Wings at the Speed of Sound [Bonus Tracks]

by: Wings

If Venus and Mars had the façade of being an album by a band, Wings at the Speed of Sound really is a full-band effort, where everybody gets a chance to sing, even contribute a song. This, ironically, winds up as considerably less cohesive than its predecessor despite these efforts for community, not because Wings was not a band in the proper sense, but because nobody else in the band pulled as much weight as Paul McCartney, who was resting on his laurels here. Consider this: the two hits "Let 'Em In" and "Silly Love Songs" are so lightweight that their lack of substance seems nearly defiant. They have sweet, nice melodies and are well crafted, but as songs they're nonexistent, working primarily as effervescent popcraft of their time. And that's the case for most of At the Speed of Sound, as tracks like "She's My Baby" play like the hits, only without memorable hooks. There is a bit of charm to the record, arriving in Linda's awkwardly sung "Cook of the House," the mellow "Must Do Something About It," and especially "Beware My Love," the best-written song here that effortlessly moves from sun-drenched harmonies to hard rock. Apart from the latter, these are modest pleasures buried on an album that may have been a chart-topping blockbuster, but now seems like one of McCartney's most transient works. [The CD reissue contained three bonus tracks, including the trad jazz instrumental "Walking in the Park with Eloise," which his father wrote, and the charming laid-back country "Sally G," which was better than most of the songs on Speed.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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