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!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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