It’s the time of year for saving money!
I was unsure what to expect when I pre-ordered the special edition of Sir Paul McCartney’s most recent solo album, McCartney III Imagined. Information was vague as to what to expect even from some of my more tapped-in Beatle-fan friends. As I’d been left out of the colored vinyl frenzy surrounding the first version of the album — McCartney III — on principal I needed to try to get a copy of the deluxe edition (hey, I’m a lifetime fan so go ahead and call me fanboy!).
The good news is I’m pleasantly surprised how good this album is. In a way, I may like it better than the original!
Not quite a remix album and not quite a tribute, McCartney III Imagined is both and yet different at the same time. As I understand it, McCartney cherry picked a bunch of artists with interesting backgrounds to rethink the songs on his most recent record. Some remixes use McCartney’s voice and add new backing tracks and rhythms while others recorded entirely new pieces around the original song construct including their own vocals.
The result is a recording that is at once familiar yet fresh and that’s where it gets exciting. Beck’s terrific version of “Find My Way” transforms the light-hearted pop rocking original into a slightly-funky, cool-groovin’ booty-shaker. The corresponding video for it is tasty icing on the cake as they created an intentional “deep fake” version of McCartney to star in it. I’ll save the surprise ending for you so you should watch it (posted at the end of this review).
Dominic Fike’s sweet take on “Kiss Of Venus” is another near-perfect major transformation, moving this acoustic finger-picked guitar, front porch folksy tune to a semi-epic near-rock groove. Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien (aka EoB) delivers the raw rock, reconsidering the grungy dirge of “Slidin’” remixed into a speedier cosmic rocker this side of “Helter Skelter.” To that, my only disappointment on McCartney III Imagined is Josh Homme’s version of “Lavatory Lil” which I would have liked to hear lift off more than it does.
Anderson.Paak’s re-think on “When Winter Comes” is a charmer, showing that the producer really got inside the rhythm of the song, taking it from a sort of wistful finger-picked acoustic guitar and vocal demo to a punchy swaggering post new wave pop confection.
I really like 3D RDN’s version of “Deep Deep Feeling” which expands the moody 8-minute original into a more ambient and even trippier, pulsing 11-minute journey. Also known as Robert Del Naja from Massive Attack, this super twisted version incorporates a nifty deconstructed sample from McCartney’s 1980 proto-techno-pop quasi hit “Temporary Secretary” (my favorite track from McCartney II) and a rhythmic tick (think Kraftwerk’s “Trans Europe Express”) which takes the tune into another universe.
And so it goes on McCartney III Imagined. The other happy surprise is that the album sounds pretty good as modern pop records go. I took a big chance and ordered the super deluxe colored vinyl version from Sir Paul’s website because I simply loved the cover design of the psychedelic dice. Happily it actually sounds pretty great, is well centered and because they used opaque vinyl it plays quietly even though it sports a multi-colored splatter designed (which admittedly can sometimes be noisy). So that’s a win-win right there…
If you didn’t get the McCartney III album in the first place and are curious about it you can read my review by clicking here.
If you have access to Tidal you can click here to jump to McCartney III Imagined streaming at 48 kHz, 24-bit MQA fidelity. If you have Qobuz, click here for that similar fidelity Hi Res stream.
But if you’ve been on the fence about whether to get this new McCartney III Imagined in physical form and you’re a fan of McCartney and any of the artists on the set, I recommend this highly.
My favorite song Long Tailed Winter Bird lost its balls and strut on the new arrangement, meh. Ditto Lavatory Lil–Paul does a better job with his stuff.