Release Date: May 28, 2013
Record label: Hear Music
Paul McCartney & WingsWings Over America –Deluxe Edition(Concord)Rating: 4 out of 5 stars It’s easy to get caught up in teary eyed nostalgia when albums that have gradually fallen off the popular radar over the decades are reissued and re-evaluated. That’s only natural, especially concerning the ongoing upgrading of Paul McCartney’s catalog for the Concord label. That program continues with this three vinyl/two CD live set, originally released in 1976.
Paul McCartney is an institution unto himself, a nearly 71-year-old business, man, and he’s never let, say, the dissolution of The Biggest Band In The World hold him back from global reach. There were a few hurdles in the run-up to the American leg of the 1975-76 Wings Over the World tour: the death of his father, Wings guitarist Jimmy McCulloch’s purportedly broken fingers, the haunted presence of The Beatles on the charts, and the press’ spotlight on the ever-politicized John Lennon. But after 10 years since performing with the Fab Four, this — Wings’ only tour of the States — was the moment of rebirth for McCartney.
Expanded live epic shows the two sides of Wings…The original Wings Over America was a 28-track, triple-vinyl document of Wings’ first American tour. Dressed in a swish but somewhat anonymous Hipgnosis sleeve depicting a blinding light creeping out of the opening cabin door of a jet airliner, it was released just before Christmas in 1976, reached a creditable No. 8 in the UK, and became the fifth successive Wings album to top the Billboard charts.
Wings Over America was Paul McCartney’s bold arena-rock (as opposed to pop) move of the 1970s – a triple-disc live set, complete with vocal showcases for the backup guys. It was also the first time he remade Beatles oldies – “Blackbird” and “Bluebird” fit together well. There’s something daft and touching about how McCartney strives for band democracy: Whenever Denny Laine sings lead, you can almost hear the fans stampede for their bathroom weed break.
You could make the argument that no less than Paul McCartney’s entire post-Beatles career hinges on Wings Over America. After a pair of low-key, do-it-yourself solo albums, McCartney decided he missed being in a band, and formed Wings, along with his wife Linda and former Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine. McCartney tried to belie Wings’ superstar pedigree with a ramshackle UK university tour and debut album, Wild Life (1971), that many fans and critics thought was almost self-sabotaging in its quirky, tossed-off nature.
Wings Over America cemented Paul McCartney's status as the one Beatle who conquered the globe. McCartney's secret was visible in plain sight: he formed a new band and toured them hard, establishing himself as a concert draw in a way none of his fellow Fabs ever did. Wings Over America celebrated the success of that new band, commemorating the chart-topping of 1976's Wings at the Speed of Sound and then becoming a blockbuster in its own right.