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November 28, 2009
Flaming Pie is an album by Paul McCartney, first released in 1,997. His first studio album in over four years, it was mostly recorded following McCartney's involvement in the highly successful The Beatles Anthology project. Quoted in Flaming Pie's liner notes as saying, "(Anthology) 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."
Recording And Structure
Beginning in February 1,995, McCartney teamed up with Jeff Lynne, Electric Light Orchestra lead singer and guitarist and an ardent Beatles fan who had previously worked with George Harrison on his 1,987 album Cloud Nine, while both were members of The Traveling Wilburys, and who had also co-produced "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love" for the "Anthology" project. With a keen sense to produce something pure and easy — and without indulging in elaborate productions — McCartney sporadically recorded the entire album in a space of two years, working not only with Lynne, but with Steve Miller, George Martin, Ringo Starr and his own son, James McCartney, who plays lead guitar on "Heaven on a Sunday". "Calico Skies" and "Great Day" both hailed from a 1,992 session, recorded even before Off the Ground had come out.
The title Flaming Pie (also given to one of the album's songs) is a reference to a humorous story John Lennon told journalists in 1,961 on the origin of The Beatles' name when they became newly famous: "I had a vision that a man came unto us on a flaming pie, and he said, 'You are Beatles with an A.' And so we were." The album itself definitively has a Beatles flair to it; "The Song We Were Singing" was written about the Lennon/McCartney writing team.
Upon its May 1,997 release, the critical reaction to Flaming Pie was very strong, with McCartney achieving his best reviews since 1,982's Tug of War. The commercial reaction was everything McCartney could have hoped for. With fresh credibility even with young fans who had been introduced to him through the Anthology project, and anticipation raised with the excellent reviews, Flaming Pie debuted at #2 in the UK in May, giving McCartney his best new entry since Flowers in the Dirt eight years before. It was knocked-off the top spot there by the Spice Girls' album Spice.
In the United States, reaction was also very positive. The album debuted at #2 (the best chart peak for a McCartney album there since Tug of War with 121,000 copies sold in its first week, also behind the Spice album that sold only 16,500 more copies that week. In both the UK and the U.S. Flaming Pie managed to be the best new entry of the week, and also reach gold in both countries.
Singles "Young Boy", "The World Tonight" and "Beautiful Night" became UK hits, all making the top 40 in the sales charts. The only single in the US from the album was "The World Tonight", a top 30 entry on the Billboard mainstream rock listing. In many other countries, reception of the album was also strong, and managed to reach at least one #1 position (in Greece).
To promote the album, McCartney held an online chat party, and consequently, the event entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people in an online chatroom at once. There was no tour.
Some consider Flaming Pie to be one of Paul McCartney's finest solo outings. It did, indeed, receive a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year, although Bob Dylan won the award with his back-to-form album Time Out of Mind.
"Young Boy" and "The World Tonight" appeared in the 1,997 Ivan Reitman comedy Father's Day, while "Great Day" appeared in the 2,009 film Funny People by Judd Apatow, playing over the opening credits, and was available as a free download on paulmccartney.com for a limited time.
Paul McCartney - Flaming Pie: The Song We Were Singing