Wings Over America was a triple album by Paul McCartney and Wings from his North American tour in 1976. In fact Macca wanted to be part of a group again and had dropped the Paul McCartney name from the billing.
The group were promoting the Wings At The Speed Of Sound album with the hit singles Silly Love Songs and Let Em In.
After a dodgy start when he first left The Beatles, Paul McCartney was on a solid roll from Band On The Run through Venus & Mars and to this album.
Wings Over America 1976 – Overall rating 28/30
I should warn you that I have an emotional attachment to this album that was released when I was sweet sixteen (?) that may bias my marks. I love it but i may struggle to justify the ranking on a rational basis.
Set List – 10/10
- Venus And Mars / Rock Show / Jet – 10:19 (a medley combining hits from the albums Venus & Mars and Band On The Run)
- Let Me Roll It – 3:44 (Band On The Run)
- Spirits Of Ancient Egypt – 4:05 (Venus & Mars)
- Medicine Jar – 4:06 (Venus & Mars)
- Maybe I’m Amazed – 5:20 (on the album called McCartney)
- Call Me Back Again – 5:15 (Venus & Mars)
- Lady Madonna – 2:37 (The Beatles song)
- The Long And Winding Road – 4:28 (The Beatles song)
- Live And Let Die – 3:34 (the James Bond theme tune)
- Picasso’s Last Words (Drink To Me) – 1:53 (Band On The Run)
- Richard Cory – 3:05 (cover of the Paul Simon song)
- Bluebird – 3:43 (Band On The Run)
- I’ve Just Seen A Face – 2:11 (The Beatles song)
- Blackbird – 2:27 (The Beatles song)
- Yesterday – 1:49 (The Beatles song)
- You Gave Me The Answer – 2:06 (Venus & Mars)
- Magneto And Titanium Man – 3:21 (Venus & Mars)
- Go Now – 3:46 (The Moody Blues song to recognise the contribution Denny Laine made to Wings)
- My Love – 4:14 (Red Rose Speedway)
- Listen To What The Man Said – 3:40 (Venus & Mars)
- Let ’em In – 4:08 (Wings at the Speed of Sound)
- Time To Hide – 4:55 (Wings at the Speed of Sound)
- Silly Love Songs – 6:05 (Wings at the Speed of Sound)
- Beware My Love – 4:58 (Wings at the Speed of Sound)
- Letting Go – 4:33 (Venus & Mars)
- Band On The Run – 5:46 (Band On The Run)
- Hi Hi Hi – 3:48
- Soily – 5:44
Paul McCartney was eager to escape the weight of expectation from his time in The Beatles and unlike his other live albums, only five songs from his former group – Lady Madonna, The Long And Winding Road, I’ve Just Seen A Face, Blackbird and Yesterday – appear.
This gives Wings Over America a very separate identity and the reliance on tracks from Band On The Run and Venus and Mars works like a treat.
Incredibly The Beatles songs don’t overshadow everything else but fit in beautifully along with Denny Laine’s song for The Moody Blues, Go Now and the cover of Paul Simon’s song Richard Cory.
I’m giving the set list 10/10. Considering the live albums that come later, I’m very glad that Wings songs are at the heart of this one.
Performance – 9/10
Wings sound like a great rock group who have been captured on a night when they were ready to have a fantastic time rocking out.
The sound is heavier than the rather wimpy studio productions and much better.
The performers making this terrific racket were:
- Paul McCartney – vocals, bass, piano, keyboards, acoustic guitar
- Linda McCartney – backing vocals, piano, keyboards, percussion
- Denny Laine – vocals, acoustic, electric and bass guitars, piano, keyboards, percussion, harmonica
- Jimmy McCulloch – vocals; acoustic, electric and bass guitars
- Joe English – backing vocals, drums, percussion
There was also a small horn section (which may help explain why I love this album)
- Tony Dorsey – trombone, percussion
- Howie Casey – saxophone, percussion
- Steve Howard – trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion
- Thaddeus Richard – saxophone, clarinet, Western concert flute, percussion
You can sense Paul McCartney’s thrill to be performing live again and Jimmy McCulloch on guitar gives many of these songs a terrific muscular punch.
Here is a sample of Wings performing Jet and Let ‘Em In.
Atmosphere & Authenticity – 9/10
I’ve written before about the thrill of seeing Paul McCartney live, one of the genuine legends of popular music of the last fifty years. It’s hard to put in words what an honour it feels.
I’ve deducted a point because this is a compilation of songs recorded on the tour rather than one magic night.
I’ve fought against docking another. As I listen to this I can’t help thinking…
“If Wings were this good in 1976, how great would it have been to see The Beatles in 1969 rock hard.”
Unfair I know but I’ve got my bias towards this album perhaps pushing up the marks.
Overall rating for Wings Over America – 28/30
Wings Over America is quite simply one of the best live albums released by a major performer or group ever.
If you want to hear a fine example of rocky pop (or poppy rock) performed by one of the greatest musicians from the popular era, I recommend Wings Over America to you.
What Others Say About Wings Over America
Remarkably this great album hasn’t featured in any of the greatest live album lists.
I think this is crazy.
Over at Amazon.com there are plenty of five star reviews.
If there is a criticism, it is that a poor job was done of converting it from vinyl to CD. That’s now been improved and the album is finally available as an mp3 download.
Buying Wings Over America
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