Venus and Mars is the fourth studio album by the British–American rock band Wings. Released in May 1975 as the follow-up to Band on the Run, Venus and Mars continued Wings' run of commercial success and provided a springboard for a year-long worldwide tour. The album was Paul McCartney's first post-Beatles album to be released worldwide by Capitol Records rather than Apple.
After recording Band on the Run as a three-piece with wife Linda McCartney and guitarist Denny Laine, McCartney recruited guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and drummer Geoff Britton to the band in 1974. Recording sessions for the album took place in London, New Orleans and Los Angeles in November 1974 and early 1975. During the sessions, personal tensions caused Britton to quit after six months, forcing the band to recruit American drummer Joe English to finish the album.
Preceded by the single "Listen to What the Man Said", Venus and Mars peaked at number 1 in the US, the UK and other countries around the world. It also received mostly favourable reviews from music critics but was ultimately considered inferior to its predecessor. The album was reissued with bonus tracks in 1987 on CD and in 1993 as part of The Paul McCartney Collection. It was remastered in 2014 and released as a deluxe edition with bonus tracks and unreleased material.
After recording Band on the Run (1973) as a three-piece with wife Linda and guitarist Denny Laine, McCartney added Jimmy McCulloch on lead guitar and Geoff Britton on drums to the Wings line-up in 1974. Having written several new songs for the next album, McCartney decided on New Orleans, Louisiana, as the recording venue, and Wings headed there in January 1975. Before the departure to New Orleans, Wings had recorded three songs at Abbey Road Studios in London in November 1974: "Letting Go", "Love In Song" and "Medicine Jar", all overdubbed later at Sea Saint Studios between January and February.
As soon as the sessions began, the personality clash that had been evident between McCulloch and Britton during Wings' 1974 sessions in Nashville became more pronounced, and Britton – after a six-month tenure – quit Wings, having played on only three of the new songs. A replacement, American Joe English, was quickly auditioned and hired to finish the album.
The sessions proved to be productive, not only resulting in a finished album, but also several additional songs, including two future McCartney B-sides, "Lunch Box/Odd Sox" and "My Carnival". McCartney also decided to link the album's songs together much like the Beatles had on Abbey Road to give Venus and Mars a more continuous feel.
John Lennon, often in a nostalgic mood during his "Lost Weekend" period, had told May Pang (his then girlfriend) that they would visit the McCartneys during the recording sessions for Venus and Mars, and considered writing with him again. Lennon's planned visit never happened due to his reunion with Yoko Ono.
Wings' interpretation of the theme to Crossroads, a British soap opera, was sometimes used to end the television programme in place of the regular theme tune, usually when there was a cliffhanger ending with a hint of sadness involved.
Preceded by the single "Listen to What the Man Said" in May 1975, Venus and Mars appeared two weeks later to generally favourable reviews and brisk sales. The album reached number 1 in the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries around the world (as did "Listen to What the Man Said" in the US) and sold 4 million copies worldwide. The reaction, though mainly positive, was less than what had greeted Band on the Run a year earlier.
The album cover, which Paul summed up as "a package that would be nice to get, and also something recognizable" was photographed by Linda, depicting two billiard balls in a black background, which are yellow and red to fit the colours of the planets Venus and Mars. Interior photographs of Wings were shot in the Mojave desert to capture a group photograph in an outerworldly location. Hipgnosis did the art design, incorporating billiard balls and cues in the lettering and illustrations by George Hardie.
Two additional singles, "Letting Go" and "Venus and Mars/Rock Show", were released. Although the latter almost reached the US top ten, it did not chart at all in the UK.
In September, Wings began what would be their year-long Wings Over the World tour in the UK, with concerts in Australia, Europe, the US and Canada to follow. Songs from Venus and Mars featured heavily in the concert setlist.
The album was first issued on compact disc by Columbia Records in 1984, although early pressings were pressed in Japan by CSR Compact Disc, which was etched in the inner ring. In 1993, Venus and Mars was remastered and reissued on CD as part of "The Paul McCartney Collection" series with "Zoo Gang" (a UK television theme that was the UK B-side of "Band on the Run" in 1974), "Lunch Box/Odd Sox" (B-side of "Coming Up" in 1980) and "My Carnival" ("Spies Like Us"' B-side in 1985) as bonus tracks. In 2007, the album was reissued in digital form on iTunes with the same bonus tracks, plus the extended "party mix" of "My Carnival"; however, this version has since been replaced by the 2014 reissue.
In 2014 the album was re-issued by Hear Music/Concord Music Group as part of the fifth set of releases, alongside Wings at the Speed of Sound, in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection. It was released in multiple formats. The reissue was accompanied by the Record Store Day exclusive edition of the "Letting Go" single.
The album was also originally released in 4-channel quadraphonic. In 1996 the quadraphonic version of the album was issued on compact disc in the DTS 5.1 Music Disc format.
All songs written by Paul and Linda McCartney (listed as "McCartney"), except "Medicine Jar" written by Jimmy McCulloch and Colin Allen, and "Crossroads Theme" written by Tony Hatch.
Disc 1 The original 13-track album.
Disc 2 – bonus tracks
All songs written by Paul and Linda McCartney except "Walking in the Park with Eloise" written by Jim McCartney and "Baby Face" written by Harry Akst and Benny Davis.
Note: "Walking in the Park with Eloise" and "Bridge on the River Suite" are credited to the Country Hams.
Disc 3 – DVD
Additional download tracks available via paulmccartney.com
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