Paul McCartney and Wings, ‘Boston 1976 – Steve Hopkins Master Tapes’ (No Label)
Disk one; Intro / Venus and Mars / Rock Show / 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 And Let Die / Picasso’s Last Words / Richard Cory / Bluebird / I’ve Just Seen A Face / Blackbird / Yesterday (67:54)
Disk two; You Gave Me The Answer / Magneto and Titanium Man / My Love / Listen To What The Man Said / Let ‘Em In / Time To Hide / Silly Love Songs / Beware My Love / Letting Go / Band On The Run / Hi Hi Hi – Bonus track – Soily (67:01)
Live at the Boston Gardens, Boston, MA, USA. 24th May, 1976. Bonus track from Tarrant Country Convention Hall, Fort Worth, TX, USA, 3rd May, 1976.
For giving and taking through the bootleg fraternity over the past few years the JEMS crew must take a lot of the props for purely giving – Not content with offering outcome of the best shows from spotty archives here and there, their own tapes too, they have also done their work and really driven to find some of the best from some of the classic bootlegs – Aside from the crop of Mike Millard masters that are currently being released, they have caught tapes from Mr. Freezer, Steve Hopkins, et al and, with a gentle buffing releasing them to the internet trading fraternity. Of course, what goes around the wires, if it’s deemed to be saleable enough, goes back to solid media.
With the blessing of Mr. Hopkins, his tape of Wings’ concert at the Boston Gardens on their 1976, “Wings Over America” tour, was an obvious tape to be released and would sit nicely on your shelf nearby “Wings From The Wings”.
True, there seem to be more and more audience tapes popping up now that it’s easier to get these pieces out there, Steve’s, however, as it was traded out shortly after it’s capture, while evading release until the CD age it seems, is a prime contender for “classic”, while not being the best recording or show of this tour. Sure, four songs from this show were used for the official tour document album (‘Live And Let Die’, ‘Picasso’s Last Words’, ‘Blackbird’ and ‘Magneto and Titanium Man’), they all appear here ‘unsweetened’, and it was a fantastic set of gigs – Easily the best that Macca performed with his band and of the solo Fabs live junctures, there are no other comparisons, but out of the possible 28 tracks on the triple LP, it makes up on a small percentage.
Apart from the chosen tracks there are some golden moments within the set; a gorgeous ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’, an roughshod ‘Call Me Back Again’ (with some sublime guitar at the end), a brace of glorious riffing after ‘Lady Madonna’, THAT solo in the middle of ‘My Love’, Heavy versions of ’Time To Hide’ and ‘Beware My Love’ and a rapid take of ‘Band On The Run’
The tape itself is complete, but isn’t without it’s flaws. Presumably what JEMS couldn’t fix, No label didn’t bother doing either – The sound is slightly distant from the stage. There’s a touch more audience than there is band at points – So rather than putting you right in the middle of the audience, you’re in the middle of your room listening to a near excellent audience recording while a few of the audience members around you keep standing up to sway as some of their neighbours shout at them to sit down. During the quieter moments, it draws you back in.
Of the bonus track, ‘Soily’ – recorded at the beginning of the month but not played as the encore at the main set for whatever reason – It appears here in accordingly the same kind of quality – With a long introduction (Featuring a series of recorded screams), it’s four to the floor disco influence is more than apparent but it’s thundering rock approach can’t be denied. Typically of a McCartney write, there’s a lot going on here but it melds together very, very well.
The No Label lot use their standardised approach to design here – A neat but full collection of images from the 1976 tour in colour and black and white with small elements of text in red. All very readable and not too contrived.
I’d certainly suggest this recording if you were looking to expand your collection further. That the Mike Millard tapes from this tour may still release at some point may still be of interest but this is a very good recorded document to own otherwise.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)