Paul McCartney gets a little help from his friends on McCartney III Imagined


Maya Alexander

At the beginning of 2020, while the world was preparing for dire straits, a little-known musician was hunkering down with instruments and grandkids alike to finish the third part of his half- century-long experiment.

Sir James Paul McCartney, now 78, began his solo career with the eponymous album McCartney in 1970. After John Lennon announced his departure from The Beatles in late 1969, McCartney retreated to his Scotland farm to begin recording his first album.

With McCartney playing every instrument from acoustic guitar, bass guitar, drums to wine glasses — as heard on “Hot As Sun/Glasses” — this debut was a true hodgepodge do-it-yourself effort. At the time it was released the record was lambasted by critics for its stripped down and laid back aesthetic.

Retrospectively, it seems that McCartney took a lot of the heat for The Beatles’ split-up in the form of scathing reviews, but looking back its impact remains unmatched. Not only was McCartney the first solo effort from a Beatle post-breakup, it was also an album in a league of its own.

Every instrument was played by McCartney, and every song was written by him, some of them dating back to the 50s. The album’s back cover features an iconic photo of McCartney swaddling his daughter Mary in his fur coat and has the signature McCartney -touch all over it. McCartney was a no-holds-barred expression of a man trying to understand himself and the things that he loved in the only way he knew — music.

A follow-up sophomore record for the new solo McCartney, aptly named McCartney II, was delivered a decade later, building on this established scene the ex-Beatle set for himself.

Cut to early 2020, with the 50-year anniversary of McCartney not far ahead, McCartney once again found himself on a farm surrounded by instruments and a lot of newfound time on his hands.

The product was the aptly titled album McCartney III released in December of 2020. Chock-full of songs with the classic Macca touch like the bare acoustic “The Kiss Of Venus” to more modern sounding heavy-hitters like “Slidin’,” the album proved to be the perfect rounding out to the McCartney trilogy by mixing the two distinct sounds of the albums that preceded it.

Shortly after the release of McCartney III came the announcement of a remix album, McCartney III Imagined, which became digitally available on April 16. The remix album features a vast array of hand-picked artists such as Blood Orange, Damon Albarn, St. Vincent and others. With such a wide variety of different artists, this album takes a new turn at the beginning of each track. Blood Orange’s remix of “Deep Down” is an incredible remastering that is both fresh and harmonious while being reminiscent of the later The Beatles albums like Yellow Submarine and The Beatles.

Other tracks like EOBs “Slidin’” remix and Josh Homme’s take on “Lavatory Lil” remain more faithful to the originals, adding just a slight kick in order to bolster the McCartney recordings.

The true standout on the album has to be delegated to Dominic Fike’s version of “The Kiss Of Venus”. Fike, along with Phoebe Bridgers on the song “Seize The Day,” were the only two features artists to re-record their assigned songs with their own vocals and musical compositions. While Bridgers opted for a more personal and serene approach, adopting vocals that would allow the song to fit well into her latest album Punisher. Fike delivered an energetic and melodic Beatles-inspired hit that is three-parts pop and R&B with a splash of baroque pop.

All in all, the album is a fine one. There are parts where the remixes truly shine and others where the updated renditions seem to drag down the value of the originals. Unlike its predecessor, McCartney III Imagined is not an essential listen for most, but like all McCartney albums it is a record made for fans of McCartney.

Regular listeners might not care to listen to 3D RDN’s 11-minute sprawling remix of “Deep Deep Feeling,” but fans of McCartney might be delighted to hear the synth from McCartney II hit “Temporary Secretary” sampled throughout. The album is a compelling effort that gives the McCartney trilogy a new edge for the modern listener.