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Paul McCartney and Wings - 'Rockshow'

New life for a classic concert video

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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Paul McCartney and Wings - Rockshow
Eagle Rock Entertainment
A bit of history is in order to begin our look at Rockshow, the video version of the only live release in Paul McCartney and Wings' back catalog.

During 1975 and 1976, Wings went on a world tour, following the success of their 1975 album, Venus and Mars. A triple-LP album, Wings Over America was recorded at various venues during the US leg of the tour, in 1976.

Film was shot at the same time, but a video version would be years away. In 1980, Rockshow was released in theaters, and the on home video in 1981. From then (when it was released on the long-defunct Betamax home video format) until now, Rockshow has been, in the parlance of book publishing, out of print.

History x 2

Rockshow has historical significance in two ways. It marks the first release of the original video in 30 years, and several songs that were omitted from the original version have been added to the new release, making this the first time a performance of the entire set list from the tour has been released on video.

The live album made a bit of history of its own. Wings Over America was the first triple album by any artist to go to #1. The album has been remastered and was reissued to coincide with the release of Rockshow.

How it plays

After The Beatles disbanded, McCartney wanted to establish his own musical identity, but he also wanted to be part of another band. Wings allowed him to do both. He was comfortable enough that he had become known for something other than an "ex-Beatle" that the 1976 tour set list included five Lennon-McCartney songs: "Lady Madonna," "Blackbird," "Yesterday," "The Long and Winding Road" and "I've Just Seen a Face." These are the only Wings performances of Lennon-McCartney songs ever released.

At the time the film was produced, MTV and VH1 were just concepts that hadn't yet been turned into cable networks. Rockshow holds up well, considering there were no standards to follow. Of course, the state of the art in 1976 wasn't nearly what it is today, but the restoration and remastering have gone a long way in making look and sound much more up to date in the 21st century than it could have back then.

The personnel roster (which changed several times in the guitar and drums positions) for this tour:

Paul McCartney (vocals, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, piano)
Linda McCartney (vocals, keyboards)
Denny Laine (vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, piano)
Jimmy McCulloch (vocals, electric guitar, bass guitar, acoustic guitar)
Joe English (drums, vocals)

The buying decision

Paul McCartney and WingsWings photo by Evening Standard / Getty Images
I have heard Wings Over America many times, but prior to the DVD/Blu-ray release of Rockshow I had not seen the performance film either in a theater or on home video. If you've never seen it either, that alone is a good reason to get it. If you're a McCartney (or Beatles) completist, and even if you still own a Betamax copy of the original and a player you can watch it on, you should have the new version for the simple reason that it has the full set list, which the original doesn't, not to mention the effects of the restoration and remastering.

Pretty much the only flaw I could see was that there wasn't very much in the way of audience footage. Some shots were repeated, and you could never really tell if the audience was reacting to what you're hearing at that moment, or if it's just random shots. This isn't a fatal flaw, by any means, but the involvement of the audience is a key element of any live performance, and plays an important role in making a concert film recreate the experience as much as possible.

In short, Rockshow show is good entertainment, good history, and a good use of your discretionary entertainment dollars.

Release date June 11, 2013 - available on DVD and Blu-ray
Disclosure: A review copy of the DVD was provided by Kayos Productions on behalf of Eagle Rock Entertainment. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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