Paul McCartney & Wings
Last Flight The Complete 1979 Glasgow Concert (Vigotone 164/165)
Had Last Flight been issued officially (as intended), it would surely have been just another unnecessary live album by a major artist struggling for relevance in the late-70s. Recorded on Paul McCartney's final tour with Wings, its appearance following two exceedingly patchy studio records (London Town and Back to the Egg), would inevitably have sealed Wings' fate as a misguided, substandard alternative to McCartney's other band (what were they called? Oh yes, The Beatles).
As an unissued recording, though, this album kicks ass, neatly representing a middle ground between the high-flyin' Wings Over America (on which Wings couldn't have been more credible as a band unto themselves) and the latter-day laurel-resting of Tripping the Live Fantastic (Paul's last great live record). The coolest thing about Vigotone's Last Flight, aside from the stellar sound quality, is that the setlist contains so many songs Uncle Paul would never include in a setlist nowadays. "Old Siam Sir," "Getting Closer," "No Words," "Hot as Sun," "Again and Again and Again," "I've Had Enough," "Arrow Through Me," "Spin it On" do you think he even remembers these songs?
And yet, they're totally nice inclusions in a Wings-era set; and it doesn't hurt that they're accompanied by the likes of "Got to Get You Into My Life" (which opens the show), "Every Night," Linda's "Cook of the House" (which I've always been a sucker for), "Mull of Kintyre," Denny Laine's "Go Now" (reprised from the Wings Over America set), a great "Fool on the Hill," and a surprisingly wonderful "Let it Be" (mid-show, as opposed to held off for an empty encore).
The integration of Wings and Beatles material is perfect, and while the show relies heavily on your tolerance for late-period Wings, I for one find it marvelously refreshing. A couple of old-timey songs as joke intros ("When the Red, Red Robin Goes Bob-Bob-Bobbin' Along" and "Tiptoe Through the Tulips") reveal the trick employed on Trippin' the Live Fantastic with "If I Were Not Upon the Stage" (more than a decade previous!). The biggest highlights include "Coming Up" (this recording was the hit single version) and a charming "Wonderful Christmastime" (which Paul doesn't do frequently enough by half).
For a live album, you wouldn't dare ask for more; Wings proves once again a completely valid band on their own merits. The Glasgow '79 show is supplemented on Vigotone's 2-disc release by Paul's "Concert for the People of Kampuchea" performance, which is more of the same, but very nice to have included here. "Every Night," "Lucille," and the "Rockestra Theme" from this show are McCartney live classics, no matter how cynical you've become to Mssr. McCartney and his weekly press-releases regarding how cool he is.
Review by La Fée