Recording "McGough & McGear"

From June 18, 1967 to ? • For McGough & McGear

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the McGough & McGear (Mono) LP.
Timeline More from year 1967
Studio:
De Lane Lea Music Recording Studios, London, UK

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About

McGough & McGear” is the first and only album by Roger McGough and Mike McCartney – brother of Paul – known professionally as Mike McGear. Paul McCartney helped with the production of the whole album.

From Liner notes to CD reissue of McGough & McGear (richieunterberger.com), 2016:

[…] When the sessions began on June 18, 1967, notes Mike, “it was just a selection of song ideas that had been done with me collaborating with Roger McGough. I don’t think we had a name for it then.” Accompanying them to the studio of Beatles publisher Dick James was Mike’s older brother Paul, who that very day was celebrating his twenty-fifth birthday in the most hectic of circumstances. “That day our kid [the Liverpudlian term for one’s brother or sister] had the word gone out that he had slipped some LSD into a drink and imbibed it,” remembers Mike. “So the world’s media was waiting for us as we left his house in London. Because our kid was being exposed as taking LSD, there is all the media watching this vicious drug-taker and his younger brother – ‘ha, we gotcha!’ And they’re rolling their cameras.

Both of us shut our windows down. Suddenly the fans pushed the media out of the way to get to their idol, and his good-looking brother obviously, and these presents of flowers showered into the car. Then the media are thinking, ‘oh my god, we can’t use any of this footage,’ because of the adulation, all these children loving this man who is a drug-taking bastard. What they wanted was this LSD- mindblown druggy scowling. And there is this lovely thing where life took over, ’cause it was his birthday.

As sessions progressed at Dick James’s facilities and De Lane Lea studios elsewhere in London (Mike thinks some might have been done at Abbey Road as well), a host of illustrious rock stars dropped in to lend a hand. Although not credited on the initial release, contributors included Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, Graham Nash, Dave Mason of Traffic, Gary Leeds of the Walker Brothers, ex-Pretty Thing Viv Prince, and ex-Yardbird Paul Samwell-Smith. Paul McCartney’s girlfriend, Jane Asher, sang some background vocals, even bringing along her mother.

It was just a case of who was in town,” says Mike. “We’d all signed contracts [with different labels], and it was like in perpetuity, which really is for life and beyond. We were saying to the record companies and the lawyers, ‘Sod off. We’re friends. There’ll be trouble if we put our names to it, but we’re doing it, whether you like or not.’

That’s why all of these beautiful people came along, and that’s why it was such a free, no barriers [project], particularly with us. Because Scaffold don’t play musical instruments, so we rely totally on brothers and friends who can play the musical aspect of what we were trying to do. They could help us, they could do what we couldn’t do.” Roger took primary responsibility for the words and Mike for the music, with some overlap.

Though production was credited to “All of Us,” those duties were in fact shared by several fellows. If his brother Paul was there, Mike recalls, “he would be the producer, ’cause I’d be out on the floor. If our kid didn’t do it, it would be me doing it. I, having been brought up with a musical brother, and having seen so much of what he did, learned a lot myself of what I wanted. If I was in the studio and our kid wasn’t there, Paul Samwell-Smith [later to produce Cat Stevens and Carly Simon] would have helped. He was a great listener, very good producer.” […]

From Melody Maker, July 22, 1967:

A million-pound dream group was assembled by Paul McCartney and Graham Nash of the Hollies for a top secret, experimental recording session in London last week. The proceedings were so hush-hush that no one concerned would comment.

But among those present behind the locked doors of the Kingsway Studios were Paul, Graham, Spencer Davis, Dave Mason (of Traffic), Gary Leeds, Barry Fantoni and members of the Scaffold, including Paul’s brother, Mike McGear.

The session features Liverpool poet Roger McGouch, who is also a member of the Scaffold. He was backed by an all-star group beyond the financial reach of any commercial producer.

Paul played a Mellotron with Graham, Spencer and Dave Mason on guitars, Gary on drums and Fantoni playing tenor sax.

The recording will remain a dream session as all the stars are under contract to different recording companies.

From Melody Maker, July 22, 1967

Interview with Mike McGear, from The Strange BrewMike McGear McCartney – The Strange Brew, 2016:

The McGough and McGear album has received a deluxe reissue on Esoteric. You had an incredible cast of people who played on that wonderful album.

It was quite extraordinary when you think today of the line up. Obviously, our kid you would know, Jimi Hendrix with the Experience – Noel and Mitch. They came along, different days. Graham ‘Hollies CSNY’ Nash, Dave ‘Traffic’ Mason and his girlfriend Carol. Spencer Davis was there. Paul Samuel Smith from the Yardies, he went on to produce Cat Stevens and Carly Simon. He was an important part of this McGough McGear album.  Gary ‘Walker Brothers’ Leeds. Viv Prince of The Pretty Things, he was the drummer that Keith Moon used to love, he looked up to Viv. ‘So Much In Love’ and the end of ‘Ex Art Student’ have that very Moony feel.

Mike Hart from The Roadrunners came down from Liverpool. John Mayall from The Bluesbreakers. George Zoot Bruno Money, was an integral part. On the floating sax at the end is William ‘Wib’ Bennett from the Royal Philharmonic in London. Andy Roberts was the main person behind all the poetry.

So if we got that line up in today’s marketplace the equivalent is people like Prince. Rihanna, Ed Sheeran, people like Elton John, if you got all of them that is the sort of line up that was there then. They just came along because they were mates or were passing through town. We started this album on June 18, our kid’s birthday. We won’t go into the fact that he had admitted on the very same day taking LSD. He was full of money. During the recording we became quite well known at Christmas, Scaffold’s ‘Thank You Very Much’ was number five or four in the charts. More people would be more amenable to coming in. They were contractually obligated and tied to the record companies but in the 60’s it was much better in terms of them saying ‘Sod off, we like doing this’. We weren’t a threat, comedy, poetry etc, it was not rock’n’roll.  So when the rock n rollers came in, I was allowed to do all my songs there with the best in the world at that time.

What was the song writing process? Did you come with a rough idea and then flesh it out in the studio with jams?

We did the basic words that were McGough’s words, but then I thought of this idea of having all my favourite painters and then you start going. Jane Asher, who was our kid’s girlfriend then, she narrated it. So the whole album was very much loose and experimental. The best way to sum it up is live and loose. It was that sort of thing where we had no idea what we were doing until we got in, we just went for it. The majority of it was first takes. We just went for it and people were busy they’d come in and give us their time. Jimi Hendrix, come in and play your guitar, off you go. That’s what it was, very much a go for it album, don’t think about it do it.

Mike McCartney / McGear, interviewed by Jason Barnard

On “The Beatles Diary Volume 1: The Beatles Years” by Barry Miles, it is noted that Paul McCartney joined Mike McGear and Roger McGough for a recording session at Abbey Road, on January 26, 1968.

Last updated on August 4, 2021

Related sessions


Recording session with Roger McGough & Mike McGear

January 20 or 26, 1968 ? • Songs recorded during this session appear on McGough & McGear (Mono)

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