Sir Paul McCartney announced on Wednesday (Oct. 21) that he will release the third album in a 50-year-spanning solo series, McCartney III, on Dec. 11. The long-awaited sequel to McCartney’s self-titled 1970 solo debut (“Maybe I’m Amazed”) and 1980s sequel, McCartney II (“Coming Up,” “Waterfalls”), will drop two years after the legendary Beatles singer/bassist’s 2018 Egypt Station album.
According to a statement, McCartney hadn’t intended to release a new album in 2020, but during the “isolation of ‘Rockdown,’ he soon found himself fleshing out some existing musical sketches and creating even more new ones.” The COVID-19 quarantine resulted in what is described as a “stripped back, self-produced and, quite literally, solo work marking the opening of a new decade.”
Recorded earlier this year in Sussex, England, the album is built from mostly live takes of McCartney on vocals, guitar and piano, with overdubbed bass and drumming. The session found him revisiting an unreleased track from the 1990s, “When Winter Comes,” which was transformed into album opener “Long Tailed Winter Bird.”
“I was living lockdown life on my farm with my family and I would go to my studio every day,” McCartney said in a statement. “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.”
The rock icon also pulled out some vintage instruments for the set, including Elvis Presley bassist Bill Black’s double bass along with his iconic Hofner violin bass, as well as a mellotron from Abbey Road Studios used on Beatles songs. The elegant album cover art and typography is courtesy of artist Ed Ruscha, with McCartney’s daughter, Mary and nephew, Sonny, providing additional photos.
In addition to CD and digital releases, the album will be issued on limited edition (3,000) hand-numbered red vinyl manufactured by Third Man Pressing, as well as standard 180g and a “333” Edition available only at the Third Man Records online store in a limited run of 333 copies on yellow-with-black-dots vinyl created using 33 recycled vinyl copies of McCartney and McCartney II; a 4,000-run, hand-numbered white vinyl version will be available at U.S. indie record stores.
Check out a preview video below.