BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
There’s a certain irony to the fact that it’s taken well over 30 years for this remarkable document of Wings’ initial U.S. tour to once again make into the marketplace. The trajectory began auspiciously enough; with the ex Beatle performing his first American concerts a full decade after the Fab Four’s final Stateside appearances, the tour all but demanded documentation. That led to a CBS television special in 1979, a theatrical release in 1980, and finally, a Betamax version the year after. However, after that, the footage languished in commercial oblivion, all but forgotten and ignored.
To be clear, McCartney mania has never lulled, but with Macca’s seemingly constant compulsion to tour practically yearly and the recent re-release of the early McCartney catalog, including the live Wings Over America, the decision to dust off an expanded Rockshow makes for perfect timing. Be forewarned however — there may be some crossover confusion due to the fact that some versions of the reissuedWings Over AmericaCD also come with a DVD of its own, specifically, a documentary of the tour that was shot as a series of home movies.
For its part, Rockshow foregoes the backstage sequences, and with the exception of a bonus feature boasting interviews with fans, it concentrates solely on the concert itself, creating an identical song by song complement to the album. While special effects and state of the art production have advanced considerably since these shows were filmed in 1976, the performances are nothing less than spectacular and as dynamic as any McCartney’s offered in the years since. ‘Nuf said. Backed by Wings’ most potent line up – the late Jimmy McCulloch on guitar, the ever-reliable Denny Laine on a n array of instrumentation, drummer Joe English and, of course, wife Linda on keyboards (supposedly) – a beaming McCartney runs through 30 songs mostly culled from recent Wings albums and a handful courtesy of his former combo. Several tracks make their appearance for the first time after being scrapped initially – “Blackbird,” “Call Me Back Again,” “Picasso’s Last Words,” “Lady Madonna,” “My Love” and “The Long and Winding Road,” among them –- while a bonus booklet helps elevate the package to a genuine keepsake.
All in all, it’s a stirring reminder of a time when rock relevance and the whiff of nostalgia could prove equally compelling.
EXTRAS: “A Very Lovely Party on tour with Paul McCartney & Wings”