Producer: Paul McCartney
Released: 11 December 2020
Paul McCartney: vocals, all instruments
It was kind of unintentional. I had to go into the studio at the beginning of lockdown to do a couple of bits of music for an animated short film. So I got got in and did that bit of work and sent it off to the director, and then I thought, ‘Oh, this is nice, I’m enjoying this, this is a nice way to spend lockdown,’ so I ended up finishing off some songs, looking at bits and bobs, making up stuff, and generally enjoying myself in the studio. And then I’d come home in the evening, and I just happened to be with my daughter Mary’s family. The combination of being able to go to work, make some music, and then hang out with four of my grandkids, I was very lucky. Y’know, we were being super careful, but being able to make music really helped.
Right at the end of it, I’d just been stockpiling tracks, and I thought, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do with all of this – I guess I’ll hang onto it,’ and then I thought, ‘Wait a minute, this is a McCartney record,’ because I’d played everything and done it in the same manner as McCartney I and II. That was a little light bulb going off, and I thought, ‘Well, at least that makes a point of explaining what I’ve been doing, unbeknownst to me.’
In addition to standard CD, black vinyl, and digital download editions, there was a dizzying array of coloured vinyl pressings:
Red edition sold via McCartney’s online store (3,000 copies)
Third Man Records variant on red vinyl with the TMR logo on the front (3,333 hand-numbered)
US independent stores white vinyl version (4,000 hand-numbered in the US, 4,001-7,000 in Europe)
Spotify version on “130g coke bottle clear vinyl”
Newbury Comics version on pink vinyl (1,500)
Target (US) exclusive on green vinyl.
HMV exclusive blue vinyl
On 21 October 2020, Jack White’s Third Man Records announced a ‘333 Edition’ of McCartney III, retailing at $60, and pressed on yellow and black vinyl. It came before the album’s official confirmation, and sold out within minutes.
McCartney III — 333 Edition is limited to 333 copies and is pressed on ‘yellow-with-black-dots’ vinyl created using 33 recycled vinyl copies of McCartney and McCartney II by Third Man Pressing. This special “regrind” pressing, the first version of McCartney’s third self-titled solo album available for purchase, is hand-numbered and features an exclusive screen-printed jacket.
The label also released a ‘Third Man Edition’ of 3,333 hand-numbered red vinyl copies, sold via paulmccartney.com, with a Third Man logo on the cover. This was in addition to the unnumbered red variant sold from McCartney’s store.
The principal photography for McCartney III was by Paul’s daughter Mary, with additional shots by his nephew Sonny McCartney – the son of Paul’s brother Mike. Extra photographs were taken by Paul on a smartphone.
The cover art and typography is by American artist Ed Ruscha. It uses a modified version of Ruscha’s own typeface, Boy Scout Utility Modern. The tie (middle horizontal line) of the letter ‘E’ is narrower on McCartney III than in Ruscha’s normal lettering.
I first met Ed Ruscha through my daughter, Stella, and since then have visited his studio quite a few times. He is a very easy going, humorous guy and ‘of course’ a very skilful painter. His treatments are ingenious and intriguing. Nancy asked Ed to paint a picture for my birthday which uses the phrase ‘For Life’ which is taken from the song ‘My Valentine’, which I wrote for her. It is a beautiful picture with the text in his usual deadpan signature style. The lettering font he uses reminds me of art classes I used to take as a teenager in the Liverpool Institute where we learned to write the alphabet in this style and I enjoyed it so much I even offered to do the lettering on one piece of George’s homework! I feel happy to know him and his family and hope you enjoy reading the essay we have put together for the website.
paulmccartney.com, 15 March 2019
The vinyl variants contain different photographic montages inside the gatefold, with at least three different known versions.