Macca targets a UK number one with a slew of new ‘McCartney III’ CDs

Four new CDs available, each with exclusive bonus audio

Paul McCartney / McCartney III coloured CDs

It has been over 30 years since a Paul McCartney studio album hit number one in the UK album charts, and the ex-Beatle is hoping to change that next month by tempting fans to buy multiple CD editions of his forthcoming album McCartney III.

Paul reached number one in the USA with his last effort, 2018’s Egypt Station, and although he has come close a few times over the years (Flaming Pie hit number two) you have to go all the way back to 1989’s Flowers in the Dirt to find a UK chart-topper. But with apparently no restrictions at the moment on how many physical formats ‘count’ for a new album in terms of the charts, team McCartney are taking full advantage.

As previously noted on SDE, there are already NINE different coloured vinyl editions of McCartney’s 18th studio album available globally, and by SDE’s reckoning, five of them are chart eligible in the UK: black, white, red, blue and the Spotify ‘coke bottle clear vinyl’.

But until now we’ve only had one version of the humble CD and no format has offered any bonus audio. That changed yesterday, when McCartney launched “McCartney III Colour Collections” a series of “limited colour edition secret demo edition CDs” and “Dice Merch Box Sets”.

So what is this exactly? Putting the merchandise to one side for a moment, at its core, this is four new CD editions of McCartney III that are colour-coded (white, red, blue, yellow) and each CD contains a unique ‘secret’ demo bonus track. You are encouraged to collect them all to ‘complete the series”. This will give collectors four new McCartney tracks not available elsewhere.

Available only from McCartney’s online store, the ‘softpack’ version of these CDs is £10.99 in the UK and around $14.33 in the USA. However, the US also get a cheaper version of these new CDs (in addition to the ‘deluxe’ softpack) at $7.33 which comes in a ‘mini-jacket’ (i.e. card sleeve). The latter isn’t available in the UK, it seems.

That’s not the only difference. America has different bundles, including CD-with-dice, CD-with-a-cap, CD-with-a-T-shirt and CD-with-a-mask. In the UK, only one big £60 bundle is available with ALL of those items together (although you can buy the individual items – T-shirt, dice, etc. – separately without buying a bundle). All bundles get the cheaper ‘mini-jacket’ version of the CD incidentally; to get the ‘deluxe’ soft-pack version you have to buy that separately. Confused? You will be.

This will mean there are 10 different physical editions of McCartney III that will count towards the UK chart: the five vinyl mentioned above and now five CDs (the original CD and the four new ones). A cassette is available in Canada but has not made it to the UK or the USA yet (curiously).

McCartney III is due for release on 11 December 2020, although it’s worth noting that the UK store lists these new CDs with an 18 December release date.

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[…] is to buy all four of the ‘coloured’ CDs available from Paul McCartney’s store (see this post) but I’d recommend going for the Japanese edition over doing this since it’s cheaper […]

[…] You can order Taylor Swift’s album on CD below. The vinyl isn’t being issued until well into next year. Read more about McCartney III, here. […]


I was just checking the US Paul McCartney store, and whilst there I noticed that the Third Man red vinyl edition has had its image updated, it now shows the normal red dice sleeve with no Third Man logo, so is this a third red vinyl, a mistake, or was it always going to be the same ‘normal’ red dice sleeve?

David H

And another one. Purple is it? This is extremely embarrassing to watch. I’m thinking now of not bothering to buy this album at all. I think it may be fuelling an illness. I don’t think Linda would have supported this gross waste of resources. Does anyone seriously think is is anything other than sheer insanity chasing this farcical marketing excess. Actually I don’t think excess is a strong enough word. I need to consult a thesaurus. If I had subscribed to any of this nonsense though I would need to consult a medical specialist. Sorry Paul you have lost it big time. That’s Mccartney, not Sinclair!

Randy Layton

Interestingly, CDJapan now announces the release with four bonus tracks, so there you go-one stop shopping. Considering that, though I always thought eventually these bonus tracks would wind up somewhere.

Kevin Hemingway

Just bought this, equates to just over £24 for the Paul McCartney “McCartney III” Special Edition [Japan 4 Bonus Tracks] [SHM-CD] [Limited Release] also with 2021 A4 calendar. (That excludes any possible customs charges), so not a bad price. Just realised, hope it’s actually a Paul calendar you get with it and not a CDJapan one!


Think I will wait for the super deluxe edition with all the demos. Sorry Macca.


I see release date for all formats in now December 18th. So thats the plan- Macca wants a Christmas No 1

Wayne Olsen

The PT Barnum remixes will be available in January.


As someone earlier in the comments predicted, it looks like there’s going to be a Japanese edition with all four bonus tracks included

Stephen Moran

I’ve enjoyed reading the reaction to this on a site populated by fans being targeted by this staggered reveal of multitudinous versions. My first reaction has lingered longest – this is an insult to fans and a waste of resources. This type of cynical marketing should be criminalised so that we never see it again.


Just as a marker, AC/DC’s newest album “Power Up” (or PWR/UP if you prefer) debuted at #1 in the UK, US and Australian album charts today, with far fewer gimmicks. Let’s see if Sir Paul can duplicate the trick.

Jarmo Keranen

AC/DC doesn’t sell demos as bonus tracks and make the fans pay for them!


Not sure about that – the AC/DC title was released in picture disc, black vinyl, 2 different red vinyl, yellow vinyl, silver vinyl and six different coloured cassettes! You could even buy a bundle from the webstore which included a Revell model kit to make your own AC/DC tour truck……


1. Still fewer gimmicks than Sir Paul.
2. None had chase tracks like these CDs do.

Anyways, #1 in 18 countries. McCartney III has its work cut out for it, I’d say.


In any climate, but particularly in the current eco and social upheaval, this McCartney driven lust for sales and profit is obscene!

Alan B

UDiscover Store now advertising an exclusive orange vinyl. Beyond silly now. On top of which these vinyl albums are very expensive. The HMV blue vinyl is £35 – for a single LP.


And now there is an orange one as well!


Limited to 3,000 units.

Francis H

The inherent problem with this multi-issue within formats, is that Record Labels have taken advantage of the demographic of Fans that collect different Issues and Pressings of releases. As we know, Local Divisions of Record Labels issue pressings with unique bonus tracks/alternate artwork/extras; typically intended for regional distribution to entice fans to purchase the item. Fans that collect these pressings from around the world do so because they choose to. Regarding PMIII, I’ve not seen a release of late featuring bundles with such superfluous ‘Items’ that doesn’t have a Cassette version ‘as yet’. The ‘You don’t have to buy it’ notion can’t apply when the Record Label have clearly curated this multi CD issue; with the intention of ‘Collecting them all’.

Jeremy Kene

Very well put. Thank you so much particularly for making the point (and I quote you)

The ‘You don’t have to buy it’ notion can’t apply when the Record Label have clearly curated this multi CD issue; with the intention of ‘Collecting them all’…

as I get very angry when people tell me just that i.e. You don’t have to buy it. Of course we will at the least buy the album and enough fans will fork out the extra dosh. No doubt a super deluxe version will be out in a month or so with all of the four added demos plus probably more.

This time however, although I think the marketing will make MPL richer, I think Paul has lost an enormous lot of credit and goodwill from his fans who have tired and now feel completely cheated by the continuous marketing strategies. Quite frankly it is disgusting greed at it’s worst and most blatant.

Vince Williams

And people wonder why bit torrent sotes and VPN’s are still being used when artists do things like this to their fans. I don’t want to buy 4 full priced cd’s just to get an extra track and if I am going to download the bonus demos then why bother buying even 1 of the CD’s?


Excellent point, diehard music lovers getting forked over. Enough already!

patrick DELFORGE

Before spending extra money I have a question : the four CDs have different colors OK . Are you sure that the four secret demos are all differents ?


It’s been confirmed on the last email from Macca’s site as follows:

Each colour CD contains a unique different bonus demo track – collect them all to complete the series.


Francis Coop

But you can rest assured that they’ll all remain part of a chart manipulating ‘rip off’….is this really how low Macca needs to stoop to attain a number 1 Album?


At least he’s No. 1 already (again) in getting the most comments for an SDE-post this week…


Waste of plastic. Simply put. Paul should step forward and be a good example on how to use less resources, not more. Put all the demos on a CD single and be done with it.


The new Steve Hackett studio album will be available in 6 different vinyl versions!

Paul Wren

Good grief – I’m glad I’m not a McCartney completist.


My first reaction was that this is a bit of a rip-off. Then I remembered I had five versions of No More Lonely Nights and five versions of Figure of Eight and numerous other multi variations of the same release. It’s nothing new. What I do find odd is that this release seems to have provoked more negative comment than the various coloured vinyl versions. At least with the cd’s you are getting different music on each one.

I For Detail

I notice that the dice dots on the merchandise link are black but the dice on the covers have white dots (apart from the white one of course). Shame. I might otherwise have been tempted …


Will this be the next set of variant covers? Same as before, but with different colored dots?


It’s easy to make fun of a release like this for being a “cash in,” and I’m just as guilty of doing it as anyone (see below), but in all honesty, it’s only a “silly” thing for people not interested in it. There will be people who will NEED to own it all, and I don’t begrudge them that. I’m not that level of fan for McCartney, but lord knows I bought around 11 different versions of Kylie’s Fever album to get all the various bonus tracks, remixes, cover variations, and what not back when that came out. And I’ve bought all the different editions of Madonna’s last few albums, even though you got all of the tracks of you bought just the super deluxe version (but there were different COVERS!!!!). And I still kick myself for only buying one of the four cover variants for Tori Amos’s Strange Little Girls. Plus last week I was beyond excited to discover a used copy of The Beautiful South’s Miaow album with the original cover art (the auditorium full of dogs listening to the gramophone instead of the boat full of dogs at sea) at the record shop.

So, in reality, those of us making fun of Macca for what feels like a cash grab just aren’t the audience that he’s designing this for. I can make fun of him all I want, but at the end of the day, I’m living in my own glass house considering the amount of money I’ve spent just to get one more track or a different cover or a collector’s version that still had the same content in terms of track listing.

Joel Calderone

I like the way you look at this!! Too many people out there see it their “right” way. I give you high marks for saying basically this is not for me, but I can understand why someone would want to do this. I by the way pre-ordered all four color dice. I am not happy about this at all. I get Paul wants to be #1 in the U.K. I wanted to also but the new Elvis Costello, the Clapton Crossroads concert and the John Lennon remaster, but because of Paul McCartney and his antics (which I say kudos to you for knowing how to milk us for more money which you don’t need) those purchases will have to wait.


I have only one question. how involved is Macca in this multi-edition profiteering?


And don’t forget: there might be an exclusive version at Target, not to mention what bonus track(s) will be on the Japanese version(s), and then a year from now, a massive box set with all the demos plus more.

Sigh … I miss the days when an artist would just record a new album and release it. McCartney and Deep Purple are in a tie as to how many times they can release a new album in different versions to entice fans to buy the basic album over and over to get a few additional extras with each new “deluxe” edition.


Hello Paul,
JPC in Germany offers this „green“ version also!


I wonder how the many unhappy commenters would feel if more than a single bonus track were added to the album? Suppose a half-dozen songs from a live concert were added to each cd. Pick the one with the songs you like best, or buy all four, and you wind up with a full set. (Aztec Camera did something similar on a series of cd singles back in the day.) Would the complaint about milking the collectors still stand?

Someone above mentioned experiments with multiple sleeve art variants from the early 1980s. I don’t think anyone but the totally compulsive attempted to collect the dozens of variants on “Synchronicity” by the Police, or “abacab” by Genesis, and I don’t remember anyone complaining about the variations at the time. If anything, people looked on it as a bit of fun to choose the one you liked. Is the problem here just that the musical content varies?

The Zep “In Through The Out Door” package was different in several ways. For one thing, it was released inside a brown paper sleeve, so you couldn’t tell which variant you were buying if you bought your copy new. The six variants each had different front and back photos of a tableau in a bar: the shots were from the perspectives of six people in the bar, and hinted at some sort of cryptic story. To add to the impression of a puzzle, the inner sleeve features two shots from the perspective of the seventh person, and although printed in black and white, featured “paint with water” color inks impregnated into the paper. What all this meant to teenage fans in 1979 Southern California was that you got together with your friends and had a good laugh comparing the sleeves of each other’s copies and trying to detect some sort of secret message.


Lots of artists have sold CD singles with 3 different live tracks on each of 3 issues. I can think of Pearl Jam, Coldplay Dutch release and Keane. The difference is the singles cost between £2-£4 and your getting 3 different tracks on each.

The problem with McCartney’s variant is that there is only one demo on each album. If you want the music in your hand, you will have to spend £40, a big difference for four demo’s.


The album has been pushed back a week due to “unforeseen production delays”. Who’d have thought releasing an album in a million different formats would be difficult?

Gareth Pugh

Jim, the cynic in me (which I usually try to keep at bay LOL) makes me wonder if they have decided to do this so they can hopefully not only claim a number one album, but the Christmas number one album. Sure it’s not quite as prestigious as the Christmas number one single is/was, but it gets you a by-line for many years of future press releases to come (number one albums across X decades, first Christmas number one album of the 2020s etc.) I guess that all helps the narrative. I’ve happily ordered a couple of formats (red vinyl, green-cover CD from Germany) but that will probably do for me. I also have a feeling the 4 demos will resurface on some other release sooner rather than later (Deluxe 2CD reissue next Summer maybe, or a Tour edition CD if circumstances make that possible again soon-is?)


From the artist’s point of view whether this release is perceived as positive or negative only one thing matters at the end of the day: Did they spell your name correctly?


I guess we need to roll the dice to determine which “McCartney III” version to buy :-)

I still haven’t been able to sample any songs off PM’s new album, other than the teaser promo video. So, I for one plan to wait until after 11 December when I might be able to preview some of the music on-line, and see if it’s worth investing in multiple coloured copies of the same record.

I do like artist, Ed Ruscha’s simple design for “McCartney III.” I’ve always admired Ruscha’s pop art, especially after seeing a fantastic exhibit of his “Standard Gas Station” painting series in Los Angeles some years ago.

Publius Enigma

Hidden? Im excited.

The 4 CDs could have phase differences – and, when added together in a DAW give surround sound, instrumentals, messages and even images (using a spectrogram).

Apologies if this sounds ridiculous, apologies to the Macca camp if I pre empted the secrets.

Id be astonished if this 4CD campaign IS in fact daylight robbery.

Dave H

The Flaming Lips did something like this with Zaireeka.

4 CD’s with different music that can be played separately or together. With today’s technology it’s easy to create your own surround version.


Probably their best album as well…

Johan H

I have no problems with the gazillions of versions and I certainly don’t begrudge the man if he wants to score a number one. I’ve pre-ordered the black vinyl and might go for one of the box sets and that will be about it for me. That said, we don’t have to buy any of these versions so why get upset? Some people will no doubt enjoy collecting all of these, others not so much. In a few years he’ll be gone and you won’t have to worry if he’s making more dough upon dough. Doesn’t affect me in the least if he makes millions or billions. I’m just extremely grateful that he’s still around, active, and that we still have the opportunity to hear new music from him. Doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that, I would think.

russell hurn

Nicely put!


His estate will pump out variants of legacy recordings a la Lennon and Harrison. I’m just glad he’s still around and recording.

bruce kelso

how come all the excitement for this when no one has heard a note of music? isnt that whats it all about. THE MUSIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


If it´s only about the music, you could easily use a streaming service, even in high res quality and save a lot of money. Buying AND collecting physical music is not only about music.

David Ratchford

Oliver! Well said !

Joe Donato

At first I had to look at the calendar to see if this was an April Fool’s joke! Paul, I remember your wonderful “Club Sandwich”/Macca rarities prank. LOL. As ridiculous as the numerous vinyl colors being released for McCartney III, I surely thought they would not go this far. But as echoed earlier, we are not forced to buy it. I will most likely stick to the one green Target CD here in the US.

Peter Muscutt

Makes you wonder – if the “incentive” to purchase the different CDs was better, say, four different full archive concert recordings (unreleased) from over the past forty years or so, would the backlash be as bad? Is it a value for money thing that you’re being in essence asked to fork out four times for just a few bonus tracks? Would getting four full live concerts as “extras” with the variant CDs make a difference to folk? Or is it the cynical “buy all these editions” that irritates more?


Ive been a fan and loyal collector since the beginning. attended many expensive shows also. this is a disgrace , He should be streaming this new lp for free as a thank you for all the fans that have supported him. I think his family is in a great financial position. Enough already . Next month he will put out the super deluxe edition. Give back to the people that need a little hope in this shit whole of a world we have become. To quote Paul. ( Let It Be )


It’s an ego thing. Getting to nº 1. It’s not about money.


I thought this was a dreadful scam of fans, had a look at the store and ended up buying that very cool looking blue t shirt, I’ll end up getting the cd on a deal soon enough, all the songs will be in one place on a box set before we know it, I’ve had this with having to buy teenagers 4 different versions of 5sos releases over the last few years, it’s not a great way to sell records and CDs but it seems to be a default setting now. Bought a black vinyl Metrobolist for £12 from some guy on eBay who bought a load hoping for a gold or white one, this is all getting a bit daft but if we didn’t enjoy it we wouldn’t be here.


I think that’s fun and we need fun at the moment…
What a shame the only format I could be interested doesn’t exist (a mini lp cd !)


The CDs all have a release date of 18 Dec – a week later than the vinyl releases. Sounds like a ploy to consolidate and secure the “coveted” Christmas No.1 spot from the might of Chris Kamara, Now Xmas, etc etc. Another line for his marketing team to add to the Macca CV I suppose. Truly sad.

Dennis Yardley

This whole thing stinks – I will not buy even if it is the greatest thing since BOTR

Harcourt Fenton Mudd

BOTR……. what is this?


Band On The Run…I got there in the end!

As for PM3…..n case some other versions are announced, Iwill wait …..what I hope for is a pm1,2,3 collected super deluxe , although I balk at what it might cost me, money-wise.

Otherwise, it is the standard pm3 cd for me on my next trip to HMV (in 2022 ).

Everyone enjoy whatever pm3 variant you choose!
We are all different and the same at the same time!

Chris H

All I can think of is the scene from Breaking Bad in the storage locker, where in front of a stack of 80 million dollars Skylar asks “how much is enough? How big does this pile have to be”?


On the upside, with all of those formats it should be easy enough to pick up a copy for a fiver in a few months time!

Edward Fitzgerald

Think the Abbey Road song foretold this.

So that you’ll give me your money
There will be 20 versions of McCartney III

If the Beatles had a version of Abbey Roads with dice they’d have been laughed at.


Even if the dices would’ve stripes instead of dots?


How about White Album dice, with totally blank sides (or perhaps a tiny “yes” printed somewhere for Yoko)?

Edward Fitzgerald

Bought the Coming Up live single when it was 1st released as a 45, that was as close to McCartney II as I needed to get.

Bought everything else from McCartney through Flowers in the Dirt (bought that for: “Ou est le Soleil?”). Ou est le Soleil was probably the last great energetic song Paul’s made. Will probably pass on McCartney III.

If this grab for money works it is probably time to put out the Beatles catalog with the next gimmick, maybe on less song on each version because this sure isn’t about the music.

Still waiting for an expanded London Town but overall getting less interested in McCartney with each scheme (thinking now that James Corden probably did Paul a favor, not the other way around).

John MC cann

Was coming up live at the Glasgow Apollo? spent my early teens in that place,, mostly for free!,, Pushed the old doors in the lane and their you where , synchronicity for free,also bucks fizz but it was better than hanging around the streets,


It cracks me up that people get upset by this. I will admit that I get tempted to buy some of these marketing schemes and few I have caved into getting. But we all have choice that we can make. If I bought the demos on a stand alone disc I would like listen to them out of interest once or a few times at most then store it away. Perhaps (I hope) they will come out on a deluxe set and like the Traveller’s Edition that I will buy it (which ever one wasn’t in a suitcase with a puzzle). If not I will forget about them one day and move on.

I am sure for some they will get them all and be happy. One of my friends has 30+ copies of Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers they are all different pressings. He will gladly explain the differences and importance of each. It makes him happy and good for him.

I for one am so happy to see Paul putting out an album again. Great way to spent time in Rockdown!

I would love to see the album go to #1. Good luck Paul

Jarmo Keranen

Let’s spend time in Real Rocktown and put the new AC/DC record Power Up to # 1!

Dave H

I don’t think everyone is upset with how many releases there are like the different colour vinyl because as far as I know, they all contain the same tracks. Reading from the other post, some people are happy just to get one of the coloured vinyl, others want to collect all of them. Musically, you’re not missing out if you didn’t get the colour you wanted.

It becomes a bit different when a different track is spread out on four CD’s. Fortunately, I’m not a big enough McCartney fan to want all four demo’s so am not going to purchase all four CD’s. I’ve already purchased the standard CD and I’ll be fine with that. However, for those who physically want all four tracks, they will have to spend an extra £30 for 3 tracks on top of the initial £10 for the first CD.

Is it really value for money?

Richard Z

This is exactly it. I ordered two lp versions, the black one and thought it would be nice to get one coloured version as well. I am not upset about missing all the other lp variations, with different colours and sleeves. But I do want to have all the music without having to buy the same Cd many different times. A deluxe edition a year later was already iritating, but at least you would be complete then.

Jarmo Keranen

I can understand why somebody collects 30+ copies of Sticky Fingers. One of the all time classic rock albums. But collect new Paul Mccartney album i can’t understand. Same goes with the new Rolling Stones album if they someday release it. And i’ve been Rolling Stones fan 45 years!


What’s the difference with the softpak and the cardboard sleeve versions, other than almost being double the price?

John MC cann

The packaging!

Rett Russell

Recently Sir Paul had a photograph taken with Taylor Swift, who has racked up 7 number one solo albums.
Paul has had 8 number one solo albums (27 if you count his membership in an earlier band).
Can it be (!) that he desires another number 1 to stay comfortably ahead of her…?

I concur with other commenters about the greatness of SDE’s recent book on McCartney archive reissues….but of course, now that I have mine, I selfishly don’t wish to see another printing….unless, as per Neil Young Archives Volume II, a distinction is made that it’s a reprint.
(would we be here if we didn’t have some collector DNA in our system?)

Tom Walsh

A number 1 means not much if you’ve got trick your way to it. Why not release some great songs and get ttere..especially if you’re Paul McCartney. Not all number 1’s are kids..plenty of classic/middle of the road artists can get there.


The Specials got to #1 , and that was 40 years since their first single, and l believe with just one coloured vinyl version of the album at the time(think there were a couple of different editions afterwards). Paul Weller regularly reaches #1 or #2 with his LPs, all be it with a few coloured vinyls. There really isn’t any reason to release so many versions that PM has to get a number one. I’d say some of it is down to the record company, not sure even Macca has all the say.


To this CD marketing scheme, I take my cue from MACCA’s last CD…FUH YOU.


Indeed!!! But I am still hoping for that coveted 8-Track tape!!!


Just how much money does McCartney think he needs? One of these mundane grandad “rock” collections would be enough to put me to sleep.