Updated August 28, 2017
Paul McCartney’s new album is rumored to be titled In The Universe and Beyond with lead single “A Life of Mercy” a duet with Denny Laine out Monday, August 28th. [Update – The 28th has arrived; the single hasn’t. This essentially debunks the rumor]. Denny Laine came to notoriety in the Moody Blues but is best known today as the only mainstay member of Paul’s post-Beatles band Wings besides Paul and his late wife Linda McCartney. In other words, if true this would be the closest to a Wings reunion possible at this point. This is particularly notable given the friction that’s allegedly existed between Denny and Paul (and Linda) since the dissolution of Wings. By Paul’s own admission the album is being produced by Greg Kurstin and rumor has it that two of his long time friends and collaborators are also guests on it: Sia and Beck.
Sounds too good to be true.
And it probably is.
“I’m making a new album which is great fun. I’m in the middle of that,” Paul revealed to BBC 6 Music’s Matt Everitt this past March while promoting the re-release of his 1989 album Flowers In The Dirt. Referring to Greg Kurstin and the soundtrack to a years-in-the-making movie adaption of his 2005 children’s book High In The Clouds Paul continued, “I’m working with a producer I first worked with two years ago on a piece of music I’m doing for an animated film.” A photo from these 2015 sessions showing Greg, Paul, his band and other collaborators including Lady Gaga was shared at the time on Instagram by the latter:
Paul explained to BBC 6 in March that Greg “went on to work with Beck and got Best Album of the Year [Grammy] with Beck. Then he went on to work with Adele and has just got Song of the Year, Record of the Year, with Adele, of course and just got Producer of the Year.”
Paul’s account is slightly off. Greg had been working with Beck since 2013 on the material that became his forthcoming album Colors. Concurrently without Greg, Beck was also self-producing Morning Phase, released in 2014 and awarded Grammy Album of the Year in 2015. However Paul is correct that in 2017 Greg won Producer of the Year and that his work with Adele earned him Record of the Year and Song of the Year for “Hello,” and Album of the Year for 25. Greg was also one of twelve producers that worked on 2016’s Album of the Year, Taylor Swift’s 1989, but his contribution was not enough to qualify as a Grammy recipient. Greg has been Grammy nominated for his work with Sia, Kelly Clarkson and his own group, The Bird and the Bee, and has produced numerous hits. Suffice to say, Greg’s an in demand producer – but then again, how else does one get to work with Sir Paul? “My only worry is, people are going to go, ‘Oh there’s Paul going with the flavour of the month,’” McCartney admitted to BBC 6.
From these quotes we know Paul is working on an album and doing so with Greg. But that’s all that can be substantiated at this point. Everything else – the alleged album title, lead single claims and collaborators list – are unsubstantiated rumors that stem from since-removed edits on the “Paul McCartney” entry of the French Wikipedia. That the Wikipedian behind the claims has a reliable track record editing Beatles-related pages on the site for nearly a decade initially gave credence to them. But as the rumor spread online, including a robust discussion on forums.stevehoffman, one of that board’s users contacted the Wikipedian and says he admitted he mistakenly made an unfounded claim.
No doubt it is plausible that Beck and Sia would be involved given Paul himself revealed Greg is the producer. Kurstin has a long history with both and all three worked together on 2014’s Annie soundtrack. Paul has also performed twice with Beck: first during the end-of-night everybody-on-stage jams that closed the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony (the night Ringo was honored as a solo artist), and a few months later with Beck as Paul’s special guest during his set for PETA’s 35th anniversary. (Related sidenote: There’s also an infamous TMZ video of Paul and Beck hanging out together after the 2016 Grammys and being turned away at the door of a Tyga-hosted bash. Says Paul to Beck in the clip, “How VIP do we need to get?! We need another hit guys. Work on it!”)
But plausible as Beck or Sia appearing on Paul’s new album may be, it’s still at this point an unsubstantiated rumor. Below watch Denny take the lead in Wings on the Moody Blues’ “Go Now,” followed by Paul and Beck playing “Drive My Car” and “I’ve Just Seen A Face” at 2015’s PETA’s 35th anniversary via Beck Daily: