June 04, 2001 12:00 PM

Paul McCartney (Capitol)

Album of the week

John Adams, Grease 2, Wings: Put them all in history’s file marked Had a Tough Act to Follow. But just as Grease 2 gave us Michelle Pfeiffer, Wings brought us the purest pop of pop’s purest decade, that brief period after music stopped selling revolution and before it began selling navel rings. And Wings was huge: In the ’70s McCartney’s various bands on the make had more No. 1 singles—six—than the Eagles, the Stones or the three other ex-Beatles combined. Much of the sharpshooting by Wings haters was directed against McCartney’s bandmate and missus, but if Linda was a poor musician there is no evidence of it in the band’s studio work.

This two-disc compilation—one for hits, one mostly for songs that McCartney believes were unjustly ignored—revisits many tracks that hold up well against his very finest Beatles compositions: the pocket operas “Band on the Run” and “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey,” the full-on rocker “Junior’s Farm” and the graceful “Maybe I’m Amazed.” There are also such lesser-known classics as “Junk,” a love song doomed to history’s dustbin by its title, not its gorgeous melody, which was memorably used in the date scene in Jerry Maguire. “Every Night” is another heartfelt, simple (and non-silly) love song. Make fun of McCartney’s lyrics all you want, but is “All You Need Is Love” so profound?

Bottom Line: That ’70s band rocks

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