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While his fellow ex-bandmates busied themselves with various high-profile projects (John Lennon
and a series of high-profile media events; George Harrison
with All Things Must Pass
and The Concert for Bangla Desh
), Paul McCartney climbed into a van with his wife and a few journeyman players and gigged at university student unions for what amounted to spare change. Of course, by 1976 they were one of the biggest draws in rock, having the last laugh--if not necessarily the final word. Gathering the cream of their recorded output on a generous double-disc sampler-cum-TV-special-soundtrack seemed a promising effort at historical revisionism, but Wingspan
itself is a distinct misnomer: fully 17 of the 40 tracks here hail from various pre- and post-Wings McCartney solo albums. Completely overlooked are unheralded B-sides such as "Oh Woman, Oh Why," "Little Woman Love," "Country Dreamer," "The Mess," "Walking in the Park with Eloise," "Sally G," and "Girl's School"--some of McCartney the bandleader and solo artist's scrappiest and most interesting work. All the expected hits are here and more, ranging from spunky rockers and hook-rich bubblegum to syrup-drenched ballads. What's lacking is a fresh and less myopic perspective. --Jerry McCulley