Customer Review

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The music is very good, made even better by the remastering, 30 May 2013
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This review is from: Wings Over America (Audio CD)
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.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Jun 2013 07:37:28 BDT
theplanets says:
I know I will probably sound like a smart-arse , but although the music is excellent , in general when played on a top notch system ( Marantz SACD / ATC amplification / Yamaha NS1000M speakers, the sound really isn't that much better .
To my ears at least , it still sounds quite dynamically compressed , with a lack of space around things .

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2013 10:45:10 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 Jun 2013 20:52:24 BDT
Stephen Reid says:
And that's a reason to vote the review as 'unhelpful'?

Simple logic says that if the sound is better on a 'cheaper' system, it will also be better on a more expensive one. No live recording is going to be studio-perfect and you may be rightly critical of recordings that were made back in the mid-1970s: I would be amazed if they were not weak in some areas. But these recordings are published so that we can listen to the music, not the hi-fi.

I have had the privilege of going to the Abbey Road studios and seeing how they remaster the McCartney recordings: the attention to detail and the care and attention they invest is remarkable. They scan each track of each track for drop outs and distortion and fix problems at the micro-second level. They use sophisticated equipment to clear out the pops clicks and whistles that can creep into any recording. The result is a cleaner, fuller sound that improves the product, no matter what play-back system you use.

I therefore stick firmly to my conclusion: this is an improved version of what was already a very good set and well worth buying. Yes, the original recordings are almost forty years old and, yes, they are limited by the technology of four decades ago. The music-lover knows this and judges the purchase in that light. So, I stick to my conclusions: five stars.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jun 2013 14:05:30 BDT
HTC says:
I agree with you. theplanets owns a set much better than mine I think however I use an Oppo 93 and tube amplifier and I love my system. The music recording is really good and I can't complain at all afterall this recordings was done like you said 40 years ago and using modern technology to remaster it. Don't we love modern technology! But I really wish they have done a live version of Juniors Farm.
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