Eagle Rock Entertainment has for some time, been the place to go for anyone wanting to learn anything about the history of modern mainstream music. The company has released live recordings from greats such as: Ray Charles, Miles Davis, The B-52s, Deep Purple and more over the years. It has even ventured into the realm of newer music with live releases from artists including: The Raconteurs, Stone Temple Pilots, Alanis Morissette, and even Slipknot. Now Eagle Rock has taken music lovers the world over back in time once again with yet another impressive live release from another of music’s greatest names in the form of one Sir Paul McCartney.
Eagle Rock has just released a new live recording from Sir Paul McCartney and his band mates in Wings, titled, Rockshow. It would be so easy to state that this performance presents McCartney and company at the top of their game. But the reality is that McCartney himself has always been at the top of his game. This performance is just one more example of his and his band mates’ talent. There are those that have complained about issues with audio in the transfer from this performance’s original VHS recording to the DVD and Blu-ray format. One can’t help but wonder if this was a mostly isolated problem. The Blu-ray screener viewed by this critic didn’t seem to have any audio issues whatsoever. And for those that complained about the video quality, one must remember that this concert was originally recorded nearly four decades ago. So yes, it is going to be grainy. Fans of the music icon should be appreciative that the effort was even made to transfer the masters from Betamax to DVD and Blu-ray. Considering all that could have gone wrong with the transfer, the grainy footage is just one more part of the whole that makes this another success for Eagle Rock Entertainment and for Sir Paul’s fans.
Having tackled the elephant in the room, the next logical step here would be to take a look at the band’s performance overall. Whether one is a fan of McCartney’s time with The Beatles or more of his work away from the band that helped him launch his career, both sides will be equally impressed by the set list of this concert. It all kicks off with the crowd pleaser, ‘Venus and Mars/Rock Show/Jet.’ Throughout the course of the roughly two hour-long recording, McCartney and company cover largely material from Wing’s catalogue. Though there are some Beatles tunes peppered in for good measure including: ‘Lady Madonna’, ‘Blackbird’, and ‘The Long and Winding Road.’ They intentionally avoided the Beatles material as much as possible during this and other performances intentionally in order to separate the two bands. As author/media personality Paul Gambaccini writes in the included liner notes, “In the early seventies McCartney did not perform Beatles songs in concert, wanting to establish Wings on its own. Now, in 1976, the group is in full flight, and Paul can use some of the songs he wrote in the sixties to spice up the set.” It really was a logical plan of action for someone that had built his name with such a big band. And it helps to make this performance so much more enjoyable.
Staying on the matter of Gambaccini’s writing, this is another positive factor to the whole that is Rockshow. His writing style is less journalism and more storytelling. Set alongside the photos of the band, the pair takes viewers back in time. He doesn’t try to write above himself. And he doesn’t try to write above the heads of those that would buy this new release. It’s easily accessible for general audiences. Because of this, the actual concert experience is that much richer whether one was actually there or not when this performance was originally recorded.
Getting back to the actual concert experience, the band covers more than its own material and that of The Beatles. Audiences will enjoy the inclusion of the Moody Blues classic, ‘Go Now.’ This song about lost love is ironically one of the whole performance’s highlights. It’s a highlight not so much because of the music, but because of the sight of Paul and his then wife Linda performing side by side. There is something so contradictory about this sight set against a song about lost love. Audiences can see just how in love the couple was. Sadly, she would pass many years later. Knowing this, it makes this moment all the more special. It makes the final two pages of the included booklet all the more touching as a closing gesture, too. The booklet’s penultimate page features a concert poster for the original 1976 tour with Paul’s face there. The final page is a picture of Linda exactly as she looked in this recording. She was one of the ones for whom this re-mastered recording was dedicated. While McCartney himself might not have had a hand in this new re-issue, he surely had to have seen this touching gesture. Fans will see it too, and hopefully be just as moved by this and the sight of her performing with her then husband. It’s a touching final moment of what is another enjoyable live release from Eagle Rock Entertainment. The DVD and Blu-ray are both available now in stores and online. They can be ordered online direct from the Eagle Rock Entertainment website at http://www.eagle-rock.com.
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