Sir Paul McCartney is releasing an album of cover songs.

The legendary Beatles musician has been planning to make a collection of his favourite standards for over 20 years, and finally decided “If I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it.”

The album features Paul’s renditions of classic American compositions, alongside two new tracks featuring contributions from Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder, which he was inspired to write by the cover songs he had recorded

Paul added: “When I kind of got into songwriting, I realised how well structured these songs were and I think I took a lot of my lessons from them.

“I always thought artists like Fred Astaire were very cool. Writers like Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, all of those guys – I just thought the songs were magical. And then, as I got to be a songwriter I thought it’s beautiful, the way they made those song’.”

Paul said the tracks on his new album strongly influenced him and bandmate John Lennon, adding they are “the songs me and John based quite a few of our things on.”

The album was recorded by producer Tommy LiPuma with Diana Krall and her band, and sees Paul only record vocals, rather than piano, bass or guitar, as he usually does with his albums.

He added: “It was very spontaneous, kind of organic, which then reminded me of the way we’d work with The Beatles. We’d bring a song in, kick it around, when we found a way to do it we’d say `Okay, let’s do a take now’ and by the time everyone kind of had an idea of what they were doing, we’d learnt the song.”

The as-yet-untitled new album will be released on February 6th 2012.