CK Retro Review: Wings At The Speed Of Sound by WingsPosted: October 17, 2016
By attempting to prove that Wings was a band of equals, Paul McCartney inadvertently ensured that the world knew just the opposite was true. 1976’s Wings At The Speed Of Sound gives every member of the band a chance to shine, but the songs are generally weak to middling and are often rendered without much imagination. Two ditties for which McCartney amped up the charm made the album a smash, but it hasn’t held up that well four decades down the line. Here is a song-by-song review:
11. “Wino Junko”- The title pretty much says it all about the subject matter of this one that puts Jimmy McCulloch in the lead. Tries for bluesy but ends up woozy, and, at over five minutes, it really drags.
10. “Time To Hide”- Denny Laine wrote and sang this clunker, which is about as generic as it comes in terms of arena rock. The instrumental break isn’t bad, so that’s something.
9. “Cook Of The House”- Linda does rockabilly, and it’s as shambolic as you would expect. A more beefed-up sound might have drawn attention away from the vocals, so the production doesn’t do the missus any favors either. But at least she’s having fun on lead, which can’t be said for some of her other bandmates.
8. “San Ferry Anne”- The horns are a bit overdone here (a common problem throughout the album), and the lyrics don’t really go anywhere. Next.
7. “Must Do Something About It”- It’s too bad McCartney didn’t give drummer Joe English more to work with for his lead vocal on the album. The song is breezy but forgettable; English, on the other hand, shows a lot of personality as a singer.
6. “The Note You Never Wrote”- This one starts enticingly enough in a mysterious sort of way, and there are some pretty moments in the melody. But it loses its way, musically and lyrically, through no fault of Laine’s serviceable lead vocal.
5. “She’s My Baby”- Imagine one of Stevie Wonder’s punchy, funky love songs with bizarro lyrics (comparing a woman to gravy is certainly a new one) and you’ve got the sense of this one. The music is just feisty enough to put it across, but barely.
4. “Let Em In”- Paul is back in “All Together Now” mode here, writing a trifle that’s undeniably catchy and just as lightweight. There’s some fun to be had in the name-dropping, and the drowsy horn is a kick. Getting a Top Five hit out of this was a steal, but it fits the era’s radio fare very well. And if that were easy to write a smash single, I guess everybody would be doing it.
3. “Silly Love Songs”- I don’t have a problem with the quasi-disco or the sentiment; you can’t blame the guy for developing rabbit ears considering all the shots he had taken after The Beatles disintegrated. He could have made his point in two minutes instead of six, if you ask me, but, while his bass line is front and center, it certainly keeps your attention.
2. “Warm And Beautiful”- I go back and forth on this song from thinking it’s an unheralded classic to believing that McCartney could have done it in his sleep. And maybe those two beliefs can coexist. I do think the melody is maybe a tad facile, but the little guitar break is wonderful touch and the strings are employed with great care. There are a lot of worse ways to spend three minutes than listening to unabashed prettiness, right?
1.”Beware My Love”- That little three-note instrumental hook brings some high drama to the proceedings. It calls for McCartney to rise to the occasion with vocals that start at an emotional precipice and stay up there for the entirety. There’s not much to it other that passion and intensity, but the way those two traits are sustained is quite impressive. An odd one, for sure, but quite entertaining.
(E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter @JimBeviglia. For more on Macca’s other band, check out the link directly below to preorder my new book, Counting Down The Beatles: Their 100 Finest Songs. The link below that is to my Amazon page, through which you can check out all of my Counting Down books and e-books.)