Monday, October 27, 2014
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: WINGS - VENUS AND MARS/WINGS AT THE SPEED OF SOUND
Two more in the big McCartney release program, that is seeing his 70's albums put out in 2-CD and 2-CD/DVD deluxe versions, with appropriate bonus content. This is McCartney's high point with Wings, when he was touring the world and hitting number one with his singles and albums. He had become so big, there was only one band that was bigger, his last one.
After Band On The Run, it seemed like McCartney might also be able to return to Beatles-quality songwriting as well. But Venus And Mars and Speed Of Sound were not to that level of quality. It seemed instead to convince him that his increasingly cartoonish songwriting was imaginative. While Band On The Run and Jet had somewhat interesting story lines, now we were getting actual cartoons such as Magneto And Titanium Man, corny tales about going to the rock show, and of course, silly love songs. Most of these songs were catchy as all get out, but ear worms as well, annoying in their repetitive nature, like Let 'Em In. Now, the combo of Venus And Mars/Rock Show does sound great, the latter one of the best rockers he's ever done, but man, the lyrics just do not hold up under scrutiny. Can you still enjoy these discs? Well, I do, having grown up with them, and musically there are so many fine moments, but if you can sit through Linda's vocal on Cook Of The House more than once, you've been brainwashed.
The bonus audio discs are better here than on most deluxe editions, with some brand-new and very different material from sessions around the albums. For Venus And Mars, we get a jam-packed, 14-song collection from all sorts of different sources. It reminds me, in the best way, of one of those classic 70's bootlegs that mixed and matched rare material. This includes the non-album single tracks Junior's Farm and Sally G, the Country Hams single Walking In The Park With Eloise and Bridge On The River Suite (a Nashville recording, not promoted as a McCartney product and soon deleted), the New Orleans number My Carnival, and a different mix of the Ram-era cut Hey Diddle. Better are the new finds, including an early version of Rock Show, and McCartney's version of the song he'd written and produced for Peggy Lee in 1974, Let's Love.
The bonus disc for Speed Of Song is much shorter, just seven tracks and 21 minutes, but once again there are fun finds, including a version of Beware My Love with John Bonham on drums, and Must Do Something About It with a McCartney vocal instead of drummer Joe English, who was featured on the album. As for the DVD's included in the Deluxe Editions, forget them, they are completely useless. They consist mostly of footage following the band around various spots as they tour in 1976, or head to record in different locales. There are no good interview bits, or any live music bits that add anything substantial to his catalogue, and mostly this is just Paul and Linda mugging for the camera, trying to be funny but coming across as smug. McCartney never seemed to have his guard down. I haven't seen the hard-bound books with lots of detail and new McCartney interviews included in the Deluxe versions, but the DVD's certainly shouldn't be considered any kind of a draw. Too bad, as the bonus audio is first-rate.