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Michael McGear Michael McGear
Album: Woman
Label: Esoteric
Tracks: 12
Website: http://www.esotericrecordings.com

Michael McGear was the adopted pseudonym of Mike McCartney, Paul's brother. He first came to fame as a member of the Liverpool comic-poetry trio Scaffold, whose 1967 chart hit Thank U Very Much was written by Mike. The heady days of fame also spawned a collaborative album with Roger McGough - McGough & McGear - which was also notable for its celeb guest appearances! The McGough & McGear album was re-released by Esoteric a couple of years ago, and now it's succeeded by an overdue reissue of Michael's first proper solo album, a somewhat more "serious" affair than its predecessor, which was released by Island (after being rejected by EMI!) in April 1972.

The material was exclusively self-penned, although McGough contributed significantly to the lyrics of several of the songs including the title track. Musicians playing on the album sessions included Zoot Money, Brian Auger, Andy Roberts and Gerry Conway, with brass and string parts added to some songs and even a guest appearance from Ginger Johnson's African drummers (on finale Tiger).

The high standard of musicianship set the seal on what was an interesting, if eccentric bunch of songs that stylistically ranged from the emotive title song through to outright rock'n'roll (Wishin'), guitar-rock (Uptown Downtown), rootsy Beatlesque (Young Man), post-flower-power whimsy (Bored As Butterscotch) and the jazzier Witness. The reason for the album's neglect at the time of its release is posited in the booklet as the fact that there were so many brilliant albums about that it simply got overshadowed - a reasonable theory, I guess. But whatever, it contains some fine writing and playing and this newly remastered edition (of the complete LP, unlike some previous CD transfers) sounds great.

The bonus material consists of just one track - a previously unreleased alternate version of the bluesy Sister; the original intention was to include the Woman single's non-album B-side Kill, a by all accounts seriously hard-nosed rock number, but we must respect Michael's own last-minute decision to exclude it on the grounds that its sentiment and intense contemporary relevance might today be misinterpreted. Presentation of this reissue is of the usual high Esoteric standard, with insightful booklet essay and full lyrics provided.

David Kidman