Paul McCartney and Wings found a way to go into alignment (no matter what the man said) with the rock show relics and magnetic melodicism of this strange vacation. After the critical and commercial success of 'Band on the Run' the trio of Paul and Linda McCartney and Denny Laine expanded to include guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and drummer Geoff Britton. Paul wanted to record in New Orleans in late 1974, but when Laine had trouble getting a visa, they started out recording at Abbey Road Studios in London. When the project got to Louisiana, Britton was replaced by local musician Joe English. The sessions took place at Allen Toussaint and Marshall Sehorn’s Sea-Saint Recording Studio in Gentilly while the band stayed at Le Richelieu Hotel in the French Quarter.
Paul says: "I'd never been to New Orleans, except on tour when we never saw anything except the inside of a trailer. The only thing I remembered about New Orleans was the vibrator bed in the motel and it was sweating hot. So we went down to New Orleans in search of a musical town and the weather. Then we found out Mardi Gras was on while we were there. I'd written most of the stuff before we got there and Jimmy had written one of the tracks with a mate of his. We'd been in Jamaica before we went to New Orleans and for the first time ever, I'd got all the songs together like a scroll that went from here to the end of the room. So I had all that together and we just went and turned up and started recording. With this new album I did this scroll thing and sat down and put one song there, and another song here. Fiddle about. Fiddle about. The only time I've done this before was on the mini-opera on Abbey Road, the only time I've sat down with four sheets of paper and put them in order."
'Venus and Mars' features Paul McCartney on vocals, bass, guitars, keyboards, and piano; Linda McCartney on keyboards and backing vocals; Denny Laine on vocals, guitars, and keyboards; Jimmy McCulloch on guitars and vocals; Joe English on drums and percussion; and Geoff Britton and drums; with Kenneth "Afro" Williams on congas; Dave Mason on guitar; Tom Scott on saxophone; and Allen Toussaint on piano. Additional recording took place at Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco.
Paul reveals: ''When we had a party in the States to celebrate having finished the album, someone came up to us and said 'Hello, Venus. Hello, Mars.' I thought, 'Oh. no.'' When I write songs, I'm not necessarily talking about me, although psychoanalysts would say 'Yes, you are, mate.' But as far as I'm concerned, I'm not. The song 'Venus and Mars' is about an imaginary friend who's got a girl friend who's into astrology, the kind of person who asks you what your sign is before they say hello. That's it, 'a good friend of mine studies the stars.' In fact, in the first verse, it's 'a good friend of mine follows the stars,' so it could be ambiguous, a groupie or an astrologer...I didn't even know they were our neighbouring planets. I just thought of naming any two planets. What were the first that came to mind? I thought, Jupiter, no, that doesn't fit... Saturn... no... Venus and Mars... that's great, I'll just put those in. Later, it turns out they've just done an eclipse, Venus and Mars have lined themselves up for the first time in something like a thousand years. I didn't know they were the gods of love and war, either, and I wasn't thinking about the Botticelli picture someone ( George Melly) asked about ... I know it's sort of a rock-and-roll album but' there's other things I like that aren't necessarily rock-and-roll. On this LP I thought I'd like to get some of that in, so 'You Gave Me the Answer' is real fruity, imagining tie and tails, my impression of the Fred Astaire era ... ["Magneto and Titanium Man"] Yes, that's about Marvel Comics. When we were on holiday in Jamaica, we'd go into the supermarket every Saturday, when they got a new stock of comics in. I didn't use to read comics from eleven onwards, I thought I'd grown out of them, but I came back to them a couple of years ago. The drawings are great. I think you'll find that in twenty years time some of the guys drawing them were little Picassos. I think it's very clever how they do it. I love the names, I love the whole comic book thing...And I've been reading a bit of science fiction, things like Foundation by Asimov. I love the scope of it, the vision of it, because you can write anything. The second time 'Venus and Mars' comes around, it says 'Sitting in the hall of the Great Cathedral/Waiting for the transport to come.' That's like in science fiction books, waiting for the space shuttle. 'Starship 21ZNA9,' that's the kind of thing you'll find in Asimov. I like that, sitting in the Cathedral, really waiting for the saucer to come down, to take him off to Venus and Mars or whatever."
'Venus and Mars' reached number eleven in Germany and Italy; nine in Japan; five in the Netherlands; two in Australia; and number one in Canada, France, Norway, the UK, and the US.
"Listen to What the Man Said" was a top ten hit around the globe, and a number one smash in Canada and the US.
"Junior's Farm" – 4:23
"Lunch Box/Odd Sox"
'Venus and Mars'
All songs written by Paul and Linda McCartney (listed as "McCartney"), except as noted.
1. Venus and Mars 0:00
2. Rock Show 1:17
3. Love in Song 6:48
4. You Gave Me the Answer 9:57
5. Magneto and Titanium Man 12:12
6. Letting Go 15:30
7. Venus and Mars (Reprise) 20:02
8. Spirits of Ancient Egypt 22:07
9. Medicine Jar (Jimmy McCulloch, Colin Allen) 25:01
10. Call Me Back Again 28:36
11. Listen to What the Man Said 33:22
12. Treat Her Gently/Lonely Old People 37:16
13. Crossroads Theme (Tony Hatch) 41:39