After nearly 50 years, Paul McCartney has released the Wings live studio album, One Hand Clapping. Not only does it sound great, it captures a pivotal moment for McCartney and the band alike.

The album was recorded in 1974 in the first half of Wings' run. At this point, the band hasn't reached their full potential. Sure, they released Band on the Run, but songs like “Listen to What the Man Said” and “Silly Love Songs” were on the horizon.

In turn, One Hand Clapping shows Wings before their full potential. McCartney, fresh off the Beatles' breakup, was still facing an identity crisis. He didn't lean heavily into that part of his back catalog very much and it shows on this album.

That makes One Hand Clapping essential listening for fans of McCartney. It's almost like hearing a jam session between the band.

Paul McCartney and Wings' One Hand Clapping review

Paul McCartney performing with Wings on May 27, 1976.
Ed Reinke-USA TODAY Network.

One Hand Clapping opens with the title track, an instrumental jam. It's heavy on guitar and synthesizers like the second section of “Band on the Run.” Most of the album features an overwhelming amount of synthesizers, take that as you will.

Wings then jump into an energized version of “Jet.” The band is still figuring out the arrangements of these songs, which were relatively new at this time. For example, “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five” is quite bare in its arrangement, largely being McCartney and his piano for half of the song.

All of the songs are performed well and with plenty of energy. McCartney's voice is in top form at this point and “Jet” makes that clear.

Deep cut “Soily” is followed up with a fun medley of “C Moon” and a cover of “Little Woman Love.” These make way for “Maybe I'm Amazed,” preceded by a lovely keyboard intro.

Even pros like Paul McCartney slip up. “Maybe I'm Amazed” sounds very unpolished which adds to its charm on One Hand Clapping. McCartney goes into a third chorus too early and the backing vocals are very low. That said, his voice is great on the track.

Other deep cuts and covers

For some reason, Wings didn't play “Junior's Farm” and “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five” a lot. Both sound great on One Hand Clapping, making you question why these weren't setlist staples.

“Junior's Farm” especially stands out. McCartney sounds great as does the entire Wings band. The song has undeniable energy and should have been in the band's 1975-76 tour setlist.

McCartney and Wings perform a few covers in the album as well. “Blue Moon of Kentucky” stands out.

Avoiding the Beatles-sized element in the room

It wasn't until McCartney's 1989 solo tour that he became comfortable playing Beatles songs during concerts. If you see McCartney in concert these days, a hefty amount of the setlist consists of Fab Four songs.

But at this time, the wounds were still fresh. McCartney and Wings largely avoided the Beatles songs on their tours.

There are a few songs on One Hand Clapping. “Let It Be,” “The Long and Winding Road,” and “Lady Madonna.” All three songs would be heard in the band's live sets in future tours. At this point, though, they are not a priority.

“Let It Be” is only played for a minute, and the iconic piano riff sounds like it is being played on an accordion. “The Long and Winding Road” is given the same amount of time as the previous Beatles song and is quickly interrupted with a quick cover of “Lady Madonna.”

Should you listen to One Hand Clapping?

Wings Over America was released in 1976 and remains the band's definitive live album.

However, One Hand Clapping does feature some deep cuts and has a rehearsal-like vibe that adds to its allure. It makes it essential listening for fans of Paul McCartney and Wings.

The band didn't know that their best was yet to come. On Wings Over America, the band took the best from One Hand Clapping and incorporated their new material from Venus and Mars.