Saturday, May 25, 2013

Paul McCartney and Wings- Wings Over America remaster/reissue review

 Wings - Wings Over America
Paul McCartney and Wings
Wings Over America
1976
Rating: ****

In 1976, Paul McCartney and Wings were on fire. McCartney had truly hit the peak of his post-Beatles around this time and is probably the most success any member the Beatles has seen since their break-up in 1970. To showcase this period in time, the Paul McCartney Archive Collection has chosen to reissue and remaster the 1976 live album, Wings Over America. MPL has also gone out of their way to reissue the album’s concert film counterpart, Rockshow, on DVD/Blu-Ray (which will come out June 11) as well as a limited theatrical release. This is also the first time since 1990 that the album has been reissued on CD.

            Much like the reissue of McCartney II, this is my first time owning a copy of Wings Over America on CD. However, I have had a vinyl copy passed on from some family members for years but I barely ever listened to it. So for this review, I will not be able to make comparisons to a previous master of the album.

            Wings Over America is an interesting live album. After listening to it, I think it’s a very good live album but there are some things that this album lacks compared to other live albums. For one thing, the sound of the live recording isn’t all that great. Its fine but I think I’m more familiar with the audio from the Rockshow film, which I still have a bootleg VHS copy of. The biggest thing that sticks out for me on this live album is that there is no dialogue or onstage banter heard in between songs. Onstage banter, for me, is one of the many things that make a live album what it is. I know from watching Rockshow dozens of times as a ten year old boy that there was indeed onstage banter in between songs.

            Still, this can be forgotten since the music pretty much makes up for it. McCartney and Wings were at the peak of their career with what is considered by many to be the best line-up the band ever had with the core three members (Paul, Linda, and guitarist Denny Laine) with guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and drummer Joe English. Wings play a total of 28 songs, which vary from Beatles tunes to Wings tunes and several other pieces.

            Wings songs such as “Rockshow”, “Jet”, “Let Me Roll It” and “Band On the Run” all sound great live. Some songs such as “Magneto and Titanium Man”, “Silly Love Songs”, and “Maybe I’m Amazed” sound better than their studio version. The Beatles songs are played nicely, “I’ve Just Seen a Face” probably standing out the most.  McCartney also lets his fellow Wings bandmates get their chance to shine. McCulloch performs “Medicine Jar”, a personal favorite of mine being that I am a fan of McCulloch’s work inside and outside of Wings. Laine also gets to perform a few songs including “Spirits of Ancient Egypt”, “Time to Hide”, and even “Go Now” the hit song he penned during his brief stint in the Moody Blues. The band also plays Simons & Garfunkel’s “Richard Cory” in their acoustic set and ends the album with the rocker “Soily”. I’ve said before that I can’t say if this is better or worse than previously release. However, I will say that throughout the entire album the bass and drums sound amazing.

            I received an advanced release of this album from my college’s radio station. Along with the album comes a DVD which features the 1979 TV documentary Wings Over the World, making its debut appearance on home video. This DVD will only come with the lavishly packaged box set for this album which features picture books, backstage pass replicas, and a bonus CD of the band performing at the Cow Palace.

            As for the aforementioned documentary, it’s pretty good. The documentary shows McCartney and Wings on and off stage. The live performances are pretty much the same exact ones seen in Rockshow except abridged. It’s kind of fun to see the band behind the scenes riding horses, playing games, and goofing around when their private plane arrives at the wrong airport. This documentary is shown in a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is great given how releases like this are usually cut and made into a widescreen presentation (which, unfortunately, looks like the case for the re-release of Rockshow). The documentary is also remastered and looks fantastic. If you are unable to afford the money for the box set, the documentary is all over YouTube to watch.

            Overall, Wings Over America is another fine entry in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection. It’s a fantastic way to show how great McCartney and Wings were. Another thing to note is that this remaster is dedicated to Linda McCartney and Jimmy McCulloch, which I find very touching. Whether or not you already have this album on CD, it’s well worth it to get this new remaster.

2 comments:

  1. I was unable to attend the WOA tour in the summer of 1976. Many people I talked to in the fall said they loved the concert - especially in Denver. Later in 1980 I went to Rockshow the movie. The theater was filled with screaming girls - very Beatlemania-like. On May 16 this year I went to the remastered Rockshow and had a great time. I even got the theater's movie poster of the film.

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  2. Okay, Got the standard edition yesterday and listened to the whole thing non stop.

    Very first impression, Wings were a powerhouse band live, they were at their absolute peak and this remaster really showcases that.

    McCartney's bass is just thunderous, the way it should be on every one of his albums. A complaint I've always had is that McCartney's bass always sounds too far back in the mix, I want it up front and in your face, after all this is one of the premiere bassist so he should be heard very distinctly. The Rick is the absolute best bass for McCartney the Hofner though more Iconic always sounds muffled to me, doesn't have that thump like the Rick.

    I already had the Capitol CDs of this album so I played some of those first so I could compare the sound, right away I noticed that the remaster is louder, sharper, clearer with a more dynamic range. One thing I really like is that you can hear the crowds delight better. You really hear them react when the guitar riff of Let Me Roll It hits. The performances just thrilled the crowds.

    The performances are just awesome, I have a whole new respect for songs like Spirits Of Ancient Egypt and Medicine Jar, I mean Wings are just rocking out on these songs. I know most people talk about Maybe I'm Amazed but for me Call Me Back Again and Beware My Love are the vocal performances to hear, McCartney is one of the absolute greatest singers. This album clearly shows that he is a premiere rock shouter.

    Joe English on the drums is just excellent, without a doubt he is the best drummer McCartney ever had. I actually heard rolls and fills I never noticed before. I also noticed that you can really hear when he hits the cymbals, the crashes really help highlight the songs.

    I've stated many times that WOA is my very fave McCartney album, with this absolutely fantastic remaster It's my fave all over again.

    Oh I have to mention Hi Hi Hi and Soily, how can anyone say Wings were lightweight and soft if they listen to these songs, they just come blasting out of the speakers! Their performance of Hi Hi Hi is just a scorching smoking hard rocker, one of McCartney absolute best rockers.

    I am just thrilled with this remaster, this album has never ever sounded better!

    Now for the Rockshow blu-ray.

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