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DOUG GALLANT: McCartney releases major archive version of Flaming Pie

Paul McCartney has just added a remastered Flaming Pie to his Grammy Award-winning archive collection.
Paul McCartney has just added a remastered Flaming Pie to his Grammy Award-winning archive collection. - Contributed

The process of making a record can be time consuming and both emotionally and intellectually draining.

Not to mention expensive.

But in the end, you listen to what you’ve done, and hopefully you walk away from that process satisfied that you made the record you set out to make.

But you also walk away from that process with dozens, sometimes hundreds of hours of additional tape you didn’t use.

Bare bones demos, different arrangements, alternate takes of material that for one reason or another didn’t feel just right to you.

Because of the expense involved, many artists just leave that material on the shelf, never to be cracked open again.

Paul McCartney is not one of those artists.

Paul McCartney appears in concert in this file photo. - Reuters
Paul McCartney appears in concert in this file photo. - Reuters


He has devoted a large chunk of time to revisiting  his earlier recordings, listening to hour after hour of tapes from those sessions and creating comprehensive archival versions of those recordings with all manner of additional material.

He’s just done it again.

Newly added to McCartney’s Grammy Award-winning archive collection is 1997s Flaming Pie, a brilliant pop record that produced the hit singles Young Boy, The World Tonight and Beautiful Night.

WATCH: Paul McCartney - Beautiful Night (Official Music Video)

His 19th solo record, Flaming Pie proved to be McCartney’s most commercially successful release of the ’90s, achieving his highest chart positions since the ’80s.

Produced by McCartney, Jeff Lynne and George Martin, his first new record in four years featured a supporting cast of family and friends that included another former Beatle, Ringo Starr, as well as Steve Miller, Linda McCartney and son James.

It has been described as both a masterclass in songcraft and a sustained burst of joyful spontaneity.

In addition to the tracks referenced earlier, the album’s highlights include the uplifting and inspirational opener The Song We Were Singing, plus gems like Calico, Little Willow, Used To Be Bad and the raucous title track, Flaming Pie.

WATCH: Paul McCartney - Flaming Pie

Flaming Pie really is worth a second go around.

Recorded largely in the wake of McCartney’s involvement in the curation and release of The Beatles Anthology series, Flaming Pie was shaped and inspired by that experience.

McCartney had this to say at the time.

“(The Beatles 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.” 

The remastered album is available in multiple formats, including a massive collector’s edition boxed set that features five CDs and two DVDs and comes in at just over $300.

But there are also 3-LP, 2-LP and 2-CD editions with a much cheaper price tag. The 2-CD edition, which features the remastered original recording plus a second disc with 21 home recordings, demos, acoustic takes and B-sides comes in at less than $25. A  single LP version is just under $60.

If you really want to wade in deep water there is a super deluxe edition with five SHM (super high material) CDs and two DVDs that will set you back almost $600.

(Rating: 4 out of 5 stars)

Fast facts

  • Flaming Pie was named for a quote from an early John Lennon interview on the origin of The Beatles’ name: "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’.” 
  • Limited numbered deluxe editions of the record will include the remastered original version of the record plus bonus tracks, previously unreleased material, exclusive books, photos, artwork and more.

Doug Gallant is a freelance writer and well-known connoisseur of a wide variety of music. His On Track column will appear in The Guardian every second Thursday. To comment on what he has to say or to offer suggestions for future reviews, email him at [email protected].

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