988 - Paul McCartney 'Flaming Pie' (1997)

My Rating: 2.29 out of 5
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: X
Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums: X
The Mojo Collection: X

Chart Peak (UK/US): 2/2

Favourite Tracks: Heaven On A Sunday
Least-Favourite Track: Young Boy, Flaming Pie

There's this quote about novelist Joseph Heller that when someone tells him he's not written anything as good as his early masterpiece Catch-22 he replies, 'Neither has anyone else'. You could apply the same sort of argument to Paul McCartney; in the Beatles era he could seemingly knock out a classic composition whenever he felt like it, but his subsequent work has not always been all that errrr, fab (sorry). This 1997 album isn't terrible by any means, but it's really nothing special either. I think like Neil Young's Freedom LP it was critically acclaimed more because it marked something of a return to form after a period in the doldrums, rather than being a sensational recording in its own right.

It's got a back-to-basics approach with simple acoustic-tinged arrangements & that really works well on some tracks, adding a level of unfussy sincerity. It doesn't work so well on tracks like the straightforward blues numbers though because it just sounds too ordinary - I kept waiting for some McCartney magic but all I got was a competent blues run-through that you could hear from any half-decent pub band. There are some Beatles'esque bits, but ironically people like XTC do faux-Beatles better than the ex-Beatle himself. With Jeff Lynne on production duties there's naturally a large helping of ELO in the mix too, along with flashes of Dire Straits & Steely Dan - that's okay but I really wanted to hear something purely McCartney & that's not really here.


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