Friday, December 26, 2008

Paul McCartney 10: Wings Greatest

Since he was about to jump ship to Columbia for a lot of money, EMI put out a Wings hits album. Even though not all of the tracks are technically Wings songs, Wings Greatest proves Paul’s point that he’d moved on from his previous band. And with otherwise unalbumized singles adding up to nearly an hour of music, it was a worthy purchase for its time.
One of those singles kicks off the set. “Another Day” was originally a teaser from the Ram sessions, a portrait of Eleanor Rigby as a modern lonely secretary. It may not have been that exciting on the first listen, but hasn’t grown too annoying in the meantime. “Live And Let Die” was a big deal both as a movie theme when James Bond films were really big deals, and also as Paul’s first collaboration with George Martin in over three years. It’s another case of Paul writing a song quickly without worrying about the words. (“And in this ever-changing world in which we live in”? Yeesh.) “Junior’s Farm” is a great rocker about a card game or something; all those guitars, that ending—another of his more underrated tracks. This was Jimmy McCulloch’s first appearance on a Wings record, and listening to it now just shows off what a great guitarist he was. “Hi Hi Hi” was an early attempt of Paul’s trying to come off as a rebel, and it worked, suggestive lyrics and all. “Mull Of Kintyre” did nothing in the States, but managed to break the record for the most copies sold in the UK. (The previous champion? “She Loves You”. Paul’s record would stand until “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, which features his voice on its B-side.) It’s a nice three-chord pub singalong, complete with bagpipes. As for the rest, not all of the hits are here, but the ones that do appear in their longer album tracks. (And while there were no lyrics in the package, he did include yet another two-sided poster.)
For telling the story up to this point, Wings Greatest succeeds. It’s since been surpassed by other compilations, but it’s still a nice artifact from the days before McCartney could be accused of shilling empty “product”.

Wings Wings Greatest (1978)—4

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