Paul McCartney At The Speed Of Sound!
It’s an iconic image of Macca, taken from the photo sessions for his fifth Wings album, the terrific “Wings At The Speed Of Sound.”
“At The Speed Of Sound” came at an interesting time for Paul McCartney. Wings was in the midst of their greatest success as a band:
Wings was riding high with “Venus & Mars”, which had been one of the band’s biggest successes – here’s a look at that classic album:
McCartney’s Biggest #1!
After “Venus & Mars”, the band went into the studio and recorded “Speed Of Sound” before heading out on the hugely successful “Wings Over America” tour.
I saw that show at Seattle’s Kingdome…here is footage of that concert AND of the iconic Kingdome being imploded!
So Paul McCartney and Wings – including wife Linda – were indeed flying high as they headed into the studio to make another album.
“At The Speed Of Sound” was released in March 1976, and included the smash hit ‘Silly Love Songs’- the album was McCartney’s most successful American chart album – seven consecutive weeks at Number One!
I wanted to look at the terrific new special edition of the album, which includes a ton of great new stuff.
Paul personally supervised all aspects of the reissue – he’s been doing that for all of the remastered editions so far. The remastering work was done at Abbey Road by the same team who have worked on all of Paul’s reissues – as well as The Beatles’ catalogue, so you know they are treating this material well!
Here is the promotional trailer that was released to promote the release of this newly remastered expanded album:
This Wings album includes the hit single “Let ‘em In” and one of Macca’s biggest hits ever, “Silly Love Songs.”
Here’s a great behind-the-scenes photo from the recording session I found at lukashaisha.blogspot.com – kudos for this shot:
Let’s take a look “At The Speed Of Sound”, and the extras that are on the remastered special edition – the album kicks off with another McCartney classic:
“Let ‘Em In”
“Someone’s knockin’ at the door
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell
Someone’s knockin’ at the door
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell
Do me a favor
Open the door and let ’em in, yeah, let ’em in
Sister Suzie, brother John
Martin Luther, Phil and Don
Brother Michael, auntie Gin
Open the door and let ’em in, yeah”
Here is a great fact thanks to “Songfacts.com”:
Paul McCartney “shouted out” to several of his relatives and friends in this song: his aunt (“Auntie Gin”) and brother (“Brother Michael”), the Everly Brothers (“Phil and Don”), Keith Moon (“Uncle Ernie”) and his famous former bandmate (“Brother John”). His reference to “Sister Suzie” was a reference to Linda, who once recorded a song under the name “Suzie And The Red Stripes.”
Here is a live version from Wings’ 1976 tour:
Next up is “The Note You Never Wrote”, with lead vocals by Denny Lane, then a song written by Paul for Linda, according to wikipedia:
“She’s My Baby”
As wikipedia notes:
“She’s My Baby” is a love song sung by Paul directed at Linda. Critical opinion of the song has ranged from a description as Paul McCartney’s “sweetest, daftest love song” to a suggestion that it deserves an “honor for sheer awfulness.” In 1998, after Linda’s death, Paul McCartney rearranged the song for string quartet to be played at memorial concerts for his late wife. This version was included on the 1999 album Working Classical.”
I love that Macca turned it into a classical piece.
Up next is one of my all-time favorite rockers from Paul:
“Beware My Love”
This song begins soft and then builds into a crescendo of guitar and scorched Macca vocals. Once again, wikipedia did a great job explaining what makes this song so great:
It is in the key of D minor, although the harmonium and acoustic guitar sections of the prelude are in C major and A major, respectively. The melody of the bridges is based on a descending tetrachord played on the bass guitar. Rodriguez particularly praises Paul McCartney’s bass guitar playing, Joe English’s drumming and Linda McCartney’s and Denny Laine’s backing vocals. The song was recorded in a manner that replicated a live recording set up, with all the players recorded together. McCartney stated that he was looking to achieve “excitement in the backing vocal so it’s human; you can hear we’re all there.”
It’s one of his great songs! Here’s a live version of this classic song from their terrific 1976 tour of America:
“Wino Junko” ends side one of “Speed Of Sound, a fun caribbean-influenced song that was written by Jimmy McCulloch, then up next is side two, which opens with the album’s mega-single:
“Silly Love Songs”
This is a real “love it or hate it” song for many McCartney fans. What can you say? He directly confronts those who say his music is too maudlin and sappy…
It’s not a favorite of mine, but it’s certainly catchy!
Here is the great promo film put out to support the single:
Next up is “Cook Of The House”, a fun mini-rocker sung by Linda and the band, that shows them having a good time together – then next up is Denny Laine’s song:
“Time To Hide”
This is the only Wings album where every band member sings lead vocal on a song. Denny Laine also wrote this song, which is a good addition to the Wings catalog. Here’s Laine performing the song live on the 1976 tour:
After this Wingsrocker, he finishes the album with three softer songs…you can sense the band was relaxed and having fun during the recording of the album, which to me explains the overall softer vibe than the previous “Venus & Mars”…
“Must Do Something About It”
Drum Joe English sings the lead on this song, although there is a great McCartney rehearsal version on this remastered edition of the album.
Here’s a fan video with Joe English on drums, also doing vocals:
Thanks to “Laserdisc70” for posting this on youtube.
“San Ferry Anne” and “Warm And Beautiful” wrap the album up, as I said, on a soft note, but “Warm And Beautiful” is one of McCartney most melodic songs, very much like “The Lovely Linda” on “McCartney”.
This soft ballad ends the album on a beautiful relaxed note, here is the audio-only version:
As I said, I love the remastered, expanded version of the album.
Here is a look at the bonus audio on the expanded edition:
1. Silly Love Songs [Demo]
2. She’s My Baby [Demo]
3. Message To Joe
4. Beware My Love [John Bonham Version]
Yes, a version of the song with Led Zeppelin’s maniac drummer on drums!
5. Must Do Something About It [Paul’s Version]
This rare out-take is Paul’s version of the song – his vocals instead of Joe’s…
6. Let ‘Em In [Demo]
7. Warm And Beautiful [Instrumental Demo]
DVD – Here is the bonus film that was included:
1. Silly Love Songs Music Video
2. Wings Over Wembley
3. Wings In Venice
I’m glad Paul released a lot of the rehearsal material, especially when you can find bootleg material like this on the internet:
Let me know what your favorites are on this album, and if you missed it, I posted a story about Paul being in a recent Q magazine:
Macca talks about The Beatles, Kanye West and his Nirvana stint – you can read all about it here:
What’s interesting to me about Paul McCartney And Wings is that the band was a mega-success in the mid-70’s, but boy did they get off to a disastrous start!
I took a look at the debut album from the band, which is certainly ragged, but also a great look at McCartney trying to move forward with his sound – see some great promo videos here:
Leave a note with your favorite Macca moments!