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McCartney, Paul and Wings - Venus and Mars - White Hot Stamper (With Issues)

The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.

White Hot Stamper (With Issues)

Paul McCartney and Wings
Venus and Mars

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Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus Minus

Side Two: Mint Minus Minus*

  • This vintage British pressing is doing practically everything right, with a STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one mated to an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two
  • We shot out a number of other imports and the midrange presence, bass, and dynamics on this outstanding copy placed it head and shoulders above most other pressings we played
  • These sides have real depth to the soundfield, full-bodied, present vocals, plenty of bottom end weight, and lovely analog warmth
  • There are some bad marks (as is sometimes the nature of the beast with these Classic Rock records) on "Call Me Back Again" and "Listen To What The Man Said," but once you hear just how excellent sounding this copy is, you might be inclined, as we were, to stop counting ticks and pops and just be swept away by the music
  • "Venus and Mars is an interesting mix of musical styles, punctuated by Paul McCartney’s unerring sense of melody and hooky songs." – Oldies.com

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*NOTE: There is a mark that plays 20 times lightly during the outro of track 4 on side 2, "Call Me Back Again." There is also a mark that plays 15 times lightly about 1/8" into track 5, "Listen To What The Man Said." And finally there is another mark that plays 6 times lightly at the end of the same track.

This vintage UK Capitol pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to "see" the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It's what vintage all analog recordings are known for -- this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it -- not often, and certainly not always -- but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What The Best Sides Of Venus and Mars Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1975
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Shootout Criteria

What are sonic qualities by which a record -- any record -- should be judged? Pretty much the ones we discuss in most of our Hot Stamper listings: energy, vocal presence, frequency extension (on both ends), transparency, spaciousness, harmonic textures (freedom from smear is key), rhythmic drive, tonal correctness, fullness, richness, three-dimensionality, and on and on down the list.

When we can get a number of these qualities to come together on the side we’re playing, we provisionally give it a ballpark Hot Stamper grade, a grade that is often revised during the shootout as we hear what the other copies are doing, both good and bad.

Once we’ve been through all the side ones, we play the best of the best against each other and arrive at a winner for that side. Other copies from earlier in the shootout will frequently have their grades raised or lowered based on how they sounded compared to the eventual shootout winner. If we’re not sure about any pressing, perhaps because we played it early on in the shootout before we had learned what to listen for, we take the time to play it again.

Repeat the process for side two and the shootout is officially over. All that’s left is to see how the sides of each pressing match up.

It may not be rocket science, but it’s a science of a kind, one with strict protocols that we’ve developed over the course of many years to insure that the results we arrive at are as accurate as we can make them.

The result of all our work speaks for itself, on this very record in fact. We guarantee you have never heard this music sound better than it does on our Hot Stamper pressing -- or your money back.

What We're Listening For On Venus and Mars

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren't "back there" somewhere, lost in the mix. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.

If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.

Side One

  • Venus And Mars
  • Rock Show
  • Love In Song
  • You Gave Me The Answer
  • Magneto And Titanium Man
  • Letting Go

Side Two

  • Venus And Mars – Reprise
  • Spirits Of Ancient Egypt
  • Medicine Jar
  • Call Me Back Again
  • Listen To What The Man Said
  • Treat Her Gently – Lonely Old People
  • Crossroads Theme

Latest effort from Paul McCartney and friends is another set of fine rock, but with some strong basic differences from past LPs. First, it stands less as a collection of good rock singles and more as a collection of various styles of music that can also work as singles.

Styles range from the perfect Top 40 rock McCartney is such a master of, to New Orleans horn filled cuts, to ’20s flavored tunes, to oldie sounding songs, to some big brass arrangements. McCartney’s vocals range from the smooth ballad style he has always handled well to a raunchier rock sound that he has heretofore been unable to attain, even on his wilder singles. In other words, he sounds less like a soft voice singer trying to scream and more like a legitimate screamer.

Addition of Jimmy McCulloch has added a strong rock guitar vein and has allowed Denny Laine to switch to bass and spend more time on vocal harmonies. Linda also sounds like more of a singer. Guest musicians like Tom Scott, Allen Toussaint and Dave Mason also add to the variety of sounds and add an authenticity to the sounds and styles explored.

A much more musically intricate project than Wings’ other solo effort without losing the feeling of fun and spontaneity that good rock has always offered. And, to serve up the old cliche, all possible singles.

- Billboard, 1975.

Superficially, which counts for a lot with McCartney, his New Orleans venture is his most appealing post-Beatles album -- straight rock and roll with a few pop detours and one excursion into "When I'm 64" nostalgia. So clear in its melodies, mix, and basic pulse that his whimiscal juxtapositions -- robots on Main Street, Rudy Vallee cheek by jowl with Allen Toussaint -- sound like they might make some sense. Don't get me wrong -- they probably don't -- because McCartney's a convinced fool. But when the music is coherent it doesn't matter so much. B+

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.