CD Review: Paul McCartney - Wings At The Speed Of Sound

The pinnacle of Wings' mid-1970s popularity, remastered and reissued.
  |   Comments

After the major success of Venus And Mars and the accompanying 1975 tour, Paul McCartney and Wings cranked out a sister album the following year. The record was Wings At The Speed Of Sound and it spawned two major hits in "Let 'Em In" and "Silly Love Songs," continuing the roll the band had been on and leading into their first, and only, U.S. tour. This was to prove the high point of Wings' popularity.

The album has been remastered as part of the Paul McCartney Archive Collection and is available in a number of formats, including a double LP, double CD and a three-CD Deluxe Edition. This review focuses on the two-CD special edition, as well as the DVD that comes with the Deluxe Edition.

The album opens with the aforementioned "Let 'Em In," a staple of classic rock radio to this day. The remastering on the album sounds great, as if a layer of mud had been wiped from the tapes. Those only familiar with the uber-compressed versions you hear on the radio will feel like they are listening to the album for the first time after hearing this. McCartney's piano and voice come clearly through in the mix.

This album was even more of a group effort than its predecessor, with every member getting a vocal turn. Denny Laine gets two vocals, the first being the ballad "The Note You Never Wrote." Laine gives a strong vocal on this underrated track. His other, "Time To Hide," includes a killer bass line from McCartney and was a staple of the band's live shows. Guitarist Jimmy McCulloch offers his second anti-drug song, "Wino Junko," which was a more subdued affair than "Medicine Jar" was, while drummer Joe English and Linda McCartney do their best with "Must Do Something About It" and "Cook Of The House" respectively.

Wings At The Speed Of Sound includes perhaps McCartney's most polarizing song, "Silly Love Songs." Depending on one's viewpoint, it is either a pop gem with a killer bass line or so saccharine it will give you a toothache. Regardless, it sounds great, as does the rest of the disc.

The bonus disc offers some real gems, including a very minimalist demo version of "Silly Love Songs" and a rehearsal version of "Beware My Love" featuring John Bonham on drums. While the original with English is a fine rocker with a great McCartney vocal, Bonham gives the song such a totally different feel it's a shame he didn't play on the finished version. That's no disrespect to English; he's just not John Bonham. Few, if any, drummers are.

The bonus DVD includes some great footage as well. The "Silly Love Songs" video is here in its correct 4:3 aspect ratio, as are some great, behind-the-scenes videos of Wings at Wembley and in Venice, Italy.

This album marked the pinnacle of Wing's popularity in the world. The good times wouldn't last as both McCulloch and English quit during the recording of London Town, but between 1975-1976, Wings ruled the world and Wings At The Speed Of Sound was part of the soundtrack.