Flaming Pie is the tenth solo studio album by Paul McCartney, first released in 1997. His first studio album in over four years, it was mostly recorded following McCartney's involvement in the highly successful Beatles Anthology project.[1] The album was recorded in several locations over two years, 1995 and 1997, featuring two songs dating from 1992. The album featured several of McCartney's family members and friends, most notable McCartney"s son, James McCartney who was featured on the track Young Boy. In Flaming Pie's liner notes, McCartney said: "[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."[2]

Flaming Pie peaked at number 2 in both the UK and US, and was certified gold. The album, which was well received by critics, also reached the top 20 in many other countries. From its release up to mid-2007, the album sold over 1.5 million copies.


 [hide*1 Background


"Calico Skies",[nb 1] which Paul McCartney had written when Hurricane Bob had hit while McCartney was staying on Long Island in 1991,[3][4] and "Great Day", which features backing vocal from his wife Linda McCartney,[4] hailed from a 1992 session,[nb 2][3] recorded even before Off the Ground had come out. Starting from the mid-1990s for four years,[6] McCartney was involved in The Beatles Anthology, a documentary on the history of the Beatles.[7] The documentary was originally titled The Long and Winding Road, named after McCartney's song of the same name.[7] During 1995, as the Anthology albums were starting to be released over a two-year period, EMI did not want McCartney to release a solo album in the meantime.[1] McCartney said that he "was almost insulted at first" before then realising that "it would be silly to go out against yourself in the form of the Beatles. So I fell in with the idea and thought, 'Great, I don't even have to think about an album.'"[1] McCartney was occupied with working on Standing Stone in the interim.[1]

Recording and structure[edit]Edit

Beginning in February 1995, McCartney teamed up with Jeff Lynne,[8] Electric Light Orchestra lead singer and guitarist, an ardent Beatles fan. Lynne had previously worked with former Beatle George Harrison on his 1987 album Cloud Nine and in the Travelling Wilburys, and also co-produced "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love" for the Anthology project. Intending to produce something pure and easy – and without elaborate productions – McCartney sporadically recorded the entire album in a space of two years, working not only with Lynne, but with Steve Miller,[nb 3] George MartinRingo Starr and his own son, James McCartney,[1] who plays lead guitar on "Heaven on a Sunday".[4] McCartney wrote the song "Young Boy" while his wife Linda was making lunch for a New York Times feature on 18 August 1994.[3] McCartney and Miller started recording "Young Boy" on 22 February 1995 in Sun Valley, Idaho.[3] They reconvened a few months afterwards in May at McCartney's home studio, The Mill, recording – a song described as a "road song" – "If You Wanna" and the jam track "Used to Be Bad" in the process.[1][10]

The duo also recorded the B-side "Broomstick" and three unreleased tracks: "(Sweet Home) Country Girl", "Soul Boy", and an untitled song.[10] Also in May, McCartney, by himself, recorded the unreleased tracks "Stella May Day", for his daughter Stella McCartney, which would be used playing over loudspeakers at her fashion shows, and "Whole Life" with Dave Stewart.[nb 4][10] "Somedays", which was written while McCartney was escorting Linda to Kent for a photo shoot,[3] features an orchestration score by George Martin.[1][4] "The Song We Were Singing",[nb 5] which was about the times McCartney and hisformer-songwriting partner John Lennon were at 20 Forthlin Road,[8] was recorded in 3/4 time.[4] "Little Willow" was written for the children[4] of Starr's first wife, Maureen Starkey Tigrett, who had recently died of cancer.[11] "Souvenir" features the sound of a 78 rpm record towards the end of the track.[4] The title track, recorded in a four-hour session,[4] is in similar style to the Beatles' "Lady Madonna".[12]

In May 1996, Starr and McCartney were working on a track that McCartney had started a decade previously, "Beautiful Night",[1][4] which featured vocals from Starr.[13] Lynne showed up the next day and the trio, with McCartney on bass, Starr on drums, and Lynne on guitar, jammed, with the finished results being the track "Really Love You", the first track credited to McCartney–Starkey.[1][4] McCartney and Starr also recorded the B-side "Looking for You" and an untitled song.[14] "Heaven on a Sunday", which was written while McCartney was in the US sailing on holiday, was recorded on 16 September 1996, and features backing vocals by both Linda and James.[12] Martin added orchestration to "Beautiful Night",[4] on 14 February 1997 at Abbey Road Studios.[15] An unreleased song was recorded with Lynne producing, titled "Cello in the Ruins",[16] had its copyright registered in 1994,[17] despite work on the song only getting started a year later, in May 1995.[10] The track was nearly issued as a single for War Child's The Help Album in 1995, but ultimately shelved.[16] This album was the last McCartney studio album to feature vocals and participation from Linda,[1] who died of breast cancer in 1998.[18]

Release and reception[edit]Edit

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [19]
Deseret News (Very favourable)[20]
The Los Angeles Times [21]
The New York Times (Mixed)[22]
Rolling Stone [23]

Upon its 1997 release, on 5 May in the UK on Parlophone[nb 6] and on 20 May in the US on Capitol,[nb 7][1] the critical reaction to Flaming Pie was very strong, with McCartney achieving his best reviews since 1982's Tug of War. With fresh credibility even with young fans who had been introduced to him through theAnthology project,[1] and anticipation raised with the excellent reviews, Flaming Pie debuted at number 2 in the UK in May, giving McCartney his best new entry since Flowers in the Dirt eight years before. The album was also his first top 10 album in the US since Tug of War.[26] It was kept off the top spot there by theSpice Girls' album Spice.[27] In the US, reaction was also very positive.[28] The album debuted at number 2 with 121,000 copies sold in its first week, also behind the Spice album, which sold only 16,500 more copies that week.[28][29]

In both the UK and the US, Flaming Pie was the most commercially successful new entry, and also reached gold in both countries. It was also certified gold in Norway.[30] According to Nielsen SoundScan, the album had sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide up to June 2007.[31] The singles "Young Boy",[nb 8][nb 9]"The World Tonight"[nb 10][nb 11] and "Beautiful Night",[nb 12][nb 13] all of which were released as picture discs, 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",[nb 14] released on 17 April 1997,[1] a top 30 entry on the Billboard mainstream rock listing.[39] The album was also released on vinyl.[nb 15][nb 16] To promote the album, McCartney held an online chat party, and the event entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people in an online chatroom at once.[29]

In the World Tonight, a film about the making of the album, was broadcast in the UK on ITV, and on VH1 in the US, around the release of the album.[28] Also broadcast was an hour-long radio show about the album on 5 May 1997 on BBC Radio 2.[28] It received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year, although Bob Dylan won the award with his back-to-form album Time Out of Mind.[42] "Young Boy" and "The World Tonight" appeared in the 1997 Ivan Reitman comedy Fathers' Day.[28] The title Flaming Pie (also given to one of the album's songs) is a reference to a humorous story John Lennon told in a story in Mersey Beat in 1961 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.' "[1][43]

Track listing[edit]Edit

All songs written by Paul McCartney, except where noted.

  1. "The Song We Were Singing" – 3:55
  2. "The World Tonight" – 4:06
  3. "If You Wanna" – 4:38
  4. "Somedays" – 4:15
  5. "Young Boy" – 3:54
  6. "Calico Skies" – 2:32
  7. "Flaming Pie" – 2:30
  8. "Heaven on a Sunday" – 4:27
  9. "Used to Be Bad" (Duet with Steve Miller) (Steve Miller, McCartney) – 4:12
  10. "Souvenir" – 3:41
  11. "Little Willow" – 2:58
  12. "Really Love You" (McCartney, Richard Starkey) – 5:18
  13. "Beautiful Night" – 5:09
  14. "Great Day" – 2:09


Personnel per booklet.[44]

  • Orchestra ensemble on "Beautiful Night":
    • David Snell – conductor
    • John Barclay, Andrew Crowley, Mark Bennett – trumpets
    • Richard Edwards, Andy Fawbert – trombones
    • Michael Thompson, Richard Watkins, Nigel Black – horns
    • Marcia Crayford, Adrian Levin, Belinda Bunt, Bernard Patridge, Jackie Hartley, Keith Pascoe, David Woodcock, Roger Garland, Julian Tear, Briony Shaw, Rita Manning, Jeremy Williams, David Ogden, Bogustav Kostecki, Maciej Rakowski, Jonathan Rees – violins
    • Robert Smissen, Stephen Tess, Levine Andrade, Philip Dukes, Ivo Van Der Werff, Graeme Scott – violas
    • Anthony Pleeth, Stephen Orton, Martin Loveday, Robert Bailey – celli
    • Chris Laurence, Robin McGee – double bass
    • Susan Milan – flute
    • David Theodore – oboe
  • Paul McCartney, Jeff Lynne, George Martin – producers
  • Geoff Emerick, Jon Jacobs, Bob Kraushaar – engineers
  • Keith Smith, Frank Farrell – assistant engineers
  • Marc Mann – digital sequencing
  • Geoff Emerick – Orchestral session engineer on "Somedays"
  • Geoff Foster – Orchestral session assistant engineer on "Somedays"
  • Geoff Emerick, Jon Jacobs, Peter Cabbin – Orchestral session engineer on "Beautiful Night"
  • Paul Hicks – Orchestral session assistant engineer on "Beautiful Night"

Charts and certifications[edit]Edit

Peak positions[edit]Edit

Chart (1997) Position
Australian ARIA Albums Chart[45] 9
Austrian Albums Chart[46] 6
Belgian Albums Chart (Flanders)[47] 19
Belgian Wallonia Albums Chart[48] 29
Canadian Albums Chart[49] 10
Danish Albums Chart[50] 4
Dutch Mega Albums Chart[51] 9
European Albums Chart[50] 3
Finnish Albums Chart[52] 28
French SNEP Albums Chart[53] 23
German Media Control Albums Chart[54] 6
Italian Albums Chart[50] 3
Japanese Oricon Weekly Albums Chart[55] 14
New Zealand Albums Chart[56] 23
Norwegian Albums Chart[57] 3
Spanish Albums Chart[50] 5
Swedish Albums Chart[58] 11
Swiss Albums Chart[59] 10
UK Albums Chart[60] 2
United States Billboard 200[61] 2

Year-end charts[edit]Edit

Chart (1997) Position
Italian Albums Chart[62] 71
UK Albums Chart[63] 82
US Billboard 200 Year-end[64] 138


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Japan (RIAJ)[65] Gold 65,000[66]
Norway (IFPI Norway)[67] Gold 25,000
United Kingdom (BPI)[68] Gold 140,000[63]
United States (RIAA)[69] Gold 676,000[31]

^shipments figures based on certification alone xunspecified figures based on certification alone

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