It's probably high time I included a disclaimer in this series of posts: I am not writing academically about the albums after doing appropriate research, but recording my observations after listening to them. Occasionally I will look something up after the fact, but this is my purpose here.
We're At the Speed of Sound by Wings, or is the title Wings at the Speed of Sound? The album cover is ambiguous there. In some ways this is the first true Wings album, yet in other ways it isn't...but we'll get to that shortly.
While there is undeniably filler on this album, there are also strong songs like "Let 'em In," "She's My Baby," "Beware My Love," "Silly Love Songs," and "Warm and Beautiful," of which I think "She's My Baby" is the weakest and "Silly Love Songs" is tops. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wh15LOppcWQ
Also -- and here's what makes this such a Wings album -- Paul steps away from the lead microphone three times to let his teammates shine. Including Linda! Though never known for her singing voice, like the old days with Ringo, Paul has crafted a fun song that's not too challenging to sing in "Cook of the House." None of these songs are particularly good, but they are all at least okay, and fulfill a promise Paul had made to them when Wild Life was originally going to be a double album with lead vocal by the others on it.
Now, there is no other reason Paul would have needed to do this. Remember, until the Beatles, it was not normal for a band to have more than one lead singer! The Beatles had so much star potential that George Martin wisely agreed to let them perform on their early albums as they did on stage, as a true ensemble, and in the process changed the group dynamics of bands for all time. Paul didn't have to go this route; he is, after all, the undeniable star of the band. But did he feel nostalgic, perhaps, for how the Beatles worked...?
Also, let me bring up "Beware My Love" again -- again, not the best song on the album, but certainly unusual; unusual, for Paul, the syrupy romantic, to sing a song about love being dangerous. It could be a gentler sequel to "Live and Let Die," perhaps, or it could be an intentional effort to write something more like his old partners John or George. In John's case, love literally was dangerous, since he was a violent man, while George often sang of love as an overpowering, uncontrollable force. So, while "at the Speed of Sound" suggests rapid movement, perhaps it is backwards, towards his past with the Beatles...?
I am not surprised that Ringo's Rotogravure didn't do well at the time and is largely unknown today. It is an album without any theme or identity, like a Best of album made up of new and less worthy material. Ringo ranges on it from classic rocker to country (of course) to Mexican Mariachi to experimental (the only way I can think to describe "Spooky Weirdness", which just sounds like someone accidentally left a mic running while everyone was taking a break).
"Hey Baby" is a cover that I think is better than the original, but other than that....Anyone who makes it through the rather dull A side will be rewarded by two minor gems on side B. "I'll Still Love You" -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMB08K93H6g -- is the best song on the album (I see, later, that George wrote this!) and I enjoyed "Cookin' (in the Kitchen of Love)" (though, I suspect I find this unduly amusing because it reminds me of "Bushes of Love", the Bad Lip Reading song; and this was a John-penned song!).
Also worth a listen is this recording of George trying to get "I'll Still Love You" to work on his own - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDmVoVPrtRg
George's Thirty Three and 1/3 was a step back in the right direction after the frivolous Extra Texture. We're still not back to him making great albums, but we're almost there because George is taking the music seriously again. "See Yourself" and "Crackerbox Palace" -- are good songs, and "Dear One," "It's What You Value," and "True Love" are all close to good songs, maybe just one re-write away (Ha, after the fact, I looked this up and found that "True Love" is a cover! Well, I wish he'd done more with it, then). "This Song" is, on first listen, awfully similar to "Northern Song," but the context behind it is the ridiculous court case where George was found guilty of the nonexistent crime of unintentional plagiarism. It seems, whenever George is frustrated by something, you're going to get a bitter song out of it like "Taxman," "Northern Song," or "This Song."
Did I say he was taking his music more seriously? The video for "Crackerbox Palace" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ac34Khe-fc -- seems to put the lie to that, and yet George is just having fun (and inspired by his new Monty Python friends; watch carefully and you'll see Eric Idle cameo in the video, as well as Batman!) -- but I should have said he was putting more effort into the songs again.