Venus And Mars

The basic tracks for Venus And Mars were mostly recorded with Joe English, and sessions moved to Wally Heider Studios in Los Angeles, where overdubs including backing vocals, strings and saxophone were recorded and the album was mixed.

A party was held on 24 March once the album was complete. It took place on board the Queen Mary ocean liner in Long Beach, California. The 200 guests included George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Marvin Gaye, The Faces, Phil Everly, The Jackson Five, Dean Martin, Tony Curtis, Cher, Derek Taylor and Mal Evans. The event was the first time Paul McCartney and Harrison had been seen in public since The Beatles' break-up.

The party saw musical performances from Lee Dorsey, Ernie K-Doe, Professor Longhair, The Meters and Chocolate Milk. Professor Longhair's set was later released as the album Live On The Queen Mary, which was co-produced by McCartney and released on his MPL label.

While in Los Angeles, on 1 March the McCartneys attended the Grammy Awards ceremony where they received two awards for Band On The Run: Best Pop Vocal Performance By a Duo, Group or Chorus, and Best Produced Non-Classical Recording. John Lennon also presented one of the awards: Records of the Year - Artist and Producer.

Two days later, Paul and Linda were returning with their children back to their rented house in Malibu when they were stopped by a highway patrol officer. The policeman claimed he smelt marijuana in the car, and later said he found a lit joint on the floor and a quantity of the drug.

Mr McCartney and his wife Linda and their three children were driving along Santa Monica Boulevard when the car went through a traffic light soon after midnight. While a patrolman was writing a traffic ticket, he said he smelt the odour of marijuana in the car and ordered the McCartneys out. He found a plastic bag containing a quantity of marijuana which Mrs McCartney had allegedly carried in her purse.
California Highway Patrol statement

The McCartneys were arrested, and Linda - an American citizen - claimed the marijuana belonged to her. She was found guilty of possession and ordered to attend six sessions with a psychiatrist, charges which were later dismissed.

With the sessions for Venus And Mars complete, Wings returned to Britain where they spent four months rehearsing for the 13-month Wings Over The World tour which took in 10 countries. They gave a live performance to showcase the new material at Studio 5 in Elstree, London on 6 September 1975, three days before the tour began in Southampton.

Several of the UK concerts, including dates at Newcastle, Liverpool and Glasgow, were filmed, although the footage was never used at the time. More footage was filmed during Wings' subsequent US dates, which was shown in public.

Cover artwork

The success of Band On The Run encouraged McCartney to dispense with the "Paul McCartney and" prefix for the group, and Venus And Mars was released simply as a Wings album.

It was issued in a gatefold sleeve, designed by Hipgnosis and George Hardie, which was voted Album Cover of the Year by music industry magazine Music Week. Linda McCartney took the front cover photograph of two snooker balls, while the inner gatefold had an image of the North Carolina desert taken by Aubrey Powell.

The rear cover featured the lyrics to the songs. Venus And Mars also had a printed inner sleeve and was accompanied by two posters and two stickers.

The Beatles' contract with EMI had ended by 1975, leaving each of the four members free to sign with whom they pleased. McCartney remained with the label in the UK, and re-signed with Capitol in the US. This spelt the end of his solo contract with Apple. Venus And Mars was also his first release to feature the MPL logo.

The release

The single Listen To What The Man Said was released in May 1975, two weeks prior to Venus And Mars. The b-side was Love In Song, another album track. It reached number one in the United States, and number six in the United Kingdom.

Venus And Mars was issued in the US on 27 May 1975 with a 1950s-style Capitol label on the vinyl disc, a design used solely for McCartney's releases. It topped the Billboard Top 200 for one week, and spent a total of 77 weeks on the charts.

In the UK it was released on 30 May 1975. It spent one week at number one from 28 June, was displaced by The Carpenters' Horizon for two weeks, before returning to the top for a second week. Venus And Mars was on the charts for a total of 29 weeks, and was certified platinum on 1 August 1975.

Two more singles were released from the album. Letting Go/You Gave Me The Answer came out in September 1975, but barely charted. Venus And Mars followed, but failed to chart in the UK; in the US it peaked at number 12.

15 responses on “Venus And Mars

      1. Joe Post author

        They weren’t UK singles though. Here are the UK releases (and chart placings) up to Venus And Mars:
        Another Day (2)
        Back Seat Of My Car (39)
        Give Ireland Back To The Irish (16)
        Mary Had A Little Lamb (9)
        Hi, Hi, Hi (5)
        My Love (9)
        Live And Let Die (9)
        Helen Wheels (12)
        Jet (7)
        Band On The Run (3)
        Junior’s Farm (16)
        Listen To What The Man Said (6)
        Letting Go (41)
        Venus And Mars (failed to chart)

        You could argue that Letting Go was the first to not chart, as generally only the top 40 counted in those days. Walking In The Park With Eloise (by The Country Hams, October 1974) also failed to chart, but it’s not normally considered a proper McCartney single (he played bass on it and his dad Jim wrote it).

  1. paulsbass

    A guy called Afro is playing Congas on the album.
    I also think that the “Venus and Mars” acoustic guitar sounds VERY much like Paul, so it might be fair to assume he joined in on the recording.

      1. paulsbass

        According to a German book called “Listen to what the man said” (1991) by Judtih Philipp/Rolf Aimon he plays on “Rockshow”.

        It’s a nice book, with commentaries to almost every Macca solo song.
        Unfortunately it’s not always correct, and they don’t make excact quotes.
        They DO list their sources at the end, but they don’t name the source at the quote.

        They also have a day by day history of Paul, with interviews, concerts and everything, from 1970 to 1990.

        They don’t say anything about Macca’s guitar playing (compare to Mull of Kintyre) , but the hard “attack” on the strumming at the beginning is very much Paul’s style, and it would be natural for him to play on the title track.

        1. GK

          I was lucky enough to see the 1975 World Tour rehearsals at Elstree Studios . This album was out that summer and although they played quite a few career spanning tracks, including some Beatles tracks , “Venus and Mars ” was the BIG FEATURE .
          I saw them at Hammersmith Odeon, twice , and the minute Paul sat on stage playing his acoustic to Venus and Mars everyone was enthralled ! A real live Beatle and a good band , now with Jimmy McCullough and Joe English joining Linda and Denny and Paul .
          Rock Show on the album is longer than the one heard on the radio as a single edit , none the worse for that as it blasts out ! I loved ” Love In Song” with its 12 string and “Back to the Home Land ” lyrics. This is a beautiful and timeless piece of music. “Letting Go ” , I love , the brother of ” Let Me Roll It ” from Band On the Run , good lyrics .
          Other highlights , ” Medicine Jar” by Jimmy McCullough, great rock track with a good vocal from Jimmy , those lovely Paul and Linda backing vocals that are so under rated , and blistering guitar from Jimmy . What a shame Jimmy ended up dead four later at such a young age , how did that happen ?
          “Listen to What The Man Said” most people will know, perfect single for the sunny summer of 1975 , “Soldier Boy . kisses girl ” people criticise Paul’s lyrics sometimes, but there is a touch that gets you .
          ” Treat Her Kind / Lonely Old People ” great melody , brave song , it wasn’t hip to sing about old people in 1975.
          “You Never Give Me The Answer ” , sort of 30’s pastiche (prabably for his Dad) , is a cousin of “Honey Pie ” from the White album , not my taste . ” Magneto and Titanium Man ” had the big comic backdrops on the Concert Tour, commercial and unusual, proving Paul could write about anything, not to every ones taste though. Denny sang “Spirits of Ancient Egypt” , which I always wanted to like , but never quite gets there.”Call Me Back Again ” with Paul showing off on vocals , but quite a weak track really .
          Finished by “Cross Roads” after the Lonely Only People medley , then the immortal line “Nice Bass Player”
          After Band On the Run ” there was a feeling of anti climax from some people. But its upbeat , full of great hooks and melodies, great vocals as always, so well worth buying.

  2. robert

    I’ve always felt that title song Venus and Mars was about Lennon and McCartney – consider the opening lyrics, and how John was supposed to come down to New Orleans to write and play with Paul again – I think Paul wrote this in anticipation of that – as if they are two planets back in orbit again. Anyone else?

  3. Graham Paterson

    I love Venus and Mars.Band on The Run was McCartneys best solo work, but this album was the second best under the Wings banner in my view. I believe it is one of those underrated solo Beatles works and is a mid-70s classic.The US no 1 off it Listen To What The Man Said is a personal favorite of mine. Love In Song is beautiful and Venus and Mars/ Rock Show,Letting Go and Magneto and Titanium are others I love.

    1. Graham Paterson

      I remember Listen To What The Man Said on the radio as a kid and just loving this song. It is a mid-70’s pop classic. Paul McCartney at his catchy and brilliant best.

  4. Barry

    Joe English was originally in a band called Jam Factory, which had one LP on the Epic label. That album was released in 1970. It featured such classics as “Tight Knit Group” and “Brothers Gemini.” Jam Factory did some gigs in the Summer of ’70, with a band called Attila, which featured Billy Joel. The band folded in 1972.

  5. Loz

    While we were waiting to get into the stadium for the 1975 Wings concert in Adelaide, the band played Venus and Mars and maybe even more of the first set only to play it all over again in the actual concert. Complete with the lighting and special effects which we could see when the door opened every now and then. We weren’t allowed to enter till later. I presume they were taking footage for the film. Anyone remember that?

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