Flaming Pie (1997)

1. The Song We Were Singing 2. The World Tonight 3. If You Wanna 4. Somedays 5. Young Boy 6. Calico Skies 7. Flaming Pie 8. Heaven on a Sunday 9. Used to Be Bad 10.Souvenir 11.Little Willow 12.Really Love You 13.Beautfiul Night 14.Great Day


This was the first record by Paul McCartney since the legendary Beatles "Anthology" Project. Since original producer George Martin was not up to producing the two new songs for that project (he was now deaf in one ear), the band wisely recruited Jeff Lynne, who had brilliantly added magic touches to George Harrison's "Cloud Nine". Lynne gave the two new Beatles songs exactly what they called for, and if ever there was serious discussion (there never was) over who the "fourth" Beatle should be, Jeff Lynne definitely proved himself a prime contender. I'm not sure of how it came about, but I'm guessing that Paul was so impressed, that he asked Jeff Lynne to be behind the controls for this, his newest release.

The strange, and unfortunate, thing is that Lynne only handles about two-thirds of this album. This album sounds a bit disjointed, and at many times, it sounds like we're listening to maybe three different albums. Had the music not been up to par, this could have been a huge achilles heel. Since the music is mostly brilliant, it's only a minor infraction. The songs where Jeff Lynne's production are apparent don't disappoint at all. As usual, his touches make the songs very lightweight, very glossy, but very catchy and very fun. Songs such as the title track, The World Tonight and Beautiful Night are where Lynne's influence is the most apparent, and all of these songs excel beautifully in giving McCartney a style that he never had before.

The second "part" to this album are the slower, simpler songs that are very sweet and have very little accompaniment at all. The gorgeous Somedays wins the award for the song that sounds most like a Beatles classic, and yes, that is a George Martin string arrangement we hear in the beautiful piece. Other songs in this vein are the opener The Song We Were Singing, the very personal love song, Calico Skies and the touchingly sweet lullaby Little Willow. Hearing some of these examples of sweetness almost wishes you that he would have recorded an entire album of songs in this style. These are definitely highlights on the album.

The last part of this diverse album is reserved for a group of songs that he recorded with Steve Miller. I'm not sure what the mutual attraction was for these two to work together, but to be honest, the songs in this category are also done pretty well. My problem is they don't seem to quite "fit" with the other two parts of the album. Songs such as Used to be Bad and Young Boy seem a bit too off kilter with the other songs on the album, even if by themselves they hold up o.k.

The whole album was Paul McCartney's attempt to simplify his sound a bit, something he hadn't really done in well over a decade. He adds just the right amount of touches to these songs to make this a latter day Paul McCartney classic.

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