Ranking the Top 5 Songs on Paul McCartney and Wings’ 1975 Smash Album ‘Venus and Mars’

Paul McCartney wanted the momentum of Band on the Run, released in 1973, to carry over. But he also wanted to expand Wings’ lineup for the follow-up album so the band could hit the road. Mission accomplished with Venus and Mars, released in 1975, as it proved to be a big hit while introducing two new members so that Wings was a quintet again.

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This album marked one of the high points of Wings’ time together. Let’s take a look back to see which songs stand out from the pack.

5. “Magneto and Titanium Man”

Who knew that Paul McCartney was such a comics fan? Well, we did, after he appropriated the names of several Marvel characters for this track about criminals trying for a score. We doubt the Marvel version of Magneto, so haughty and imperious, would even waste his time on the robbery described in the song, since McCartney makes it seem like small potatoes. Nonetheless, Wings provide a jumpy, jaunty soundtrack to enliven the illegal proceedings, with an enthusiastic vocal from Macca adding a great deal as well.

4. “Rock Show”

McCartney was fond of adding subtle conceptual elements to Wings albums for a little flair. “Rock Show” emerges from the brief title track at the beginning of the album and returns in a reprise to start Side 2. The first version of the song is the powerhouse, with McCartney exuding sweaty energy to make sure that it gets across. He was obviously thinking of the song as a live-show opener, but, to this band’s credit, the studio creation is so vigorous that, with a little crowd noise piped in, you would have sworn that the album take was live as well.

3. “Treat Her Gently — Lonely Old People”

If you throw out the postage stamp-sized “Crossroads” that’s tacked on at the end, “Treat Her Gently – Lonely Old People” essentially serves as the closer for Venus and Mars. And it’s a bit of a counterintuitive choice for that role, as what’s a mostly upbeat, uptempo album ends on a quiet, contemplative note. But it works quite well, in part because the song is so astute in its observations about the elderly, making it a kind of spiritual cousin in that regard to John Prine’s “Hello in There.” The sorrowful singalong of the refrain is a particularly nice touch.

2. “Listen to What the Man Said”

It’s easy to take for granted McCartney’s ability to churn out hit singles on the regular with Wings. But when you dive into a song like “Listen to What the Man Said,” you start to hear all the little grace notes that makes it so much more than just an earworm (although it’s that as well). In this case, a sprightly saxophone solo by Tom Scott adds an unexpected element. The lyrics seem simple enough, but then Macca goes a bit deeper with a simple phrase like The wonder of it all, baby. It suggests that, simple though a boy-meets-girl story might seem, it can still be quite glorious.

1. “Call Me Back Again”

Much of Venus and Mars was recorded in New Orleans, but you wouldn’t really sense that influence for much of the album. But that’s OK, because the standout “Call Me Back Again” delivers more than enough Big Easy spiciness. It’s one thing for McCartney to throw some brass on a track, as he does here. But it’s quite another for him to include the N’awlins influences without losing his artistic identity in the process. “Call Me Back Again” allows McCartney to go into sing-shouting mode, hearkening back to Beatles classics like “I’m Down” and “Oh Darling,” while those horns punctuating his every utterance help to maximize the impact.

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