McGough & McGear, originally released in 1968, is an interesting relic of the psychedelic age. The album is a dryly humorous mixture of pop-rock, poetry readings, and general experimentation. The British duo was comprised of poet/lyricist Roger McGough and vocalist Mike McGear, brother of Paul McCartney. This oddity has many interesting aspects that make it worth a listen for fans of late-‘60s pop, not the least of which being the participation of several luminary artists. These guest producers and musicians went uncredited on the original release due to legal reasons, but this Real Gone Music reissue goes some ways toward rectifying that situation.
Richie Unterberger’s liner notes don’t quite sort it all out, as the record-keeping during the sessions apparently left something to be desired. Perhaps the most interesting curiosity on the album is the only known collaboration between Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix. McCartney produced the opening track, “So Much,” which features Hendrix on guitar. The song, written by McGough and McGear, is among the record’s more conventional productions. Hendrix also appears on the closing track, “Ex Art Student,” contributing some wah-wah noodling over Dave Mason’s sitar playing. McCartney’s participation on this track isn’t verified in the sometimes frustratingly vague notes.
According to McGear, whoever was around at the time was the producer of any given session. As explained in the notes, the primary producers seem to be McGear himself, as well as McCartney or Paul Samwell-Smith of The Yardbirds. The sessions were apparently quite loose, with an “anything goes” vibe dominating the proceedings. McCartney produced the awkwardly titled recitation “From: Frink, A Day in the Life Of and Summer With Monika: Prologue Introducing a) Moanin’ and b) Anji,” presumably contributing to the intermittent musical backing of the extended poem. The poppy “Do You Remember” features piano and harmonies by McCartney, sounding like a dry run for McGear, the 1974 album McCartney produced for his brother.
At its worst, indulgent “comedy” numbers like “Little Bit of Heaven” and insipid, nursery rhymes such as “Basement Flat” junk up the album. But all things considered, McGough & McGear survives as a consistently interesting experiment. The ramshackle, freewheeling nature of the album, coupled with its guest performers (which also includes Graham Nash in an unspecified role), makes it a worthy reissue.