Wings Over Toronto: 2006 Excavation Original Master (Beatles Master Works BMW-034 A/B)
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, ON, Canada – May 9, 1976
Disc 1: Venus & 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 & Let Die, Picasso’s Last Words, Richard Corey, Bluebird, I’ve Just Seen A Face, Blackbird, Yesterday
Disc 2: You Gave Me The Answer, Magneto & Titanium Man, My Love, Listen To What The Man Said, Let ‘Em In, Time To Hide, Silly Love Songs, Beware My Love, band introduction, Letting Go, Band On The Run, Hi Hi Hi, Soily
This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of Wings only tour of North America dubbed “Wings Over America”. Both Beatles Master Works and Misterclaudel have simultaneously released versions of the May 9th show at Maple Leaf Garden in Toronto. This show occurs during the first week of the tour and is one of the better ones. It has also been blessed with one of the best audience recordings to emerge. This tape source was released as Toronto 1976 Complete on Voxx back in 2000. BMW has dug up and released a brand new audience recording that has never circulated before.
This is the “2006 Excavation Original Master” mentioned on the cover. It was advertised as an excellent sounding audience source that was better than the older tape. It may have been too much to expect this to be true and it was. The sound quality of this source is good to very good and complete. It is farther from the stage than the other one and contains more echo diluting the sharp definition of the various instruments.
The introductions to the songs are hard to hear and some high notes, like Paul’s “yeas” in “Maybe I’m Amazed”, become lost in the overall mush. BMW are similar to the Electric Magic and Exile label: they release very interesting titles but almost ruin them with over zealous equalization. What is really sad is a label might do it only once or twice but, given the expense of these, have to live with it for the rest of their catalogue. Wings Over Toronto has faint evidence of that on this tape most noticeable in the applause between songs. It’s not too much of an issue but is there.
Regardless this is an entertaining and energetic show. This almost a week after the tour opener in Fort Worth and the band sound much looser like they are really enjoying themselves. The three song opening medley is an effective opener. “Welcome to Canada”, Paul says before “Let Me Roll It”, in effect welcoming people to their own country. “How does it feel living in Canada?” Paul says before playing “Lady Madonna” and inviting people to stamp their feet. Linda mentions Neil Young in her introduction to “Live & Let Die”.
The acoustic section is a nice part of the show. After the skiffle “I’ve Just Seen A Face” Paul has to explain, “I was in New York the other day and I bought a pizza… and sliced a bit of my finger. “You Gave My The Answer” has the usual dedication to Fred Astaire and the show ends with “Band On The Run” followed by both encores “Hi Hi Hi” and “Soily” (with the screaming extending past the song). The packaging is very nice with clever use of the Wings Over America LP.
However, with the existence of the first tape source this really isn’t necessary unless you have to hear what it sounded like from the nosebleed section in Maple Leaf Garden that night. The Voxx release sounds much better than this, and we’ll see how the Misterclaudel holds up. This show is great though and deserves this kind of scrutiny. As the thirtieth anniversary of more Wings Over American shows comes, hopefully the Beatles labels will release more shows that haven’t been released before.