Wings At The Speed Of Sound by Wings

1976

I’ve just looked at the paper whilst eating breakfast. I wasn’t in a hurry to get through it but I couldn’t find anything that I really wanted to read about. Matt Hancock may have lied to the British people about his so-called management of the Government’s response to the pandemic. Of course he has but proving it might be hard. A Tory politician may have lied. Hold the front page. £11 billion is needed to repair English schools. Yes, obviously. A huge amount was needed in 2010 when the Tories scrapped Labour’s plans even though spending your way out of a recession was known to be the best approach. There’s more tension with China as an accusation surfaced that COVID-19 escaped from a laboratory in Wahun. The end of the human race will either come from confrontation with China or Russia. Unless it comes from The Middle East where Israel and Palestine continue to claim the moral high ground. The Hillsborough disaster remains unresolved with nobody to blame. A TV presenter has died of blood clots after a vaccination. Marcus Radford has received racial abuse on Twitter. I’m only on page 13 and that’s enough thanks. I’ve tried to read about whether Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity might be proved wrong by the discovery of low density regions of the Universe where the amount of dark matter may be less than is predicted. I never understood this theory in 1975 when I took an exam in Relativity, so it’s a bit ambitious to think I’d understand it now. No thanks to all this news. I’ve had enough of doom and gloom. What is the actual point of staying better informed about world events? How is my life changed by understanding the detail of China, Israel, blood clots, Hillsborough etc? I have one drive to fully understand everything and a contradictory drive which tells me to focus on the positives.

It’s a bit like watching a film. There are plenty of worthy films out there, depicting the horrors of war, or injustice or corruption. There are also lots of violent films. And then there are films like “Cruella”, released today, and starring Emma Stone and Emma Thompson. It tells the story of Cruella de Vil, “pre-booting” the original story. This time, the villain of “101 Dalmations” grows up in mid-70s glam-rock London. This sounds much better than “The Little Things” in which two detectives join forces to find a serial killer. Or “Army Of The Dead” depicting a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas. There’s no doubt that, should I ever feel confident enough to return to a cinema, I’d prefer to see “Cruella” than “Things Heard And Seen” in which a young artist suspects that her new house harbours dark secrets.

Yesterday, in desperation, I started watching a Netflix series called “Halston” about an American fashion designer, starring Ewan McGregor. I watched two episodes. It was entertaining, it wasn’t violent and, although it is based on true events, there were no unpleasant parts. Maybe I prefer to hide away in the sugary sweetness of a fantasy world where bad things don’t happen. There’s no “maybe” about it – that’s exactly what I do prefer.

What I really like is a romantic comedy like “Notting Hill” or “High Fidelity”. There are lots of films that follow the same script. Two people meet – explore their differences, fall in love only for some back story to emerge which derails the relationship until the end of the film when they get together again. There are lots of variations on this story but they all leave me crying with joy at the end. “Bridget Jones”, “Gregory’s Girl”, “Four Weddings And A Funeral” – all of these provide happy escapism.

The same is true with a happy tune. “I Like Trucks” by Kendel Carson is a brilliant love song to, er, trucks. “I Love You” by The Steve Miller Band is, well…., a declaration of love. “And I Love Her” by The Beatles is terrific. You’d think that people would have had enough of romantic comedies or silly love songs but I look around me and I see that it isn’t so. Most of these songs or films make the point that love doesn’t come in a minute but that people know when they are in it. What’s wrong with a romantic comedy or a silly love song? I’d like to know.

Wings had had two successive Number One albums (“Band On The Run” and “Venus And Mars”) in 1974 and 1975. In January 1976, they recorded “Wings At The Speed Of Sound” in the EMI studios in Abbey Road before embarking on a World tour later in the year. The makeup of band was fixed around this time with Denny Laine and Jimmy McCulloch on guitars and Joe English on drums. One of the criticisms of Wings around this time was that they weren’t really a band – just a collection of session musician who allowed Paul McCartney to record and play his songs. To counter this criticism, five of the eleven songs on this album feature lead vocals by other members of the band. “Time To Hide”, “Must Do Something About It” and “Cook Of The House” were all written by Paul McCartney and sung by Denny Laine, Joe English and Linda McCartney respectively. “The Note You Never Wrote” and “Wino Junko” were written and sung by Denny Laine and Jimmy McCulloch respectively. Sadly, of these five songs, only “The Note You Never Wrote” (a haunting song about government corruption) makes an impact on me which leaves about half an hour of material sung by Paul McCartney; for me, these are the backbone of the album.

At the beginning of “Let ‘Em In”, a doorbell rings and Paul McCartney proceeds to suggest that we let lots of people in to his house. These people include his Dad’s sister, Auntie Gin, Phil and Don Everly, Michael McCartney, Martin Luther King and Uncle Ernie (from “Tommy” by The Who). It’s a perfect example of Paul McCartney’s genius: a very simple melodic song set to an intricate arrangement.

“She’s My Baby” is a very sweet song, addressed to Linda McCartney. I happen to like its twee melody and arrangement, but Robert Rodriguez, on the website “Fab Four” wrote that it “must earn some kind of honor for sheer awfulness.”

“Beware My Love” is nearly six and half minutes long and it’s a very powerful mid-tempo rocker. Linda McCartney’s singing is not as forced as it sometimes sounds and Paul McCartney’s singing is at its most intense. The contrast between the gentleness of “She’s My Baby” and “Beware My Love” demonstrates the versatility of his voice. The song’s intensity builds through the course of the song and by the end, Denny Laine’s pounding piano and Joe English’s manic drumming create real excitement as Paul and Linda McCartney repeat the title over and over.

“San Ferry Anne” is remarkable. I’d never heard of it until yesterday – it’s only two minutes long and consists of another great melody, inventive flute, trumpet and saxophone playing, an unusual guitar riff, subtle changes of tempo, lovely harmonies and the voice that Paul McCartney uses on “I’m Looking Through You”.

The title of “Warm And Beautiful” makes it clear what type of song it is. A ballad with a piano and strings accompaniment. Stephen Holden, in “Rolling Stone”, described it as “one of the worst songs Paul McCartney has ever written”. I wonder if he realised that means it is still better than 99.99% of all other songs? It is certainly sentimental and a little saccharine but it also has great singing and an incredible melody. It’s another love song to Linda.

What’s wrong with a love song? What is funny about peace, love and understanding? “Silly Love Songs” is a rejoinder to cynical criticism of the romantic side to his songwriting. As always, the arrangement is superb and I’ve been singing the melody all day, much to Roo’s disappointment.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love. Boo to doom and gloom. Cheers for silly love songs.

Published by wilfulsprinter

Music lover

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