Flaming Pie

Paul McCartney

Capitol Records, 1997


REVIEW BY: George Agnos


In the liner notes of Paul McCartney's latest pop album Flaming Pie, he speaks of how working on the Beatles Anthology made him want to create a new album up to the standards of those great Beatles albums. I was relieved to hear this because when Paul actually puts some effort to his music, good things happen and this album is no exception.

While he was not quite successful in making a great album, he sure came pretty darn close. There is nothing in this collection that is going to hit anyone as hard as "Hey Jude", "Yesterday" or "Eleanor Rigby" but most of the songs are well written, melodically and lyrically, and well played by Paul on a multitude of instruments, with able support by Jeff Lynne, Steve Miller, Ringo Starr, and on one cut, his son James on electric guitar.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

He has not written this many good ballads in a long time: "Beautiful Night" is a romantic tune that sounds like it could be in a broadway musical. "Calico Skies" recalls some of his sweet, folkish White Album tunes. "Souvenir" is a passionate R&B ballad, sort of like "Oh! Darling" without the tongue and cheekiness. "Sometimes," a bittersweet number with a string arrangement from former Beatles producer George Martin, recalls his great ballads, and with another rewrite could have been one. "Heaven On A Sunday" is a pleasant light-jazz number. And what can I say about "Young Boy" except that it is just plain catchy.

But this isn't just a collection of ballads. This album proves wrong anyone who thinks McCartney can't rock anymore. "The World Tonight" is a tough, rhythm-oriented rocker relevant for today. The title tune is a fun, bluesy number, and so is "Used To Be Bad," a duet with Steve Miller who provides some tasty guitar licks and a playful vocal. McCartney really jams on the bass on "Really Love You," a song that plays like an extended version of "Come Together."

The lyrics have a wistful feel of someone looking back on a great life. "The Songs We Are Singing" is about hanging out with his friends, talking and making music. "Calico Skies" recalls the sixties protest movement, and Flaming Pie is a reference that John Lennon had jokingly made about how they got the name Beatles: in a vision from a man on a flaming pie.

And this is the key to the album's success because by looking back, McCartney mustered enough of the John Lennon within himself to make this a thoughtful album. Welcome back, Paul.

Rating: B+

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