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Paul McCartney & Wings - One Hand Clapping

That One Hand Clapping is “one of the most coveted bootlegs ever”, as stated in the press release for the release of this album by Paul McCartney & Wings, I can confirm firsthand: a primitive version of this audio, a picture disc with the enigmatic title “Why should I complain pictures?” it was in fact the first bootleg I managed to get my hands on, in the spring of 1986. I knew little about the contents: for decades it was thought that the recordings were the result of McCartney's working holiday in Nashville in June-July 1974.

In reality, One Hand Clapping identifies a series of sessions held at Abbey Road over four days in August 1974 by Wings (whose quintet had recently reconstituted with the additions of Jimmy McCulloch on guitar and Geoff Britton on drums), in view of a TV documentary that would serve as a presentation for the band: a series of interviews with the group members, Paul in the lead, accompanied the music. However, apparently at the time no broadcaster was interested in the rights to the documentary, which remained unreleased until 2010, when it was released on DVD as part of the Deluxe Edition of Band on the Run. Even part of the audio contained in this new double CD/LP, remixed for the occasion, had already been published: in any case, of the 26 tracks present, 11 are unreleased. A joy for all of us.


Even without the visual part, this “live in the studio” (also intended by Paul to test the band in view of a world tour, which however would only materialize starting from September 1975) works excellently, because it shows a band already well blended and McCartney at his peak.

Opened by the vaguely psychedelic instrumental that serves as the title track, the album can be divided into three parts. The one that sees the whole band involved, offering a very compact and rocking sound, especially in songs like "Jet", "Junior's farm", "Hi Hi Hi" and "Band on the run" and with Macca at the top of his vocal form, as demonstrated by “Maybe I'm Amazed”, “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five” and “Live and Let Die”.

The second part is the famous “cabaret sequence”, where Paul sits at the piano and performs various songs: here, for some reason, only “Let's Love” (which McCartney gave to Peggy Lee), “All of You” and “I'll Give You a Ring”, while “Suicide” (the song that Paul offered to Frank Sinatra in 1977, receiving an indignant refusal) and “Sitting at the Piano” have disappeared.


The third part, the most attractive for fans, is the one that offers unreleased songs. Five of these still feature McCartney alone, accompanying himself on the organ, piano or acoustic guitar: it's like attending a small private concert, where Paul hints at the songs, without necessarily performing them in full. The presence of “Let it be” and “The Long and Winding Road” / “Lady Madonna” is interesting at a time when Paul had not yet performed Beatles songs live. Also, tasty and welcome are the three pieces of the solo repertoire, "Power Cut", "Sally G" (in a complete “unplugged” version, on of the highlight of the record) and above all "Tomorrow", a great forgotten classic, here performed in a "slow, very slow" version like Linda's father suggested to Paul. The bouncy “Love My Baby”, released only in download format in 2014, finds its first release on disc here.

Too bad instead that the songs taken from the mini-film that should have accompanied One Hand Clapping, the famous The Backyard, the acoustic performance by McCartney in the backyard of the Abbey Road studios on 30 August 1974 in which Paul plays some classics of the fifties (Buddy Holly, Elvis, Eddie Cochran), as well as some of his songs, have remained confined to a special vinyl edition with an additional 7".

Including it in the standard edition would have done better justice to one of the brightest moments of Paul McCartney's career, for its freshness, spontaneity and brilliance of execution.

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