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Paul McCartney/Wings – Wings Fly Over Europe / Spread Your Wings (Beatles Master Works BMW034 A/B)

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Wings Fly Over Europe / Spread Your Wings (Beatles Master Works BMW034 A/B)
Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy – September 25th, 1976
Dom Sportova Hall, Zagreb, Yugoslavia – September 21st, 1976

Disc 1 (75:55), Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy – September 25th, 1976: Venus & Mars, Rockshow, Jet, Let Me Roll It, Spirits Of Ancient Egypt, Medicine Jar, Maybe I’m Amazed, Call Me Back Again, Lady Madonna, The Long And Winding Road, Live & Let Die, Picasso’s Last Words (Drink To Me), Richard Corey, Bluebird, I’ve Just Seen A Face, Blackbird, Yesterday, You Gave Me The Answer, Magneto & Titanium Man, My Love

Disc 2 (75:09): Listen To What The Man Said, Let ‘Em In, Time To Hide, Silly Love Songs, Beware My Love, introducing horn section, Letting Go, Band On The Run, Hi Hi Hi, Soily. Dom Sportova Hall, Zagreb, Yugoslavia – September 21st, 1976: Venus & Mars, Rockshow, Jet, Let Me Roll It, Spirits Of Ancient Egypt, Medicine Jar, Maybe I’m Amazed

Disc 3 (60:12):¬† Call Me Back Again, Lady Madonna, The Long And Winding Road, Live & Let Die (fade out), Picasso’s Last Words (Drink To Me), Richard Corey, Bluebird, I’ve Just Seen A Face, Blackbird, Yesterday, Yesterday (once again), You Gave Me The Answer, Magneto & Titanium Man, Silly Love Songs (fade in), Beware My Love, introducing horn section, Letting Go, Band On The Run (fade out)

Wings’ short European tour in 1976 was divided into two parts separated by six months: five dates in late March and seven in late September and October. Of the latter five, three tapes have circulated: September 19th in Vienna, September 25th in Venice and October 19th in London.

The majority of Spread Your Wings documents the Venice performance. The tape source was first released on Live In Venezia (FU 205/2), which has the show from the beginning to “Silly Love Songs”. The complete concert was released on the cdr Live In Venice, Italy 1976 (116/7) on the Unicorn label. It is a fair to good complete mono audience recording. There are no major cuts in the tape and all the music is audible.

It is very distorted and there is an abundance of audience chatter over the music. Italian audience can be very demonstrative and Venice definitely is. This is the second time Wings visited Europe and the only concert they ever gave in Italy. The front rows were reserved for press and dignitaries (causing some controversy) so the only chance for a recording is from the back of the Piazza where this taper was situated. All of the music is present with a couple of tape flips the only cuts on the tape. Small cut after “Maybe I’m Amazed”.

Venice was a charity gig organized by the city council and supported by UNESCO as a fundraiser to help save the foundation pilings of the city and to slow down the city’s sinking into the sea. A series of concerts were organized throughout the summer with Wings’ visit being the biggest. The set-list is identical to the one played on the previous tour of North America so there are no surprises but the performance is much more enthusiastic than the final date in LA. “Bona sera! How you doing, okay?” Paul says after “Jet”. Before “Lady Madonna” he encourage everyone to “clap your hands, stomp your feet or crack your knuckles.”

Linda says “Live & Let Die” can take place in Venice since “it is filled with international intrigue.” Denny Laine sings a very spirited “Richard Corey”, saying he wished he could be “Casanova” instead of John Denver, and how Corey really gave to the “charities of Venice”. Garry McGee is his book Band On The Run writes that “after the ‘Soily’ encore, the laser lights shown on the red brick tower at the opposite end of Piazza from the stage and converged into Wings’ ‘W’ emblem. The event raised $50,000 for the city of Venice.”

This tape from Zagreb, Yugoslavia is a recent and very welcome find. It is distant, disturbing and very thin sounding meriting a four out of ten. Significant cuts on the tape begin with a fade out during “Live And Let Die”. After “Magneto & Titanium Man” there is a cut which fades back in at the very end of “Silly Love Songs” eliminating “My Love”, “Listen To What The Man Said”, “Let ‘Em In”, and “Time To Hide”. It continues to the end of “Band On The Run” where there is a fade out at four and a half minutes eliminating the final two songs, “Hi Hi Hi” and “Soily”. However this tape is worth listening to since it is the only time Wings, o r any major western rock group for that matter, played in Yugoslavia. The reception by the audience borders on pandemonium. The crowd are very loud and sing along to the songs and cheer at every opportunity. It is loudest during “Yesterday” and McCartney is so moved he plays the song a second time. The warmth and energy emanating from the crowd is pure magic.

Spread Your Wings is an interesting document which contains two recordings very close to the end of the Venus & Mars era Wings. Both Jimmy McCulloch and Joe English would leave the band the following year the Wembley gigs and these are among their final appearances with the group. The artwork duplicates a photo from above the Piazza San Marco with the stage set up and some pictures from the shows of a mustachioed, shorthaired Paul. The layout contains some spelling errors and is very confusing. I’m not even sure what the proper title of this release is. I’m calling it Spread Your Wings because that is what is printed on the actual discs.

BMW thankfully didn’t try to “improve” these poor sounding tapes with their heavy handed mastering techniques which ruined some of their past efforts. This label and their related label MBE were once very prolific by producing many Beatles and Beatles solo titles. However production has slowed to a snail’s pace with this being only their third release over the past two years. It also shares the same catalogue number, BMW034, as Wings Over Toronto released last spring. The rarity of these two tapes makes this release appealing to the Wings and Beatles collectors but are just too rough going for a general audience.

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If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)

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