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WINGS OVER AMERICA (1976)

Quite a few things happened between The Live Over Europe 1972 tour and 1976’s WINGS OVER AMERICA album.

The release of RED ROSE SPEEDWAY was cut from a proposed double to a single album. The album became much mellower and commercial with the loss of many of the live tracks and studio versions that they had offered the 1972 European crowds.

They even changed the name to Paul McCartney & Wings on the jacket.

Guitarist Henry McCullough began to lose interest in the musical direction, and after starting rehearsals on the next album, he left the band.

Just before the official recording began, drummer Denny Seiwell left over the money he was being paid.

Paul took it as a challenge and he, Linda and Denny Laine recorded BAND ON THE RUN in Africa and England. Its success led Paul to try to flush out the band in 1974 by adding young Jimmy McCulloch and drummer Geoff Britton. Britton quit after the band had filmed live in the studio, “One Hand Clapping” and the album 1974’s McGEAR, for Pauls brother Michael.

Paul replace Britton with American drummer Joe English and the band recorded the VENUS AND MARS and then prepared for the Wings Over The World tour which would begin in Europe in 1975, come to the U.S.A. in 1976 and then finish late that year in Great Britain.

VENUS AND MARS was recorded specifically for the world tour, and featured prominently in the set list with eight songs, starting with the opening tracks.

The band even recorded another new album during the short break in the tour between Europe and America and quickly released WINGS AT THE SPEED OF SOUND, to coincide with the American leg of the massive tour.

The entire tour was an amazing success and late in 1976 Paul listened to ever second of the American show tapes, and with a bit of “fixing it up” in the studio, they released in December of 1976 the 3 LP set, WINGS OVER AMERICA.

Apparently the record company executives now didn’t have a problem as Wings had reach the nadir of their commercial existence.

-I saw Paul on this for the first time in Uniondale, New York on May 21st, 1976. Amazing….
————————————————
Statistical Analysis

# of Songs: 30

Songs of Paul (solo): 1 (3.3%)
Songs of Wings: 21 (70%)
Songs of Beatles (Lennon/McCartney): 5 (16.7%)
Songs of Others: 2 (6.7%)
Unreleased Songs: 1 (3.3%)
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(Opening Medley- Bass)
“Venus And Mars”
“Rock Show”
“Jet”
-A wonderful way to start the show. “Venus and Mars” gets the blood boiling as we get to see and hear Paul on an American stage for the first time since 1966. The crowd can barely control themselves, and the band launches into “Rock Show,” a song Paul wrote to describe the intended venues on this tour. The stage is now alive, Paul and the band, including the entire horn section he used on SPEED OF SOUND. Played almost note for note, but for Paul vamping on the vocals, they perfectly segue into “Jet”. By The time the three song medley is done, we are standing, screaming and in the palm of his hand. Rating – 9.5

-Paul does chat between songs a bit, but this has mostly been cut from the album. He used the big heavy Rickenbacker bass and divides the show set into small groups of songs based around the instrument he plays.

(Bass)
“Let Me Roll It” Rating – 8
“Spirit Of Ancient Egypt” Rating – 7.5
“Medicine Jar”. Rating – 7.5

(Piano #1)

“Maybe I’m Amazed”
-A huge response to this one, with a new arrangement that Paul uses to this day. The 1970 album track from McCartney became a hit single from the album. The only song from his “solo” albums. Rating – 9

“Call Me Back Again” Rating – 7.5

“Lady Madonna”
-The first Beatles song written by the band (he still is only performing HIS written Beatles songs at this time). The crowd response is notched up with each of these as we finally hear a Beatles song sung by that Beatle that sang it on release!) Rating – 8.5

“The Long And Winding Road” Rating – 8

“Live And Let Die”
-This was an unexpected thriller, as we had small explosions and a strobe light effect during the instrumental breaks. Not the bombastic production done on all tours after this, and placed early in the set, as it is now usually the set up for the break before the encores! Rating – 9.5

(Acoustic set)
“Picasso’s Last Words” Rating – 7

“Richard Cory”
-Obscure Paulo Simon written song. Maybe “I’ll Follow The Sun” or “Michelle” could have served better. It gave Denny another lead vocal. Rating – 7

“Bluebird”
-Paul breaks out the electronic drum box. Wonderfully done. Rating – 9

“I’ve Just Seen A Face”

-Sped up version, done more country and western style. It was great to hear it, but would have preferred they did it slower and more like the RUBBER SOUL arrangement. Rating – 7

Overall this segment was wonderful relaxing break to see the band sit on chairs and play for us “backyard style.”

The band leaves for “a break” and we have solo Paul on a stool. This was an amazing moment to lavish him with roars of delight.

(Paul solo acoustic)
“Blackbird” Rating – 9

“Yesterday”
-On this tour it was placed here, not as a must have encore. This is THE song we had all come to hear, as this was still the golden nugget of his from the days of Fab.

Since no “Hey Jude” at this point in his touring career, this was the apex moment of the show, with the remainder as gravy. Rating – 10.

(Piano #2)
“You Gave Me The Answer”
Rating – 7

“Magnetto And Titanium Man”
-A small screen drops down to reveal the two comic book characters. From row 10, off to the stage right, it was hard to see, as visual effects were still in their infancy. Rating – 7

“Go Now”
-Nice surprise change-up to have Denny sing his big hit from his Moody Blues days, and the band does a great job in making it bigger than the original.
Rating – 8

“My Love”
-Another highlight. Paul does struggle just a hair on the last high note, but the crowd roared their approval anyway. Rating- 9

“Listen To What The Man Said”
-A quicker performed version than the 1975 single, and the horn section on the “sax” solo gave it a slicker feel. Rating – 7.5

“Let ‘Em In”
-One of the two single on the charts during this tour period. It drew a great response, and Denny loved strutting around on stage with his marching band snare drum on his waist. Rating – 8.5

(Bass)
“Time To Hide”
-A song that actually (for me) was better than the album version, as Pauls thumping bass and especially Denny’s harmonica solo really maker this one cook. Rating – 9

“Silly Love Songs”
-The other big hit single at this time, played perfectly. The horn section replicated the studio version to our delight. Rating -8

“Beware My Love”
-Paul’s screamer, but an odd song with it’s tempo changes. Rating – 7

“Letting Go” Rating – 7.5

“Band On The Run”
-Paul saved this one, which was the Wings song that HAD to be heard by the crowd. A bit thinner than the way he plays it now, but we knew we had to give it our all as Paul said this was the last song….. Rating – 8.5

We screamed and chanted his name for a full five minutes to the dark stage…. We knew he was coming back, but the anticipation was amazing…. Here they come!

(Encore- Bass)
“Hi, Hi, Hi”
-Played at too fast a pace for me. I loved the 1972 single very much. But we all shook our bums, as Paul asked us to. Rating – 7

“Soily”
No “Hey Jude” or “Let It Be” or “Get Back” but instead he gave us a trippy unreleased song that for nearly all was still unknown. The use of the lasers and the extended opening was very nice, and the band does a great job, but to end the show on this song was a bit odd. Right? Rating – 8

Overall the album faithfully recreates the atmosphere and vibe associated with this show, which left us all thrilled.

Paul told us that he would “see us next time.” It would be 14 long years, but he came back, and back, and soon, back again.

Overall, WINGS OVER AMERICA rates as 7.53/10.

Next…….. 1979’s Wings LAST FLIGHT (unreleased)

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