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Paul McCartney is back with moving, melodic and masterful ‘McCartney 3’

UPDATED: Thu., Dec. 10, 2020

If anyone in the world of rock can rest on his laurels, it’s Paul McCartney.

McCartney was half of the most famous songwriting tandem of all time. McCartney and John Lennon wrote pop-rock standards, which will one day be regarded in the same manner as what William Shakespeare penned.

The 78-year-old has written or co-written a staggering 32 songs that have hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100 – a feat that is without parallel. Beatles compositions such as “And I Love Her,” “Blackbird,” “Eleanor Rigby” and “Yesterday” are among the most covered songs ever.

But the numbers only tell part of the story. McCartney is a remarkably gifted writer and recording artist who also is a wonderfully melodic bass player who can play a variety of instruments.

Just like on 1970’s “McCartney” and 1980’s “McCartney 2,” Sir James Paul McCartney plays every instrument on “McCartney 3,” which drops Dec. 18.

Before even listening to the album, the question is why decide to do all of the heavy lifting for such an album while on the edge of octogenarian status?

But this is McCartney, who before the pandemic was touring regularly, delivering glorious three-hour concerts. Music is McCartney’s passion, and he still has plenty to express throughout the moving, melodic and at times masterful “McCartney 3.”

The songs are well-structured but also playful. McCartney is performing as if he has nothing to lose, and that is so.

There’s some surprising grit and power during “Slidin,’ ” which includes a solid, memorable riff. “The Kiss of Venus” is catchy and pretty. Thumbs up for the sturdy blues rocker “Lavatory Lil” and the moody “Deep Down.”

The gorgeous “Seize the Day” is a welcome optimistic track about enjoying every moment we have on this planet. It’s not easy to consider that during a pandemic, but McCartney urges his fans to look at the bright side.

Casual aficionados occasionally posit that McCartney was the uncool Beatle, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is that McCartney was the most-talented Beatle who also was the most experimental member of the Fab Four. Which former Beatle recorded a techno album under the pseudonym the Fireman? Yes, it was McCartney.

As a Beatle, he gave more than he received, and he had the greatest range of anyone in the band. McCartney easily traveled from the hard rock of “Helter Skelter” to the dancehall of “When I’m 64.” His ability to tackle any genre continued during a solo career that found McCartney recording standards and collaborating with hip-hop innovator Kanye West.

McCartney’s greatest sin is arguably longevity. Sure, the living legend has recorded some clunkers, but that’s what happens after releasing 38 post-Beatle albums.

“McCartney 3” is far from a clunker. The album hooks listeners from the start. The member of the Order of the British Empire shows off his guitar chops on the leadoff track, “Long Tailed Winter Bird,” and concludes with the cute bookend cut “Winter Bird, When Winter Comes.”

The first two of McCartney’s solo albums in which he played each instrument followed the end of an era. “McCartney” was released months after the Beatles broke up. “McCartney 2” was finished less than a year after his ‘70s band, Wings, called it a day.

Does “McCartney 3” signify the end of the charismatic philanthropist’s lengthy solo career? That’s doubtful. After 57 years as a professional musician, the odds are that the restless McCartney will make new albums and one day return to the concert trail.

Perhaps McCartney will visit some new markets, such as Spokane, since he has a penchant for performing in cities that he’s yet to visit. McCartney did just that in 2014 when he played Missoula’s Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

McCartney and his longtime band deliver stellar sets comprised of Beatles, Wings and solo material. It wouldn’t be surprising if McCartney assembled a tour to mark his 80th birthday in 2022. That would certainly be a concert to look forward to post-pandemic!

Knowing McCartney’s track record, there will probably be yet another new album for him to tour behind. Enjoy McCartney, who is unlike any other recording artist.

The old man once known as the “Cute Beatle” should be admired for all of the chances he’s taken and reveled in for making albums like “McCartney 3,” where he simply relaxes and offers off-the-cuff pleasure.

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