job. Packaging is lavish, with a beautiful hard-cover book containing rare photos, new essays, and lots of souvenirs, including glossy photos, ticket stubs, handwritten lyric sheets, backstage passes, and more. As with VENUS AND MARS, the pouches holding the memorabilia are open at both ends, so the stuff does tend to fall out; be careful if you don''t want to lose anything.
A high-resolution download of the audio material is also included for your enjoyment.
While not as good as its two illustrious predecessors, WINGS AT THE SPEED OF SOUND is still a very enjoyable album and is worth purchasing. Four stars.
Next up in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection: two George Martin-produced albums from the early 1980s: 1983''s PIPES OF PEACE, and its 1982 predecessor, TUG OF WAR, which, for my money, is the finest post-Beatles album that Paul McCartney has ever made. Looking forward to it - yeah, baby!