113 of 124 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2005
What a laugh suckerfly's lame "review" of this album gave me. To correct some of his many errors:
1) McCartney DIDN'T break up the Beatles, he was the one who kept them together until John finally decided he didn't want to play anymore.
2) Beats me how you can accuse McCartney of showing only one character trait in his musical career. I doubt any other artist has ever put out such a variety of styles. Certainly no artist of his stature ever took more risks with his music.
3) You Gave Me The Answer is 20's pastiche, not 30's.
4) The line in Letting Go "like a lucifer she'll always shine" does NOT refer to Satan or the Morningstar as you state. In Britain, a lucifer was a match (you know, that sparks into flame and burns brightly), this is what that line means.
5) Possibly the reason McCartney says nothing to you is because you approach him with a closed and biased mind.
Now to the album. I have always regarded V&M as the second of McCartney's 70's triumverate of rock/pop masterpieces, begun with Band On The Run and closed with Speed Of Sound. These are the albums that confirmed Paul McCartney's second dose of megastardom, and possibly made Mr Lennon (who must have regretted singing "pretty soon they'll see what you can do" in his vicious 1971 How Do You Sleep) decide early retirement looked good! A new generation, many only vaguely aware he had been in a 60's band, turned his records into chart-topping multi-platinum discs and his stadium concerts huge sellout events.
Venus & Mars is a wonderful selection of great tunes, though not as cohesive and artistic as Band On The Run - showmanship threatens to replace musicianship. For me the weakest track is the slow "Treat Her Gently/Lonely Old People"; sure it's beautiful but somehow spoils the album's "Rock" credentials. In my opinion the album would have been richer had it been left off, perhaps replaced with Juniors Farm, for instance. I do like the song, though, and it would have made a very popular and sought-after B-side.
All the rock songs hit their target: Medicine Jar a fabulous anti-drug song by Wings' own drug addict, Jimmy McCulloch, Magneto & Titanium Man has a wonderful groove and fun lyrics, Rock Show is a statement of intent that Paul was going to reconquer America, Letting Go has sublime vocals and guitar solo, and Call Me Back Again is simply magnificent. The pure pop of Listen To What The Man Said has a jazz flavour and is instantly infectious. Love In Song I always felt was another in the series of Paul to John songs "I can see the places that we used to go to now, happiness in the homeland" bearing in mind that by this time John was firmly ensconced in New York but Paul happily remained in the UK.
Buy this album to hear a rock genius at the top of his game and still enjoying having a band around him!
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
This album by Wings boasts a fine example of Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney and their peers working together to produce a timeless album. More than 30 years after its release this album still attracts attention and sells well. The music on the CD proves why.
The album begins with the dreamy, psychedelic and slow paced "Venus And Mars." The album quickly changes gears, however, as the next song is "Rock Show." This song has a strong rock and roll flavor to it and the musical arrangement is very well done. Other great songs include "Love In Song;" "Magneto And Titanium Man;" "Letting Go;" and the touching ballad "Call Me Back Again."
I especially like the song "Medicine Jar." The rock and roll beat combines with great vocals by Jimmy McCulloch to make this a super powerful song. Many people can relate to this song; it directly addresses the dangers of drug abuse and it remains very timely.
"Listen To What The Man Said" is my favorite song on this CD. I agree with the Amazon reviewer who writes that the song has a jazz feel to it. It's a powerful song with catchy lyrics and a melody that sticks in your mind the first time you hear it.
A big plus to this CD is the addition of three bonus tracks: "Zoo Gang;" "Lunch Box/Odd Sox" and "My Carnival." Paul wrote "Zoo Gang" to be the theme for a TV thriller series; and "Lunch Box/Odd Sox" is an instrumental jam session recorded in New Orleans and released several years later as the B-side of "Coming Up." "My Carnival" has a great beat and creates a strong, upbeat mode to end the CD. Awesome!
The quality of the sound is excellent. The liner notes have the picture of Wings in the northern California desert; and there are creative sketches of Wings as well. You get the complete song lyrics and the song credits are there, too.
Overall, this CD is one of the best Wings ever recorded. I highly recommend this for Paul McCartney fans, fans of 1970s rock and roll and people who want an excellent introduction to Wings. Go grab a copy of this CD and crank it up--you won't be disappointed!
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Paul McCartney always wanted Wings to be more that just his backing band. He wanted them to be a complete band, with himself considered as just another member. Previous releases were credited to Paul McCartney & Wings, but in order to strenghen the group idea, Venus & Mars was the first album to be released as just Wings. It was also the first to have songs sung by other band members. While on subsequent releases this strategy contributed to uneven albums, it works out great on Venus & Mars. Denny Laine contributes the mystical "Spirits Of Ancient Egypt" and Jimmy McCullough plays soothsayer on the excellent "Medicine Jar". The song is about the inability to quit using drugs and McCullough would, himself, fatally overdose just a few years later. Even though Mr. McCartney tried to foster the group atmosphere, he, of course, is the true star of the album. The album opens with the dreamy "Venus & Mars" and seiges right into the roaring "Rock Show". "Listen To What The Man Said" is different from just about anything else in the McCartney catalog as it's very jazzy in nature. It was the album's only number one single. Other standout tracks include the rocking "Letting Go", "Call Me Back Again", the goofy "Magneto & Titanium Man" and "Love In Song". Venus & Mars doesn't get the praise that Band On The Run got, but it is the equal to and in many ways a better and more interesting record. The bonus tracks are all very good, but they don't stand up to the main album.
39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2003
Look, this album is one of McCartney's unsung masterpieces--frivolous perfection from start to finish, pure candy-coated bliss. But the DTS--who did this thing? For starters, the song order has been shuffled, which wouldn't be an issue on other albums but which matters entirely to this album, which was sequenced with the care of Abbey Road and Dark Side of the Moon, the two albums it directly quotes, both visually and musically. Also, the versions of "Letting Go," which appears as track 3 (why?) and "Rock Show" sound like remixes or something. They're not the album versions, that's for sue. FOr all of that, the album's triumph, the linked pair of "Listen to What the Man Said" and "Treat Her Gently," sounds positively magnificent. The latter track particularly benefits from the 5.1 mix: the orchestra plays throughout here, with luscious harps and cellos buried in the original mix. So a precursor to what we can expect when McCartney himself oversees an SACD remix.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2006
It seems, thankfully, the solo McCartney (and Wings) albums are being rediscovered (something I am doing myself) and there's no better place to start than Venus and Mars. One thing you can guarantee about a McCartney solo record is that there is always experimentation taking place, usually in a variety of musical genres (just like he did on Beatles albums), and nowhere else does that description fit better than it does on this album. From rock, blues, music hall, pop and whimsical ballads, all are present on this Wings offering. Granted, some of the aforementioned experimentation on Paul's post-Beatles albums doesn't always work, but on Venus and Mars it does, with solid results. Track for track it is one of the most enjoyable listens in McCartney's catalog. The melodies and arrangements are superior to any of his contemporaries (Lennon included) and the chord variations and changes allow for a rich and varied audio experience.
Recorded amidst a very festive atmosphere in New Orleans, Venus and Mars features some of McCartney's finest (and funnest) 1970s work. The album starts with an incredibly awesome satire of the seventies rock scene on "Venus and Mars/Rockshow" (also a top 20 hit in the United States). References abound in this song to Madison Square Garden, sex, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Jimmy Page, weed and more, and apparently legend holds that Venus was supposed to be Linda and Paul was Mars in the lyrics 'Venus and Mars are alright tonight.' The structure of the song changes so many times that it is indeed a mini-rock opera track. In some places the album has an 'arena rock' feel to it, and perhaps it was created with this in mind as Venus and Mars acted as a springboard to a huge Wings world tour undertaken by the band in 1975 and 1976. The title track subsequently set the stage perfectly as the opening song on the tour. It's followed by one of Paul's best ballads ever, "Love In Song," featuring great lyrics and wonderful harmonies with Linda. (Ex-Wings drummer Geoff Britton plays on this track as well as "Medicine Jar" and "Letting Go." He left early on during the recording of Venus and Mars after conflicting with guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and was replaced by Joe English.)
"Letting Go" is a brooding brass rocker with an excellent McCartney bass line, and seems to reference Paul's then-continuing struggle for Linda's acceptance as a musician, with such lyrics like "Ah, She Sings It So/I Want To Put Her On The Radio/One Day And There You Are/Ladies And Gentleman - A Brand New Star." The musical genre variation continues with the rocking "Magneto and Titanium Man" which is one of those trademark McCartney 'story' songs (based on the comic book characters) given an edge by his trademark throaty vocals and some great harmonies by the band---another great song in a live setting. The bluesy "Call Me Back Again" features yet more New Orleans-like brass and another awesome McCartney gutsy vocal.
Longtime Wings member Denny Laine gets a vocal turn on the McCartney-penned "Spirits of Ancient Egypt," which features the trademark Wings harmonies and some funky guitar licks. The feisty and young Wings guitarist Jimmy McCulloch (ex-Thunderclap Newman), suffering from drug addiction at the time, sings lead on his autobiographical "Medicine Jar," seemingly warning of the dangers of drug and drink. The song is an eerie foreshadowing of his eventual death in 1979 of a heroin overdose.
The musical diversity of the album continues with the music hall shuffle of "You Gave Me the Answer," a throwback to old Beatles tunes like "Honey Pie" and "Your Mother Should Know," the jazzy #1 hit classic "Listen to What the Main Said," and the mellow "Treat Her Gently/Lonely Old People" medley, which seems to be out of place on this mostly jumping, '70s rock affair. The cut is saved by its addictive melody and the fact that it seems so sad today to listen to Paul and Linda singing "here we sit, two lonely old people" with Linda having passed several years back. Perhaps the song benefits in hindsight for sentimental reasons, but it does revisit themes of loneliness that can be found in Paul's songwriting ("Eleanor Rigby," "Hey Jude" and "Let It Be" to name a couple), and is worth a second listen.
As another reviewer on Amazon stated earlier: "Great entertainment from start to finish...but just make sure you FINISH at the album proper (track 13)....any consideration of the "bonus" material would require one to detract a star from the rating." The bonus tracks "Lunch Box/Odd Sox" and "My Carnival" (inspired by Mardi Gras) are two jams featuring guest New Orleans musicians that clearly denote the party atmosphere present at the New Orleans recording sessions for Venus and Mars. "Zoo Gang," recorded in Africa during the Band on the Run sessions, is another experimental instrumental song with an African-tinge, and was the B-side to the "Band on The Run" single. However, enjoyable as these tracks are, they are throwaways in comparison to two other major tracks recorded at early sessions for Venus and Mars (this time in Nashville) and released as a single separate from the album -- "Junior's Farm" (with the awesome McCulloch guitar work) and "Sally G" -- a double-sided hit for Wings in 1974. Their glaring omission is astounding, and would have made this package even stronger with their inclusion at the expense of the other three bonus tracks.
Venus and Mars was created by what turned out to be the finest Wings lineup: Paul, Linda, Denny, Jimmy and Joe. The musicianship is top notch, the arrangements and chord progressions ever changing, and the trademark Wings vocal harmonies are brighter than ever. Following Band on the Run as it did, Venus and Mars is a classic McCartney solo record and certainly one of the most diverse listens of the 1970s. With the world's chief melodist and tunesmith at the helm, backed by an eager (if somewhat star-struck) band, all inspired by the challenge of proving themselves as a vital entity separate from The Beatles, and the resulting tension such conditions produce, helped create one of the finest Wings albums and McCartney solo works.
Highly recommended. Also recommended is the double live album Wings Over America, which features many Venus and Mars songs, some thought to be even better in a live setting.
Originally released in 1975, and Wings' third straight number #1 album.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2003
I won't address the songs themselves, but this DTS version is a novelty item at best. The instruments come through as half bright and half muddy and the DTS recording engineer, no doubt named Todd or Dave, seemed to think it was funny to move the voices around from speaker to speaker to speaker in classic "Hey, watch this; this is cool" mode. Bad call, Ripley. I just hope the remastered CD sounds better than this. I would not buy it again.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2006
One of the first albums I bought from my paper route money as a child back in the seventies. The songs included are like a Greatest Hits for the average band. Apart from being well arranged, Venus And Mars, Rock Show, Spirits Of Ancient Egypt, Medicine Jar and Listen To What The Man Said all give any listener the opportunity to undergo a broad spectrum of music. As a matter of fact, this CD probably outdoes any other post Beatles band member effort (great respect given to Lennon's Imagine genius). If you would like to experience McCartney while still in his song creative heyday, this without doubt is the CD to get.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2004
OK. Let's be frank. It is obvious that many reviewers are so caught up in Paul bashing that they don't even listen objectively any more. I am as big a Beatles fan as the next guy, but I don't believe that everything post January 1970 is dreck. I also think that of the four, Paul has tried hardest to keep up with his craft. Doesn't mean he is infallible, but nobody's perfect...
That said, here's the scoop on this record, from my perspective.
V&M is an essential Macca recording. After you have Ram, McCartney and Band on the Run this is the next logical purchase. Tastes differ, but "Listen to What the Man Said" is a great piece of songwriting and a nice recording. The title track medley is solid Beatles-quality stuff, as are "Letting Go" and "Call Me Back Again". Perhaps a song about comic book heroes offends you, but I like "Magneto and Titanium Man" - it has a great rock vibe. Where else, (except on a Beatles record) are you gonna hear a mix of styles and songwriting like the selections here? These are songs you will hum after the record finishes. It is pure pop. Breathe it in and enjoy it for what it is. If you want angst, get a Clash record or listen to your copy of Radiohead's "OK, Computer" (you do have it, don't you?) When you are in the mood for pop, spin a McCartney classic and listen to the songwriting and production detail that made (and still make) this man one of the masters of our time.
Hey, if you buy records to be cool, don't even bother with any of this stuff. Go get a copy of Rolling Stone magazine and build your collection. If, however, you are a fan of pop and like Beatles and other melody based music, give this record a critcal listen. I'll bet you will find some magical moments and you may find yourself pulling this off the shelf more often than you imagine.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2012
I don't remember why I bought this album back in the day. By 1975 I was a 12-year-old hard rocker, and Paul just wasn't pronounced cool by the frisbee-spinning music cognocenti. It was all Aerosmith, Zep, Nazareth, Floyd and the like for me. Still, I found myself listening to this album from beginning to end over and over again, like it was Dark Side of the Moon or something. Paul has always known how to write a hook, and this album is STUFFED with hooks, and the transitions between tunes are excellent. I think this is probably his most complete solo effort, perhaps even more worth the download for the tunes you don't know than the ones you do.
I no longer hide my deep appreciation for Sir Paul's work. Sure, when he is bad (not often), he is positively treacly. But you'll find none of that on Venus and Mars. Good pop, surprising edges (Rock Show, Letting Go), excellent arrangements and musicianship, and a great little ride from beginning to end.
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
This sounds like an amateur (maybe Paul) mixed it in his basement. A very very sorry DTS recording! Shame on DTS for letting this one out! First he's behind, then for no reason in front, to the sides, awful! Just AWFUL!! Who do they think they are kidding? If you don't believe me, or want just about the worst surround disc ever made, put this high on your list. It's just AWFUL!!
I love McCartney, and this is one fine album, but get the stereo version, this compressed and uneven disc is DOA!!