Wings - Wingspan: Hits And History

Year of Release: 7243 532850 2 9
Label: EMI
Catalog Number: 2001
Format: CD
Total Time: 153:02:00

Several years ago I attended a concert by Rick Wakeman at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. Backstage Rick invited me to an afterparty on the other side of town, so I took a cab and headed to this intimate affair. All night I sat next to a shy guy. I knew I had seen his face somewhere before but I really couldn't tell who it was. When I got back home the other day I knew! I had been sitting next to Denny Laine all night without saying a word! Me, the big Beatles and McCartney fan, was just inches away from the man who spent ten years of his life in Wings, the band Macca put together with his wife Linda as a pop answer to The Beatles.

After trying to gain recognition as Percy Thrillington, The Country Hams, Suzy & Red Stripes and in later life as The Fireman, plus as the composer of such majestic pieces as The Liverpool Oratorio and Standing Stone, without forgetting the Liverpool Sound Collage experiment, Paul McCartney probably won most hearts as the leader of Wings. In its ten years of existence, the nucleus of Paul, Linda and Denny Laine recorded many hits, all of which can be found on Sir Paul's very own 40-track collection, an impressive look at the "Hits And History" of Paul's after-Beatles period.

On November 8th of this year it will be exactly thirty years since Wings was launched at a fancy dress party hosted by Paul and Linda at the Empire Ballroom in London. Compared to his fellow Beatles friends Wings was probably the most poppy of them all, yet if you take a closer look at some of the compositions, it has to be said that Paul's unique talent certainly doesn't have to be second to the Beatles output. Can't "Band On The Run" be seen as Paul's very own Sgt Pepper? Just how ingenious is the inclusion of the Moog here and is it really Linda who recorded it in the studio? Is the change of atmosphere in this song not what "progressive" is all about, changing from one mood into another whilst introducing yet another fine slice of delicious Moog?

Often regarded as the big threat in the musical development of Paul, photographer Linda Eastman was in no way a copy of Yoko Ono. In the ten years existence of Wings she was always there, but never tried to be more popular than her husband. She was happy standing in his shadow, because in the case of McCartney, even his shadow holds enough magic to enable you to be happy for the rest of your life. Whilst it is never easy to be married to a popstar, Linda was able to lead a wonderful life with Paul and also work beside him. That dedication was translated in Paul's love for Linda, offering her, and the world, the love song "My Love." Looking at the entire output of Wings, the ride certainly has been worthwhile and varied. Sometimes that ride included a fair amount of challenges, like the time they were asked to write a song for a new James Bond movie. Paul sat down, read the Ian Fleming book, which he preferred to reading the filmscript, and started cracking. Along the way he introduced a reggae bit which Linda had written, topped it off with a huge and powerful orchestra and hey presto "Live And Let Die" was born, even rubbing shoulders with pure classical prowess.

The ever-friendly Paul and Linda McCartney would organize a party during "Let 'Em In" and indeed invite all of their friends. Well at least this happened during the song that started out with engineer Geoff Emerick recording Paul's doorbell, which was one of those London doorbells at the time. He asks to let Phil & Don in, which, of course, are the Everly Brothers. Also Uncle Ernie can get in, but Paul never had an Uncle Ernie, though the Who did in their Tommy rock opera. Paul did have an Auntie Gin however, and of course she's welcome to join the imaginary party as well. This song perfectly illustrates how Paul is capable of writing a decent song with even a very thin storyline. We all remember Paul's Run Dvil Run album and the Choba B CCCP collection where he pays a tribute to good old fashioned rock'n roll. In "Let Me Roll It" he steps into the (suede) shoes of Gene Vincent. Of the album Mc Cartney II Paul says it's a very basic album, where he mainly worked with synthesizers and nothing else. "Waterfalls" is a wonderful piece of craftmanship backed by great harmonies, splendid melodies and a lovely arrangement which keeps it all together. In a way it reminds me of Gary Wright. This is what all great music should be made of and Paul does it again!

One can ask whether "Bluebird" is an answer to the Beatles' "Blackbird," yet you can marvel at the simple structure of "Junk". You can ask yourself why "Venus and Mars" and "Rockshow" were ever glued together or why Paul tries to become one of the Alessi brothers during "Girlfriend." Whereas all of the material on this double offering, spread over a "hit" album and a "history" album, have all been previously released, there is one unreleased ditty included here. Recorded thirty years ago and also featured in the Wingspan TV-film, "Bip Bop / Hey Diddle" is nothing more than some primitive lessons in early blues featuring Paul on acoustic guitar and vocals backed by Linda. Their kids are their intimate audience and they certainly enjoy what happens.

Certainly this release is not a real must for prog addicts, but it illustrates that the nucleus of good honest pop music doesn't have to be solely reserved for The Beatles and only The Beatles. The sheer genius of writing solid hooks and melodies is still there and spread over ten years and various albums, Wings has proved to be as legendary as their big brother, offering the world an enormous wealth of rock classics of which no fewer than forty have been assembled here. Enjoy them whilst they're still hot!

PS: Next time you sit next to me, Denny, do introduce yourself, and maybe you can drive me back to Paul's for an intimate knees-up. You never know what song we might create!

Disc One - Hits: Listen To What The Man Said / Band On The Run / Another Day / Live And Let Die / Jet / My Love / Silly Love Songs / Pipes Of Peace / C Moon / Hi Hi Hi / Let 'Em In / Goodnight Tonight / Junior's Farm / Mull Of Kintyre / Uncle Albert-Admiral Halsey / With A Little Luck / Coming Up / No More Lonely Nights

Disc Two - History: Let Me Roll It / The Lovely Linda / Daytime Nighttime Suffering / Maybe I'm Amazed / Helen Wheels / Bluebird / Heart Of The Country / Every Night / Take It Away / Junk / Man We Was Lonely / Venus And Mars ? Rockshow / The Back Seat Of My Car / Rockestra Theme / Girlfriend / Waterfalls / Tomorrow / Too Many People / Call Me Back Again / Tug Of War / Bip Bop ? Hey Diddle / No More Lonely Nights (Playout Version)

Paul McCartney (1971-1980) - vocals, bass, piano, drums, magician
Linda McCartney (1971-1980) - vocals, keyboards
Denny Laine (1971-1980) - vocals, guitar
Denny Seiwell (1971-1973) - drums
Henry McCullogh (1972-1973) - vocals, guitar
Jimmy McCullogh (1974-1977) - vocals, guitar
Geoff Britton (1974-1975) - drums
Tony Dorsey (1976) - brass
Howie Casey (1976) - brass
Thaddeus Richards (1976) - brass
Steve Howard (1976) - brass
Joe English (1975-1977) - vocals, drums
Laurence Juber (1978-1980) - vocals, guitar
Steve Holly (1978-1980) - drums

(Wings & solo)
McCartney (1970)
Ram (1971)
Wild Life (1971)
Red Rose Speedway (1973)
Band On The Run (1973)
Venus & Mars (1975)
Wings At The Speed Of Sound (1976)
London Town (1978)
Wings Greatest (1978)
Back to The Egg (1979)
McCartney II (1980)
Tug Of War (1982)
Pipes Of Peace (1983)
Give My Regards To Broad Street (1984)
Press To Play (1986)
All The Best (1987) (USA only)
Flowers In The Dirt (1989)
Tripping The Live Fantastic (1990)
Liverpool Oratorio (1991)
Uplugged (The Official Bootleg) (1991)
Choba B CCCP (1991)
Paul Is Live (1993)
Off The Ground (1993)
Flaming Pie (1997)
Liverpool Sound Collage (2000)
Wingspan: Hits And History (2001)
From A Lover To A Friend (single) (2001)
Driving Rain (2001)
Back In The U.S. Live 2002 (2002)
Back In The World Live (2003)
Chaos And Creation In The Backyard - Special Edition (2005)

Back In The U.S. Live 2002 (DVD) (2002)

Genre: Rock

Origin UK

Added: June 21st 2001
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 1091
Language: english


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