Mike McGear: McGear (1974)

Continuing with our Beatlesque theme (see the post on The Aerovons a couple days back), today we check in with another lost semi-classic, the second of two solo albums by one Mike McGear (born Peter Michael McCartney, but humbly changed his last name for recording purposes to avoid being accused of capitalizing on the success of his slightly-better-known brother).

While the 1972 debut was fine (if a little non-distinct, like a sort of middling Nilsson or Badfinger record), the self-titled 1974 follow-up is much more interesting.  And that's largely because, while McGear may not have wanted to use his family name, he had no compunction about using his brother's talents -- Paul McCartney produced (and apparently co-wrote) the album, and he and various members of Wings were involved in performing the music.  So, yeah, it basically sounds at times like a long lost mid-70s Wings album, though actually better than some of what Paul was writing at the time (i.e. I'd take this over Red Rose Speedway in a second).  

Opener "Sea Breezes" is an odd duck, a shambling, slightly prog-ish sea shanty of sorts. And the follow-up tune is even stranger, showing McGear's more comedic/showtune side that had been his primary focus (while performing with the Bonzo Dog Band-like Scaffold).  But the album picks up.  "Leave It" is very Wings-like, poppy and infectious, Paul's influence obvious.  "Have You Got Problems" is lengthy and theatrical, while retaining the pop vibe; "Rainbow Lady" is another mid-tempo Wings-like pop-rocker; "Giving Grease A Ride" is another weird one, more on the 10cc spectrum of showtune-infused rock, but lots of fun.

The album was recently reissued, with greatly improved sound and a ton of singles/outtakes, many of which outshine the original record; it adds the McCartney-esque pop of "Sweet Baby" and "Dance The Do" and the Nilsson-like, playful "Do Nothing All Day" and "A to Z" and "Let's Turn The Radio On."  Definitely makes the album a more worthwhile investment.

Here's the video for "Leave It":
...and an audio rip of "Rainbow Lady":
For more on the album and its roots, here is a recent article in Salon.