Wings – Wings First Flight (Misterclaudel mccd-101/102)

Wings First Flight (Misterclaudel mccd-101/102)

outer slip cover

front cover

Disc 1 (58:30), First rehearsals, ICA Theatre – February 1st, 1972:  Lucille, Wild Life, The Mess.  Rehearsals at Paul’s house – March 7th, 1972:  Give Ireland Back To The Irish, Give Ireland Back To The Irish, Give Ireland Back To The Irish.  Nottingham University – February 9th, 1972:  Blue Moon Of Kentucky, Give Ireland Back To The Irish, You’ve Got To Help Me Darling, Thank You Darling, Wild Life, Bip Bop, Shuffle Blues, The Mess, My Love, Lucille, Long Tall Sally

Disc 2 (70:39):  Hull University – February 11th, 1972:  Lucille, Give Ireland Back To The Irish, Your Wee Tobacco Box, Blue Moon Of Kentucky, member introductions, Seaside Woman, Help Me, Some People Never Know, The Mess, Bip Bop, Thank You Darling, Smile Away, My Love, The Old Grand Duke Of York, Henry’s Blues, Wild Life, Give Ireland Back To The Irish, The Mess, Lucille

The beginning of Paul McCartney’s second live career with his band Wings, with the impromptu tour of northern Universities, has passed into rock legend.  Like most everything associated with McCartney and any former Beatle, tape recorders were around to record the events as they transpired.  Wings First Flight on Misterclaudel is a two disc title that contains tape of two of the first three university shows plus some of Wings’ earliest rehearsals.  Nothing on this release is new, including the title.  The Notthingham and Hull concerts were released several years ago on Wings First Flight (Beatles Master Works BMW 001 A/B).

But Misterclaudel have added three of the earliest Wings rehearsals on disc one to make this  a very nice two disc summary of the first days of Wings.  The label also increased the volume of the concert tapes to make them sound a bit better.  The Hull tape comes closes to annoyance, but overall it is a commendable job to make mediocre sounding tapes somewhat listenable.

Disc one begins with a five minute fragment attributed to their first rehearsals for the tour on February 1st at ICA Theatre in London.  It is a good to very good sounding amateur recording documenting a full run through of “Lucille,” a ninety second version of “Wild Life” and a thirty second fragment of “The Mess.”  There are no indications on the tape about its authenticity.  This tape is followed by another five minute amateur rehearsal recording, this one attributed to Paul’s house on March 7th, which would be after the University tour.  There are three fragments of “Give Ireland Back To The Irish,” Wing’s single at the time.  Paul can he heard encouraging Henry McCullough (“c’mon Henry”) on the third fragment.  These tapes are taken from video documentaries and have circulated before. 

Wings, consisting of Paul, Linda, drummer Denny Seiwell and guitarists Denny Laine and McCullough, traveled by van from London to university towns picked at random.  “Our first stop, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, said no,” said Paul, “Nottingham said yes.”  Wings’ first live show, and McCartney’s first since leaving the Beatles, was played at  Nottingham University and the students enjoyed a lunchtime show at the union hall for 50p at the door.

It is a listenable recording but is important more for the historic import than anything else. It first surfaced in the mid-nineties and circulated without the first song, but has been more complete since BMW.  It is interesting also for the number rarities and obscure numbers that have never surfaced on any official release. “You’ve Got To Help Me” appears only on this tape and is a slow blues lead by McCollough.  It is followed by “Thank You Darling.”  This was worked on in the studio later on in the year but in a different arrangement.  As it is recorded here, it’s an innocuous and ultimately stupid song with out of tune vocals.  “Shuffle Blues” is another McCollough original blues, taken at a quicker pace than “You’ve Got To Help Me.”  It is purely instrumental and indeed shuffles along.

They follow with what will be the “a” and “b” sides to what will be a single release the following year.  “The Mess” would be released in a live recording later that summer and “My Love” would be the a side and also included on Red Rose Speedway.  This embryonic version is interesting for the presence of the organ in the melody and for missing the famous solo that helped make the single a classic.  The set ends with two covers; “Lucille” and “Long Tall Sally” (which McCartney says wasn’t rehearsed).  Even though this is the first Wings show, it sounds more like a rehearsal and the panning they received in what little press coverage the tour had is certainly justified.

The Hull tape takes up the second disc.  Hull was released on 1st Live Show(RAM 003) attributed to Nottingham in 1991.  The sound is fair and like the first disc is valuable more for the historic importance.  The show is longer than Nottingham but it doesn’t seem as if they have much more to say since three songs, “Give Ireland Back To The Irish,” “Lucille” and “The Mess” are played twice.  “Your Wee Tobacco Box” is sung by Laine to the tune of “Turkey In The Straw (Old Zip Coon).” 

Linda’s “Seaside Woman” is given its first known live performance and she sings it horribly off key.  “Help Me” is rarity, a three minute long blues with harmonica break that also was played on July 13th in Arles.  “Some People Never Know” from Wild Lifeis given its only know live performance, and they take a break after “The Mess.”  Coming back with “Bip Bop,” they proceed with “Thank You Darling.”  “The Grand Duke Of York” is a little ditty sung acapella by Laine and McCartney before McCartney introduces McCollough for “Henry’s Blues.” 

Paul mentions that they don’t have many numbers “so we’re gonna repeat the song, the one that’s been banned by the BBC already before it came out.”  “It’s coming out next week” Linda says.  “You won’t hear it on the BBC and it will be released next week.”  The other more rehearsed songs, “The Mess” and “Lucille” are played again to close out the show.  Overall they sing out of key, play out of tune and are tentative, but ultimately it is a good comeback to the stage for McCartney and a beginning for Wings.  This is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with slip cover with photos from the era and along (but incomprehensible) reproduction of a newspaper review on the back. 

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