Paul’s 1997 album Flaming Pie is the latest to receive the Archive Collection treatment, with a brand new reissue out now across multiple formats.
The album was recorded following a four-year gap between Paul’s studio albums, and was largely influenced by The Beatles’ Anthology series which he had just worked on with George Harrison and Ringo Starr. As the album deals with themes of memory and nostalgia, we decided to take a trip down memory lane, and caught up with Paul via Zoom to find out a little bit more about the record.
Here’s what ‘the man on the flaming pie’ had to say…
Paul McCartney.com: Do you have a favourite memory from the Flaming Pie sessions?
Paul: I remember just having a laugh with Jeff Lynne, and the various people I worked with on the album. We had quite a lot of fun making it – Steve Miller, Jeff Lynne and I, and Ringo was there too. So, I think those are my favourite memories, just working with them all.
PM.com: Speaking of Ringo, Flaming Pie came out right after The Beatles Anthology. When you were writing the album, did you ever stop and rewrite a song if it sounded too much like The Beatles? And is this something you are conscious of now?
Paul: No, not really! I mean, unless it’s got the words and melody of one of The Beatles songs, of course. But now I have to admit – I am a Beatle. I was very much part of The Beatles’ sound and The Beatles’ songs, so there’s probably a very good chance my songs will sound a bit Beatle-y.
I know that back when I was starting Wings, I did consciously keep away from anything that sounded like The Beatles. But then when Wings was a success, I became more comfortable with whatever I was writing. I wouldn’t try and stay away from The Beatles anymore.
PM.com: There are some noticeable similarities to The Beatles’ sound on Flaming Pie. For example, you added the sound effect of a crackling record on ‘Souvenir’, which reminds us of sound effects like an applauding audience on ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. Do you see sound effects as just another instrument to be used in a song and help set the scene?
Paul: Yeah, I think where this all stared of course was at Abbey Road Studios. EMI used to have a tape library and if we needed something – say I was doing ‘Blackbird’ and wanted the sound of a blackbird singing, maybe – we could have it and then it would go into the song.
Of course this set us on fire. “Oh look, ‘blackbird singing’! Look, ‘elephants running’! Oh my god, ‘crowd laughing’!” So we used to just look up anything, and yes, it became like another instrument. We were fascinated by the world we were now being let into. We went mad on the song ‘Good Morning’, there were some cockerels…
PM.com: …And as the song goes on, each animal can eat the next, which can eat the next? These are the theories for that one.
Paul: These are the theories – I’m not sure about all of that. People interpret and then of course you have to agree! But we use them to fire up the imagination, which I think is a lovely idea.
When you’re creating an album you think, “wow – we can go anywhere”. This can be really something new. It could be like a movie. It doesn’t have to be like, fourteen songs and that’s it. Once you put those headphones on this could be like watching an incredible movie.
PM.com: Creatively, your album artwork has always been really interesting too. The cover of Flaming Pie features a very cool Polaroid transfer effect. Do you remember where the idea for this came from?
Paul: Linda always loved different methods of photography, so she was fascinated when she read about the early days of photography and people like Henry Fox Talbot, who were early pioneers. So, she used to do things called sun prints, which was an early way of printing – you just put a solution on the paper and exposed it to sunlight.
One of the other things she discovered was this Polaroid transfer. She worked with a girl called Zoe Norfolk, who was a friend of ours, and Zoe was into these techniques too. She and Zoe did a little series of Polaroid transfers, and we liked them. So the Flaming Pie cover came through Linda’s love of these various printing methods.
PM.com: Beautiful. And what’s your favourite song from Flaming Pie?
Paul: It’s very hard to choose a favourite. I mean, what comes to mind is ‘Heaven on a Sunday’. Yeah, I’m going to say ‘Heaven on a Sunday’.
PM.com: And finally, the question we all want to know the answer to… What’s your favourite pie?
Paul: My favourite pie? Apple! Served with soy cream.