Every now and then we are typing away on the computer or watering the garden and we hear a flashback tune from the seventies and often its linked to The Beatles or the solo outings of Lennon, McCartney or Harrison. There have already been a volumes of words written about this icon’s of rock and pop, however as the decades pass there’s still time to discover or rediscover a bit more about the quartet from which so much has been spawned.
Venus and Mars – are alright tonight the mid seventies pop/rock album from Wings, the album and touring vehicle for Paul McCartney is a gem.
Not only was the album a collection songs written by the master of chord placement and knowing when to change key, hark back to Penny Lane and that step up in the chorus, it could have gone anywhere but the step up is sublime and a generation thing. This was the following album from the commercial success of Band On The Run with two new members to work alongside core trio Paul, Linda and Denny Laine in Joe English from a band called Sea Level, and Jimmy McCullough who had time with Thunderclap Newman famous for “Something in the Air”. Jimmy wasn’t long for this planet and died in 1979, he contributed a song on the album and had one written about his habits in Medicine Jar.
The album is always good to listen to as McCartney goes to town with a variety of styles, from the ballads of Love in song and Lonely Old People. There some arena rock and pop here in Rock Show, some sweet sing along melodies; Listen To What The Man Said, and some homage to 50’s and cartoon pop with Magneto and Titanium Man. Out in the psychedelic range, if in verse and not song structure is Spirits of Ancient Egypt and the ethereal Venus and Mars. Some time since the original album which was packed already there a new edition comes out with extra songs, Lunch Box/Odd Sox, My Carnival, Zoo Gang and Crossroads. Sometimes you can overdo a good thing, and its great to have more McCartney songs, but with most of these reboots and extended new masters, the can detract from the original album itself and its easy to remember the last song and then not pay too much attend to the bonus as they are often album fillers that didn’t meet the time standards in vinyl production back in the day. My Carnival is another pop song that he does so well and is a good listen on its own.
In spite of the packers and fillers, if you take the original album on its own, it sets the precedent for a performer who loves being in front of an audience and putting on a great show. Something he continues right up to the modern day arena masterpieces he’s been putting out to the world recently. Venus and Mars is written and performed to be taken on the road as a touring album and the colossal response of Wings Over America has shown.
Rounding off the songs, there’s the rollicking of You Gave Me the Answer, toe tapping and all, the punchy rocker Letting Go, and Call Me back Again. Every now and then you sit, look at the sky, the subliminal programming kicks in and you think.. Paul McCartney – Venus and Mars…. they are alright tonight – aren’t they!