Over four decades after their only full-fledged collaboration was released, Paul McCartney's younger brother says the pair wrote songs just like “Lennon & McCartney.” This month marks the 45th anniversary that Mike McCartney teamed up with older brother Paul and released the longtime fan favorite — and recently reissued — McGear album. “McGear” was the younger McCartney's stage name since the early-'60s when he co-founded the legendary British comedy trio the Scaffold.
To many, McGear was a Wings album in all but name, especially seeing as how Paul didn't release a new album that year. The main difference was that Mike and Paul co-wrote most of the material between themselves with Mike taking the lead vocals and Paul handling production duties. Fans were amazed at the quality of Mike's singing, which at times sounded like a perfect amalgam of his brother and old friend Ringo Starr. Mike's wit and comedic touch is evident all over the album.
Mike recalled to us that the album's songs came free and easy to the McCartney's: “Just two brothers gettin' together and working exactly like he used to work with John — and I used to watch that happening — just like in our front parlor in Forthlin Road (in Liverpool). That's what we were doin' in his 'ouse and in here, exactly the same way. And it's absolute magic when you work together and these extraordinary, magic songs come out of it.”
The album's standout track, “Leave It,” is one of only two songs on the album completely written by Paul McCartney himself. Mike shed light on his older brother's record making prowess when he was unsure of his own vocal talents: “He said, 'Don't worry, it'll be there. We'll sprinkle some magic fairy dust on it — don't worry.' And so, I kept hearing it, and slowly — he kept doing it over and over in the mix. Over and over and over. And slowly, this magic song started to appear, until the end — 'cause he did it all himself — this great singer, called 'Mike McGear' was suddenly singing, and the music was right, and the sax player was right, the harmonies were right. And this wonderful single suddenly appeared.”
Although McGear was a commercial flop, the album is revered as being a pop masterpiece regardless of whose brother produced it. Sadly, Mike McCartney has never committed himself to another full album of solo music since then.
The 2019 deluxe reissue of McGear features an additional 21 bonus tracks, including 13 previously unreleased out-takes and tracks alongside singles appearing on CD for the first time.
The set also includes a DVD featuring Mike McCartney reminiscing at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, another at the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool, and the 1974 promotional film for the single “Leave It.”