Music Review: Paul Mccartney And Wings' Oft Bootlegged 1974 'ONe Hand Clapping' Deserves Applause

This cover image released by MPL/Capitol/UMe shows "One Hand Clapping" by Paul McCartney & Wings. (MPL/Capitol/UMe via AP)
This cover image released by MPL/Capitol/UMe shows "One Hand Clapping" by Paul McCartney & Wings. (MPL/Capitol/UMe via AP)
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The sound of Paul McCartney and Wings' “One Hand Clapping” used to only be heard on bootlegs, or in snippets available on archival releases over the years.

But it's new (mostly) complete official release deserves two-handed applause.

As aging rockers empty their vaults, McCartney steps forward with “One Hand Clapping,” more than two dozen songs that were recorded 50 years ago for a video documentary and possibly a live album.

The record finds McCartney and the 1974 iteration of his band Wings in peak form as they set up shop in the familiar confines of Abbey Road Studios in London. The recordings were made while “Band on the Run” was enjoying a seven-week run at the top of the British album charts.

Maybe it's because he's in the Beatles' old studio, or maybe it's because “Band on the Run” was riding so high, but McCartney delivers spirited performances on “One Hand Clapping.” He (briefly) revisits beloved Beatles songs like “Let it Be” and reaches even further back to Buddy Holly tracks from the 1950s. But he and Wings put the most energy behind the newest material like “Jet” and “Junior's Farm.”

“One Hand Clapping” serves as a fine snapshot of McCartney during this post-Beatles creative high, with a fair number of rarities. Sixteen of the 32 tracks have never been officially released before.

The only real miss with this project was the stupefying decision not to include the video, even if only as part of a higher-priced expanded edition. The video's only official release came in 2010 as part of a “Band on the Run” box set. Including it here would have made sense and given an even truer picture of the entire “One Hand Clapping” project.

That aside, the audio of “One Hand Clapping” succeeds by bringing all the songs together in one place for the first time. And that's a major win for McCartney fans who never got the bootlegs or who haven't shelled out big bucks over the years to pick up the songs that were included in dribs and drabs on other re-releases. ___

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