Wings Over America
REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/11/2007
In 1976, McCartney took Wings on their first major tour and turned it into a 3 LP live album culled from various performances around the world. Wings was highly successful at the time, with a string of hits from their initial albums.
This tour supported the very successful Wings At The Speed Of Sound. There was a lot of anticipation for a number of reasons. McCartney, and the rest of the Beatles, hadn’t had much exposure in live venues for a decade once the Beatles stopped performing live. In addition, Wings has a string of very big hits over the past two year, so it was time to document this popularity.
Wings Over America is an uneven affair, but what works does so really well. The unevenness comes from its sheer volume; at nearly 30 songs and running about two and a half hours, this can be labor to wade through. But taken in chunks, it’s an outstanding retrospective of McCartney’s career.
As a live performance, the band is solid and obviously having a blast. The recent hits from Wings are well represented, starting off the show with a medley that includes the rocking “Jet,” followed by an excellent rendition of one of Wings' finest songs, the bluesy rocker “Let Me Roll It.” McCartney’s band, even the ubiquitous Linda, sound very tight. McCartney is a consummate professional and seasoned showman and it shows very clearly in the solid performances.
My big gripe is that Paul’s “solo” material from his first two albums is not so well represented, with only a stellar version of “Maybe I’m Amazed” representing his non-Wings work -- the version that is usually played on the radio. What, you say? No “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”? Blasphemous! I was deeply disappointed that this gem didn’t make the set list.
A lot of the success of this disc can probably be attributed to the liberal use of the Beatles catalog. By and large, none of us will ever have a chance to hear these performed live, so these songs really become the centerpiece of the performance. “Yesterday,” “The Long and Winding Road” and “Blackbird” are especially well done and these songs alone make this a disc worth owning. Not to diminish the Wings songs a bit, though -- the live versions of the arena friendly “Live And Let Die,” “Band On The Run” and “Hi, Hi, Hi” showcase the band at its best.
You could do a lot worse if you’re seeking a nice collection of McCartney’s post-Beatle work, mixed with a selection of classic Beatles tunes.