Paul McCartney’s 1975 Venus and Mars has been remastered and expanded to include a second disc of additional material. As with previous entries in the Archive Collection, the deluxe book packaging edition includes a DVD plus premium packaging and liner notes. The original album, containing the hit singles “Listen to What the Man Said” and “Venus and Mars/Rock Show,” sounds much improved over the decades-old original CD. The harmonies in particular ring out with greater clarity (check the Denny Laine-led “Spirits of Ancient Egypt” for a prime example). Rockers like “Letting Go” and guitarist Jimmy McCulloch’s “Medicine Jar” pack a bottom-end punch previously unfelt.
The second disc has 14 additional songs, some of which have been previously available (but have also undergone remastering). The 1974 hit “Junior’s Farm” leads off, followed by its country pop B-side, “Sally G” (by popular demand issued as an A-side, becoming a hit on its own). Wings issued the jazzy instrumental “Walking in the Park with Eloise” (written by McCartney’s father James) under the pseudonym The Country Hams. Its blues-based B-side “Bridge on the River Suite” is here too. “Letting Go” was released as a single with a different mix that removed the liberal reverb present on the album version—that single mix makes its digital debut here (previously only available on the original vinyl 45).
A seven-minute outtake of “Rock Show” has McCartney and Wings rocking the tune out in a more rigid way than the loose, jamming album cut. A piano demo for “Let’s Love,” later recorded by Peggy Lee, allows us to hear McCartney singing the delicate melody. “Going to New Orleans” is a playful precursor to what became the B-side “My Carnival” (also included). There’s also an intriguing, introspective acoustic song called “4th of July.”
Finished packaging for the deluxe book version was not available for review, but the 25-minute DVD was. It’s a pretty light offering: a trio of home movie featurettes and a vintage TV advertisement for the album. We see footage of Wings in the studio, clowning around in New Orleans (where some of the album was recorded), and rehearsing. McCartney buffs will enjoy it, but surely find themselves wishing there was more. Thankfully the remastering improves Venus and Mars and the bonus audio is likewise a treat.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00M2OZLQK]