Paul McCartney, Flaming Pie, Capitol 7243 8 56500 2 4. Tracks: 14. Total time: 52:02. Category: Pop/Rock. Released: 1997. Widely available. Overall Rating: **** out of ***** (Good stuff!).

Finally, the Macca has released a really good album. It's been fifteen years sinceTug of War, and that's too long. There have been a few bright spots here and there (one or two tracks off of Flowers in the Dirt and Press), but generally, it's been rough going for McCartney fans. At least you could say that Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest was different. Here, with Flaming Pie, we have what I consider the first album that delivers from start to finish.

Moving from quiet acoustic sets with George Martin strings ("Somedays" and "Beautiful Night"), to jams ("Really Love You"), to rockers with Steve Miller ("Used To Be Bad"), McCartney presents some moving lyrics without the goofiness that dragged-down the Off the Ground album. Quiet songs are simple and charming while the rockers are raucous and fun but not forced as they were on the tracks "No Values" and "Not Such a Bad Boy" on Broad Street. It's exciting to hear Paul do a sort of Stevie Ray Vaughan on "Used To Be Bad." On "The World Tonight" and "Young Boy," I can't help but think McCartney is doing a Harrison voice, but perhaps this is Lynne's Wilbury-ish production on the former track. I don't have any explanation for the latter track as it's a McCartney production with Steve Miller backing.

After years of hiding from the Beatles, McCartney has demonstrated his willingness to embrace the good things about the past (take Paul is Live for example). The title of Flaming Pie should be familiar to most Beatles fans. On this album he has successfully found the Beatles' balance between simplicity and production. Enlisting the help of friends, Steve Miller, Jeff Lynne, Ringo Starr, and Paul's son James, Paul has given us an album the contains the best of McCartney's styles. This won't bring in the grunge or alternative crowd in the Macca fold, but it will definitely please the McCartney and Beatles fans out there.

When the Anthologies came out, I saw a lot of chatter about a possible re-grouping of the Beatles with Paul, George, Ringo and a mystery person. Folks suggested Jeff Lynne, Steve Miller, or even Julian Lennon. I dismissed these suggestions, thinking that it just wouldn't be right. The sound wouldn't be there. With Flaming Pie, I think I'm convinced that I'd like to see Jeff, Paul, George and Ringo or even Steve, Paul, George and Ringo. I wouldn't call them "The Beatles," but they'd make a good Wilbury-like group.

Donning the proverbial asbestos shorts...

 Overall rating:  ****

0 *'s Peeyew!
*     Makes a good coaster.
**    Fair attempt at something resembling music.
***   Certainly to be played more than once.
****  Will be put on a regular rotation for my CD player.
***** The world would halt if this disk didn't exist.

Review copyright © 1997, Leslie Carl Seiler. All rights reserved. The right of Leslie Carl Seiler to be identified as author of this work is asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Album reviewed 31 May 1997. Minor HTML changes on 20 January 1999.

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