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VINE VOICEon October 10, 2008
I was a Paul Fan back in the day. Thought I would marry him one day. Hey hey hey!

Stop that madness. Paul married well the second time. I'm so glad. Not only does he pay tribute to the late Linda McCartney in the second song ("The Lovely Linda") on the second CD, but he provides happiness to his fans both old and new in this Wings compilation. Seven years after its release, it is just now playing in my car. Actually, I intended to purchase Venus and Mars, one of my all-time favorite albums (which vinyl version I have not replaced). Because the music store did not have it, I bought "Wingspan" instead.

The two CDs in the set are so different. The first CD is a selection of some of Wings greatest hits, while the second is surprises (for me). This disc is more ballads and love songs and blues with a couple of hits mixed in.

The liner notes tell us that Paul struggled to find his niche after the Beatles breakup, both alone and in a group. During that time I remember the negative reaction to Linda's inclusion in the band (I was one of the voices). Her addition seemed out of kilter for a master singer and songwriter. But as I have been listening recently, I hear Linda with "fresh" ears--as a retrospective. Whatever her contribution, Paul apparently wanted her there. That's a real tribute to a marriage in a fishbowl.

There is absolutely no reason to list any songs. A Paul fan knows them. Maybe a Paul-fan-in-the-making might like a rehash, but there are better reviews for that. However, THE song that jumps out at me is "Mull of Kintrye." I didn't even know what he was saying until I read it, then got out a map and discovered it is in Scotland. The other song I will mention is "Live and Let Die," my favorite James Bond theme song. The discordance fits perfectly with the evil always present in a Bond story. "Band on the Run" and "Jet" are two other excellent Wings songs.

On the second CD the two that stand out are "Venus and Mars/Rockshow" and "Maybe I'm Amazed."

Overall, it was truly interesting to hear the songs that Paul calls "some of our best work."
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on March 15, 2002
This is the most comprehensive, if erratic, Paul McCartney greatest hits collection that has been released so far. There were two earlier collections released in the 1970s and 80s, but neither one was very satisfying. First was WINGS GREATEST (1978). It purported to be an overview of McCartney & Wings's greatest hits from 1971 to 1978. Yet it lacked "Listen to What the Man Said," which was one of their biggest and best hits. Next came ALL THE BEST (1987). That one omitted "Mull of Kintyre," which is one of Paul's most beloved post-Beatle songs. Furthermore, neither one had anything from his first solo album. WINGSPAN corrects those oversights and then some. It covers the years 1970 to 1984, but it rightly emphasizes McCartney's output from the seventies, which was when he did most of his best post-Beatle work.
Disc 1 contains "Band on the Run," "Live and Let Die" and just about all of the other McCartney songs that cracked the Top 20 on either side of the Atlantic in the 1970s and early 80s -- and that's quite a long list. "Silly Love Songs" is the tune that the McCartney bashers love to hate, but it doesn't deserve its bad reputation (just enjoy the song's great bass line). The truly lame songs are "Pipes of Peace," "Goodnight Tonight," and the infamous "Another Day," which John Lennon ridiculed in his song "How Do You Sleep." The good news is the embarrassing "Say Say Say" and the vomit-inducing "Ebony and Ivory" were kept out of this collection.
Disc 2 fascinates and frustrates at the same time. It consists primarily of deep cuts from McCartney's seventies albums. The most pleasant revelations for many listeners may be the ones from Paul's first two solo albums, McCARTNEY (1970) and RAM (1971). The studio version of "Maybe I'm Amazed" is terrific, although it never received as much radio play as the more famous concert version. "Every Night" and "Junk" are full of McCartney's carefree acoustic melodicism. "Heart of the Country," "Too Many People," and "Back Seat of My Car" all demonstrate what a guilty pleasure RAM is. Whether that's an endorsement or a warning depends on how much you like McCartney. "Take It Away" was a Top 10 hit in 1982; doesn't it belong on Disc One instead?
Everybody and his brother has a list of songs that they believe should have been included on Disc Two. Here is mine: "That Would Be Something" from McCARTNEY, "Big Barn Red" from RED ROSE SPEEDWAY, "Beware My Love" from AT THE SPEED OF SOUND, and "Cafe on the Left Bank" from LONDON TOWN all cried out for inclusion. Also conspicuously absent is the outstanding B-side "Sally G," which should have been released as an A-side in 1974. (I love the last lines of that song: "I never thought to ask her what the letter G stood for/But I know for sure it wasn't good.")
"The Lovely Linda" (sorry Paul), "Man We Was Lonely," "Tomorrow," "Girlfriend," "Waterfall," "Bip Bop/Hey Diddle," and "No More Lonely Nights (playout version)" should have been jettisoned. "Let Me Roll It" and "Helen Wheels" are decent, but "Picasso's Last Words" and "1985" would have been more inspired selections from BAND ON THE RUN. It also would have been nice to have had the entire "Venus and Mars/ Rockshow" suite instead of some chopped up "single edit" of the song. Disc Two still makes for pleasant listening, but it could have been great.
Final grades: 4.5 stars for the first disc and 3.5 stars for the second disc, which balances out as a 4 star rating.
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on June 7, 2001
This is the best of the "greatest hits" collections so far from McCartney's solo albums. Yes, as other reviewers have pointed out, it goes beyond Wings (after all, Wings began in 1971 and disbanded in 1980 and this set goes from 1970 to 1984). But the CD booklet has a nice intro by Mark Lewishon and lists all the members of Wings (there are 4 or 5 different lineups). I'll comment on the entertaining special that aired on ABC last month when it comes out on video.
The "hits" side includes 17 great songs ("C Moon" is the only clunker and should've been saved for the history side). A lot of these I remember as I was growing up from a kid to a teenager, as opposed to hearing the Beatles' songs and records years after they disbanded. I particularly have fond memories of"Listen to What the Man Said" which has a nice sax solo, the romantic "My Love", the hard rockin' "Jet", the spirited "Comin' Up" (much better than the passable studio version), the fun "Let 'Em In", and "Band On the Run". "No More Lonely Nights" features a cool guitar solo by David Gilmour (now don't ask me why he included that hokey "fadeout" version at the end of history). "Silly Love Songs" is a commentary on the critics who made fun of his solo songs (I suppose unless you're in love, all love songs sound a little silly). Heck, even his former partner John had his share of "silly" love songs(witness "Oh Yoko"). Too bad this set didn't feature the full-length version of "With a Little Luck", but you can get that off "London Town" or "Wings Greatest". "Pipes of Peace" is the underrated title cut off his 1983 album (which featured an interesting video). "Mull of Kintyre" wasn't a big hit in the USA either, but I remember seeing the video for it when it 1st came out in 1977 on Dick Clark's American Bandstand. I would give 4 and 1/2 stars for the hits portion.
For the "history", I'd give this 3 and 1/2 stars. I was expecting more rarities like the 1972 single "Give Ireland Back to the Irish" and "Sally G" (the B side from 1974's "Junior's Farm"). Perhaps we'll see those on a box set. The history includes some of the best album cuts on McCartney solo albums, including hits "Maybe I'm Amazed", "Take It Away", the classic "Let Me Roll It", "Helen Wheels", "Venus & Mars"/"Rock Show", "Too Many People" (dedicated to you-know-who), and more obscure stuff like "Bluebird", the folky "Tug of War", "Back Seat of My Car" (which features some interesting experimentation)and the exquisite "Waterfalls". I can do without "Junk" (the instrumental singalong is much better since it doesn't have those gratingly cheezy lyrics). I personally would have liked to see more stuff from At the Speed of Sound like "Beware My Love" (a favorite of diehard fans) and more songs from Red Rose Speedway, and the classic "1985" (how could he forget that one?). But, all in all, if you liked/like Wings, there should be enough stuff that perhaps you never heard to keep you satisfied.
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VINE VOICEon December 16, 2001
Listening to Paul McCartney's two-disc "Wingspan" raises several questions. Where's the focus - is it a McCartney or Wings overview? Where are the great B-sides, such as "Zoo Gang" and "Lunch Box/Odd Sox"? Why are there so many tracks from the "McCartney" and "Ram" albums, yet no room for the excellent live recording of "Maybe I'm Amazed"? And do we really need TWO versions of "No More Lonely Nights"? Needless to say, "Wingspan" could have been a stronger McCartney compilation (even the liner notes are lacking). Still, there are some classic Wings tracks as well as a few unheralded gems, particularly "C Moon" and "Girlfriend." What McCartney really needs (and deserves) is a comprehensive box set. "Wingspan" only scratches the surface.
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on December 26, 2005
If anyone needs a box set done of his material it's Paul McCartney. The man has so many albums out there that it's near impossible for the casual listener or newcomer to even find a place to begin. For those that need a hint, there are the classic, must have albums like McCartney, Ram, Band on the Run, Venus and Mars, Wings Over America (live), Flowers in the Dirt, Flaming Pie and 2005's Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. But there's also some other very highly entertaining works like Red Rose Speedway and Tug of War that deserve a listen. WINGSPAN is a great place to start your collection, or to recall a lot of the hit songs Paul released in the 1970s and 1980s, the decades this collection covers.

Putting together a proper retrospective of Wings was, I believe, one of the things Linda McCartney always wanted to do. (Linda was a member of Wings with Paul along with Denny Laine and a host of revolving musicians from 1971-1981.) After her death in 1998, Paul created the WINGSPAN project in her memory, which included this double CD, a book and a national television special, which can be purchased on DVD. But WINGSPAN is ultimately misleading as it features solo McCartney songs recorded both before and after Wings, and this collection turned out not to be the proper Wings anthology so many had been hoping for in the run up to its release. As far as the musical aspect of the WINGSPAN project, I believe this 2 CD collection became (understandably) more of a way for Paul to remember Linda and some of their own personal favorite songs, instead of properly representing the often underrated output of Wings through the years.

Disc one (Hits) is hard to argue with as classics abound. Yet if this was just a retrospective of Wings, songs like "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey," "Another Day," "Pipes of Peace" and "No More Lonely Nights" do not belong as they are solo McCartney works done without Wings proper. I also question the inclusion of "Pipes of Peace," "C Moon" and "Mull of Kintyre," though huge hits in England, they did little in the United States. (But again, I believe these were always personal favorites of Paul and Linda.) There are other key tracks that were hits that are glaringly left off this Hits side.

However, what is cool to find is that the songs found on the first disc have never sounded better, and in many ways, have gotten better with age! The hipsters can rail against "Silly Love Songs" all they want, but Paul's bass work and the overall solid structure of this song is unmistakable. "Silly Love Songs" is great based on the fact alone that it's Paul shouting out a big "F... you" to the critics (not literally, but you know what I mean.) "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" is avant-garde rock at its best, and songs like "Band on the Run" and "Jet" still rock after all these years. Honorable mention goes to "No More Lonely Nights," one of Paul's best songs ever, with awesome guitar work by Pink Floyd's own Dave Gilmour. However, on such great cuts like "Junior's Farm" and "With a Little Luck", radio edits have been used, which is a sin when you know how much better the unedited version is in comparison.

For years the stuck up critics at Rolling Stone derailed McCartney for the #1 smash "My Love" found here, but the death of Linda has only made this song that much more sentimental and relevant. It has remained a staple of McCartney live shows for years, and Henry McCullough's guitar work on "My Love" is still incredible.

Disc two (History) is the more controversial side for me, as some of Paul's selections again seem to reflect (once again, understandably) his and Linda's favorites, but don't necessarily represent the plethora of long, lost great Wings tracks. Wings definitely had their own sound and style, and in hindsight, a lot of people now have a greater appreciation for Wings and their work. (Bono himself recently said that the band of the year for him was Wings!) In their day, Wings was never given a fair chance coming so quickly after The Beatles. And for that reason, it is important in the future for Paul to release a proper Wings anthology. And what exactly is "Maybe I'm Amazed" doing on the History disc and not the Hits disc? It's only probably his most well known solo song ever!

On disc two there are once again way too many solo McCartney tracks, even though they are absolutely stunning selections ("Too Many People," "Every Night," "Man We Was Lonely," "Junk," "Heart of the Country," "Tug of War," "Take It Away," "Waterfalls," "The Back Seat of My Car" and "Maybe I'm Amazed"), but these songs once again obviously meant a lot to Paul and Linda and it's hard to argue cutting any of those classic songs from a McCartney collection. But this is supposed to be a representation of the work of Wings! Furthermore, another solo track, "The Lovely Linda," would be near impossible to delete on a collection like this. However, the inclusion of all these solo McCartney songs clearly does Wings little justice.

What WINGSPAN ended up becoming was a nice way to remember Linda by Paul, and in that degree it succeeds wonderfully (thus my five star rating). Yet one can't help but think that Paul missed the mark by not actually showing through this collection something Linda always believed in, and that was the validity of Wings as a band. On deeper inspection, there are many, many, many Wings tracks that in hindsight show what a fine band Paul fronted throughout the 1970s. Consider the following sampling of incredible tracks that are absent from WINGSPAN:

Beware My Love, Cafe On The Left Bank, Girls' School, Letting Go, Give Ireland Back to the Irish, Country Dreamer, Old Siam Sir, Soily (live 1976), Time to Hide, Don't Let It Bring You Down, Wild Life, Sally G, Big Barn Bed, Some People Never Know, Get on the Right Thing, Love In Song, London Town, Dear Friend, The Mess, Treat Her Gently/Lonely Old People, Seaside Woman, Maybe I'm Amazed (live 1976), Little Woman Love, Arrow Through Me, Little Lamb Dragonfly, When the Night, Again and Again and Again, Magneto and Titanium Man, A Love For You, Medicine Jar, Mama's Little Girl, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five, Spin It On, I Lie Around, I've Had Enough, So Glad To See You Here, I'm Carrying, Mrs. Vandebilt, Picasso's Last Words, so on and so forth...

The folks at Paul's record company and Paul himself need to anthologize Wings properly, and his whole career for that matter. Start rolling those box sets out soon, please!

Otherwise, WINGSPAN is highly recommended as it does allow one to discover such great Wings songs like "Tomorrow," "Daytime Nightime Suffering" and "Call Me Back Again," not to mention the solo classic "The Back Seat of My Car," the last song from the Ram album. "Too Many People" and "Helen Wheels" still rock out, but I will never understand the inclusion of the remix of "No More Lonely Nights"!
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(Music: 5 Stars; Compilation: 3 Stars)
There can be no denying the genius of Paul McCartney's music over the years. This is the 3rd hit compilation of Macca's career, and while the quality of the individual songs is stellar, I am bewildered by the "Wingspan" compilation (2 CDs, 153 min.).
CD1 "Hits" (18 tracks, 75 min.) is just that: a compilation of the best known songs, overlapping greatly with earlier compilations "Wings Greatest" and "All the Best". A shame that a dud like "No More Lonely Nights" is included instead of, say, "Mary Had a Little Lamb", a genuine hit in 1972 and Wings' second single ever. Also beware: "Junior's Farm" and "With a Little Luck" appear in the (shorter) single version. CD2 "History" (22 tracks, 78 min.) is a hodgepodge without any apparent rhyme or reason ("a collection of some of my favorite songs" says Paul in the (skimpy) liner notes). The track sequencing is incomprehensible (for example "Take it Away" is sandwiched between 3 songs from the "McCartney" album, and thus sounds totally out of place). Adding insult to injury, it includes an alternative version of the afore-mentioned dud "No More Lonely Nights". On the plus side, it does include an unissued version of "Bip Bop" of the underrated "Wings Wild Life" album. Conspicuously MIA are "Girls' School", "Arrow Through Me", "Ballroom Dancing", "Deliver Your Children" and some other notable singles.
The "History" CD is a missed opportunity for the not-so-casual Macca fan to gather some real key singles and more obscure B-sides and essential album tracks in one place. That Wings' first single "Give Ireland Back to the Irish" is not included in a 40 track compilation on Wings is just plain silly. Other missing "must-haves": "I Lie Around" (excellent B-side of "Live and Let Die"), "The Mess" (B-side of "My Love"), "Little Woman Love" (B-side of "Mary Had a Little Lamb"), "Mama's Little Girl" (1972 track issued as B-side to "Put it There" in 1990), "Country Dreamer" (B-side to "Helen Wheels"), and "Oh Woman, Oh Why" (B-side of "Another Day"). All these tracks can be found on the various remastered Wings albums issued some years ago in the UK and available here as an import.
"Wingspan" ultimately misses the point: too overreaching for the casual Macca fan, and not comprehensive enough for the avid Macca fun. Maybe they'll get it right on the 4th try.
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on May 8, 2001
It's all too easy to oversimplify what McCartney has meant to the history of rock n roll and to every generation reared on it. My personal introduction to the world of rock, as was many other people's, was through the Beatles. I was 10 years old in 1980 when I heard the haunting cello drones of "Eleanor Rigby" for the first time. I have yet to get that tune out of my brain. It changed my life forever.
McCartney's brilliance, of course, goes well beyone what he did with the Beatles, as this 2 cd retrospective clearly shows. His solo material, including the enormously successful Wings period, showcases a man with extraordinary talents. While in many ways I prefer the songs of George Harrison, McCartney's writing hits upon a universal chord- the love songs may indeed be silly, but they are uplifting, feel good vignettes of colossal beauty.
"Wingspan" covers the whole creative gamut that McCartney traverses so well. You have the tasteful love-laden numbers like "My Love," "Silly Love Songs," "With A Little Luck," "Coming Up," and "No More Lonely Nights," to name a few. You also have the silly kitsch of an "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey," or "Let Em In." Most importantly, you have Paul the ROCKER, taking on all-comers with "Jet," "Junior's Farm," "Helen Wheels," and "Live And Let Die," to select a few. Paul proves again and again that he could do it all...
...and then there's "Maybe I'm Amazed." How many love songs out there offer the complete sincerity of the love that he had for the late Linda, and did so with a groove that rocked as hard as this track did? For my money, "Maybe I'm Amazed" is as good a love song as was ever made. The longing, the passion, the pure, raw emotion that Paul conveys on the track still gives me shivers when I hear it. It will be my wedding song should I ever get married.
"Wingspan" covers paul's solo/Wings career wonderfully, with many of Wings' greatest moments (if all not as known as they should be) well documented. If McCartney's greatness is even remotely in question, it won't be after hearing this 2 cd set. A wonderful primer into the musical Eden that is Paul McCartney's legacy, this cd set is sure to please. We are all blessed by his presence. Hear why.
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on October 23, 2002
Before I begin my review, let me tell you three things about myself:
1. I only recently got into the Beatles, which came to the inevitable transition into Wings music
2. I do not own any Wings albums except for this one.
3. I am only 14
Now that we're clear, let's start. I have read the other reviews for this album before I bought it to see what other people had to say. I had to just buy it without really knowing what to expect because the other reviews were not very helpful. All anyone said was that Wingspan contained the same songs as other Paul McCartney compilations.
Yeah? The problem is, I haven't HEARD any of Paul McCartney's other compilations. But I love the Beatles (as well as other classic rock that my Dad loves), I think Paul McCartney is brilliant and my Dad said I would like Wings.
This Wingspan album is great. I don't know what other Paul compilations are like but this one really does the trick. I popped in the albums and I had a great time. Let's review:
The "HITS" CD: This contains all of Wings chart toppers. Highlights include:
Listen to What the Man Said
Band on the Run
Live and Let Die
Jet
C Moon
Hi Hi Hi (my favorite song on the whole album)
Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey
No More Lonely Nights
Now remember, all of the songs are great, these are just my favorites.
The "HISTORY" CD: This has all of the songs Paul thinks are his best. Highlights include:
Let Me Roll It
Daytime Nightime Suffering
Helen Wheels
Bluebird
Venus and Mars/Rockshow
Waterfalls
So, to rap it up, forget what you have heard before. Listen to Wingspan as if it were for the first time and just ENJOY. I wasn't there in the 70's but this is really good stuff. If you can't take the word of a high schooler, buy it yourself and have fun!
P.S.- I also think you should pick up some Beatles stuff
P.P.S.- I recently saw Paul in concert and he can still rock!
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on June 18, 2001
This two CD set does a pretty good job of condensing Paul McCartney's solo career (from his first album in 1970 through his commercial zenith in the 1970s into the early 1980s), although collectors will of course note the absence of any number of rarities and oddities that could have made the lineup. (By my reckoning there's upwards of a dozen totally great McCartney/Wings B-sides and odd sox that have never been readily available on CD.) The first disc concentrates on all the 'hits', the songs you heard on the radio, and doesn't miss one; the second, 'history', skims the cream off the album tracks/B-sides. and it's a tribute to the man's talent that in no way is it a drop-off in quality from the songs that were A-sides. (I'm particularly delighted by the inclusion of Daytime Nighttime Suffering, one of the best things he's ever written yet inexplicably thrown away as the B-side of Goodnight Tonight.) Mark Lewisohn's typically exhaustive sleeve notes acknowledge the contributions made by the other members of Wings, and it's good to see Henry McCullough (whose gorgeous blues guitar solo on My Love is a personal favourite) get his due. In short: if you know diddley about Paul McCartney's solo stuff, this is the perfect starter; if you're a casual fan, remind yourself of just how good this stuff sounded to you the first time around; and if you're an obsessive, well, you're going to have to buy it to complete your collection, aren't you?
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on September 26, 2005
I adore Paul McCartney, but am rather lukewarm about this album. My problem naturally isn't with the songs themselves, but rather their placement on the album. I love how the overlooked "Too Many People" made it onto these discs, but wedging "Another Day" between "Band on the Run" and "Live and Let Die" seemed rather odd. There didn't seem to be any musical or chronological reason for the arrangement of the songs. McCartney's other albums are very well put together, but this one seems very jumbled. In my opinion, buy the individual albums, and especially the excellent Wings Over America.
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