Review (part II)
WINGS III: 1973/1974
Paul McCartney: vocal, bass, piano, drums Linda McCartney: vocal, keyboards Denny Laine: vocal, guitar
After the release of Red Rose Speedway which is followed by an English tour in May and July, Paul needed to breathe new air and decided to record his new album in Lagos, Nigeria, where EMI owned some recording studios. A few days before departure, Henry McCullough decided to leave Wings after a disagreement with Paul. And Denny Seiwell, who seemed to fear to go to Africa, resigned in his turn.
That was the birth of Wings III whose members - Paul, Linda and Denny Laine - can be viewed as the hard core of this continuously evolving line-up.
The three pals recorded the new album on their own and Band On The Run was finally released in November 1973 remaining at the US#1 for four weeks. This album is still considered as Paul's best album - or as one of his three best at least -.
Five songs from Band On The Run were selected to be included in Wingspan. Of course, the title-song Band On The Run itself was chosen. It reached US#1 when it was released as the A-side of Band On The Run / Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five in April 1974.
A few months before, an other single taken from this album had been released with Jet / Let Me Roll It which had reached US#7. These both songs are two major masterpieces written by Paul and they were often performed live to "warm up" the audience. They are both featured on Wingspan.
The other Wingspan-selected title were Bluebird, a beautiful acoustic ballad, and Helen Wheels, a song which was listed on Band On The Run only for the US. The single Helen Wheels / Country Dreamer was issued in November 1973 and reached US#10.
By the way, it's too bad that Wingspan didn't also include Country Dreamer, another nice acoustic ballad, and Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five, a dark and beautiful rock played at the piano !
Paul McCartney: vocal, bass, piano Linda McCartney: vocal, keyboards Jimmy McCulloch: vocal, guitar Denny Laine: vocal, guitar Geoff Britton: drums
Left to right: Denny Laine, Linda, Geoff Britton, Paul, Jimmy McCulloch.
In June 1974, after the tremendous success of Band On The Run, Paul decided to find new musicians to complete Wings. After an audition, he selected drummer Geoff Britton, former member of the Wild Angels, and guitarist Jimmy McCulloch, former member of Stone The Crows (he also had played with John Mayall).
The new line-up moved to Nashville in the US and recorded the single Junior's Farm / Sally G which was released in November 1974 and reached US#3. Junior's Farm is a good pop/rock song. Sally G is a catchy country-style tune which is much better than Junior's Farm in my opinion. Actually, the single was re-released a month later with both sides reversed ! Anyway, Wingspan selection only includes Junior's Farm.
Paul McCartney: vocal, bass, piano Linda McCartney: vocal, keyboards Jimmy McCulloch: vocal, guitar Denny Laine: vocal, guitar Joe English: drums
Left to right: Joe English, Jimmy McCulloch, Linda, Paul, Denny Laine.
Towards the end of 1974, Paul started dreaming of a huge World Tour he could be on with Wings. He decided to record a new album whose material would be written for the stage.
Thus, in January 1975, Paul & Wings went back to the U.S. and started new recording sessions in New Orleans and Los Angeles.
At the time, a growing dissension occured between drummer Geoff Britton and guitarist Jimmy McCulloch. Geoff could not bear Jimmy's drug taking and decided to leave the band. He was replaced by Joe English, a New Yorker, and thus Wings went into their fifth line-up.
The new album recorded in the US, Venus And Mars, was released in May 1975 and remained at the US#1 for one week.
Three songs from this album were retained to be included in Wingspan.
The brass section: Tony Dorsey, Howie Casey, Thaddeus Richard & Steve Howard.
The first one is Listen To What The Man Said, which opens the first CD of Wingspan. This is a joyful and rousing tune influenced by the jazz atmosphere of New Orleans. Listen To What The Man Said / Love In Song was released as a single in May 1975 and reached US#1.
The second selection is the inevitable Venus And Mars - Rock Show. Like Jet and other songs, this tune was used to raise temperature in the audience at the beginning of the Wings' concerts of the 1975/76 World Tour. This song was released in November 1975 with the single Venus And Mars-Rock Show / Magneto And Titanium Man and reached US#12.
Call Me Back Again is the last selection from Venus And Mars to be included in Wingspan. This song, among others, was backed on stage by an efficient brass section who was part of the Wings World Tour in 1975/76.
Too bad the Wingspan collection dosen't also include You Gave Me The Answer, another jazzy and happy tune, and Spirits Of Ancient Egypt, a good pop composition by Paul with the lead vocal given to Denny Laine !
After a British and an Australian tours in late 1975, Paul wrote and recorded some songs for what should be the last album intended to provide Wings with new material for the huge forthcoming World Tour of 1976. This Tour was scheduled to begin in March 1976, thus Wings released their new album, Wings At The Speed Of Sound, that same month of March. The album reached US#1.
Wings At The Speed Of Sound is not of the same quality as Band On The Run or Venus And Mars. The reason is probably that Paul let the other members of the band have their own compositions and performances on the record. This "band" philosophy leaded to a lack of unity for the whole album.
Despite everything, Wings At The Speed Of Sound provided new material to be covered by Wings on stage and offered some very good songs including one of the biggest standards ever written by Paul.
Only two songs from this album were included in Wingspan: Silly Love Songs and Let'Em In. Silly Love Songs, a nice pop tune, had to become one of Paul's greatest hits. It was released with the single Silly Love Songs / Cook Of The House in April 1976 and reached US#1.
An other single, Let'Em In / Beware My Love, was released in June and reached US#3. Let'Em In is a gentle ballad whose value mainly results from its varied instrumentation. The B-side of this single, Beware My Love is really a gem. It is a dark, energetic and rough rock song, really one of Paul's best songs in this category.
Too bad Wingspan doesn't include Beware My Love, it's really a shame !!! Wingspan should also include Time To Hide, a composition by Denny Laine, performed by himself, which is clearly one of the best titles on Wings At The Speed Of Sound.
Beware My Love and Time To Hide were covered by Paul and Denny Laine on their World Tour of 1976 and both songs contributed to the hot and unforgettable atmosphere of these Wings' concerts.
The Wings' World Tour, which started in late 1975 by touring the UK and Australia, could go on in March 1976 by touring Europe and the US. The huge material, provided by the three latest Wings' albums, was widely covered on stage by the band, from Jet to Rock Show going through Let Me Roll It, Silly Love Songs, Bluebird, Hi Hi Hi, Beware My Love (!) and many others.
End of Part II
Introduction by Mark Lewisohn (sleevenotes)
Wingspan Review (Part I: 1970-1973)
Wingspan Review (part II: 1973-1977)
Wingspan Review (Part III: 1977-1983)
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