He Ain’t Heavy – Mike (“McGear”) McCartney Gets By With a Little Help from Brother Paul (and Wings)

 

 

Tonight I thought it might be fun to take a look at a great new Mike McGear CD reissue that came out recently in Europe on Cherry Red Records.

Who’s Mike McGear you may ask?  Well, have you heard of Paul McCartney? Mike McGear is Paul McCartney’s younger brother whose real name is Mike McCartney.

You didn’t know Paul McCartney even had a brother you say? Well now you do and he is also a performer (and photographer) and has released some really wonderful music.

Having chosen the stage name Mike McGear in the early 1960’s as a way of distinguishing himself from his massively famous older brother, Mike McCartney managed to release some very memorable music which is quite an achievement as Paul McCartney would be hard for anyone to live up to let alone try to compete with musically.

Mike McCartney is best known, musically speaking, for his Top Ten hits in the UK as a part of The Scaffold (“Thank U Very Much”, “Lily the Pink”, “Liverpool Lou”), a comedy group, as well as three terrific albums “McGough & McGear”, “Woman” and my personal favorite “McGear”.

In actual fact Paul McCartney has had quite a hand in his brother Mike’s music and the “McGear” album, originally released in 1974,  could really almost be considered a Wings album as Paul and Linda McCartney as well as Denny Laine and Jimmy McCulloch from Wings perform the music on the album with the main vocals by Mike McCartney.

“McGear” was also produced by Paul McCartney and he co-wrote most of the songs on the album as well.

I had long heard of this album but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I really looked it up and gave it a listen. Boy I’m glad I did as this is one EXCELLENT record.

Songs like “Leave It” (the sax on this really reminds me of John Lennon’s early solo work), “What Do We Really Know?”, “The Casket”, “Rainbow Lady” and the truly magnificent “The Man Who Found God on the Moon”  have such a wide range of musical textures that, like his older brother Paul’s best work, remain timeless and exquisitely melodic.

The album is also full of Mike McCartney’s Liverpudlian humor which adds the perfect, as he calls it in one of the DVD interviews, shading to the music that gives it the feel of his brother Paul yet with a quite distinctive lyrical approach that really makes the album a joy to listen to over and over again.

The 2 CD/DVD Cherry Red Records reissue comes in a lovely small box and contains the main “McGear” album remastered as well as a second CD of outtakes, singles and alternate versions plus a quite fun DVD that contains two humorous interviews with Mike McCartney.

The interviews on the DVD not only give the viewer a glimpse into the making of the record but they also give you a real sense of Liverpool in the ’50s and ’60s and a vivid sense of Liverpudlian humor, especially the off the wall humor of Mike McCartney which is a pleasure to watch and absorb.

The set also includes a great booklet and two insert posters filled with memorabilia of the era courtesy of Mike McCartney as well as three wonderful mini-lp covers to hold the CD/DVD discs.

I give this reissue a solid A+ as it’s how any important album should be reissued – great sound, great packaging and great content.

There is also a vinyl version of this reissue available as well and can be found on either Amazon or on Cherry Red Records Website (https://www.cherryred.co.uk/). The vinyl just contains the regular album with no bonus material or DVD.

As a somewhat newcomer to Mike McCartney’s work – and I’ll be honest it’s mainly because of Paul McCartney’s involvement that I even came to his work – I’ve become a fan of Mike McCartney’s pleasing voice but mostly I love his writing voice as I love his twist with words and his unique lyrical approach.

Of course the music and production are top notch on this album as well and Paul and Linda McCartney and Wings can be heard throughout the album which is full of Beatles and solo McCartney style touches throughout that lift the album to something very special indeed.

If you’ve never heard this material and are a fan of Paul McCartney’s music and want to hear something that totally sounds like him yet is unique because of Mike McCartney’s take on life then you owe it to yourself to track this album down.

It’s really a great listen and stands up well to Paul McCartney’s solo work of the same era and may be better than one of two of McCartney’s solo albums of the time.

As always take a gander at this lovely box set above and until next time be well and listen to some music … pronto!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Driving in the SHM Rain – Three Paul McCartney Hear Music SHM-CD’s (“Run Devil Run”, “Driving Rain” and “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard”)

Well, today has quite the Paul McCartney vibe doesn’t it? With the news that McCartney is writing the music for a new musical based on the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life” and his recent CD/vinyl reissues and tour it seems if Paul McCartney is in the zeitgeist of the moment.

Well he is here in this blog as well as lately I’ve been on a Paul McCartney kick so I might as well keep the ball rolling. I thought I’d share some thoughts on some older Paul McCartney CD issues from the Land of the Rising  Sun – Japan.

These CD’s just happen to be SHM-CDs as well (to those readers of this blog – shocker I know). I’ve posted about SHM-CDs in the past – A LOT – but to quote the man himself “here I go again!”

Anyway, the three CD’s in question are Japanese SHM-CD issues on Hear Music of three McCartney albums from 1999 to 2005: “Run Devil Run”, “Driving Rain” and “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard”.

All of the above albums were originally released by Capitol Records but when McCartney signed with the Hear Music label in 2007 he also took his catalog of albums with him thus these CD reissues.

As a fan of the SHM-CD format, I have been seeking out as many of McCartney’s albums as I can find (and afford) and just recently came across these three CD reissues which are now out of print as McCartney has gone back to Capitol Records.

Of the three albums, one is what I consider one of McCartney’s best ever (“Chaos and Creation in the Backyard”) while the other two I’ve run (no pun intended) hot and cold on depending on my mood (“Run Devil Run” or “Driving Rain”). Actually these SHM-CD versions were a nice revelation as I hadn’t listened to the last two in a while and I  was pleasantly surprised.

There are quite a few really strong songs on both “Run Devil Run” and “Driving Rain”  that I had forgotten about including “She’s Given Up Talking”, “Driving Rain”, “Spinning on An Axis”, “Heather”, “Riding into Jaipur”, “Rinse the Raindrops”, “Run Devil Run”, “Try Not to Cry”, “What It Is”, “No Other Baby” and “I Got Stung”. All are excellent songs and performances and well worth revisiting.

I would still say that while both “Run Devil Run” and “Driving Rain” aren’t my most played McCartney albums they are better than I remembered them and both are very solid albums.

As usual these SHM-CD’s sound quite nice and have better sounding bass than their regular CD counterparts. The one drawback is that “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard” is mastered a bit too loud but this CD does sound nice and I prefer it to the regular edition.

I found these three SHM-CDs on sale, maybe they were clearing them out, so if you get the itch to investigate some of the Paul McCartney Hear Music SHM-CDs now may be the time.

As usual I’ve posted photos of the discs above. As physical media gets phased out it’s nice to have a record of what some of the variations of these discs looks like whether it be imported copies or various reissues.

Until next time be well and keep cool!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More, More, More – Paul McCartney CD Reissues (“Paul is Live”, “Amoeba Gig” and “CHOBA B CCCP”)

Now that the dust has settled a bit, I thought it might be a good time to take a closer look at three of the Paul McCartney albums that came out last Friday – CD reissues of “Amoeba Gig”, “Paul is Live” and “CHOBA B CCCP” specifically.

Last time I posted about two of the Paul McCartney colored vinyl reissues (“Wings Over America” and “Paul is Live”) released last week but now I’d like to take a look at some of their CD counterparts which were issued at the same time.

First off, I will say that all three are definitely improved sound wise. Done by the same team at Abbey Road Studios that handles all of McCartney’s Archive Collection releases, these CDs all have deeper bass, more clarity and better separation than previous issues.

My vote for most improved would have to go to the “Amoeba Gig” CD for sure. Not only does it now include all 21 songs McCartney and his band performed at the Amoeba record store in 2007 but all previous versions of this material were mastered extremely loud which, for me, made listening to this material fatiguing.

This new set has been remixed from scratch and it shows it. “Amoeba Gig”  now sounds so much better with nice, full deep bass and nice separation but not as loud. I did detect a few instances of slight autotune (“I’ll Follow the Sun”) which is unfortunate but not a deal breaker for me. I’d rather have that than a terribly loud disc which I won’t listen to at all.

“Amoeba Gig” is now one of my favorite later era McCartney live releases as it has a nice selection of songs and now sounds really nice – a very good gig that I didn’t take much notice of before but now will return to often.

The “Paul is Live”, like it’s vinyl cousin which I mentioned last week, sounds much less digital than the previous CD release with again has really nice bass and clarity but it also adds a warmth that was missing from previous versions of this album.

I particularly love the live versions of “Penny Lane” and “We Can Work it Out” on this disc which are two of my favorite live McCartney performances ever.

The “CHOBA B CCCP” disc also sounds really nice on and while an improvement it’s not quite as noticeable an improvement as the other two discs above. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a really nice sounding disc and a welcome addition to any McCartney collection but the previous one sounded good too.

This time out all three come in somewhat bare bones packaging – fold out mini-lp style sleeves with two of them – “Paul is Live” and “CHOBA B CCCP”  – sporting poster pull-outs.

I was surprised that these three CDs were remastered and remixed but if this is the trend for further McCartney reissues than that’s fine by me. These all look and sound great and are easier on the wallet than super deluxe box set editions.

I will say that I hope the “London Town” and “Back to the Egg” albums get nice box set treatments as they are two of my favorite McCartney/Wings albums, but I would be fine with the rest of McCartney’s albums getting this style of reissue before the advent of the end of physical media.

Time will tell but these new CD reissues are a nice surprise and well worth taking the time to seek out if you’re a fan of Paul McCartney’s music.

As usual take a gander above at photos of these groovy new discs!

Until next time – be well and relax, it’s summertime!!!

 

 

 

 

FIRST LOOK! – Paul McCartney “Wings Over America” and “Paul is Live” Colored Vinyl reissues

What would be better on a hot July summer day? Sun tan lotion? Beach towels? New music? Music you say???

And what if that new music just happens to be new Paul McCartney music – even better! Though to be honest technically it’s not exactly new McCartney music, it’s a few older albums that have been spruced up, but I’ll take whatever I can get.

Now I know the days of folks being excited over physical media is rapidly declining (and truth be told I’m sure record companies are forcing that decline) but here in my corner of the Web I’m excited to see more McCartney discs of any kind!

Tomorrow four Paul McCartney albums are being reissued on both CD and vinyl by Capitol Records  – “Paul is Live”, “Amoeba Gig”, “CHOBA B CCCP and “Wings Over America”.

The good news for collectors is that these four new McCartney releases aren’t just straight reissues they are all remastered and one is even newly remixed!

“CHOBA B CCCP  and “Paul is Live” (from 1988 and 1993 respectfully) are both being issued with new remastering from the team at Abbey Road studios that oversees Paul McCartney’s Archive Collection.

The “Amoeba Gig”  album which has been available in shorter versions before (“Amoeba’s Secret” which was a 4-song CD and vinyl EP from 2007 and later a 12-song version from 2010 entitled “Live in Los Angeles”) is being expanded to include all 21 songs from McCartney’s unorthodox but fun live show from the Amoeba record store in Los Angeles in 2007 and is being completely remixed for this new release as well.

And while the last of the four new album reissues (“Wings Over America” ) does indeed contain a lovely remastered version of this popular Wings’ Lp from their 1976 U.S. tour it actually came out a few years ago on a different record label (Hear Music) but is now being issued on Capitol Records where McCartney is currently signed.

(Okay, only three of these reissues are really new but “Wings Over America”  is getting a groovy new colored vinyl issue so that kind of counts as new in my book lol.)

There are, of course, several editions of the vinyl versions of these albums coming out. All four will be available on regular black vinyl as well as limited special colored vinyl editions available exclusively through McCartney’s Website or at indie record retailers.

I happened to get my hands on a couple of the colored vinyl reissues a day early – “Wings Over America” and “Paul is Live” – so I thought I’d share some thoughts (and photos) of them here.

The “Wings Over America” 3-Lp colored vinyl set comes in three colors (transparent red, transparent green and transparent blue) while “Paul is Live” comes in two – opaque baby blue and plush peach white opaque.

(Note: Yeah I know, the colors names are a bit precious but that’s the way they are listed on McCartney’s Website!)

I’ve listened to both of these new sets and am happy to report that both sound superb and both sets feature nice quite vinyl with few pops and ticks. At least my copies do anyway.

The “Wings Over America” set sounds identical to the recent Hear Music release that came out as part of McCartney’s Archive Collection so it’s no surprise that this Lp set sounds good. This is the first vinyl reissue of this album I’ve bought as I only purchased the CD versions of the Hear Music release and this new pressing sounds just great.

The bass is nice and tight and punchy and this new set has much more presence than my older Capitol pressing from the late 1970’s. A definite upgrade for this album in the vinyl format.

I also love the colors of the 3 Lp’s in this set and must say that the cover and poster reproductions are terrific as well.

I was also pleased to see the promotional blurb on the side of the poster with the drawing of Wings in this set. I’m not sure if it was part of the original UK issue but there was no writing like that on my original U.S. copy. It’s a nice change and looks really nice (to me at least).

As for the “Paul is Live” album this new mastering sounds terrific! While I’ve always enjoyed this live album I thought that the previous CD version sounded a bit clinical at times and my memory tells me that it was a bit too digital at times as well making the album sound a bit dull.

This new Lp sounds so much better than I remember the album sounding before. The bass especially is nice and tight and more pronounced but the vocals also show an improvement and listening to his set was much more engaging than I remember the album sounding before.

After playing the first album in the set I really wanted to hear more which is always a good sign. I love the song selection for “Paul is Live” and now this set sounds much more exciting.

Maybe it’s the vinyl format (I’ll get the CD soon and compare) but this new set hands wins hands down over the older CD from 1993. I can’t wait to hear how the new CD version sounds in comparison.

Also McCartney’s voice was still in pretty good shape in 1993 and his live vocals are really nice – a bit raw at times but not nearly as worn as they are now at times.

If you’re a vinyl fan then these new colored vinyl albums should be on your shopping list as they are really well done and a great listen. Okay that is if you still buy your music.

Plus, I know that a lot of fans feel these colored vinyl limited editions are strictly cash grabs and while I can see their point they are well done and if you like to collect vinyl then you’ll be happy I’m sure.

As usual take a gander above to see photos of these two new sets.

Until next time, be well and keep cool!