Flaming Pie (1997)

Album Cover


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"I came off the back of The Beatles Anthology with an urge to do some new music. The Anthology was very good for me because it 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.
Watching the Anthology also reminded me of the time that we didn't take to make an album and of the fun we had when we did one. The Beatles were not a serious group...
So I wanted to try get back into some of that; to have some fun and not sweat it. That's been the spirit of making this album. You've got to have a laugh, because it's just an album. So I called up a bunch of friends and family and we just got on and did it.
And we had fun making it. Hopefully you'll hear that in the songs."
(by Paul McCartney, 1997)
The Threetles and Jeff Lynne
The Threetles with Jeff Lynne for the Anthology Project

Flaming Pie
is released in May 1997 and remains at the
#2 spot of the US charts for a week.


Written in Jamaica in early January 1995, The Song We Were Singing was the first number taped by Paul in his initial album sessions with Jeff Lynne.Among the instruments, Paul plays here the standup bass originally owned by Bill Black and used on Elvis Presley's earliest and greatest hits - including Heartbreak Hotel, the recording that seized the soul and assaulted the senses of a schoolboy Paul McCartney in 1956.
by Mark Lewisohn)

"I was remembering the Sixties; sitting around late at night, dossing, smoking pipes, drinking wine... jawing, talking about the cosmic solution. It was what we were all doing... all that "What about... wow!" It's that time in your life when you got a chance for all that." (by Paul McCartney)



Paul interviewed by Q Magazine The second song from Paul's initial sessions (there were four in all) with Jeff Lynne took what had been an acoustic, folk-tinged demo and imbued it with a progressively heavier treatment.
The World Tonight
was written by Paul while on holiday in America in 1995. Of the 14 songs on Flaming Pie only the title track, Somedays and Great Day were composed in England, for the muse tends to strike Paul most often when he's on holiday. 
(by Mark Lewisohn)

"The lyrics were just gathering thoughts. Like 'I go back so far, I'm in front of me'- I don't know where that came from, but if I'd been writing with John, he would have gone 'OK, leave that one in; we don't know what it means but we do know what it means'." 
by Paul McCartney)

Paul interviewed by Q Magazine...


Having renewed their friendship - and musical kinship - working on Young Boy, Paul and Steve Miller combined again, in similar fashion, with If You Wanna. The song was already a couple of years old at the point of recording, having been composed when Paul McCartney's 'New World Tour' reached Minneapolis, and a day off, in May 1993, which resulted in numerous hours inside a skyscraper hotel room that extended its head into the clouds. Inspired by being in (still then The Artist Known As) Prince's home city, Paul sat with a guitar and wrote a "driving across America" song. 
by Mark Lewisohn)

"I wanted to write something that would reflect America, for when you're driving across the desert on that big road with the flat horizon. I'll take you for a ride in my Cadillac... I'll take you to The Coast for a holiday... When they say The Coast, they don't mean Blackpool." (by Paul McCartney)



At first, one studio session was all it took to commit Somedays on to tape, but Paul felt that it could be enhanced by an arrangement. At this time he was occasionally meeting with George Martin at Abbey Road, sifting through unissued archive Beatles recordings for the Anthology albums (and still nervous, 30 years on, that he would not be the cause of any musical breakdowns...), and Paul asked George if he would listen to Somedays and consider scoring it for an orchestra. "I see you haven't lost your touch!" was the considered response, and a 14-piece ensemble overdubbed their contribution on 10 June 1996. 
by Mark Lewisohn)
Paul & Linda in Versailles presenting Linda's vegeterian cookbook

"Cookery assignement": Paul & Linda in Versailles presenting 
Linda's vegeterian cookbook

"I'd driven Linda to a photo session for one of her cookery assignments. Knowing she'd be about two hours, I set myself a deadline to write a song in that time - so that when she'd finished and would say 'Did you get bored? What did you do?', I could say 'Oh. I wrote this song. Wanna hear it?'"
(by Paul McCartney)


The emerging talent of young guitarist James McCartney had been prompting son-to-father questions about "early days". Among the pieces re-played from the vinyl years had been My Dark Hour, recorded by Steve Miller and (hiding under the pseudonymous surname Ramon) Paul McCartney in May 1969, after a Beatles Abbey Road session had broken up following a business squabble. Listening again to My Dark Hour, Paul was minded to resume the double-act after a 25 year pause, venturing out to Miller's studio in snowbound Idaho, after the Beatles had completed Real Love. The two musicians set to work in the same manner as before, Paul drumming while Steve wound up the lead guitar. Paul and Steve then played guitar tracks, Paul added bass and the lead vocal, and Steve contributed harmonies. (by Mark Lewisohn)

"This was another written against the clock. I wrote it in the time it took Linda to cook a lunch for a feature in The New York Times. It was great to renew my Sixties friendship with Steve Miller; working with Steve again was like falling back into an old habit." (by Paul McCartney)


While it wreaked havoc in the north-east US, the category-three storm Hurricane Bob that made landfall in August 1991 prompted Paul (then staying in Long Island) to sit with an acoustic guitar and write what he describes as "a gentle love song that becomes a Sixties protest song". Paul invited George Martin to co-produce the piece, which - owing to its instrumental simplicity - was started, finished and mixed within a single session. The earliest recording on Flaming Pie. (by Mark Lewisohn)

"Bob, the hurricane, knocked out all the power; it was all candlelight, cooking on a wood fire. Very primitive, but we like that enforced simplicity. I couldn't play records, so I made up little acoustic pieces. This was one of them - it's a primitive little powercut memory."  
(by Paul McCartney)   


The "pie" lyric that had arrived unto Paul on horseback fitted perfectly with some funky riffs he and Jeff Lynne had evolved days earlier while waiting to overdub guitars on to Souvenir. With lyric and music suddenly fashioned, Flaming Pie was recorded quickly - for, entirely appropriately, Paul suggested that the song be taped with the speed that the Beatles often worked, cutting three songs in a day. Setting themselves a four hour deadline, the track came together with relative ease, Paul singing live to his own piano accompaniment with Jeff on guitar before adding drums and bass, and then, guitars and harmony vocals. (by Mark Lewisohn)

"John joked that the name Beatles came in a vision from a man on a flaming pie, coming unto us... 'you are Beatles with an A'. I was riding with my missus, thinking of lyrics, searching for a rhyme with 'sky'... 'bye'...'pie'. The story came back and I thought 'Ooo, flaming pie'." (by Paul McCartney)

Paul riding and searching for lyrics...


Paul was sailing his boat in America in August 1996 when 'Heaven On ASunday' - the most recent composition on Flaming Pie - materialised. Enjoying the notion of the celestial city being busy in the week but peaceful on a Sunday, he developed the tune from there, its relaxed ambience reflecting his holiday mood. The song was recorded on the McCartneys' return to England, and the middle section was endowed with a bluesy feel on the spur of the moment.

Paul's son, 19 year old James makes his first guitar appearance on disc. Paul said "I played the acoustic stuff and left the Young Turk to play the hot electric stuff." When proud dad suggested formal lessons, James's response, "Well you didn't, Dad", echoed down the decades from 1950s Liverpool. Like father, like son. Or, as Paul puts it, "The saga continues..."
(by Mark Lewisohn)

"I was out sailing in a small boat; just me, the sail, the wind. Peaceful. Like Heaven on a Sunday. That opening line led me through the song. I thought it'd be nice to play with James, my son, so we traded phrases. Lovely to do." (by Paul McCartney)


USED TO BE BAD    (Miller/McCartney)

Steve Miller & Paul : old mates Having enjoyed Young Boy Steve Miller was keen to extend the collaboration, wanting to get Paul singing some "Texas blues". As a consequence, he arrived at their second set of sessions with dozens of guitar riffs: this prompted Paul to climb behind the drum kit and the pair played away for some time, kicking around ideas, until Miller began adding words to the jam, utilising blues lines like "I used to be bad but I don't have to be bad no more". Once the piece had gelled, Paul overdubbed bass and Steve added some solos before they traded the vocal lines. (by Mark Lewisohn)

"This was just a jam, really. Steve whacked out these blues riffs, I got on the drums and we just went for it - a duet, sung on one mike. We did the vocal in one take." (by Paul McCartney)

Steve Miller & Paul : old mates


Written during a relaxing holiday in Jamaica in January 1995, the latter studio recording of Souvenir saw Paul anxious to replicate the easy atmosphere of his original demo, which carried the additional sounds of a ringing telephone and tropical downpour. So the demo was laid into the multi-track tape as a guide for the studio recording and each element of the original was carefully listened to and replicated. The 78-rpm-like coda was added after Jeff and Paul saw co-engineer Jon Jacobs carrying a key-fob with a built-in sound sampler. The end vocal effect was added using this as a medium. (by Mark Lewisohn)

"I had a sort of Wilson Pickett, R&B number in mind with this. I could imagine some soul guy really getting to grips with it. It's a favourite of mine and I'm looking forward, hopefully, to some R&B singer doing it." (by Paul McCartney)



Little Willow was written after Paul learned of the death of a dear friend. He created the song not only as an immediate personal response to the sadness but, hopefully, as a salve for his late friend's children. The studio recording, begun ten months later (on the day that The Beatles Anthology 1, with Free As A Bird was released), is an eloquent combination of voice and instrumentation, Paul's work being augmented by Jeff Lynne..
by Mark Lewisohn)

"I wanted to somehow convey how much I thought of her. For her and for her kids. It certainly is a heartfelt and I hope it will help a bit." (by Paul McCartney)


REALLY LOVE YOU   (McCartney/Starkey)

The day after Ringo and Paul recorded Beautiful Night the pair returned to the studio and began a jam session, Paul plucking his Hofner Violin bass, Ringo beating the drums and Jeff Lynne playing guitar. Three pieces evolved inside half an hour, Really Love You best charting the desired R&B groove, with Paul adding an off-the-cuff vocal. Credited to McCartney / Starkey - a first-ever credit for a release tune - the jam was completed by some guitar and vocal overdubs and mixed after Ringo had returned home. Played to him over the telephone by Paul, Ringo's response - "It's relentless!" - remains the best description of the finished result. (by Mark Lewisohn)

Paul & Ringo joking in the seventies

Paul & Ringo joking in the seventies...

"Doing Beautiful Night with Ringo wasn't enough. I wanted more fun. So we jammed. The actor's worst dream is being on stage not knowing what play he's in - doing this vocal was like that, you can go anywhere. You've got to clear your mind - and play bass - let your head go and ad-lib it all." (by Paul McCartney)


Linda, Ringo & Paul backstage in LA after a Wings' concert. in 1976. Working on the Anthology prompted Paul to suggest that he and Ringo renew a collaboration not experienced for ten years. Beautiful Night was a decade old itself, and a recording made in New York had been on the shelf, unused, since 1986.With Paul at the piano and Ringo on drums (playing, incidentally, a replica arrangement of his own kit which Paul had bought and modelled on Ringo's set up after the Real Love sessions) the song came together comfortably. Wanting to play some guitar on the end, Paul also introduced a new element to his composition, the uptempo finale. Finally, the recording was enhanced by an orchestral arrangement scored by George Martin and overdubbed at Abbey Road on St. Valentine's Day 1997. (by Mark Lewisohn)

"I unearthed this old song for when ringo was coming, changed a few lyrics and it was really like the old days, I realized that I hadn't done this for so long, but it was very comfortable. And it was still there." (by Paul McCartney)

Linda, Ringo & Paul backstage in LA after a Wings' concert in 1976.


Seeking a short, simple song to close Flaming Pie, Paul McCartney has searched back 25 years to find Great Day, an acoustic number that he and Linda used to perform "sitting around the kitchen or when the children were dancing". The candlelit evenings in Long Island, enforced by Hurricane Bob in August 1991 not only led Paul to write Calico Skies but also found him plucking this one from the memory vault. So, a year later, in the same session that he recorded his new number with George Martin, Paul also committed Great Day to tape for the first time (despite its years), not changing a hair of the arrangement or lyric. (by Mark Lewisohn)

"It's a little upbeat song of hope to the point and in the spirit of the whole album." (by Paul McCartney)


Linda McCartney

Linda McCartney


Three CD singles are pulled out of Flaming Pie in 1997: Young Boy, The World Tonight and Beautiful Night

Two versions of Young Boy are issued in Europe, April 1997:

  • Young Boy / Looking For You / Oobu Joobu - Part 1

    Looking For You is a good rock song with Ringo on drums and Jeff Lynne on electric guitar. It was recorded in the same sessions as Really Love You and Beautiful Night in May 1996.

    Oobu Joobu
    includes an unreleased song by Paul, 
    I Love This House, which is a strong rock recorded with David Gilmour on electric guitar. It comes from the same sessions as We Got Married in Septembre 1984.
  • Young Boy / Broomstick / Oobu Joobu -Part 2

    Broomstick is an amazing acoustic song recorded with Steve Miller in May 95 (same sessions as If You Wanna & Used To Be Bad).

    Oobu Joobu
    includes an unreleased title by Paul which was begun in 1987, Atlantic Ocean. It's an instrumental techno/rap song.

The World Tonight
is released in the UK and internationally in July 1997:

  • The World Tonight / Used To Be Bad / Oobu Joobu-Part 3

    This version is released in the UK.
    Oobu Joobu includes an instrumental song by Paul, Squid, recorded in December 1986.

  • The World Tonight / Used To Be Bad / Oobu Joobu- Part 2
    is an international version of this release.
  • The World Tonight / Really Love You / Oobu Joobu-Part 4

    This is another version released for the UK.
    Oobu Joobu includes Don't Break The Promise, recorded in mid-88 during some sessions for the album Flowers In The Dirt.

Beautiful Night
is released in Europe in December 1997:

  • Beautiful Night / Love Come Tumbling Down / 
    Oobu Joobu- Part 5

    Love Come Tumbling Down is a nice ballad by Paul recorded in March 1987. 

    Oobu Joobu
    includes the original version of Beautiful Night recorded as a demo 10 years before, in August 1986, and played at the piano without any orchestra (slightly slower tempo).

  • Beautiful Night / Same Love / Oobu Joobu- Part 6

    Same Love is another nice ballad by Paul recorded in June 88 during the sessions for the album Flowers In The Dirt. Hamish Stuart is on guitar.

    Oobu Joobu
    includes Love Mix, a joyful song recorded in April 1987. This title includes a piano demo of 1974 entitled Waiting For The Sun To Shine.

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