Friday, October 17, 2014

Lost Wings Commercial for "Venus and Mars"

Venus and Mars Wings

"Venus and Mars," Wings' 1975 release, scored mixed reviews from the critics, but its songs hold up surprisingly well from a time when standout singles from other acts were songs like "Disco Duck" and "The Streak." Suddenly MPL is "finding" old promotional material that some folks may half-remember and most will never have seen. This ad is one of those finds.

Paul is in the middle of re-releasing his early catalog. On November 4, 2014, "Venus and Mars" is receiving a deluxe reissue, with the original recordings (remastered under McCartney's supervision) supplemented by a disc of demos and unreleased tracks. A three-disc edition will also include a book of unpublished photographs, new interviews with the singer and a DVD containing footage from the time of the release. There is tons of material from the recording sessions that did not make it onto the albums.

Venus and Mars Wings

In terms of this commercial, by June 26th, 1975, Wings' fourth album, Venus and Mars, had been out for a month, and its lead single, "Listen to What the Man Says," was continuing its climb to the top of the U.S. and U.K. pop charts. It was a huge album for the band because it was designed to set up their massive world tour of 1975-1976. To give the record some additional push, the label debuted a television commercial shot by Saturday Night and Sunday Morning director Karel Reisz that featured the band engaged in a loose game of snooker.

In the commercial, Paul McCartney plays a foppish pool shark, dancing around the table. Let me just say that I remember the lacy-shirt style which Seinfeld made such fun of 20 years later, and I am not a fan. In fact, the entire commercial is pretty stupid, but it does sort of capture the band's randomness during the era, when Wings' sort of trademark or brand or whatever you want to call it was acting stupid in cool settings like this. It was considered the height of coolness then in certain circles to be a bit of a renegade, the type that hung out in bars and "violated convention," and if you were a pool shark who wore a brim and the right threads and maybe dealt some illicit substances on the side you were close to god-like.

Just for the heck of it, and completely unrelated to "Venus and Mars," here is Wings from a year later during the "Wings Over America" tour, the high point of the band's existence. I believe this was at the Seattle Superdome.

Ok, back to the advert. When "Listen to What the Man Says" kicks in during the commercial, Paul begins throwing – and even blowing – the balls into the pockets. "You Gave Me the Answer," "Treat Her Gently" and the title track, "Venus and Mars," also appear in this 60-second medley of songs from the album. We get to see all the band personnel from the era, including Linda, Denny Laine and Jimmy McCullogh. There's even a snippet from Denny's "Medicine Jar," which isn't one of Wings' more high-profile songs.

The album was a big hit, of course, and many consider it to be Wings' finest, though it has a lot of competition for that honor.

Venus and Mars Wings


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