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The Road to Full Speed 1975-76

On May 20th, 1975, Wings returned to the studio and knocked out the very New Orleans inspired, “My Carnival.”  It came out as a b-side on one of the V&M singles, and then various mixes of it and lengths exist.   In my opinion it’s forced.   They are recording themselves trying to recreate the sounds they may have had if Wings had done a surprise gig while down there and rocked Bourbon Street by playing this live.    Accurate, but not much soul.  Rating – 6 

On the other hand, “Going To New Orleans,”  the same riff as “My Carnival.” But this song is done with better musicianship and overall captures the New Orleans feel more properly.    Rating – 8

“Baby, you know it’s true (demo)”  Paul riffing at the piano and going through some basic boogie woogie chords and making up lyrics as he does.    He never recorded it.    Rating – 4

“Baby Face” This gem should have been somewhere. McCartney plays with Tuxedo Jazz Band on this 1930’s classic and he finds a voice I only have heard once…here. He owns this short version of the song.    Wish he had done a proper version for VENUS AND MARS.  Rating – 8

“Lunch Box/Odd Sox” Recorded during this time yet not released until being a b-side to 1980’s “Coming Up.”  Two instrumental pieces, the first an uptempo jazzy style with irritating synths by Linda. The second half is a synth led motion picture theme sounding track. Odd indeed, Miss Money Penny.   Rating – 7/5 = 6

“Proud Mum”  Another synth driven instrumental that may have been started earlier and then touched up later in one of the cold cuts proposed albums.  It Also sounds like “the end of movie” song.    Rating – 6

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In August 1975 and then seriously in September and October of 1975 Wings returned to the studio to work on the latest McCartney songs.   

They did all the recording for the next album while rehearsing, during, in breaks from and after starting Wings over Europe and The World tours. 

Again, January and February of 1976, back to recording. They wanted even more new songs when the “Wings over America” began in May.

The album was mixed and put to bed….until it awoke on March 25th worldwide release. 

That night the radio station in Philadelphia played it for us, both sides….the complete new WINGS album. 

And it indeed is a WINGS album, as a whopping five songs are not sung by a Mr. McCartney. 

Ladies and gents, he promises us AT THE SPEED OF SOUND.   Next… did he deliver?

Wings At The Speed Of Sound (1976)

So the tour with all glitches being ironed out and they’ve had a handful of great shows to analyze, and make some exciting song selection changes.  Now add the new songs to the lineup.       And they did…..

The album artwork itself isn’t very good. The front cover is part of the whole marquee announcing the band you would see in other larger ads.  

I preferred the inside album jacket art.   On one side it was hand drawn of the club called “speed of sound” and Wings is performing inside….  Oh, Wings AT the speed of sound.  Not too obscure.   The back of this inside album jacket was a collage of of B&W photos of the band.  (see photos)

The back cover of the album sort of borrows from A HARD DAYS NIGHT.   Shows each mugging for fast shots that blend.  Upon closer inspection, it was pointed out at the time,  it shows the first signs of age (crows feet) in McCartney’s face.  

Interesting overall concept of the theater marquee and its lettering as again they knew the bands names would be in lights throughout the rest of the year.

                  ————————————————————

“Let ‘Em In”.   The last album effectively ended on “Lonely Old People.”  “Crossroads theme” was added as short irony to “People’s” emotional content.    It was a soap opera in the UK that pandered only to the very old.      “Lonely Old People” was a song about the old couple sadly sitting alone at home, filling their day up doing nothing.   You see, no one has asked them “to play.”

Now, the new album opens with guests of many sort ringing that front bell, all wanting in now, and Paul happily welcoming them all.    Look whose popular now…..

A decent hit single that was highlighted on the tour with Denny playing the military drum part and the horn section also playing the flutes and other woodwind parts.

Like every song on the album, it is amazingly recorded, perfect…..too perfect.  This was the apex of late 1970’s of albums sounding so near perfect.  From the Eagles to Steely Dan, sonic goodness.

SPEED follows as well as it is a beautiful album to listen to.    Not at all complicated in depth, and sadly in scope.   This song, like most on the album, sounds good and I bop and tap along to it, but the song itself is lacking any true tension as far as the words and why they are in the songs.     

So “Let ‘Em In,” not a bad way to open up.  

Like riding an escalator to the second floor of the mall.      Rating – 7

“The Note You Never Wrote.”  McCartney written, sung by Laine.   Stream of thought lyrics that make no sense…. The middle break leading into Jimmy’s guitar break are the best part of this one.   The mayor of Baltimore is here….?????

Rating – 6

“She’s My Baby”.  Oh yeah, two other things had changed in music beside flawless recordings…. A uptempo type of dance music being referred to as “disco.”  And the stirring of a form of rebellion was happening in England that would emerge as punk.  On this song we have Paul’s first toe dip in the disco pool. Sounds nice when listening….  Hollow.  Rating- 6

“Beware My Love” Paul tries his best to give a screaming throwback rocker, but drops the ball by shifting the into a disco tempo, and way too much Linda in these tempo changes, Paul actually for the first time struggles to fully hit the notes he has written for himself here.  But the song sounds good.    The bass on this and every song is beyond compare.  Rating – 5.5

“Wino Junko” Second McCulloch/Allen song collaboration , Jimmy handles lead vocal here.  Sounds nice.  Interesting drumming by Joe on the play-out.   Rating – 5.5

“Silly Loves Songs”  More disco on one of the tempo shifts. 

Opens with a mock of the knocking off of love songs as compared to products coming off an assembly line.    

Amazing bass line, the best of his life.    

Has a variety of changes and shifts, and sounds great while doing it.   But the song does not stay with my soul, as I have said on the first six songs.  Rating – 6

“Cook Of The House” Trying to sound like a 1950’s dance band…. It is a song sung by Linda describing her love of all things kitchen.    This didn’t need to happen here…. It could have been saved for her “solo album” that came out just after her passing. Or maybe as a non album b-side. I cringed when I first heard this back in the day.  But it sounds good. Rating – 4

“Time To Hide” Denny written and lead vocal.  And guess what, a great little song. Bass line dances and overall the song cooks.  It has some nice instrumental breaks (Denny on harmonica) and sounded great in concert as well.    Rating – 8.5

“Must Do Something About It”   Originally tried by Paul on the demo but then given to Joe, who does much better vocally on this track.  A meaningless toe tapper that sounds nice going nowhere.

Rating – 5.5

“San Ferry Anne”   Interesting song that reminded me on first hearing it as one of the early 1960’s teen jazz coffee house songs that came with the short lived folk era. A flute solo, and great horn work.   Haven’t the foggiest idea what this song means 45 years after its release.   Rating –  7.5

“Warm and Beautiful” When I first heard it I thought of Little Rascals shorts in which Alfalfa sings tenderly to Darla and then he hits these squeaky notes.    Macca again struggles to hit that squeaky note (…”the story of our LOVE”…….)  and all I could think about Alfalfa.    The album ends.     It sure sounded good….. but was it?

Rating – 6

Overall rating of the 11 song album is 6.14

It truly was a full band effort. Wings would carry this positivity throughout the year 1976 and into 1977 until they recorded again…

Next….. other songs and recordings and tour notes for the rest of the year 1976.

THE REST OF 1976….

After five warm up shows in Denmark (3/20-21/76), Germany, The Netherlands and France (3/26/76) Wings Over America began on May 3rd in Texas and ended June 23rd in California. 

I, again, saw the  May 21st show on Long Island. They recorded each show and would release a three record set (augmented with post tour repair) for Christmas season of 1976.

Paul threw another post tour party in Beverly Hills on June 24th.   

During the party Paul met with Michael Jackson for the second time, and told him he had written a song for him:    “We shook hands amid a huge crowd of people, and he said, ‘You know, I’ve written a song for you.’ I was very surprised and thanked him. And he started singing Girlfriend to me at this party.  So we exchanged phone numbers and promised to get together soon, but different projects and life just got in the way for both of us and we didn’t talk again for a couple of years. He ended up putting the song on his own album London Town.” – Jackson

During the summer break Paul invited Denny Laine to his home studio and the two of them, with a little vocal help from Linda, recorded the McCartney produced, HOLLY DAYS.     

This is a Denny solo album, with Paul behind the dials and helping with each song. Since Paul owned the rights to each of the songs it was a no-lose situation.    It came out in May of 1977.

Paul also spent time that summer by himself in his upgraded home studio and laid down a track of songs, song bits and ideas he was working on at the time.

Here is a list of tracks on the July 1976 Home Recordings: 

Oobu Joobu – Became a HUGE radio show series for Paul by the same name and he would play classic tracks, unreleased tracks, soundcheck etc and DJ each program.  This was the title track that became the opener/closer for each show.

Oobu Joobu singalong theme

Rhodes/moog/drum track

Don’t you Wanna Dance?  – He worked on this this a bit more later on.

Old Siam, Sir   – Came out on 1979’s BACK TO THE EGG album.

How do you like the lyrics?

Norfolk Broads

Dervish Crazy Moog

All It Needs is a damn good song

Fishy Matters Underwater.   The most amazing story here… He played bits of this on one of the Oobu Joobu shows and then revisited it and finished it in 2018 and released as part of EGYPT STATION traveler edition as “Frank Sinatra’s Party.”

Hey Man/ Cards Up On The Table

It’s amazing how prolific he was, and to a lesser degree still is so today.

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On September 7th thru 14th Paul and Linda celebrated the first Buddy Holly Week.

From September 19th (Austria) to October 21st (London) Wings returned to the stage and finished the hugely successful tour.   

The band tweaked a few of the tour tapes and a massive three record set WINGS OVER AMERICA was released on December 10th, 1976!!

Next…. 1977… Changes again????

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