on 6 March 2001
In the mid seventies, Paul McCartney backed by the most accomplished Wings line up took to the road to give epic performances across the world. I was lucky enough to see this tour in Newcastle Upon Tyne's City hall and it stands out as one of the best gigs I have ever seen. Drummer Joe English once told me that the band took three jets with them around the world. One jet was for the band and friends, one was for journalists and hangers on and the third jet was simply there in case they needed another jet. A huge expensive tour produced a huge exciting album that captures McCartney at his best, live in front of an adoring crowd and boy does he know how to work them up to a frenzy.
From the opening chords of Rock Show which sets the scene and creates plenty of anticipation through to the rock'n'rolling Soily which closes the set, this live performance had everything. Classic Beatles tracks like Long And Winding Road, Yesterday and Lady Madonna give it perspective but Wings themselves had enough classy songs to draw on.
The beautiful balladry of My Love, Blubird and Maybe I'm Amazed, the pure pop of Listen To What The Man Said and Silly Love Songs as well as some of their finest moments - Jet and Band On The Run give the whole album a sense of a non stop musical rollercoaster, full of surprises and changes of tempo. McCartney even gives Denny Laine the chance to resurrect his rendition of Go Now which he originally performed with the Moody Blues.
Never a dull moment, Wings Over America was culled from countless concerts across that continent with one of the band's sound men keeping tabs on the quality of each set as the band recorded performance after performance so Wings Over America is the cream of Wings live performances. Wings are forever over shadowed by The Beatles but their hit album and singles record would have most bands frothing at the mouth with jealousy. Over the years the different line ups turned in great performances and this is simply one hot live recording!
on 27 February 2005
This is McCartney's Tour De Force Live In Concert highlight of a long career. And that was as true in 1976 as it is now. For while McCartney has done numerous tours since, mostly to great acclaim, it is here that we find Paul at the peak of his solo career, producing a concert where the Beatle numbers did not overshadow the solo material. For one good reason. The Wings songs here stand on their own here. McCartney was the only Ex Beatle who was able to do a world tour which achieved this remarkable feat. The Beatles songs on display here are wonderful of course. But the real highlights of this concert are the post Beatles McCartney classics: 'Live And Let Die', 'Bluebird', 'Let Me Roll It', 'My Love', ' Listen To What The Man Said', 'Let 'Em In', 'Beware My Love', 'Venus And Mars' to name but eight. This was a concert by a band at the height of their powers, quite possibly the biggest commercial attraction of the time, 1976. Although Abba were to eclipse Wings in the late '70s, but that's no bad thing. Bjorn and Benny were massive Beatles fans and it is fitting that the mantle should have passed into such classy hands.
Apart from the songs, listen to McCartney's bass playing on this record. On 'Time To Hide' for example. The rest of the band is also worthy of mention. Jimmy McCullough's solo on 'Maybe I'm Amazed' is inspired as is his solo track 'Medicine Jar' from the 'Venus And Mars' album from 1975. So much better than the album version, not least due again to McCartney's bass playing. Joe English's drumming is first class throughout. It was a major and noticeable disappointment when he quit the band the following year.
This is a not a nostalgia affair as all later McCartney concerts were to be, particularly those from the Flowers In The Dirt tour (1989) onwards. Not that those concerts didn't have their moments. They did. But this album remains the pinnacle of Paul's long career on the road. It showcases McCartney's band Wings at their creative and commercial peak, proving that at least One Ex Beatle went out with a live band and, at least for a short period anyway, was capable of Glorious Life After Death. Of The Beatles that is. With Lennon's death in 1980, most of this got forgotten somehow, but I record this opinion for the record. Historians, please take note! :-)
Unlike other reviewers I have waited until I have the remastered recordings before writing a review. This is therefore a review based on the two-CD version of this excellent set.
The first thing to note is that there is little `added value' in the two CD package other than the remastered sound. No bonus tracks, no extra printed material or history notes. There is a massively expensive version with a lot of extra material but, committed fan though I am, I am not able to justify that price. So for me it's the two CD version, which comes packaged in a cardboard gatefold sleeve with a small booklet that details the usual track listings and composer credits. A bit disappointing but OK, it's the music that counts.
And the good news is that the music is very good, made even better by the remastering. It is quite remarkable that after a few years of existence, Wings had enough material to fill a triple LP set (OK, a few Beatles numbers to satisfy the audiences too). And the material they had ... look at the playlist and it would grace any Macca set today. By the mid seventies he had produced a catalogue of solo / Wings material that would stand the test of time.
Of course, Wings were not to know that at the time. They were promoting some of this material live for the first time and therefore had to present it as well as they could. Thankfully, they were a strong and accomplished line-up (probably the strongest of their incarnations) and their playing was first rate. The recordings were augmented with studio-based `improvements' but that is forgivable - the odd flat note in a live performance goes unremarked by the audience: preserved for posterity on record and it can come to grate.
The first CD opens with a ten minute medley of 'Venus and Mars', 'Rock Show' and 'Jet'. It emphasises the point that Wings was a true live-performance-centric rock band: tight and well-drilled. Many high points then follow: 'Medicine Jar' (sadly not so often featured in more recent concerts) and 'Maybe I'm Amazed' standing out for me. Then, to close the first CD the McCartney-and-a-guitar solo rendition of `Blackbird' and a short and simple arrangement of `Yesterday'. The cheers from the crowd say it all. Brilliant.
The fact that McCartney performed some Beatles numbers live was not a sign that he was short of material. Instead it was a sign of the confidence he had in Wings and his solo career: he had built a catalogue of post-Beatles material that would stand its own alongside what went before: he could now afford to dip into the past and perform live some tracks that had never been heard outside the studio format before. For Beatles' fans it was a major moment.
On CD2, I have always liked the Denny Laine rendition of `Go Now' - instantly recognisable as the track he recorded when with the Moody Blues. `My Love' from Red Rose Speedway was hailed in its day as McCartney's return to form with a mega-ballad and `Band on the Run' was seen as his best output since the Beatles.
I suppose the biggest benefit of this re-issue on CD is that it compacts down to two disks. Where before there were six sides of vinyl to play and therefore five 'interruptions' now it is two disks and just one interruption. It is much more like being at a concert. The remastering has been done exceptionally well: the recordings come across as crisp and clear and give a new breath of life to what was in any case a very good record.
I have many CDs of Paul McCartney live: this one with Wings is up there with the best. Five stars.
on 30 May 2013
I'm a sucker for box sets but quite often I'm left feeling that a little more consideration could have been applied to the content. That's far from the case with the deluxe edition of the new Wings Over America reissue which is quite possibly the most impressive and engaging 'legacy' box set I've ever seen.
This is McCartney at the very top of his game, post-Beatles, performing with the finest Wings line-up. The slightly muddy sound of the original album has been brightened up just enough to make a positive difference, and the addition of a third disc with alternative selections from a show in San Francisco, plus a DVD containing a remastered update of the fascinating 'Wings Over The World' documentary make the collection an absolute must-have for any fan of Macca's challenging 1970s period.
But that's just the start. The printed matter that accompanies the discs is arguably worth the price of the set alone, especially the faux leather-bound portfolio containing faithful reproductions of tour itineraries, set design drawings, set list, ticket stubs, VIP passes, posters, tour programme, promo photos and, well, you name it, it's all there. Add another three beautiful volumes containing inspired journalism from David Fricke, intimate travelogue photography by Robert Ellis and Linda McCartney, and sketchbook art by Humphrey Ocean, and you have a truly lovingly assembled document that represents an iconic moment in concert history.
I loved Wings and really enjoyed this release on Vinyl but the latest release has a whole lot extra going for it.
Amazon have not listed all the 4 discs so I have done a little digging and found that the following should be included/
This is not so much a review more a useful tool to let peole like me know what to expect on the Set.
Wings Over America track listing
1. Venus And Mars / Rock Show / Jet
2. Let Me Roll It
3. Spirits Of Ancient Egypt
4. Medicine Jar
5. Maybe I'm Amazed
6. Call Me Back Again
7. Lady Madonna
8. The Long And Winding Road
9. Live And Let Die
10. Picasso's Last Words
11. Richard Cory
13. I've Just Seen A Face
1. You Gave Me The Answer
2. Magneto And Titanium Man
3. Go Now4. My Love
5. Listen To What The Man Said
6. Let `Em In7. Time To Hide
8. Silly Love Songs
9. Beware My Love
10. Letting Go
11. Band on the Run
12. Hi Hi Hi
CD3 (Recorded live at the Cow Palace in San Francisco) [Deluxe only]
1. Let Me Roll It
2. Maybe I'm Amazed
3. Lady Madonna
4. Live And Let Die
5. Picasso's Last Words
Delux edition only
Wings Over The World - 75 minute documentary
Deluxe also includes:
80 pages of drawings by Humphrey Ocean
60 pages of exclusive photos from the diary of the tour by Linda
136 page book telling the story of the tour
on 10 June 2013
The triple vinyl release in late 1976 early 1977 was a much heralded event at the time but its never really hit the spot for me. It's always had some fantastic moments; the live version of 'Maybe I'm amazed' is arguably that songs best, but other song choices are a little odd. 'Simon Cory' is a point in question. Why cover a Simon & Garfunkel oddity when there's so much of his own back catalogue that he could have done. McCartney has stated that he was between a rock and a hard place - trying to establish Wings as a formidable force in their own right and at the same trying to incorporate but not be too reliant upon the Beatles songs. A difficult balance. Some song choices are somewhat self-inflicted as he is essentially touring the 'Venus & Mars' & 'Wings at the speed of sound' albums , which in themselves are probably below par and something of a mixed bag, but the biggest problem with this album has always been the abysmal mastering - its always been 'muddy' and 'boomy'. Thankfully, the re-mastering has remedied this somewhat. Whether its worth the investment I'm not sure. I have just watched the Wings Over America DVD (at the cinema) and it was a better watch than it is a listen.
In my opinion this is for fans only - Fans who are ready to accept a (sometimes) poor song selection coupled with a standard of live recording now easily bettered, Authentic ? Of its time? Arguably , but still a bit muddy for me and ultimately disappointing. 3/5
on 30 August 2013
I have collected numerous Macca Live concerts over the years, the last one being. "Good Evening New York City" back in 2008, which was a really lovely recording. Despite this, I was not prepared for Wings Over America. As a live concert recording (the amalgamation of numerous ones the band performed) this really stands out both for the quality of the songs and the sheer bluesiness of the endeavour. This was a tight outfit who knew how to give their audience what they wanted. Paul's reluctance to refer backto his albeit mmagnificent Beatles' catalogue is very much in evidence here which is another reason to have this in your collection. The sound is crisp and clear and you can see how much effort has gone into the remastering. I highly recommend this to both Beatles and Wings fans as it really is an essential addition to your collection.
on 13 June 2014
last time i heard this was when it was released in 1976 , and i was,nt sure if it would sound as good as i remembered , but it does .its like a greatest hits of wings from this era , plus some good versions of Beatles songs , and a couple of songs sung by Denny Laine(i think ) .it has a great live atmosphere and the musicianship is top notch ,a bit rockier than the studio versions .very nice
on 29 May 2013
After seeing the reviews below I feel nothing more seems to be said about the recordings themselves, I want to concentrate on the box set. The weight of it firstly, I couldn't believe it when handed this by the post man it's extremely heavy for a CD box edition.
Inside, this set has been lovingly created, containing tickets, set lists and sets of glossy photo's showing the group during the American tour. The whole set in my eyes is a perfect celebration on Wings when they were at their best, this is not about comparing them to The Beatles, that's impossible, but as a group they came together and made the best of the seventies. Linda's pictures show what a great photographer she really was, she also became a real part of the group after starting from nowhere and becoming quite a good keyboardist and an important part of the writing partnership. It's nice to see some input from Denny Laine, his twin guitars was a memorable part of sets, boy could he play some serious stuff on them huge instruments. As with most groups from this time drugs played their part especially for Jimmy McCulloch, a real talent with the guitar and dying three years later he would have been so proud of this had he lived.
I feel McCartney has spent a lot of time bringing this box set together, I think he is very proud of this achievement, making a group work in the aftermath of the Beatles legacy was no easy task, but it worked. You won't find a better celebration of a live tour than this, it's magnificent, well worth the money no matter how much you pay I think you will love it.
on 25 June 2013
The scream McCartney emits as he closes out `Soily' sounds like pure rock and roll exhilaration. It's a fist- pumping free-at-last cry to the tribe. There's nothing else quite like it in the genre. I used to play sides one and six from the original three disc vinyl back to back for a double whammy of hard rock heaven. But there's plenty more besides. Those who have reviewed the re-issue and grumbled about the inclusion of lesser known album cuts like `Spirits' and `Medicine Jar' in the set list miss the point. This was not a McCartney greatest- hits tour - although hits there are aplenty - but a contemporary rock and roll band on tour. Other highlights therefore include `Time to Hide', Denny's take on Paul Simon's `Richard Cory' and a larynx-shredding `Beware My Love', which is propelled along by a thunderous bass. `WOA' set the blueprint for a series of great (nearly) live late seventies rock albums like Lizzy's `Live & Dangerous' and Tull's `Bursting Out' that demonstrate the value of variety and pacing in putting together a programme. The music deserves five stars but the packaging for the basic re-issue is underwhelming, although there's less to damage if it's getting chucked about in the car. So, I give it four stars. What we need now is the official release of some mixing desk cuts from the Wings Mk1 72 and 73 tours. That would be something.