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Flaming Pie (1997)


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Paul McCartney - Flaming Pie

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Paul McCartney
Flaming Pie

Capitol Records
CDP 7243 8 56500 2 4

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 to 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.


1. The Songs We Were Singing 3:52

(Paul McCartney)
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 is 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 series of a schoolboy named Paul McCartney in 1956.

“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.”

Paul McCartney: lead vocal, harmony vocal, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, double bass, harmonium;
Jeff Lynne: harmony vocal, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboard;
Producers: Jeff Lynne and Paul McCartney
Engineers: Geoff Emerick/Jan Jacobs assisted by Keith Smith
Digital Sequencing: Marc Mann
Studio location: Sussex, England
Recording began 6 November 1995;

2. The World Tonight 4:03

(Paul McCartney)
The second song from Paul’s initial session (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 while on vacation 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 while he’s on holiday.

“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’.”

Paul McCartney: lead vocal, harmony vocal, drums, bass guitar, and electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, percussion;
Jeff Lynne: harmony vocal, elctric guitar, acousic guitar, keyboard;
Producers: Jeff Lynne/Paul McCartney
Engineers: Geoff Emerick/Jon Jacobs, assisted by Keith Smith;
Studio Location: Sussex, England
Recording began 13 November, 1995.

3. If You Wanna

(Paul McCartney)
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.

“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, the don’t mean Blackpool”

Paul McCartney:  lead vocal, drums, bass guitar, electric guitar, 12 string acoustic guitar;
Steve Miller: harmony vocal, electric guitar, acoustic guitar;
Producer: Paul McCartney
Engineers: Geoff Emerick/Jon Jacobs, assisted by Keith Smith;
Studio Location: Sussex, England
Recording began 11 May, 1995

4. Somedays 4:11

(Paul McCartney)

Orchestration: George Martin

At first, one 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; a 14-piece ensemble overdubbed their contribution on 10 June, 1996.

“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?”

Paul McCartney: lead vocal, acoustic guitar, Spanish guitar, bass guitar;
Producer: Paul McCartney; Engineers:
Geoff Emerick, assisted by Geoff Foster;
Studio location: Sussex, England;
Orchestra recorded at AIR Lyndhurst, London, England;
Recording began 1 November, 1995
Conductor: David Snell;
Violins: Keith Pascoe, Jackie Hartley, Rita Manning, Peter Manning;
Celli: Christian Kampen, Martin Loveday;
Violas: Peter Lale, Levine Andrade;
Alto Flute: Andy Findan;
Flutes: Martin Parry, Michael Cox;
Percussion: Gary Kettel;
Harp: Skalla Kanga;
Oboe/cor anglais: Roy Carter

5. Young Boy

(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 harmony.

“This was another written against the clock. I wrote it in the time that 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 the old habit.” 

Paul McCartney: lead vocal, drums, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, Hammond organ;
Steve Miller: backing vocal, electric guitar, rhythm guitar,
Producer: Paul McCartney;
Engineers: Geoff Emerick/Jon Jacobs, assisted by Keith Smith/Frank Farrell;
Studio Location: Idaho, USA;
Recording began 22 February, 1995

6. Calico Skies

(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 it’s instrumental simplicity-was started, finished and mixed within a single session. The earliest recording on Flaming Pie.

“Bob, the hurricane, knocked out all the power; it was all candle-light, cooking on a woodfire. 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 primitive little powercut memory.”

Paul McCartney: vocal, acoustic guitar, guitar, knee slap/percussion;
Producers: Paul McCartney/George Martin;
Engineer: Bob Kraushaar;
Studio Location: Sussex, England;
Recorded 3 September, 1992

7. Flaming Pie

(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 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, Paul singing live to his own piano accompaniment with Jeff on guitar before adding drums and bass, and then, guitars and harmony vocals.

“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 my missus, thinking of lyrics, searching for a rhyme with ‘sky’… ‘bye’… ‘pie’. The story came back and I thought ‘Ooo, ‘flaming pie’.”

Paul McCartney; lead vocal, harmony vocal, piano, drums, bass guitars, electric guitar
Jeff Lynne: harmony vocal, electric guitar
Producers: Paul McCartney/Jeff Lynne
Engineers: Geoff Emerick/Jon Jacobs, assisted by Keith Smith;
Studio location: Sussex, England;
Recorded 27 February, 1996

8. Heaven On A Sunday

(Paul McCartney)
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 lesson, James’s response “Well, you didn’t, Dad.” echoed down the decades rom 1950’s Liverpool. Like father, like son. Or, as Paul puts it, “The saga continues…”
“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 though it’d be nice to play with James, my son,  so we traded phrases. Lovely to do.”

Paul McCartney: lead vocal, backing vocals, drums, bass guitar, electric guitar and acoustic solo, acoustic guitar, Fender Rhodes, harpsichord, vibraphone, percussion
Jeff Lynne: backing vocals, acoustic guitar;
James McCartney: electric guitar solo;
Linda McCartney: backing vocals;
Michael Thompson, Richard Bissill, Richard Watkins, John Pigneguy: French horn
Producers: Paul McCartney/Jeff Lynne
Engineers: Geoff Emerick/Jon Jacobs, assisted by Keith Smith
Studio Location: Sussex, England
Recording began 16 September, 1996

9. Used To Be Bad

(Steve Miller/Paul McCartney)
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 session 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, utilizing blues lines line, “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 the traded vocal lines.

“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.”

Paul McCartney: lead vocal, drums, bass guitar
Steve Miller: lead vocal, electric guitar;
Producer: Paul McCartney;
Engineers: Geoff Emerick/Jon Jacobs, assisted by Keith Smith;
Studio Location: Sussex, England;
Recorded 5 May, 1995

10. Souvenir

(Paul McCartney)
Written during a relaxing holiday in Jamaica in January 1995, the later 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 the medium.

“I had a sort of Wilson Pickett, R&B number in mind wit 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.”

Paul McCartney: lead vocal, backing vocal, drums, piano, harpsichord, piano, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar
Jeff Lynne: backing vocal, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboard;
Kevin Robinson: Trumpet;
Chris “Snake” Davis: saxophone;
Dave Bishop: baritone saxophone;
Producers: Jeff Lynne/Paul McCartney
Engineers: Geoff Emerick/Jon Jacobs, assisted by Keith Smith;
Studio Location: Sussex, England;
Recording began 19 February, 1996

11. Little Willow

(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 the 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.

“I wanted to somehow convey how much I thought of her. For her and her kids. It certainly is heartfelt, and I hope it will help a bit.”

Paul McCartney; lead vocal, backing vocal, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, Spanish guitar, electric guitar, piano, harpsichord, harmonium, mellotron, percussion effects;
Jeff Lynne: backing vocal, electric spinette harpsichord;
Producers: Paul McCartney/Jeff Lynne;
Engineers: Geoff Emerick/Jon Jacobs, assisted by Keith Smith;
Recording location: Sussex, England;
Recording began 21 November, 1995

12. Really Love You

(Paul McCartney/Ringo Starr)
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 a half an hour, “Really Love You” best charting the desired R&B groove, with Paul adding an off-the-cuff vocal. Credit to McCartney/Starkey – a first-ever credit for a released 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.

“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 plays 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 to and ad-lib it all.”

Paul McCartney: lead vocal, backing vocal, bass guitar, electric guitar, Wurlitzer piano;
Jeff Lynne: backing vocal, electric guitar;
Ringo Starr: drums;
Producers: Paul McCartney/Jeff Lynne;
Engineers: Geoff Emerick/Jon Jacobs, assisted by Keith Smith;
Studio Location: Sussex, England;
Recording began 14 May, 1996

13. Beautiful Night 5:03

(Paul McCartney)

Orchestration by George Martin

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 modeled on Ringo’s set up after the “Real Love” session) 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.

“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 we hadn’t done this for so long, but it was very comfortable. And it was still there.”

Paul McCartney: lead vocal, backing vocal, bass guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, Wurlitzer piano, Hammond organ, additional percussion
Jeff Lynne: backing vocal, electric guitar, acoustic guitar;
Ringo Starr: drums, backing vocal at end, additional percussion;
Linda McCartney: backing vocals
Producers: Paul McCartney/Jeff Lynne;
Engineers: Geoff Emerick/Jon Jacobs, assisted by Keith Smith;
Orchestral session engineers: Geoff Emerick/Jon Jacobs/Peter Cobbin, assisted by Paul Hicks; Studio Location: Sussex, England;
Recording began 13 May, 1996
Conductor: David Snell;
Trumpets: John Barclay/Andrew Crowley/Mark Bennett;
Trombones: Richard Edwards, Andy Fawbert:
Horns: Michael Thompson, Richard Watkins, Nigel Black;
Violins: Marcia Crayford, Adrian Levine, Belinda Blunt, Bernard Partridge, Jackie Hartley, Keith Pascoe, David Woodcock, Roger Garland, Julian Tear, Briany Shaw, Rita Manning, Jeremy Williams, David Ogden, Bagustav Kostecki, Maciej Rokowski, Jonathan Rees;
Violas: Robert Smissen, Stephen Tees, Levine Andrade, Philip Dukes, Ivo Van Der Werff, Graeme Scott;
Celli: Anthony Pleeth, Stephen Ortoni, Martin Loveday, Robert Bailey;
Double Bass: Chris Laurence, Robin McGee;
Flute: Susan Milan;
Oboe: David Theodore;

14. Great Day

(Paul McCartney)
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 it’s years), not changing a hair of the arrangement or lyric.

“It’s just a little upbeat song of hope – to the point and in the spirit of the whole album.”

Paul McCartney: vocal, acoustic guitar, leg slap/percussion;
Linda McCartney: backing vocals;
Producers: Paul McCartney/George Martin;
Engineer: Bob Kraushaar;
Studio Location: Sussex, England;
Recorded 3 September 1992

All photography by Linda McCartney;
Sleevenotes by Mark Lewisohn and Geoff Baker
Designed by The Team
Mastered at Masterdisk by Greg Calbi;
Big thanks to: Nick Clark, Alan Crowder, John Hammel, Roger Huggett, Eddie Klein, Mary McCartney, Stella McCartney, Robby Montgomery, Zoe Norfolk, Rick Ward,
Published by MPL Communications Ltd/Inc. except 12 - MPL Communications Ltd./Inc./Startling Music Ltd.

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