While his fellow ex-bandmates busied themselves with various high-profile projects (John Lennon with Imagine and a series of high-profile media events; George Harrison with All Things Must Pass and The Concert for Bangla Desh), Paul McCartney climbed into a van with his wife and a few journeyman players and gigged at university student unions for what amounted to spare change. Of course, by 1976 they were one of the biggest draws in rock, having the last laugh--if not necessarily the final word. Gathering the cream of their recorded output on a generous double-disc sampler-cum-TV-special-soundtrack seemed a promising effort at historical revisionism, but Wingspan itself is a distinct misnomer: fully 17 of the 40 tracks here hail from various pre- and post-Wings McCartney solo albums. Completely overlooked are unheralded B-sides such as "Oh Woman, Oh Why," "Little Woman Love," "Country Dreamer," "The Mess," "Walking in the Park with Eloise," "Sally G," and "Girl's School"--some of McCartney the bandleader and solo artist's scrappiest and most interesting work. All the expected hits are here and more, ranging from spunky rockers and hook-rich bubblegum to syrup-drenched ballads. What's lacking is a fresh and less myopic perspective. --Jerry McCulley
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The art of licking elbows ...
Rayscann | 07/12/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Many people think mediocrity is the worst sin art can commit, because mediocrity equals boredom. Art that fails spectacularly can at least be interesting, or at best, transcendent. However, I'm here to argue that consciously achieving mediocrity can be the bravest artistic statement one can make. Let me explain: disappointing someone out of laziness is thoughtless. Disappointing someone on purpose is a radical act. It's like when you've already established yourself as a great lover, but one day when you're going South on a lovely female who knows your rep and you're working your magic with your fingers, tongue, and lips and your building her up to "conclusion" and at the point where you know she's going to reach the point of no turning back, you move North, lick her elbow for two minutes, and then leave to get a Twinkie. She's frustrated and angry, but intrigued by everything leading up to the elbow licking, remembering the past, remember the potential for transcendent explosion. Does she throw your number on the scrapheap? No way. She'll call you again. Of course, you need to deliver the magic every once in a while ... but with this kind of push and pull, you can string her along for years. Even after she says "never again". Even after she's "happily" married with kids. Why is this? Well, if you know anything about keeping a lady interested (who are the most fickle, simple-minded creatures on God's Earth), you'd know that you can't make the Earth move every time you're with a lady. She'll take you for granted and get bored with you. You have to deliver the goods, give her a taste, and then bacdafucup and watch her brain turn to scrambled eggs.
I know, what does this have to do with "Wingspan"? Well, Paul McCartney is the ultimate elbow licker, a once brilliant songwriter with the Beatles, riding the coattails of his most spectacular success with a series of not-so- good songs that also happened to sell phenomenally well. You see, Americans bought those Wings single by the truckload, not because they were good, but because McCartney was once a spectacular artist and buying them reminded them of the time he made the Earth move. Every time they heard a song, they thought, "OK, I think I can make this work." But McCartney knew that in order to ensure his artistic legacy, he had to pump out purposely mediocre music in order to remain even more popular. The fact that this collection does not include "Spies Like Us," arguably the worst song in McCartney's oeuvre, just proves my point. With all the mediocre product on this 2-disc collection, you'd expect it to be there, but it's not. You see? McCartney has mastered the art of disappointment even when cataloging his disappointments in one convenient package. Even here, not so convenient, is it? Which, of course, has only made his artistic stature stronger. As a statement, this makes Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music" look like .38 Special. C'mon, everyone join hands and sing "HAAAAANDS across the water ... (water) ... HAAAAANDS across the sea!""