Flaming Pie

Paul McCartney
Flaming Pie - Front cover Flaming Pie - Rear Cover
Flaming Pie - Front Cover Flaming Pie - Rear Cover
Flaming Pie - Gatefold Inner
Flaming Pie - Gatefold Inner
Flaming Pie - Promo Front cover Flaming Pie - Promo C.D.
Flaming Pie - Promo Front Cover Flaming Pie - Promo C.D.
Label Parlophone
Catalogue No. PCSD 171
Release date 5th May 1997
Total time 53:46
U.K. Album Chart Detail :
Entry Date :11th May 1997
Highest Position :2
Weeks in Chart :17
Detail : Paul's twenty-sixth "solo" album release.

This release is described by many as Paul`s most Beatlesque album in 30 years, and with much critical acclaim it
enters the chart at it`s peak position (and Paul`s highest for 8 years) of number two.
It is kept off the top slot by "Tellin' Stories" by the Charlatans.

The detail below explains where the term "Flaming Pie" came from, but to hear it actually spoken by John, and
also some splendid outtakes and demos, check out the excellent bootleg Veggie Pie.

The album cover is designed by The Team, with all photography by Linda.
The inner sleeve is one of the best and completely informative examples, with lyrics,
comments by Paul and Mark Lewisohn/Geoff Baker, and details of the musicians and recording sessions.

I also have a PROMO C.D. of the entire album, which has a catalogue number CDP 8 56500 2.
It comes in a cheapo plain white cardboard C.D. sleeve with a detail label stuck on the front as can be seen above.

Paul's Foreword From The Inner Gatefold

"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.


11th May 1997 - Flaming Pie entered the album chart at it's peak position of number 2.

                                          Chart progression:   2 - 5 - 3 - 12 - 15 - 18 - 33 - 19 - 24 - 33 - 35 - 40 - 43 - 53 - 67 - 81 - 99 .... out

7th August 2020 - Flaming Pie re-entered the album chart due to the archive collection at a position of number 14.
(for one week only)

Side 1

Track Composer Recording Information Time
The Song We Were Singing   McCartney   Recording began 6th November 1995
Personnel :
Paul - lead vocal, harmony vocal, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, double bass, harmonium.
Jeff Lynne - harmony vocal, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboard.

Written in Jamaica in early January 1995, this 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 senses of a schoolboy 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."

The World Tonight McCartney Recording began 13th November 1995
Originally entitled, "I Saw You Sitting".
Personnel :
Paul - lead vocal, harmony vocal, drums, bass guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, percussion
Jeff Lynne - harmony vocal, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboard

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 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.
"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'."

If You Wanna McCartney Recording began 11th May 1995
Personnel :
Paul - lead vocal, drums, bass guitar, electric guitar, 12 string acoustic guitar
Steve Miller - harmony vocal, electric guitar, acoustic guitar

Having renewed their friendship - and musical kinship - working on "Young Boy", Paul and Steve Miller combined again, in similar fashion, with this. The song was already a couple of years old at the point of recording, having been composed when Paul'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', they don't mean Blackpool. "

Somedays McCartney Recording began 1st November 1995
Personnel :
Paul - lead vocal, acoustic guitar, spanish guitar, bass guitar

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?'"

Young Boy McCartney Recording began 22nd February 1995
Personnel :
Paul - lead vocal, drums, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, Hammond organ
Steve Miller - backing vocal, electric guitar, rhythm guitar

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 quabble. 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.
"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 an old habit."

Calico Skies McCartney Recorded 3rd September 1992
Personnel :
Paul - vocal, acoustic guitar, knee slap/percussion

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.
"Bob, the hurricane, knocked out all the power; it was all candlelight, 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 a primitive little powercut memory."

Flaming Pie McCartney Recorded 27th February 1996
Personnel :
Paul - lead vocal, harmony vocal, piano, drums, bass guitar, electric guitar
Jeff Lynne - harmony vocal, electric guitar

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 onto '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.
"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'... 'cry'... 'pie'. The story came back and I thought 'Ooo, flaming pie'. "


Side 2

Track Composer Recording Information Time
Heaven On A Sunday   McCartney Recording began 16th September 1996
Personnel :
Paul - 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 - backing vocals
Michael Thompson, Richard Bissill, Richard Watkins, John Pigneguy - French horns

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..."
"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."

Used To Be Bad Miller-McCartney Recorded 5th May 1995
Personnel :
Paul - lead vocal, drums, bass guitar Steve Miller - lead vocal, electric guitar

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.
"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."

Souvenir McCartney Recording began 19th February 1996
Personnel :
Paul - lead vocal, backing vocal, drums, piano, harpsichord, 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

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 with this. I could imagine some soul guy getting to grips with it. It's a favourite of mine and I'm looking forward, hopefully, to some R&B singer doing it."

Little Willow McCartney Recording began 21st November 1995
Personnel :
Paul - 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

'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.
"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."

Really Love You McCartney-Starkey   Recording began 14th May 1996
Personnel :
Paul - lead vocal, backing vocal, bass guitar, electric guitar, Wurlitzer piano
Jeff Lynne - backing vocal, electric guitar
Ringo Starr - drums

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 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 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."

Beautiful Night McCartney Recording began 13th May 1996
Personnel :
Paul - 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 - backing vocals

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.
"I unearthed this old song for when Ringo was coming, changed a few lyrics and it was really like the old days, I realised that we hadn't done this for so long, but it was very comfortable. And it was still there."

Great Day McCartney Recorded 3rd September 1992
Personnel :
Paul - vocal, acoustic guitar, leg slap/percussion
Linda - backing vocals

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.
"It's just a little upbeat song of hope - to the point and in the spirit of this whole album."



Further Issues of "Flaming Pie"

31st July 2020 - Flaming Pie - The Paul McCartney Archive Collection is released (Seven discs - 5 CD/2 DVD + extras)

Paul's Album Releases

©2001 JPGR's Beatles Pages. All Rights Reserved.