McCartney III (2020)

“I’m very lucky because I have a studio that’s, like, 20 minutes away from where I live.

We were in lock down on a farm, a sheep farm with my daughter Mary and her four kids and her husband.
So I had four of my grand kids, I had Mary, who’s a great cook, so I would just drive myself to the studio.

And there were two other guys that could come in and we’d be very careful and distanced and everything: my engineer Steve, and then my equipment guy Keith.

So the three of us made the record, and I just started off. I had to do a little bit of film music – I had to do an instrumental for a film thing – so I did that.

And I just kept going, and that turned into the opening track on the album. I would just come in, say, “Oh, yeah, what are we gonna do?” [Then] have some sort of idea, and start doing it.

Normally, I’d start with the instrument I wrote it on, either piano or guitar, and then probably add some drums and then a bit of bass till it started to sound like a record, and then just gradually layer it all up. It was fun.”


“Long Tailed Winter Bird”

The process first sparked when Paul returned to an unreleased track from the early 90s, ’When Winter Comes’ (co-produced by George Martin). Paul crafted a new passage for the song, giving rise to album opener ’Long Tailed Winter Bird’ — while ’When Winter Comes’, featuring its new 2020 intro ’Winter Bird’,  became the new album’s finale. 

“‘Long Tailed Winter Bird’ started as a piece of film music which I extended. The title came about because it was extended into a full length song, we just called it ‘Long Tailed Winter Bird’ – there is actually in my bird book I saw a long tailed duck, a long tailed winter duck I think, anyway.” – Paul

-One of my favorite McCartney opening tracks ever. It truly shows off Paul as the musician of our lifetime, as he slowly builds and changes the song just enough to keep it fresh. This is not an album of 3 minute pop gems, however it is an album to be listened to, at least a few times. It even helps to maybe be a tad bit “loose.” You have to immerse yourself in the sonic landscape and all Paul is giving you. Here it is, wall to wall guitars, both acoustic and electric. The lyrics don’t even matter at all…. The few that there’s even some backwards effects! Rating – 8.5

“Find My Way”

“That was written at the beginning of lockdown. It was a very scary time. Other scares we’ve had – SARS, avian flu – they seemed to happen to other people. But this was happening to everyone, people you knew, everyone in the world. Some of my friends, some people I knew were close to going under with it. I was thinking about people who worry more than I do.

And I know one or two people which are just kind-of worried about life. And it’s not that I don’t, it’s just that I deal with those worries and think “No, it’s ok, there’s a way out of this” and I can generally find some optimistic exit from a bad situation.

But there are some people who do get overwhelmed with it. So I think I was addressing those people and thinking “you never used to be so anxious but now you are, so let me be your guide, let me help you, to find the love that is inside you.” It just felt like a natural thing to say, so that’s what it’s about.” – Paul

-Slightly awkward drum production (I wished they were brought up your face). The hook is wonderful, with the old man voice leaving me smile. This is classic Paul, as good as anything he has written in the last 40 years. You either love it with the new vocals, or punish it because you know what 1985 Paul would have torn the shit out of this one. Still…. Not bad at all. He even adds a coda where he goes his best surf runs on his NEW old telecaster. Rating – 8

“Pretty Boys”
The lyrics for “Pretty Boys” are inspired by Paul seeing bicycles for hire around New York and London.

“It was also inspired by certain photographers who have been known to get out of the line in the studio. The “objects of desire” in the song are male models. “You can look, but you’d better not touch…”

“I’ve been photographed by many photographers through the years. And when you get down to London, doing sessions with people like David Bailey, they can get pretty energetic in the studio. It’s like “Blow-Up”, you know? “Give it to me! [Expletive] the lens!” And it’s like: “What? No, I’m not going to.” But I understand why they’re doing that. They’re that kind of artist. So you allow it. Certain photographers — they tend to be very good photographers, by the way — can be totally out of line in the studio.

So “Pretty Boys” is about male models. And going around New York or London, you see the lines of bicycles for hire. It struck me that they’re like models, there to be used. It’s most unfortunate.”- Paul

-Acoustic that took a few years for me to settle in on it. The sound is full and as lush as he has ever sounded. He pulls back the lead vocal and slightly flattens it out in the mix, letting the instrumentation take over a bit. Rating- 7.5 (interesting ideas for a song though)

“Women And Wives”
“I wrote this when I was in Los Angeles and I had just been reading a book on the Blues artist Leadbelly, so I was trying to get in this bluesy mood so I played on the piano, played some simple chords and started singing in what I imagined was like bluesy [sings], so that was that and then I recorded it at the studio in England.” – Paul

-I heard more 68’ Fats in this one. The vocals aren’t really that affected as certain podcasts gripe that it’s (his vocal singing style) way overdone. I don’t. The style fits its, like it did with “Lady Madonna.” It just doesn’t have the magical hook that takes it from the decent to his upper level. Rating – 7

“Lavatory Lil’”
One thing we know about ‘Lavatory Lil’ is this, that the character is based on someone who Paul worked with, that turned into a bit of a baddie.

Paul recorded the song using a vintage 1954 Telecaster guitar gifted to him by his wife Nancy. To get the great blues rock sound on the song, Paul played the Telecaster through his Vox AC30 amp.

“Lavatory Lil” is a parody of someone I didn’t like. Someone I was working with who turned out to be a bit of a baddie. I thought things were great; it turned nasty. So I made up the character Lavatory Lil and remembered some of the things that had gone on and put them in the song. I don’t need to be more specific than that. I will never divulge who it was.” – Paul

-A toe-tapper. On spot vicious lyrics and great production. Paul’s vocal sound so good, as is his ripping solo. I think it’s about Heather, but some people never know…. Rating – 8

“Deep Deep Feeling”
Deep Deep Feeling’ is the longest song on ‘McCartney III’ clocking in at nearly eight and a half minutes. It’s also one of the most experimental tracks on the album.

Paul used his Brenall 1/4″ reel-to-reel to layer guitar parts and create what he referred as the “guitar orchestra”. The often resulted in their being 40 guitar tracks for each chord. Paul did consider editing the track’s length. But, as the sessions came about by accident, he decided to leave it uncut and let the album be about him having fun.

“This was from a kind of jam that I had done, I’d wanted to get in a particular mood, a very sort of empty, spacey mood so I did that and then the vocals on top of it, I just made up stuff so it was just a combination of ideas that became an eight-minute song.

-A slow builder you must let yourself become totally immersed in the soundscape to appreciate. I don’t think Paul has ever recorded a song quite like this. At 8 1/2 minutes, it may seem too long, but it is not. It is a slow moving musical journey. Nice change of pace when he brings the piano into the groove. Outstanding, on all levels. Rating – 8.5

“Slidin’” was started during the sessions for Paul’s previous studio album “Egypt Station”. The song’s riff came about by Paul jamming with his live band. Before playing a gig, Paul will often perform a soundcheck set of an hour or longer. The riff from “Slidin’” came from the soundcheck jam at his Dusseldorf show in May 2016.

To achieve the heavy drum sound that opens the track, Paul recorded the tom-toms at double speed. When played back at normal speed, the drums are then an octave lower and the effect creates a deeper tone.

-Paul rocks the hell out of this one, helped by the band. One of two tracks that were started before “Rock down.” Paul’s vocals are sweet, but buried in the mix. Rating – 8

“The Kiss Of Venus”
‘The Kiss Of Venus’ was inspired by a book about the movements of the planets. The book discussed the ‘pentagram of Venus’ and used the poetic term the kiss of Venus. Along with Paul’s singing and guitar, the only other instrument to appear on the track is a harpsichord.

While often associated with Baroque music, Paul is a big fan of the harpsichord and has used it throughout his career, and on recent songs like ‘New’ and ‘Fuh You’. Paul also plays harpsichord on ‘Find My Way’ and ‘Pretty Boys’ on ‘McCartney III’.

-Classic Macca acoustic charmer. His fragility in voice now lends itself as delicate and gentle. The harpsichord break was a nice touch. Rating – 7.5

“Seize The Day”
Whilst Paul didn’t start out intending to be a philosophical song, it turned out to be just that. ‘Seize The Day’ was written during lockdown when the world was learning to live with COVID-19.

After writing the line, ‘Yankee toes and Eskimos’, Paul came up with ‘Can turn the frozen ice’. Paul realized he was writing about how not every day will be sunny. The song then turned into a reminder that we should hang onto the good times and ‘Seize The Day’.

-Paul has told of this message quite a few times in his storied career. Again, live in the moment. Behind the scenes in this simple song reveal quite a rocking rhythm track. Rating – 7.5

“Deep Down”
“That was just a jam I had. I had a beat I liked and chords that I liked and I didn’t really have much of an idea but I had had this thing that said “get deep down, wanna get deep down” as this idea.

I didn’t quite know what I meant by deep down except I want to have a deep relationship with you or whatever so I just really kept going on it. Some songs you know you don’t quite know where you’re going; you’ve just got half an idea and it’s really just that you’re enjoying the groove and that one was one of those, I just thought of ideas as I went along.”

-Maybe one of the most soulful tracks Paul has ever written. In a sort of faux-hip hop beat and vocal style, Paul takes this middle of the road to the far extremes. He really lets loose his best 2021 growls as he takes us “deep down.” Rating – 7.5

“When Winter Comes”
The history of the song started 28 years before, as it was recorded on September 3, 1992, along with “Calico Skies” and “Great Day“.
‘When Winter Comes’ was originally recorded with George Martin at the mixing desk and unearthed during the research for Paul’s 2020 ‘Flaming Pie’ reissue.

Considering the song too good to be released as a bonus track, Paul decided to make a short film to accompany it.

-When this song came on to end the album the hairs on my arm stood upon as the 1992 voice came in on this sweet acoustic ditty. The sound of the voice of a lifetime at its peak makes me happy and sad. Happy, we have so many incredible vocal performances in his life. Sad, the voice has changed. Aged, fragile, but still amazing. A wonderful way to take us to the finish line. Rating – 8.5

Overall the album grades out at 7.86/10, which places it 11th out of the albums I’ve graded.

Next, the massive rollout of McCartney III and the rest of 2021…

By tvnpsl

Woke up by my folks on February 7th, 1964 and sat in front of the TV and told "this would be important."
Like many, my life was never the same same after the first strains of "All My Loving." Love all things Beatles, but have always been drawn to the ethic and output of Paul.

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