Paul McCartney has announced the forthcoming release of McCartney III, finishing a trilogy of albums he began in 1970.

Yes, it’s 50 years since the release of Macca’s self-titled first solo album and 40 years since its follow-up, McCartney II. Now, on 11 December comes McCartney III, recorded by the now 78-year-old ex-Beatle at home during lockdown.

McCartney says he hadn’t planned to release an album in 2020, but in the isolation of “Rockdown”, as he calls it, he soon found himself fleshing out some existing musical sketches and creating even more new ones. Before long an eclectic collection of spontaneous songs would become McCartney III: a stripped back, self-produced and, quite literally, solo work marking the opening of a new decade, in the tradition of the two previous albums.

Recorded earlier this year in Sussex, McCartney III is mostly built from live takes of McCartney on vocals and guitar or piano, overdubbing his bass playing, drumming etc, atop that foundation. The process first sparked when Paul returned to an unreleased track from the early 90s, When Winter Comes (co-produced by George Martin). McCartney 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 grand finale.

Speaking about McCartney III, Macca says: “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.”

In keeping with McCartney and McCartney II’s photography by Linda McCartney, the principal photos for III were shot by McCartney’s daughter Mary – with additional photography by Paul’s nephew Sonny McCartney as well as photos Paul took on his phone (it’s quite a family affair, it appears). The cover art and typography is by celebrated American artist Ed Ruscha. 

McCartney III will be released 11 December on Capitol Records across digital platforms, on CD, and on LP manufactured by Third Man Pressing.

Photographs by Mary McCartney