Paul McCartney & Wings: Wings Greatest (Capitol Records)

Three decades after the CD boom, one need not worry about certain records being reissued. Some records have proven redundant as the material found on them can be found elsewhere already. This is especially true for bands and artists who have already re-presented their back catalog to the world. In fact, some record labels and artists are guilty of releasing records that seemingly add nothing of value to their fans, and such collections are especially questionable. Paul McCartney has often been accused of exploiting the loyalty of his fans, and sadly there is some truth to the matter. Wings Greatest has always been something of a bone of contention for some, as it seemed oh so unnecessary. This seemingly unnecessary, somewhat superfluous release has just been reissued on CD, and the discussion of this record’s value is one worth raising again.

For the most part, Paul McCartney had always included his singles on his most recent album, but there were a handful of exceptions that had not been compiled. His debut single, “Another Day,”  but seemingly existed only in the ether, while the near perfect rock singles “Hi, Hi, Hi” and “Junior’s Farm” remained  unattached to any album. ”Live and Let Die” was only available on the soundtrack album, while ”Mull of Kintyre” was his most recent single and serves as a tie-in into this collection. For that reason, it isn’t a completely worthless collection. As I’ve stated before, though, greatest hits collections such as these are not meant for the more serious collector, instead serving the noble purpose of introduction to younger and newer listeners.

At the time, the album sold well, but some felt fleeced by having to purchase a bunch of songs they probably already owned. Its release history, though, is what makes this album so frustratingly unnecessary. With the CD boom of the mid 1980s, this set was reissued on the new format in 1987––frustratingly done within a week or two of a reissue of another McCartney hits compilation, All The Best!, a more comprehensive collection that contained nearly all of the songs featured here, and which bizarrely left off McCartney’s biggest hit. Then, in the early 1990s it was reissued again when McCartney’s solo catalog was reissued in expanded editions, all of which contained the material found here. There have been other collections since then–– most notably the excellent and comprehensive Pure McCartney––and all of them offer all of the material found here, so why exactly MPL thought it necessary to reissue this redundant little collection is quite puzzling indeed, as most fans will already have everything here.

And yet I happily bought this seemingly unnecessary reissue.

Why?

Nostalgia, really. This was my first introduction to the solo work of Paul McCartney,  and in spite of it omissions and questionable reason for  being, it is an extremely cohesive collection. Furthermore, the album just straight out rocks, send songs like “Live and Let Die,” “Jet,” and ”Band On the Run” haven’t lost any of their potency, while his mellow pop hits “Silly Love Songs” and “With a Little Luck” evoke a warm, loving feeling.  To me, a teenager in the mid-1980s, this record was absolutely essential, and it’s no exaggeration to say that I listened to it on a daily basis–by 1990, I had worn out both a vinyl and cassette copy of this little record.

So while I can’t necessarily say that you need Wings Greatest, I can say that if you’re looking for introduction to his work, this is a fine place to begin. This is Paul McCartney boiled down to his essence, and the twelve songs found here are indeed the foundation and backbone of his  nearly fifty year solo career.

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