Paul McCartney Gets by with a Little Help from His Friends on 'McCartney III Imagined'

Paul McCartney Gets by with a Little Help from His Friends on 'McCartney III Imagined'
It took Sir Paul McCartney 50 years to complete the McCartney trilogy of self-recorded and performed solo albums. Now, with collaboration instead of isolation at the forefront, the songs of McCartney III are receiving an upgrade in the form of McCartney III Imagined, an album of remixes, covers and reinterpretations from some of the world's most respected musicians and producers of various backgrounds and styles. The result is a cluster of McCartney-penned tracks with a sprinkle of personality from each of their new performers.

Eclectic remixes arrive from Blood Orange on "Deep Down" and Damon Albarn on "Long Tailed Winter Bird." Here, the album draws a direct comparison to 1980's McCartney II by using synthesizers, drum machines and other studio tricks to create a hypnotic daze throughout the record. The remixes prove that a well-written song can be performed just about any way imaginable and still be good, allowing for McCartney's music to branch out into genres otherwise untouched by the 78-year-old. 

While new wave and electronica might command earlier parts of this covers album, today's pillars of rock'n'roll are also present. Radiohead's Ed O'Brien magnifies "Slidin'" into an overly distorted punk rock-inspired performance, while Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age delivers a subpar rendition of "Lavatory Lil." On "Women and Wives," modern rock icon St. Vincent turns the track into a soulful song from the '70s but ups the ante with her signature high-pitched vocals and a bluesy guitar solo.

The album's top honour goes to none other than Phoebe Bridgers, whose hauntingly beautiful rendition of "Seize the Day" brings her trademark comforting sense of gloom and darkness to the album. Bridgers intensifies the song's melody and nails down a vocal track that outshines every other remix on the album, an olive branch to the dad rockers she keeps feuding with.

McCartney III is more than your average covers album — each collaborator stretches the skeletons of McCartney's songs into something new, making the album an unconventional collection of tracks that bypass the rules of genre and sonic cohesion. Few will enjoy every track on this album, but it's the versatility and diversity throughout these tracks that truly make McCartney III Imagined the record that it is. (Capitol)