On Wednesday, Third Man Records and Paul McCartney released McCartney/333, a mini-documentary detailing the vinyl pressing process for the rare “333 Edition” of the musician’s 2020 solo album, McCartney III. The five-minute video includes interviews with Third Man Records employees and co-founder Ben Swank, Rolling Stone journalist Rob Sheffield, as well as clips of the recording process in Sussex, England last year.
In 1970, Paul McCartney released his first solo project, titled simply, McCartney. This output heard him playing every instrument, as well as writing and recording every song. Throughout the decade, the former member of The Beatles would go on to form his second band, Wings, release multiple chart-topping singles, sell out world tours, and put millions of copies into the hands of fans across the globe. Then in 1980, McCartney released the follow-up to his highly-successful first album, the aptly-titled McCartney II. Again, world tours, #1 hits, and impressive sales ensued, solidifying his place amongst music legends.
By the time 2020 rolled around, exactly 50 years since the release of his first entry, McCartney didn’t plan on releasing a new record. He was coming off the wildly successful release of Egypt Station in 2018, which had hit number one on Billboard, however, the isolation of COVID-19 lockdowns sparked inspiration and he got to writing. Before long, McCartney had fleshed out existing musical sketches and created new ones, which would become McCartney III; a stripped-back, self-produced solo work in the tradition of 1970’s McCartney and 1980’s McCartney II.
When it came time to produce limited edition copies, Third Man Records was the obvious choice. Three is a defining number for TMR, as well as its co-founder Jack White. It has surfaced thematically in almost every piece of work White has produced, in some way or another. This run of a limited “333 Edition” and a newer “3333 Edition” was no different.
“We concentrate very much on the number three. It’s his third album, we’re Third Man” said Swank in the video. Sheffield then added, “333 vinyl records. That’s exactly where Jack White’s mind and Paul McCartney’s mind intersect.”
“For McCartney III to be this principle of creative destruction, it very much brings the whole project full circle,” said Sheffield. “Who else in history would be capable of stringing those three albums over 50 years. What artist in any medium?” … “In many ways, McCartney I, II, and III, they are really three pillars that fill his goals artistically, musically, creatively, culturally. They are Paul McCartney responding to what the moment demands of him.”
Not only is McCartney III the third of its kind, but TMR also used unsold copies of the first two to make the limited edition batch of the latest. McCartney/333 documents this process, including the grinding-up of old vinyl; or as McCartney’s manager put it to Swank, destroying “the old to make the new”.
Watch the new Third Man Records documentary, McCartney/333, below and head here to purchase or stream McCartney III. Furthermore, the “3333 Edition” was sent to indie record stores around the world upon release last month. Click here to find a copy in a store near you.