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CD REVIEW:

WINGS OVER AMERICA
Paul McCartney and Wings

Review by Michael Jacobson

It was indeed a long and winding road for Paul McCartney post-Beatles.

Initially, he thought by being the person who announced he was quitting the world’s most successful rock band he would have the upper hand. He wasn’t prepared for the backlash of fans who instead blamed him for ending the magical mystery tour and bringing the Beatles to an all-too-early end.

It was a bit of a struggle to win back the good will of his fans, but through patience, an eagerness to please, and of course, amazing songwriting talent, the audiences couldn’t stay away forever. One of his first orders of business was to craft a new band; one that would be a legitimate, collaborative effort as well as a group that would return Paul to the stage. The Beatles hadn’t toured since Rubber Soul, but with new songs, a new band, and a new outlook on reaching his fans, Wings was born.

If nothing else, Wings Over America proved the strength of Paul’s vision for an energetic live touring band. The double disc set showcased many of Sir Paul’s biggest hits with Wings, as well as some songs you might not be familiar with, but ones that definitely showcase the group as a terrific live band. There were even a couple of Beatles’ songs thrown in, which had to be a delight for fans…initially, Paul planned not to play any of his songs from his old band in concert.

Now, the live album has been remastered and repackaged with a classic TV special “Wings Over the World”. For some reason, many of Paul’s classic albums haven’t gotten the remastering they deserve, meaning many of them have sound issues despite the great music. This release rectifies that issue…this CD sounds terrific. It’s good enough to be a greatest hits disc, and in more than a few cases, the live versions of the tunes are more energetic and dynamic than the studio counterparts.

Venus And Mars/Rock Show” kicks it off and lets you know that you’re in for a real live band experience. It’s a great opener that will get you pumped for the rest of the show. And when I say real band, I mean it. Paul does most of the lead vocals for this disc, but guitarist Denny Laine takes the mic on five tracks, and bassist Jimmy McCullough takes one.

Paul’s voice was at a zenith in those days. “Maybe I’m Amazed” is a highlight, showing his power and range when both were at their peak. On the other side, there’s “My Love”, which showcased his smoothness and warmth…two classic love songs. And you don’t have to hold your breath waiting to hear some Beatles…Paul indulges his fans with “Blackbird”, “Yesterday”, “The Long and Winding Road”, and “Lady Madonna”…though sadly, that last tune sorely misses the voices of his old bandmates to elevate the song.

In addition to the classic live album, this remastered set includes a DVD special. The video and audio quality are quite lacking, but it’s still enjoyable to see Paul in his prime, both on stage and joking around with reporters and fans. He was 33, and one man from the press actually asks if Paul was getting too old to put on a good rock show. Wonder what that fellow would say if he could see Paul still doing what he does best 40 years later?

Wings Over America is a wonderful look and listen back to one of rock’s greatest voices, songwriters, and live performers, when all of his skills were at their best. The Beatles may have ended with the 60s, but Paul McCartney and Wings proved more than ready to handle the 70s and beyond.

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