Paul McCartney and Wings
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
What you see is not necessarily what you get with this newly buffed video companion to the recently reissued Wings Over America album. The film captured the entire two hour set from the 1975-76 Wings tour but wasn’t released in theaters until 1980, and shortly thereafter on Betamax videotape and LaserDisc (look it up kids), after which it lay dormant. It’s now refurbished and extended with previously missing songs for this deluxe reissue on DVD and Blu-ray.
Those familiar with the much easier to obtain audio version might be surprised at the amounts of fairly obvious overdubs visible on the video. McCartney was always a stickler for quality and clearly went overboard to make sure this “live” concert arrived without the scars and flubs that make some of the finest and most durable concert albums. Vocals fade in and out (we’re talking to you Linda), guitars—especially in the short acoustic mid-section—are strummed without matching what you hear and everything is spit polished, nipped and tucked to somewhat frustrating sonic perfection.
That said, this does capture what was a truly historic tour in all of its then high tech, special effects splendor. The film transfer is very good, especially on Blu-ray, and McCartney is the ultimate frontman, a little schlocky and obvious but well meaning. The well-rehearsed group with a terrific four man horn section, seems to be enjoying themselves playing a good cross-section of McCartney/Wings hits along with a smattering of Beatles tunes. Paul, who has a great voice throughout, yields the vocal spotlight to the underrated Denny Laine for a few tunes. Laine is also impressive on guitars, keyboards and bass, working as McCartney’s multi-instrumental partner. MTV was not in existence yet so the constant cutting and crowd reaction shots that mar later McCartney tour souvenirs to distraction are kept to a minimum. An unintentionally humorous 10 minute extra features some backstage shenanigans and fans waxing wildly ecstatic about what a great show it was in all of their early 80s clothes, hair, eyewear and makeup glory.