Released: May 5, 1997
Label: Parlophone, Capitol
Number Of Tracks:
The simplification, purification and stripping-away of inessentials displayed on the best tracks here, really make this a mostly enjoyable album.
maguri, on december 29, 2014 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: The simplification, purification and stripping-away of inessentials displayed on the best tracks here, really make this a mostly enjoyable album.
He came off the back of The Beatles "Anthology" with an urge to do some new music, Paul McCartney informs us in the liner notes to his album "Flaming Pie." Judging by the heavy promotional support that accompanied its 1997 release, however, from poster advertising to a special homepage in the net, concerned exclusively with trivia related to the new release, the record-company executives do not seem to share McCartney's honourable opinion that, after all, it's just an album, which is why he just called up a bunch of friends and family and we just got on and did it. The packaging of the album, too, seems to belie the down-to-earth-approach of its originator who is either cunning or naive: The CD comes with a lavish 24-page booklet containing sleevenotes by acknowledged Beatle-historian Mark Lewisohn as well as the lyrics to all the songs, a lot of photos, excerpts from interviews with the artiste and a who is who of contributing musicians in great detail. It's just an album, isn't it?
Luckily, the music on the record does not seem to be affected by this firework display. In fact, it features a lot of what McCartney does best: being the crafted musician he is, he plays the bass guitar as highly original as ever, while taking over electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards and the drums on the side. It is the self-confidence of this album which makes the difference to his half hearted "Paul-McCartney-Group" efforts in the 1990s. A closer look at some of the material shows why. // 8
Lyrics: "The Song We Were Singing" kicks off the set with its contrasting feel between the dreamy verse, featuring lyrics not rhymed, with no metrical pattern, thus supporting the pensive nature of the verse, and the straightforward waltzing choruses. The next song, "The World Tonight," is a slow rocker with acoustic guitars to the front and a riff played on distorted electric guitars lifting the chorus off the ground. "If You Wanna," almost entirely constructed around two chords, recalls similar chord structures in The Beatles' 1964 "Things We Said Today" as well as the 1992 "Biker Like an Icon" (and probably several others in between). "Somedays," built around an arpeggio played on two acoustic guitars, an arranger's device relied upon frequently on the album, highlights a woodwind arrangement in baroque fashion written by no less than Beatles producer George Martin, while "Young Boy," a slow rocker in a similar vein as "The World Tonight," although with more of a "heavy country"-feel, flows along gently, giving the impression we knew the song before. As for the following "Calico Skies," however, highly intricate guitar picking and a little percussion is all this song needs to become one of the highlights of the album. Were it not for the voice which sometimes tends to sound a little croaky in the upper register, this could easily be an outtake from the time McCartney will not stop reminiscing about. This time it worked out. // 7
Overall Impression: The impression left by the album as a whole is definitely positive, though objections in detail remain. McCartney's sixties-nostalgia, for instance, very much in evidence throughout the whole record, doesn't even stop at the odd "hidden message" pointing at the possibility of hallucinogenic inspirations. While "A Day in the Life" could promise the listener in 1967 that its singer would love to "turn you on" with enough credibility to be banned by the BBC, its 1997 echoes seem quite naive.
It seemed, however, that McCartney was on the right track after a decade of uncertainty. The simplification, purification and stripping-away of inessentials displayed on the best tracks here, really make this a mostly enjoyable album. // 7