Erickson's Album Review of Paul McCartney - Flaming Pie (Archive Collection) on CANNAPAGES

Album Notes - Paul McCartney - Flaming Pie (Archive Collection)

August 26, 2020

It came in a vision. A man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them, 'From this day on, you are Beatles – with an A.' 

That is how, in the early 60s, John Lennon explained the origin of the Beatles' name. Of course, like many things out of Dr. Winston O'Boogie's mouth, the story highlights two of his talents: creativity and a propensity for being completely full of shit. In 1997, his legendary songwriting partner named a record after it. 

Flaming Pie is Paul McCartney's tenth (solo) studio album. 23 years after the initial release, it recently received the Archive Collection treatment: a deluxe reissue featuring remasters, outtakes, demos, and other previously unheard insights into the mind of a living legend. For those unfamiliar with the original album, it stands as Macca's best of that decade, and better than most of his solo efforts before or since. Recorded on the heels of the wildly successful Beatles Anthology that saw him reunite with Ringo Starr and George Harrison, McCartney's Beatle-mindedness comes through loud and clear. Not only has he inspired millions the world over, but on Flaming Pie, it's unmistakable he influenced himself. 

"The World Tonight," commences with a riff that sounds straight mid-60s and plows ahead with Sir Paul reigniting his past while sounding fresher than he had in years. Acoustic-driven ditties of various tempos remind fans of the sonic range at McCartney's disposal, no matter if ballad or rocker. The opening track correctly asserts that "we always came back to the songs we were singing, at any particular time," an inescapable truth for listeners that coincides with the Liverpudlian nodding to his ever-present past. Although notable guests pop in, including Steve Miller, Jeff Lynne, Ringo Starr, and Paul's son James, like much of his solo work, McCartney plays nearly all of the non-orchestral instruments himself. 

The home recordings and demos show the progression of the songs being built, but from the bonus collection it's the "Oobu Joobus" on disc four that standout as worthwhile listens whether you're a fan of the original album or not. Made in the same vein as McCartney's 1995 radio show of the same name, these six tracks are snippets of songs in various forms mixed with a host of other odds and ends that form a fascinating musical collage that is both engrossing and educational. 

Little did we know that the then 55 year old would still be indefatigable two and a half decades (and seven albums) later. To this day his live shows are three hours of top-notch showmanship and his refusal to so much as take a sip of water between songs has become legendary. Looking at his career, it's hard to imagine both how it happened and our lives without it. It's as if a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto us...