The Beatles formal break up came in 1970. Paul McCartney wasted little time getting into the studio with his new band Wings, releasing their first album, “Wild Life,” barely a year later in 1971. Wings would release eight more albums during the 1970’s—six studio albums, the “Wings Greatest” compilation, and the live “Wings Over America” album—scoring five straight number one hits in the United States. In 1976, at the height of their popularity, Paul and the band—featuring Linda McCartney (keyboards), Denny Laine (guitar), Jimmy McCulloch (guitar) and Joe English (drums)—set off on a world tour that traveled to ten countries and played for more than 2 million fans. A huge success, Paul McCartney had shows in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle filmed, intending to put out a concert movie.

Titled Rockshow, after the song of the same name, the film didn’t premiere until 1980. By then, Wings had a very different lineup—Jimmy McCulloch, the talented lead guitarist, had left the band in 1977, and died of a heroin overdose at just 26 in 1979—and after Paul was arrested for marijuana possession in Japan, and his later reluctance to tour after John Lennon’s murder, Wings disbanded.

Wings-over-AmericaRestored and remastered, Rockshow is Paul McCartney, 34 at the time, at the height of his showmanship. Perhaps more importantly, for anyone who believed Wings were little more than backing musicians for Paul, there are as many non-McCartney sung tunes as there are Beatles numbers. Denny Laine is particularly notable; delivering an engaged and fun take on the Moody Blues hit “Go Now.”   Jimmy McCulloch’s guitar work is top-notch throughout, and he really shines leading the band in a raucous version of “Medicine Jar.”

As for McCartney’s late wife Linda, she provides some decidedly modest support with simple keyboard parts and harmonies. Her participation certainly didn’t deserve all the ire it received. Of the thirty songs on this set, a mere five are Beatles tunes. Unlike today, Paul McCartney wasn’t interested in taking his fans on a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Rockshow is a truly diverse offering. From the all out rock ‘n roll of “Live and Let Die” to the sexy soulfulness of “Beware My Love,” McCartney isn’t afraid to swing from genre to genre, and he seems to be able to do it effortlessly.

Rockshow’s set list is as follows:

  • 01. Venus and Mars
  • 02. Rock Show”
  • 03. Jet
  • 04. Let Me Roll It
  • 05. Spirits of Ancient Egypt
  • 06. Medicine Jar
  • 07. Maybe I’m Amazed
  • 08. Call Me Back Again
  • 09. Lady Madonna”
  • 10. The Long and Winding Road
  • 11. Live and Let Die
  • 12. Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me)
  • 13. Richard Cory
  • 14. Bluebird
  • 15. I’ve Just Seen a Face
  • 16. Blackbird
  • 17. Yesterday
  • 18. You Gave Me the Answer
  • 19. Magneto and Titanium Man
  • 20. Go Now
  • 21. My Love
  • 22. Listen to What the Man Said
  • 23. Let ‘Em In
  • 24. Time to Hide
  • 25. Silly Love Songs
  • 26. Beware My Love
  • 27. Letting Go
  • 28. Band on the Run
  • 29. Hi, Hi, Hi
  • 30. Soily

Framed at 1.78:1, Eagle Rock’s 1080p transfer is unsurprisingly inconsistent cinematography. Since this material was filmed in three different venues in the mid-‘70s, this is really what you’d expect. Restored to its complete length for the first time (even the theatrical release was cut), Rockshow does have some moments that look a bit washed out, but nothing that distracted from the overall viewing experience.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix is surprisingly strong, and helps to outweigh any visual shortcomings. The bottom end displays significant oomph, allowing McCartney’s bass and English’s drums to provide a real boost. The lead vocals are clear and crisp throughout, while backing vocals are given just the right amount of resonance. Reportedly, elements of the soundtrack were re-recorded in the studio. It’s impossible to say what is live, and what is tape, but the post-production efforts certainly made things sound great.

An LPCM 2.0 stereo track is also included, though there are no subtitles.

The following special features are available:

Eagle Rock has encased the Blu-ray in a nice DigiBook filled with archival photographs as well as an interesting essay by BBC host Paul Gambaccini.

  • A Very Lovely Party (HD, 10:06) We get a glimpse backstage, including a visit from Ringo Starr. All of this is accompanied by Wings songs. Things end with some comments by fans who’ve just seen Wings in concert.