By Gillian G. Gaar
If you’re a fan of Paul McCartney’s work in the ‘70s, you’ll want to make sure to get the new reissue of *McGear(Esoteric Recordings); pick it up if you already own it as well, as there’s an additional disc of bonus tracks and a DVD (region free) with interviews.
*McGear is the second album by Mike McCartney, Paul’s brother, who adopted the surname “McGear” when he began performing to avoid being automatically linked with his famous sibling. It’s what you might call “absurdist rock,” produced by brother Paul, who also wrote/co-wrote most of the songs, and kindly lent Mike most of Wings to help out as well (Linda McCartney, Denny Laine, Jimmy McCulloch, Denny Seiwell). It’s the kind of off-the-wall, quirky stuff that’s hard to categorize, which is no doubt why it failed to generate mass interest on its original release in 1974, and became a “cult favorite.” This is a one-of-a-kind treat that shouldn’t be missed … Above Us Only Sky (Eagle Vision) is really the first in-depth look at the Imagine era (the 1972 Imagine film was more a series of videos for each song, and 2000’s Gimme Some Truth drew heavily on footage from the 1972 film). Above Us Only Sky has much previously unseen footage, such as John Lennon teaching George Harrison to play “How Do You Sleep.” And there are many new interviews, not only with the musicians and filmmakers involved in the project, but also journalist friends like Ray Connolly, photographer David Bailey, political activist Tariq Ali Kahn, and the Apple Corps. secretary whose first job was to type up the letter John Lennon sent to the Queen when he returned his M.B.E. An insightful film that’s a must have for Lennon fans … and speaking of Ray Connolly, he’s written a clever novella, Sorry Boys, You Failed the Audition (Malignon), which imagines a world where The Beatles exist, but nobody cares. As the story opens in 1962, the Beatles learn that producer George Martin has decided to not sign the group. The band breaks up soon after, but their loyal fan club president, Freda Kelly (the name of the real life Beatles fab club president, though this story is fictional), just can’t let her Beatle dreams die, leading to unexpected results. This is terrain that Connolly knows well, having covered The Beatles as a journalist, writing the screenplay for That’ll Be the Day (featuring Ringo Starr’s best film appearance), and other Beatles-related tomes. Would’ve made a much more interesting film than Yesterday. This ebook is currently available through Amazon … Starr’s Another Day in the Life(Genesis Publications), first published as a pricey limited edition release, is now available in a more affordable $40 mass-market edition. It’s a selection of photos Starr’s snapped over the years. Yes, there’s some famous faces (McCartney, Peter Frampton), but most of the shots are taken on his travels around the world: plenty of flowers, cats, sunsets. Most interesting are the numerous examples of his own artwork. It’s a fun scrapbook drawn from a remarkable life … Starr’s son Zak has been busy himself of late, having co-founded a reggae label, Trojan Jamaica, with Sharna “Sshh” Liguz. Their first release is the compilation RED, GOLD, GREEN & BLUE, a groovalicious compilation featuring an array of reggae stars putting their own spin on classic songs like “I Put a Spell on You” (reworked by Mykal Rose), “Wang Dang Doodle”/“Oh Well” (“Sshh” Liguz and Robbie Shakespeare), and “Man of the World” (Toots & the Maytals). A great introduction to the genre if you’re not already a fan, and fun if you are an aficionado … Linda McCartney’s Wide Prairie (MPL/Capitol/UMe) was initially released in 1998 in the wake of her death earlier that year, and has been reissued in vinyl (including limited edition colored vinyl) and digital editions. It spans a decade’s worth of recordings with Linda on lead vocals, working with her husband, and, for the most part, various incarnations of Wings. Had she not been married to Sir Paul, she might well have carved out a niche for herself as an offbeat, original singer-songwriter, at least if “New Orleans” and the title track are anything to go by. Her covers (“Mr. Sandman,” “Poison Ivy”) aren’t particularly strong, but “Seaside Woman” is charming. And she kicks it out in her last song, “The Light comes From Within,” which sticks it to her critics … Dhani Harrison (George’s son) has released a new song, “Motorways (Erase It).” The psychedelic-flavored number is the first new music from Harrison since the release of his 2017 solo album IN///PARALLEL. There’s no new album scheduled as yet; in the meantime, you can check out the trippy video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rOY7BgWAd0 … Paul McCartney reissued four of his live albums this past summer. Amoeba Gig is the first time the June 27, 2007 in-store appearance at Los Angeles record store Amoeba Music has been released in its entirety. It’s a great show, with McCartney obviously as excited as his audience; the vinyl edition has a bonus track from the soundcheck. The other albums, Wings Over America, Choba B CCCP (though a studio album, it’s considered “live” because it was recorded “live in the studio” apparently), and Paul Is Live, feature no bonus tracks, and Choba has the 11-track lineup, not the 13-track edition. The vinyl editions come in basic black and limited edition colors: transparent red, green, and blue for Wings Over America, opaque yellow for Choba B CCCP, opaque blue and opaque peach/white for Paul Is Live, hazy amber for Amoeba Gig (all on MPL/Capitol/UMe).