In 1975, as Paul McCartney & Wings' new album Venus and Mars was being released, there was broad anticipation by fans that it would match or even exceed the previous Wings album, 1973's awesome Band On The Run. But the stars were not destined to align that way—history now shows clearly that Band On The Run was the pinnacle of McCartney's post-Beatles, album-oriented efforts. That said, Venus and Mars is a still very good effort in its own right.
The album opens with the title track "Venus and Mars," a minor-key space groove, lilting and haunted. The floating psychedelic clouds don't last long, though—next up is "Rock Show," a arena-rock hit so perfect for an encore that one wonders if McCartney penned it with just that in mind. The old-timey "You Gave Me the Answer" is a tip of the hat to all you fans of Beatles ditties like "Martha My Dear" and "Your Mother Should Know."
"Magneto And Titanium Man," probably the catchiest number on Venus and Mars, is filled with fun references to comic-book lore. As we said, the opening version of "Venus and Mars" is excellent, but it's too short. Apparently McCartney thought so too—it's reprised with a slightly longer, equally excellent version 5 songs later.
On the bluesy "Medicine Jar," Jimmy McCulloch does a rare thing—he sings lead on a song that appears on a Paul McCartney album. And he does it very well! The super-huge radio hit from the album is "Listen To What The Man Said," a foot-tapping bit of likeable fluff.
The remaining songs will be more or less memorable to you, depending on how they grow on you in time, but the inclusion of this handful of mid-tier efforts means that Venus and Mars, in the end, fails to match the consistency of Band On The Run. Still, Venus and Mars shines brightly in the Rock-Us Major constellation and remains one of the must-have albums from McCartney's catalog. This CD reissue includes three bonus tracks—respectable material that fits perfectly with the tone of the original Venus and Mars tracks. So blast off already and enjoy!