I doubt 1997’s Flaming Pie is anyone’s favourite Paul McCartney album — including the man himself. But like almost every other disc Macca has released over the past several decades, it has its moments.
In this case, a lot of them come courtesy of co-producers and collaborators like Jeff Lynne (whose pop-rock sensibilities colour jangly cuts like If You Wanna), Steve Miller (whose bluesy fretwork drive Used To Be Bad) and Ringo Starr (who teams up with Paul on Really Love You, the pair’s first co-write). Now, as the 13th instalment in McCartney’s continuing archival reissue series, those highlights have been augmented by several discs worth of rarities and previously unreleased fare — including home recordings, acoustic versions, rough mixes, mini-episodes of his freewheeling Oobu Joobu radio show and video content (depending on which configuration you buy). Granted, the leftovers might actually be more appetizing than the main course. But at least you won’t go hungry.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “Originally released May 5, 1997, Flaming Pie ended a four-year gap between McCartney studio albums. Recorded largely in the wake of Paul’s involvement in the The Beatles’ Anthology series, Flaming Pie was shaped and inspired by that experience, with Paul remarking at the time “(Anthology) reminded me of The Beatles’ standards and the standards that we reached with the songs. So in a way it was a refresher course that set the framework for this album.” Produced by Paul, Jeff Lynne and George Martin and featuring a supporting cast of family and friends including Ringo Starr, Steve Miller, Linda McCartney and son James, Flaming Pie is equal parts a masterclass in songcraft and a sustained burst of joyful spontaneity. With highlights ranging from the uplifting and inspirational opener The Song We Were Singing to the raucous title track (named for a quote from an early John Lennon interview on the origin of The Beatles’ name: “It came in a vision — a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them, ‘From this day on you are Beatles with an A.’ ”) to the pensive Calico Skies, and featuring singles Young Boy, The World Tonight and Beautiful Night, Flaming Pie would represent yet another pinnacle in Paul’s solo catalogue: Released to rapturous reviews, the album would be Paul’s most commercially successful release of the ‘90s, achieving his highest chart positions since the ‘80s and would receive gold certifications in the US, UK, Japan and more.”