“I was living lockdown life on my farm with my family and I would go to my studio every day. I had to do a little bit of work on some film music and that turned into the opening track and then when it was done I thought what will I do next? I had some stuff I’d worked on over the years but sometimes time would run out and it would be left half-finished so I started thinking about what I had. Each day I’d start recording with the instrument I wrote the song on and then gradually layer it all up, it was a lot of fun. It was about making music for yourself rather than making music that has to do a job. So, I just did stuff I fancied doing. I had no idea this would end up as an album.” – Paul McCartney.
Fans of Paul McCartney just might break out in hives late this week with the announcement of the ex-Beatles new self-titled album McCartney III due for release in early December this year. It comes fifty years since he released his first solo venture at a time when the Beatles had all but imploded. Interestingly, McCartney III is set to feature McCartney taking ownership of all the instruments on the new album, I guess a little something like Dave Grohl did on his epic ‘Play’ single. In truth, it shouldn’t be a stretch for the music legend who is a virtuoso guitarists, pianist and even drummer. As a songwriter we can expect McCartney to tickle our imagination with new songs apparently about freedom, as well as some of his favourite songwriting subjects –love and optimism.
With McCartney III seemingly a labour of love for McCartney, during a time in lockdown that has seen musicians across the world adopt solo home-recording approaches with various degrees of success, I’m left to wonder what sort of mood sonically we will find McCartney on his new record?
Interestingly, when we isolate his solo works to just the self-titled releases – McCartney (1970), McCartney II (1980) and now McCartney III (2020) it’s a sure bet we just might find Sir Paul McCartney still in the mood to experiment. If anything, history has shown us its possible.
For instance, McCartney (1970) just after the Beatles was a hotbed of lo-fi home recordings, studio tracks and Beatles rejects. From it Junk and Maybe I’m Amazed standout as personal favourite, two tracks that highlight the supple rawless of the album. McCartney II (1980), on the other hand, is in stark contrast to McCartney’s solo debut, well at least sonically with its new wave synth-heavy inspired leanings. Its execution lay in McCartney’s willingness to embrace something new, which he worked on in solitude at his farm in Scotland. As weird as it is to hear songs like Coming Up, Temporary Secretary and Waterfall, McCartney definitely hit a nerve with critics and fans alike. Even John Lennon who had only ever praised McCartney’s Here, There and Everwhere got excited when he heard Coming Up on a car radio. “Fuck a pig, it’s Paul!”
And so anyway, while we await McCartney’s first new release since 2018’s Egyptian Station, I really hope McCartney III has something interesting to say musically. It’s rumoured to be his last record before he retires, but I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one. Like his 1980 hit ‘Coming Up’, the 78 year-old rocker, it seems is forever invigorated at surprising us.
McCartney III will be released December 11 on Capitol Records.