Wings at the Speed of Sound is the fifth album by Wings (or Paul McCartney's seventh solo release) and was recorded and issued in 1976 in the midst of a large world tour as the follow-up album to the popular Venus and Mars.
In 1993, Wings at the Speed of Sound was remastered and reissued on compact disc as part of "The Paul McCartney Collection" series, along with The Country Hams' "Walking in the Park with Eloise" and its B-side "Bridge on the River Suite", and "Junior's Farm"'s B-Side "Sally G" - all recorded in Nashville in 1974 — as bonus tracks.
After a series of concerts in Australia in November 1975, Wings took a break from the tour to spend the holidays with their families and in January 1976 booked time at Abbey Road Studios in London to record Wings at the Speed of Sound. It was the first time McCartney had recorded an album in England since Red Rose Speedway. Due to the tour commitments, Wings was not afforded the opportunity to record in another different and exciting locale, preferring to work in a familiar environment. By the end of February, the album was complete, and Wings dutifully went back on the road.
Around the time of the studio sessions for Wings at the Speed of Sound, McCartney was facing criticism for Wings simply being a vehicle for himself. He encouraged each of the band members to contribute a song during the sessions, though this would become one of the reasons for the criticism of the album. McCartney had previously attempted to create a democratic album in Red Rose Speedway, though it would be rejected by his record label.
Wings at the Speed of Sound was released in late March to average reviews. Although the critics were not as enthusiastic as they had been for Band on the Run and Venus and Mars, the fans certainly were, sending the album to #2 in the UK, where it became the 4th best-selling album of 1976. It became McCartney's most successful US chart album, spending seven unconsecutive weeks at #1 throughout the summer (and curiously blocking the Beatles' then-new compilation Rock 'n' Roll Music, which reached #2). Much of Wings at the Speed of Sound's success can be attributed to its two smash singles. "Silly Love Songs," a response to his critics and one of McCartney's biggest hits, followed the album in April. It became one of 1976's biggest-selling singles. This was followed in July with "Let 'Em In," which also scaled the singles charts. Amid all this, Wings finally went to North America for the Wings Over America Tour, playing McCartney's first shows there in ten years (after The Beatles' last tour in 1966) to euphoric reaction; a few selections from Speed of Sound were included.
The album was received with poor to lukewarm reviews. However, Rolling Stone's reviewer viewed this record as something of a concept album, describing it as "A Day with the McCartneys". The introduction, "Let 'Em In", is sometimes perceived as an invitation for the listener to join the McCartneys on this fantasy day, with explanation of their philosophy ("Silly Love Songs"), a lunch break ("Cook of the House"), and a chance to get to know McCartney's friends (Denny Laine in "The Note You Never Wrote", Jimmy McCulloch in "Wino Junko', etc.).
Track listing Edit
All songs written and composed by Paul McCartney, except where noted.
- "Let 'Em In" – 5:10
- "The Note You Never Wrote" – 4:19
- Lead vocal by Denny Laine
- "She's My Baby" – 3:06
- "Beware My Love" – 6:27
- "Wino Junko" (Jimmy McCulloch/Colin Allen) – 5:19
- Lead vocal by co-writer Jimmy McCulloch
- "Silly Love Songs" – 5:53
- "Cook of the House" – 2:37
- Lead vocal by Linda McCartney
- "Time to Hide" (Denny Laine) – 4:32
- Lead vocal by writer Denny Laine
- "Must Do Something About It" – 3:42
- Lead vocal by Joe English
- "San Ferry Anne" – 2:06
- "Warm and Beautiful" – 3:12
Bonus tracks on 1993 reissueEdit
- "Walking in the Park with Eloise" (James McCartney) – 3:07
- "Bridge on the River Suite" – 3:12
- "Sally G" – 3:37
- Paul McCartney - vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, double bass on "Cook of the House"
- Linda McCartney - vocals, keyboards
- Denny Laine - vocals, guitar, bass, piano
- Jimmy McCulloch - vocals, guitar, bass
- Joe English - vocals, drums