McGear: The Forgotten Paul McCartney And Wings Album

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This forgotten disc from 1974 is teaming with a bunch of memorable Paul McCartney melodies and plenty of witty lyrics by his brother Mike McCartney (McGear).  Mike is the lead vocalist on all the tunes but Paul contributes his iconic vocals here and there along with his typically bouncy bass parts.  P.M. is also at the helm of production with Denny Laine and Linda joining in on the fun. Future Wings guitarist Jimmy McCullogh makes an appearance as well as 10cc’s Eric Stewart who would later co-write with McCartney in the 80‘s.

Tracks that warrant your attention immediately are the two numbers penned just by Paul. The catchy “Leave It” with the recurring quirky sax line and the suggestive phrase  “peeling off her underwear” and the philosophical “What Do We Know About Music?” with it’s tasty, drum, bass and guitar solos. There is also the wonderfully bipolar Bryan Ferry composition “Sea Breezes” which opens this collection.  The verses take on a serious, sad undertone while it’s middle section is given a more uplifting, reggae feel akin to McCartney’s middle section in “Live and Let Die”.

To me, the one song that seems a bit out-of-place on this album is “The Casket”. It’s a mostly serious, slow piano – vocal piece with modal McCartney music and somewhat morbid lyrics by English poet Roger McGough. The tone is very folkish in a traditional sense and would have been more comfortable as a B side to McCartney’s biggest hit in the U.K. “Mull of Kintyre” which had not been composed yet.

All the other songs are co-written by the McCartney brothers. Each one worth listening to. My favorite is the closer. The melancholy, spacey, multi sectioned “The Man Who Found God On The Moon” with actual sound bytes by Buzz Aldrin.  The military track “Norton” is pretty hilarious with  heavy Lennon-esque guitar riffing in between the thoroughly British, Monty Python-esque dialog.  The rhapsodic “Have You Got Problems?” could have been a classic Wings song. The power pop of “Rainbow Lady” and the charming, unpretentious “Simply Love You” will stick in your brain after first listen.  And let us not forget the fx laden, slightly dangerous new wave sounding : “Giving Grease A Ride”. Pre-dates Gary Newman’s now classic “Cars” by five years. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was influenced by it.

The album cover is also a hoot.  A clever take on Gulliver’s Travels with many of the “small people” who contributed positioned on the sideline.  That’s Paul peering at us on the bottom of the cover.

It’s sad that McCartney never put money into promoting this album. It would have been a big seller right along with “Band On The Run” which preceded this recording by a month!

It’s interesting to note that when Sir Paul is challenged with a talented lyricist like his brother or a great song writer like John Lennon or Elvis Costello, he does some of his most brilliant work.  He only allows his best assets to come to the forefront.  In this case his melodic genius shines through.

If you’re a McCartney fan, this CD should be in your collection. This CD release contains two more co-written songs that were not on the original vinyl record: “Do The Do” and “Sweet Baby”. They don’t really add anything special to the collection. More or less good fast food for your ears.

Here is a great youtube conversation with Mike McGear and towards the end he discusses the making of this album and gives back story on some of the songs.

Released 24 September 1974 (LP)
Recorded : January – February 1974 (Strawberry Studios)
Label: Warner Bros. (1974)
Rykodisc (1991)

Written by John Tabbaco

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