McCartney III is the Charm of Macca’s DIY Home-Made Albums

I was excited when Paul McCartney announced his new album McCartney III back in October, though my expectations weren’t very high. McCartney and McCartney II, the two previous albums in his DIY homemade trilogy, for the most part never appealed to me. While McCartney III is no Band on the Run, Tug of War or predecessor Egypt Station for that matter, there’s something charming about the album, which was released today (December 18). With each additional listening, I feel a bit like what Sir Paul sang 53 years ago: It’s getting better all the time.

Unlike McCartney and McCartney II, McCartney III had not be planned. From the previous announcement on McCartney’s website: “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.” 

McCartney III feels a bit like a hodgepodge of tunes, including somewhat experimental music, full-blown rock and more typical acoustic McCartney type songs. That’s part of its charm! Like on his two DIY predecessors, McCartney plays all instruments himself, including guitar, bass, piano, harpsichord, mellotron, synthesizer and drums. There’s one exception. On the rocker Slidin, he did get a little help from Rusty Anderson (guitar) and Abe Laboriel Jr. (drums), two longtime members of his backing band in the studio and on the road.

There’s also When Winter Comes, an unreleased track that was previously recorded in the early ’90s and co-produced by George Martin. Macca wrote a new passage for the song, which inspired album opener Long Tailed Winter Bird. In turn, that tune sparked the process for McCartney to work on songs and of course extra time he had on his hands during the extended COVID-19 lockdown. Let’s get to some music.

I’d like to kick it off with the aforementioned opener Long Tailed Winter Bird, a largely instrumental track that’s the most adventurous on the album. I had to listen to the tune a few times before it started speaking to me – certainly not typical McCartney.

Find My Way sounds more like a McCartney pop tune. It’s got some nice harmony guitar accents. I also like the harpsichord. And the legendary Höfner violin bass! Here’s the official video.

Lavatory Lil is a nice rocker with a cool descending bassline. Some reviews I’ve seen called it reminiscent of Polythene Pam. Whichever way you want to describe it, I think it’s a cool tune!

Let’s follow it up with another rocker: the above noted Slidin’, the hardest rockin’ tune on the album.

How about some classic McCartney acoustic guitar tune? Ask and you shall receive. Here’s The Kiss Of Venus.

The last track I’d like to call out is the closer Winter Bird/When Winter Comes. Don’t get fooled by the beginning, which sounds like a reprise of the opener. About 27 seconds into the track, When Winter Comes begins, another nice acoustic tune.

McCartney III has a few additional parallels to McCartney and McCartney II. The photography stayed in the family. In the case of the two predecessors, it was Linda McCartney. On the new album, the principal photos were shot by McCartney’s daughter Mary McCartney, with additional photos by his nephew Sonny McCartney and some shots Paul took on his phone. Each of the three albums appeared during the first year of a new decade around major developments: The breakup of The Beatles, the end of Wings and the turmoil caused by a global pandemic.

Unlike McCartney and McCartney II, which initially had lukewarm receptions from critics, the majority of reviews I’ve seen for McCartney III are pretty positive. Perhaps the critics have mellowed because of COVID-19, or perhaps they are simply happy that one of the most beloved artists on the planet still feels passionate about his craft and releases new music. I can’t deny the latter is a factor in my judgment.

McCartney III appears on Capitol Records and is available via digital platforms, on CD, and on LP. According to McCartney’s website, the latter are manufactured by Third Man Pressing. Vinyl configurations range from standard 180g to a Third Man Edition of 3000 hand-numbered red vinyl copies, a ‘333’ Edition sold only via Third Man Records online store and limited to 333 copies on yellow-with-black-dots vinyl created using 33 recycled vinyl copies of McCartney and McCartney II, a U.S. indie retail exclusive pressing of 4000 hand-numbered white vinyl LPs, and more. 

Sources: Wikipedia; Paul McCartney website; YouTube

11 thoughts on “McCartney III is the Charm of Macca’s DIY Home-Made Albums”

  1. Love Lavatory Lil and Slidin’ so far…later today I’m listening to them later today again.
    Long Tailed Winter Bird is different…I’m looking forward to going over them. As far as the two other McCartney albums…I like the first one. I know that one pretty well.
    McCartney II ….really all I know is Coming Up off of that one…and I like that song a lot…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m with you, Max. Those two tunes appealed to me as well right away. Some of the others took a bit longer. The opener certainly is an unusal track for McCartney. While saying I love it would be an exaggeration, it’s getting better all the time! 🙂

      As for “McCartney” and “McCartney II”, the only two songs that are memorable to me are “Maybe I’m Amazed”, which is a great tune, though I like the live version on “Wings Over America” much better, and “Coming Up” an okay but not great song, in my opinion.

      Perhaps the caveat to these statements is I haven’t listened to “McCartney” and “McCartney II” for many years. In fact, I don’t believe I ever listened to “McCartney II” in its entirety. This album just didn’t appeal to me at the time, especially coming from an artist who used to be in my favorite band of all time and has written so many great songs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I haven’t listened to McCartney II either in it’s entirety. I saw the video of Coming up when I was 12 on Saturday Night Live and I liked it and bought the single…but I like the studio version of Coming Up the best.

        McCartney I… grew on me through the years. The simplicity of it. I do like the Wings Over America version of Maybe I’m Amazed also. Love the solo Paul came up with.

        Lavotory Lil…is first of all…such a great Beatle”ish” title…it’s hard not to like it. I’m glad he rocked some on this album…. I’m going to give all of them another listen today.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes i did hear it. It’s really cool that they are releasing them like this. It was a solid Ringo song. He had a lot of his friends on it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I started listening to the album on Spotify but only had time for “Long Tailed Winter Bird.” Odd, but I kinda dug it. You’d never guess it was McCartney. I will definitely give the album a spin tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

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