Wings Over America featured 30 songs – five by The Beatles, one – ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ – by Paul McCartney as a solo artist, and 21 previously recorded and released with Wings.
There were also three songs which hadn’t previously appeared on an album. Written by Paul Simon, ‘Richard Cory’ had originally appeared on Simon & Garfunkel’s album Sounds Of Silence; Wings’ live version was sung by Denny Laine. He also sang ‘Go Now’, a song made a hit by his former band The Moody Blues in 1964.
The final new song was ‘Soily’, which Wings had previously performed during their 1972/3 tour of Britain and Europe. It had been considered for the Red Rose Speedway album but remained unused. By 1976 its arrangement had become punchier and more hard rocking, and closed the live set after ‘Hi, Hi, Hi’ as the second encore song.
Nine songs had originally appeared on Venus And Mars – more than any other album. Five were from Band On The Run, four from Wings At The Speed Of Sound, and just one – ‘My Love’ – from Red Rose Speedway. Two other Wings songs – ‘Hi, Hi, Hi’ and ‘Live And Let Die’ – had previously been standalone singles.
McCartney had refused to perform Beatles-era songs during previous Wings shows, but bowed to popular demand for the Wings Over America tour. The five Beatles songs on the album are credited to McCartney-Lennon.
Side three of the album – from ‘Picasso’s Last Words (Drink To Me)’ to ‘Yesterday’ – encompassed the acoustic set at the heart of Wings’ set, and included three of the five Beatles songs.
Wings Over America was released on 10 December 1976.
The album might have been a two-disc set, but for a bootleg release titled Wings From The Wings, a triple album recorded on 23 June 1976 at the Forum in Los Angeles. This high profile bootleg inspired McCartney to release the group’s entire live set as a triple album.
As well as the audio recordings, several of the concerts were filmed. The premiere of Rock Show took place in New York City on 26 November 1980, with a limited cinema run and video release following.
Wings Over America topped the Billboard 200 in America in early 1977. In the UK it peaked at number eight; it is likely that a number of prospective purchasers were put off by its high £6.80 price. It did, however, sell several million copies in McCartney’s home country.
That had to be a triple album in the end, because we were doing two-hour shows and there was no other way to get two hours of music on record. This album just called to be a triple album. If we could have made it a double album, we would have made it a double album. I don’t like releasing huge price items; I prefer everything to cost 50 pence. I’m not in just for the profit, in spite of what some people might think. This bloke who works with handicapped children wrote to us saying the album was the one that really lifted the children and he wanted to thank us for that.
A single, ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ backed with ‘Soily’, was released on 4 February in the UK and 7 February in the US. It reached number 10 in the Billboard Hot 100 in America but peaked at number 28 in the UK, spending just two weeks in the top 30 there.
My alltime fav live-album
How rare are the US Columbia LP pressings compared to the Capitols? The copy I have from the Columbia years is nice and quiet (was almost expecting them be a bit noisy, which usually happens when masters change labels) but I miss the great artwork on the labels from the Capitol pressings-these are just the generic red Columbia labels from the last run of vinyl.
I really like this live album, because it captures Wings at their zenith as a touring act, and it was captured during the concerts on the only American tour they would undertake.
I know that the writing credits for The Beatles’ songs that Paul chose to include were reversed to “McCartney-Lennon”, but I don’t understand why he has been unfairly criticized for it.
I don’t blame him for wanting to correct the public’s misconception that he and John wrote all of their songs with the joint writing credit in a collaborative way when this was actually not the case by reversing the credit order or even removing John’s name from the writing credits, as was the case for “The Long and Winding Road”. The reality is that Paul wrote those five Beatles songs on the album self-reliantly with little, if any, input from John, and it has to be noted that neither John nor Yoko publicly disapproved of the change of credits.
I was lucky enough to see them on this tour and I really liked all interations of Wings, their music and their live performances.