Wings At The Speed Of Sound (1976)
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After the British and Australian tours in late 1975, Paul goes on vacation to Hawa´´. There he writes some songs for what should be the last album intended to provide Wings with new material for the huge forthcoming world tour.
Paul probably wants to strenghten links between Wings'members on the eve of touring, that's why he decides to make room for other singers on this next album. So everyone in the band will have the opportunity to sing a song, Paul giving up the lead vocal on some of his own songs. From this trend towards sharing the songs interpretation will result a very special album among Paul's prolific production.
As for the previous album (Venus And Mars), Wings At The Speed Of Sound will be issued under the name of Wings without directly mentionning Paul McCartney.
Most of the album is recorded in Abbey Road and Elstree studios in January and February 1976. Once the album finished, Wings start a new tour on March 20th. Two days before, Paul learned of the death of his father, Jim McCartney. Paul won't tell at once the bad news to the rest of the band for he wants the tour to go on.
The Wings European tour goes over to Copenhagen, Berlin, Rotterdam and stops in Paris on March 26th. Wings At The Speed Of Sound is issued on March 26th, on the same day Wings play at the Pavillon de Paris.
Wings live at the Pavillon de Paris, March 26th 1976.
Once again, critics have a severe judgement regarding the new album. Sales will be good but not as good as for Band On The Run and Venus And Mars. Anyway, Wings At The Speed Of Sound reaches #1 in the US and #2 in UK. It will even stay in the top ten for 7 weeks and will be charting for 51 weeks in the US.
The album is introduced by Let'Em In, a slow ballad with horns and flutes, a two-pianos rhythm and some military drums.
In this song, Paul goes through a list of people names and let the listener guess who these people could be: Auntie Gin, Brother Michael, Martin Luther, Sister Suzy, Brother John.
Auntie Gin is probably Paul's aunt who took care of Paul after his mother's death. Brother Michael should be Paul's brother, Mike McCartney, and Brother John should be Paul's old mate John Lennon. Martin Luther is Pastor King. And Suzy is nothing else than the pseudonym which will be used by Linda in order to release the Seaside Woman single in 1977.
The Note You Never Wrote is the first title written by Paul on this album whose lead vocal is given to another Wings member. Thus Denny Laine takes the lead vocal on this slow and sad song. A good guitar solo is performed by Jimmy McCulloch.
Next follows She's My Baby, written and performed by Paul. A happy ballad with a good bass line.
Paul on stage in 1976.
Then comes Beware My Love, one of the best hard-rocking titles composed by Paul !! The song starts slowly with acoustic guitars and some harmonies by Paul and Linda. After this soft intro, the rhythm is broken by Paul's rough voice backed up by an agressive electric guitar line. The song is progressively going faster and harder through a desperate atmosphere. In the end, the electric guitar and a crazy piano join together and they both sustain Paul's shouting into an apocalyptic crescendo. A perfect song to be performed on stage by Wings later on.
Wino Junko is written and performed by guitarist Jimmy McCulloch. As Jimmy already did on Venus And Mars with Medicine Jar, this song is against drug taking (Jimmy is an addict and will die of taking drug).
A more joyfull song follows with Silly Love Songs, one of the greatest Wings standards. The bass and the 3 voices harmonies are really gorgeous.
The orchestration based upon strings and brass is very well done.Through this song, Paul replies to the critics who find his songs too middle-of-the-road. This title will be released as a single and it will be a very big hit in the charts.
Cook Of The House is performed by Linda. Some funny melody written by Paul for a kind of song that could be made to irritate critics... Anyway, the reality is that Linda is not only a good photographer but also a good vegetarian cook.
Jimmy McCulloch with Linda and Paul McCartney.
After Linda, Denny Laine comes back on lead vocal. He performs a composition of his own, Time To Hide, clearly one of the best titles on this album. The electric guitars and Paul's bass give a perfect and catchy tempo to the whole song. The harmonies from Paul and Linda are efficient as usual. A nice harmonica solo is performed, followed by another one at the guitar. This composition will give Denny an opportunity to sing on stage during the forthcoming Wings tour.
Must Do Something About It is the third and last song written by Paul on this album to be performed by someone else. Drummer Joe English takes the lead vocal on this one.
The original released album ends with two nice and slow ballads written and sung by Paul, San Ferry Anne and Warm And Beautiful. The former includes some brass and acoustic arrangements. The latter is a simple and melodic love song played at the piano with some strings orchestration.
The CD remastering of Wings At The Speed Of Sound in 1993 includes 3 bonus tracks:
- Walking In The Park With Elo´se, an old instrumental melody which was composed by Paul's father, Jim McCartney, and recorded by Paul in Nashville in June and July 1974. Paul had been joined by Chet Atkins for the studio sessions and the resulting single was released under the pseudonym of the Country Hams in October 1974. It's a nice tune with a jazzy style from the fourties.
- Bridge Over The River Suite, an instrumental composed by Paul and Linda, which was recorded in Paris on November 1973, and released as the B-side of Walking In The Park With Elo´se.
Paul with his father, Jim McCartney.
- Sally G, a country music song recorded by Wings in Nashville on June/July 1974. It was issued as the B-side of the single Junior's Farm on October 1974.
Two singles are taken from the Wings At The Speed Of Sound album and released in 1976:
The first one is Silly Love Songs / Cook Of The House, released on April 1st, 1976. It's a big hit for Wings. It reaches #2 in the UK and stays at #1 in the US charts for several months.
The second one is Beware My Love / Let'Em In, issued on June 28th, 1976. It reaches #2 in the UK and #3 in the US. There will be a special release of this single in France based upon a discomix maxi-single.
Let'Em In will be covered by Billy Paul later on reaching #10.
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