Album Notes - Paul McCartney - III
McCartney, a guy named Paul's solo debut, hit shelves 21 days before Let it Be, the final catalog entry from some group you may have heard of. That 1970 release truly was a solo album, with Macca serving as producer and playing every single instrument. In 1979, Sir Paul's other band, Wings, released their final record. May of the following year saw McCartney II, again featuring Paul and Paul alone. Forty years later, the third installment of a trilogy no one expected, including the knighted Englishman himself, arrives. Spurred on by what he's taken to calling "rockdown," McCartney, like the rest of us, has been bored and in need of a creative outlet in 2020. For everyone, the last nine months have been a challenge to try to maintain our sanity while plugging along at everyday life. For the living legend, apparently that equated to recording and releasing a batch of tunes that is a combination of things borne out of our current state of existence and a chance to flesh out previous scraps.
McCartney was a collection of odds and ends. Save "Maybe I'm Amazed," things largely felt incomplete. McCartney II explored a wider sonic range and featured one of the best songs, and certainly one of the best videos, of his entire career, "Coming Up." McCartney III sounds very much at home (pun intended?) with his output over the past couple of decades. Some rockers, a few acoustic ditties, the occasional cheese, along with the usual catchiness that requires repeated listens.
The clear standout here is the opener, "Long Tailed Winter Bird," during which McCartney goes from acoustic to groove. Other highlights are the heavier tunes like "Lavatory Lil" and "Slidin," so reminiscent of "Cut Me Some Slack," the hard rocking jam he recorded with the remaining members of Nirvana back in 2012.
Is III Paul's best work? No. Is it a solid addition to a career that seemingly has no end, and a step above 2018's Egypt Station? Absolutely. Any album from McCartney, particularly these days, is a welcome respite. If McCartney marked the end of the Beatles and its sequel the end of Wings, the release of McCartney III begs the question, what does Paul know that we don't?