Review (part I)
"Wingspan" is a two-CD commemorative anthology of the Wings' saga. It will be accompanied by a "Wingspan" TV documentary and followed by a holiday boxed set of Wings rarities, studio outtakes, and previously unissued performance documents. The two CDs are called "Hits" and "History" and they actually cover a broader range than just the Wings period, for they include some tracks of Tug Of War and some solo works of the albums McCartney & McCartney II which mark the beginning and the end of the Wings' saga.
"I got a pencil and paper and started listing the tracks I like. The list went on and on, and I realized I like more than I thought. The list eventually split itself into two groups of songs. One was the big sellers - the ones that sold over a million. That came out to be one CD. Then the other CD was songs I didn't think could be left off - my favorites." (Paul McCartney)
THE SOLO YEARS
After the Beatles' break-up, Paul McCartney released his first solo album, McCartney, in 1970. Although it reached US#1, no single was issued from that album at that time.
No less than five tracks of McCartney were selected for Wingspan. The Lovely Linda, of course, had to be there... like Maybe I'm Amazed, one of Paul's greatest songs. It's a pity this latest track was not released as a single in 1970. This omission was only repaired in 1977 when the live version performed by Wings was issued and reached US#19.
Paul, Linda and baby Mary.
The other choices for Wingspan were Junk, a nice ballad, Every Night, an acoustic piece which was covered by Paul and Wings many times throughout the years, and Man We Was Lonely, a melodic and catchy 'country' tune.
Too bad they didn't choose to also include That Would Be Something !
Wingspan selection also includes Another Day, Paul's first single after The Beatles which was released in February 1971 in between McCartney and Ram, and which reached US#5.
Ram, released in May 1971, was the second solo album composed by Paul. It reached US#2 and, in my opinion, can be considered as one of his five best albums.
Ram was not a solo effort as McCartney could be. For this album recording, Paul was backed by some musicians, among which drummer Denny Seiwell would be selected later on to enter the first Wings line-up. And don't forget Linda McCartney, who got more involved in Paul's work with that second post-Beatles album.
Four songs of the album Ram were selected for Wingspan. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey and the excellent rocker Too Many People are two of them. Both songs were released as the A- and B-sides of a single in 1971 and reached US#1. The two other selections from Ram are the beautiful ballad Heart Of The Country and the inevitable Beatle-ish tune of The Back Seat Of My Car.
Too bad they didn't also include the melodic track of Dear Boy and the hard-rocking Monkberry Moon Delight !
WINGS I : 1971/1972
Paul McCartney: vocal, bass, piano Linda McCartney: vocal, keyboards Denny Laine: vocal, guitar Denny Seiwell: drums
Left to Right: Paul, Linda, Denny Seiwell, Denny Laine.
After the Ram album, Paul asked Denny Laine, former Moody Blues' member, to join the band. Paul had already met Denny Laine in 1965 during a Beatles' tour in which the Moody Blues took part. Paul, Linda, Denny Laine and Denny Seiwell were the first Wings' line-up.
On December 1971, they released the album Wings Wild Life which reached US#10. This album, quickly recorded in two weeks, is often considered as one of weekest titles of Paul McCartney. However, Wings Wild Life is full of pretty songs and some of them are really gems.
The Wingspan selection includes a special medley named Bip Bop/Hey Diddle. These versions of Bip Bop and Hey Diddle were unreleased until Wingspan. This medley results from an informal family recording with children noises all along the song. The master version of Bip Bop appeared on Wings Wild Life, but the song Hey Diddle is still unreleased today.
The second and only other excerpt from Wings Wild Life included in Wingspan is Tomorrow, a good rock song.
Too bad they didn't also include Dear Friend, a beautiful ballad on piano, and Some People Never Know, a refreshing duet with Paul and Linda.
Paul, Mary & Linda (photo sessions for Wings Wild Life cover)
WINGS II 1971/72
Paul McCartney: vocal, bass, piano Linda McCartney: vocal, keyboards Henry McCullough: vocal, guitar Denny Laine: vocal, guitar Denny Seiwell: drums
Henry McCullough, Denny Laine, Denny Seiwell, (Elvis), Paul & Linda.
In January 1972, after the "Bloody Sunday", Paul quickly recorded Give Ireland Back To The Irish. Henry McCullough, an Irish guitarist who had already played in the Grease Band with Joe Cocker, joined Wings for the recording of Paul's new single. The second line-up of Wings was ready. With this band, Paul decided to hit the road again for a UK tour, and then for a European tour.
In December 1972, Wings released a new single Hi Hi Hi / C Moon, whose A-side was banned by the BBC. Thus the radio aired C Moon instead of Hi Hi Hi. Anyway the single reached US#10.
Then, Wings released their second album, Red Rose Speedway, in April 1973. It was a big success, regarding the failure of Wings Wild Life. The album reached US#1and remained at that spot for three weeks.
Of course, Wingspan includes Hi Hi Hi , a catchy rock that was covered a lot on stage by Wings. C Moon is also included and can be considered as a good reggae song composed by Paul. The only song from Red Rose Speedway selected for Winspan is My Love, another nice ballad at the piano with a great guitar solo by Henry McCullough. The single release of My Love / The Mess reached US#1in April 1973.
Too bad they didn't also include The Mess in the Wingspan collection, for this title is one of the best hard-rocking songs performed by Wings.
An other single was issued by Wings after the release of Red Rose Speedway : Live And Let Die, written by Paul for the soundtrack of the James Bond movie.
Live And Let Die / I Lie Around was released in July 1973 and reached US#2.
This title was repeatedly covered on stage by Paul & Wings throughout the years and this fabulous rock song had to be (and is) included in Wingspan.
End of Part I
Introduction by Mark Lewisohn (sleevenotes)
Wingspan Review (part I: 1970-1973)
Wingspan Review (Part II: 1973-1977)
Wingspan Review (Part III: 1977-1983)
Press Articles (coming soon...)
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