Wings Over The World (Rattlesnake RS 245/246)
Disk One [ ] Venus & Mars – Rock Show – Jet / Let Me Roll It / Spirits of Ancient Egypt / Medicine Jar / Lady Madonna / The Long & Winding Road / Live & Let Die / Call Me Back Again ( Incomplete ) / Picasso’s Last Words – Richard Cory / Bluebird / I’ve Just Seen A Face / Blackbird / Yesterday / You Gave Me The Answer / Magneto & Titanium Man / Go Now / My Love
Disk Two [ ] Listen To What The Man Said / Letting Go / Band On The Run / Hi Hi Hi / Soily / Live & Let Die / Call Me Back Again / Picasso’s Last Words – Richard Cory / Bluebird / I’ve Just Seen A Face / Bluebird / I’ve Just Seen A Face / Blackbird / Yesterday / You Gave Me The Answer / Magneto & Titanium man / Go Now / Letting Go / Maybe I’m Amazed.
Soon after the sessions for the 1975 album “Venus And Mars” had been completed Wings were due to enjoy some of their biggest tour dates as a complete band taking to larger venues than previous tours & also with an eye on touring Australia where Paul had last toured 11 years ago with his former band.
Through this time some of the animosity that was felt between the former fabs towards each other had dissipated & Paul was finally able to come to terms with the fact that he was once a Beatle & so decided to let down the facade that he was squarely his own man & drop liberal Beatles songs in to the set list for the pleasure of the audience.
Recorded on the 6th of September 1976 in front of a large selection of EMI workers as an end of Summer party this sound board tape appears in it’s fullest appearance so far – Previous bootlegs have surfaced before but most – such as RS Records “The Elstree Tapes” – have been merely 1974 sessions for the One Hand Clapping film. After the “release” of the Trevor Jones tapes earlier this year then the true rehearsals for this tour crept out from 3 different tapes from that collection.
Following the release of Audiofön’s “Trevor Jones Collection” CDs earlier this year made up of various studio & live outtakes – Rattlesnake take up the baton by releasing these rehearsals in their fullest. Previously released on the scarce No Label set “Wings 1975 Elstree Studio Tour Rehearsals” & Misterclaudel’s “Wings 1975 Studio Tour Rehearsals” but each release features it’s own attributes – The Misterclaudel featuring bones tracks not available here but Rattlesnake adding tracks not available elsewhere.
The quality fluctuates between the available tapes but it’s nothing as nasty as the various audience tapes from this tour can attest towards & nothing dips below a muffled sound or dull recording akin to the best kind of audience tape although as with a lot of the Jones archives they’re marred by certain amounts of tape hiss. Macca’s rehearsals have usually been silly knock about events with numerous, shapeless jams & a lot of mucking around at various points backing in to golden oldies – Though there’s not much room for improvisation here apart from calls for the musicians to change tempos or parts but nothing that’s going to test Linda’s abilities – despite protestations to the contrary then flexibility wouldn’t have come easy to a non trained musician who was also venturing on to the stage for one of her biggest shows yet so despite having an eye for the immediate with regards to photography then the flip to playing keyboard to “Cut Across Shorty” or “Twenty Flight Rock” might not have been wise idea at this point.
Highlights of the tapes include a medley of the opening three tracks “Venus & Mars / Rock Show / Jet” – A spirited, fast version of the opener to the shows. Paul’s not yet straining or push his voice like he will later on through the set but the musicianship is competent enough to see them through. “Let Me Roll It” Apparently Macca’s most “Lennonesque” track begins with Paul thanking “Little Hammer” for applauding then Denny does his best M.C.ing in a fine club style. Someone plays with the echo on Macca’s voice throughout.
“Medicine Jar” Is preceded by Macca asking for more lights around on the stage for the band to see a little more clearly. Lead guitarist Jimmy McCulloch’s contribution to the set – The anti – drug anthem that seemed to mark Jimmy’s stance against all things pharmaceutical when the opposite was in fact true – squishes along with a squidgy but groovy keyboard part by Linda & harmonies by the McCartneys. It’s a suitable & tight rendition with Jimmy throwing out some wonderful licks towards the end.
Beatles faves “Lady Madonna” & “The Long & Winding Road” make an appearance – The former ably spured on my the tiny “Ba – Bas” of the harmony section & the tootling but not over powering horns from the wind section. The later also warmed by the addition of horns rather than harmonies of the CV that give the song less of a dry feel & sets it apart from the Beatles version.
“Live & Let Die” is the all encompassing bluster it usually is at concert time. Paul really lets rip with his vocals, obviously proud of the merits of the song. The horns add a thrilling feel to the urgency of the song while Paul merrily splashes at the piano keys for that sloppy but thrilling crescendo. Jimmy adds a few well placed guitar licks that add a little more to the song but as these are only brief additions they’re tantalisingly short.
On to the acoustic section & “Bluebird” the little cousin to ‘Blackbird’ is unfortunately marred by a step up in tape hiss. It’s a lovely rendition introducing beat box & graceful point harmonies from Denny & Linda that accompany Paul’s lead. The tape hiss sticks around for the quick skiffle of “I’ve Just Seen A Face” but as there’s more to hear here then it’s less obtrusive. the instrumentation is lively & jolly but the guitars go wildly out of sync at points leaving the band to try get it together again quickly.
Unfortunatley for the following two tracks the tape hiss gets reasonably louder sounding like the band are playing next to a waterfall rendering both “Blackbird” & “Yesterday” – Very nice renditions of each “Backbird” sounds like it should be close & intimate like the renditions on Midnight Beat’s “Gone Tomorrow, Here Today” but is marked indelibly by the terrible noise. “Yesterday” is amended by horns that sound almost a colliery miners band but again is almost ruined by the insistent extraneous noise.
Paul continues the Northern conviviality with a thick northern Yorkshire accent to introduction in to “You Gave Me The Answer” – thankfully the sound has stepped up a little more now & everything is a little more bearable. Beginning with a little tune up, Paul’s 20’s pastiche is a brilliant tootling romp around & is one of the best renditions that you’ll hear this side of the album proper as is the following “Magneto & Titanium Man” that also bumps around, giddily crashing around like a well conceived family sing – song around the piano with the added value of a guitar virtuoso in the corner of course.
Denny’s “Go Now” – a track that he brought with him after his tenure with the Moody Blues – is respectfully played out in front of a swinging beat ably swung by Joe English – It almost has the feel of a work out in the studio as the drums are so loud as apposed to Macca’s piano but as this only adds to the feel that you’re hearing something being polished to perfection – from a collectors point of view – who doesn’t like to hear that?
Over on disk 2 we begin with a sweet & jazzy “Listen To What The Man Said” – Paul begins with a spoken word address to someone named Leo who has just returned to New Orleans before stepping in to a breezy rendition on the song. He’s in a silly mood by now – ad-libbing nonsense lyrics – “Stick it up your jumper” before giving way to a tweeting solo expertly placed to keep the track buoyant.
“Band On The Run” one of the biggest hits of Paul’s solo career & now performed with the band that it was intended for begins with a short amount of tuning & a brief outfake of “Listen To What The Man Said” & then steps in slowly & gracefully with the prominence on Paul’s bass line. The chapters of the song flow perfectly, the band not leaving sight of each join, twist or turn presenting a finely tuned version that’s pretty much perfect. As this is a rehearsal Linda has a little fun by trying to slip “Hands On The Bun” in to the closing coda but as long as they’re not taking things too seriously then the band can still concentrate on the matter in hand.
An abbreviated “Hi, Hi, Hi” follows & sounds as ebullient as the earlier played versions from the earlier tours including the increasing tempo coda that settles the deal – silly, rock mocking lyrics not withstanding then any rock band would would be happy to have created this track & the powerful version that appears here sounds wonderful.
“Soily” features some classic musician ship despite sounding like a pretty base garage rocker. Jimmy’s short guitar wig-outs heighten the pace & add a little more presence but the shell of the song is still kept intact.
The second pass at “Live & Let Die” is preceded by almost a minute & a half of chatter & tuning – Paul requests one of the roadies called Maurice for something then adds a little impromptu line from Steve Miller’s ‘Space Cowboy’. This version of “Live .. ” almost surpasses the version on disk one with Paul really shredding his voice at the top notes but not quite banging at the piano with such fury this time.
“Call Me Back Again” begins with more chatter – Linda coughs a little comical splutter, Paul address’ the song that he wants to hear but then Linda hits a single note that sounds just lke the first note to ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ which he pounces upon & makes up his own silly lyrics “Sometimes, no always, I think of me .. I think I mean, oh yes, a tree” Denny “Blah, blah, blahs” for the want of something to say which turns in to goonish nonsense. The song itself is sprightly enough with the same organ sounds that reminded Paul of ‘SFF’ earlier – the only unfortunate thing is that Jimmy’s guitar lines are buried very low in the mixture so we lose the benefit of hearing them. The fabulous Little Richard style vocal passages by Paul are strung out for a while through the coda while he pleads for the phonecall that he wants A definite highlight of the set.
The second versions of “I’ve Just Seen A Face” & “Blackbird” & “Yesterday” on this disk are, again, not problem free but while these versions are much better in fidelity “I’ve Just Seen .. ” suffers from some tape damage & so the very beginning is truncated while “Blackbird” & “Yesterday” sound maybe a little too bright for some ears. “I’ve Just Seen ..” also features a little post rendition workout finely tuning the chords so it can be worked out a little sharper for the concerts proper while “Blackbird” features post song intricate guitar ramblings by Paul leading into “Yesterday”
The second “You Gave Me The Answer” begins with one of the band spotting British comedy actor Tom Conti & the rest joining in to say hello. The rendition isn’t too far removed from the first but with Paul requesting ‘A bit more trombone’ after the first verse.
“Go Now” from the second disk features more fooling around pre – recording with Denny announcing that they’d like to play a song by Jimi Hendrix to which Linda chimes in saying “Called Foxy Lady” in her best ‘rawk’ voice. After Denny’s spoken “We’ve already said .. ” he supplants the legend “Shuddup” before flowing seamlessly in to the rest of the track. Another paint-by-numbers version but with more giggling & show off ad-libbing from all on stage.
The set ends with a beautiful “Maybe I’m Amazed” – a few stray bass notes, a small piano jingle & a discussion on how to enter in to the song from the stage. Finally Jimmy’s guitar is turned back up in to the mix & can be heard quite clearly when he breaks in to the song’s solos. The ending is a simple piano note before the tape fades which seals the set of in a just way.
Rattlesnakes packaging is quite simple this time – The front cover features a picture of Paul, Linda & Denny looking through the set lists for appropriate songs. That there are some songs repeated on this set means they picked only the sold of the bunch to play but that they mostly made the right choices. The back elevation is a sepia tined picture of a solo Macca on the stage & the 4 page booklet inside features photos of the band – possibly at these very same rehearsals – and 2 stock photos of the band on their travels. It’s a same they don’t utilise liner notes a little more as so much as been written about the Trevor Horn tapes leek then it would have been nice to see the rehearsals written about specifically for this release but otherwise it’s a minor grumble over a very well coordinated & still welcome set.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)