Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Couple of Wings Mixes I Made for My Friend

Compliation (single artist)

Hey hey, welcome back!

Is this thing on?.... Hello?.... Testing?.... One... Two....

OK then, welcome back to the Sphere. Hopefully my prolonged absence in the face of home remodeling madness wasn't too distressing to the two or three of you that actually come by this place on a regular basis. Anyway I hope to make it up to you all by actively posting more content here in the coming weeks.

The first thing I wanted to share isn't anything particularly rare or hard to come by, but it is something by a band that is often overlooked and neglected today-- even though they had 6 platinum albums, 13 U.S. Top 10 singles and were fronted by an ex-Beatle. Of course we're talking about Wings.

"But wait just a frickin' minute, pal!", you are certainly yelling at no one in particular right now. "I've heard 'Band on the Run'! I've heard 'Silly Love Songs!'"

Wow, I'm impressed. I mean, really. Really, really, really impressed.

Riddle me this then: How many Wings albums have you actually heard? Okay, so maybe you're actually a huge fan of the group and own all of them, but I'm willing to bet that's not the case. It certainly wasn't for me either, until I got hip you see. And you're talking to a guy who grew up around Beatles freaks.

For the longest time, the only non-Beatles McCartney in my catalog was a copy of All the Best, a copy of Band on the Run and I think at one point I even had Flowers in the Dirt on cassette. My sister owned Ram and McCartney and the Give My Regards to Broad Street soundtrack, and for most of my life I was convinced that that was all the McCartney I was ever going to need to hear.

Certainly Rolling Stone magazine didn't persuade me to investigate anything further. I mean have you read their reviews of Paul's Wings-era stuff? For the most part it's borderline character assassination masked as rock journalism.

No it wasn't until I got bit by the vinyl bug that I finally took a chance on a copy of Wings at the Speed of Sound, a record that was vilified by nearly every review I've ever read of it. For the longest time I didn't even play it, until one night I figured "what the hell" and took it out for a test drive.

Hey I'll be damned, this universally hated on piece of black vinyl isn't too bad!

It was like the great awakening for me. I mean sure S.O.S. was a bit hit or miss, with a couple of clunkers, but the good stuff was SO GOOD. I returned to the record store the next weekend and bought Wild Life and Ram. Then London Town. Then Red Rose Speedway and so on, until I had amassed the entire catalog. And while every record contained a bit of dross, there was also gold in them thar hills. Compilation time!

Actually what you've got here are two sundry collections of Wings LP tracks (including a few ringers from Ram and McCartney), deep cuts and forgotten singles. In fact, the closest thing to a hit here is probably either "Hi, Hi, Hi" or "Helen Wheels", neither of which you'll ever hear on the radio these days.

It's important to note that I made these comps for my friend Marina to listen to while she was away at school, and so track selection was truly a painstaking process. I wanted to establish a flow, or a mood of tranquility and discovery , and so I intentionally laid off anything that she would be overly familiar with. After all, nothing beats hearing a really stellar song for the first time, right?

Anyway, while this was a gift from me to her, after a while it made sense to share it with others who might be receptive to such a thing. Both of these discs are highly recommended, by me, to anyone who likes Paul McCartney's 1970s stuff but hasn't made it past what's always on the radio. Please don't let the writers at Rolling Stone or any other hack critic dissuade you, because at its finest, this music rivals nearly anything Paul did while the Beatles. The horn charts on "Letting Go", the smooth Association-like harmonies at the end of "Mary Had a Little Lamb", the majestic orchestration on "Long Haired Lady" or "Little Lamb Dragonfly"... If these titles mean nothing to you then run, don't walk to your sound system of choice and immerse yourself in the goodness that was Paul in the Seventies.

A1l the B2st!

Oh, and P.S. -- To those that have asked for them, I'm not in the habit of posting track listings, because I'd rather any interested person just listen without any preconceptions as to what they're about to hear. This site is all about taking chances and exploring the unexplored, and no road maps are necessary for the enthusiastic traveler!