Wings Over Big Apple (Mainstream MAST-001/2)
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY – May 25th, 1976
Disc 1 (60:41): 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, Bluebird, I’ve Just Seen A Face, Blackbird, Yesterday
Disc 2 (50:37): You Gave Me The Answer, Magneto And Titanium Man, My Love, Listen To What The Man Said, Let ‘Em In, Silly Love Songs, Beware My Love, Letting Go, Band On The Run, Hi Hi Hi, Soily
On Wings’ only tour of the US in 1976, they played two big dates at Madison Square Garden in New York on May 24th and May 25th. No audience recording unfortunately circulates for the first show, but Wings Over Big Applepresents and audience recording of the second night. It is reasonably clear and enjoyable with emphasis upon the higher frequencies making it sound a bit thin at times. There is also evidence of tape deterioration as the center tends to waver at times. Several nasty cuts exists on the tape including one at 1:28 in “Live And Let Die”, at the end of “Picasso’s Last Words (Drink To Me)” which eliminates “Richard Corey” (the opening notes are present however), “Let ‘Em In” cuts out after two minutes missing the rest of the song and the following track “Time To Hide,” and the encore “Soily” fades out after two minutes. Non destructive cuts exist after “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “I’ve Just Seen A Face,” “Blackbird,” “Yesterday,” “Listen To What The Man Said” and several others.
Both New York shows were professionally recorded and filmed and “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “The Long And Winding Road,” “Yesterday” and “Silly Love Songs” were used for the film Rock Show and the triple live album Wings Over America. This performance of “Maybe I’m Amazed” was released as a single in February 1977 and reached #20 in the UK and #10 in the US. The only previous release of this audience recording was on the vinyl boot Classified Document (Instant Analysis) which used “Lady Madonna.” Wings Over Big Applewas the first release on the Mainstream label in the late nineties and although they eventually began to apply overzealous mastering, their work with this tape is tolerable and despite the limitations of the source is enjoyable. There is a slight error on the tracklisting where “Beware My Love” is mislabeled “Time To Hide.”
On the Wings Over America tour, McCartney followed the practice of other big time groups touring country by staying in a fixed location and jetting out to various gigs. In the early part of the tour he was staying in New York as a base while playing shows on the east coast and Canada which sets the stage for one of the more bizarre episodes in Beatles’ lore. Right before the tour started, on April 24th, the producer of Saturday Night LiveLorne Michaels made a pitch on the air for The Beatles to reunite on the program for $3,000. With no response, he made another appeal a month later on May 22nd where he increased the offer to $3,200. Paul McCartney was watching the show with John Lennon that night and they thought about going to the studio for an impromptu reunion. McCartney decided not to since he had just flown to Boston, played a gig, and flown back that night and was too tired. (George Harrison appeared on the program the following November with the opening skit being his attempt to claim the check from Michaels).
The performance is very tight, among the best from the tour and is understandable why it was used for official release. The opening salvo is delivered at a furious pace and doesn’t slow down until McCartney takes the piano for “Maybe I’m Amazed.” After delivering what can be considered the definitive version he says, “We’d like to play a song from Venus And Mars. It was recorded in New Orleans and it’s called ‘Call Me Back Again.'” “Lady Madonna” is one that “goes back a few years, so anyone over twelve who’d like to clap their hands…” Linda introduces “Live And Let Die” and the pyrotechnic display is audible on the recording creating tremendous excitement.
The acoustic interlude is something many bands were doing, and McCartney performs one of the longest by a major rock band with six songs clocking in at almost twenty minutes. The final three all date from The Beatles with the final being “Yesterday,” which he quips “will take you back a bit.” Normally he would tease the audience by singing something else, but on this tour he normally just sang the song. Afterwards he dedicates the next song to “to a couple of fellas in New York just last week…Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly…Ginger Rogers, Gene Autrey, and Trigger. It goes like this…” before “You Gave Me The Answer.” The newer material is group by the end of the set beginning with “Let ‘Em In” and capped off with “Silly Love Songs.” Despite At The Speed Of Sound being panned by critics, these songs formed a soundtrack for the summer of ’76 which really can’t be dismissed. The set closes with “Band On The Run” and the two encores are the older rockers “Hi Hi Hi” and “Soily.” Overall this is a solid release, but the location of some of the cuts suggests sabotage with the tape. Perhaps the entire tape will surface someday with the long absent opening night in New York too. With events as they worked out, this would be Wings’ third and final performance in New York.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)