Review Summary: Great record by the young promising songwriter ready to conquer the world.
There's one thing I am always skeptical when I read reviews of rock veteran's albums. You read it also. It is sentence called "His/her/their best since". Usually, this is euphemism for lame album but you can't pan Stones, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Brian Wilson or Bob Dylan and other rock gods just because they didn't succeed to make a new good album. But the truth is, all of them aforementioned recorded dozens of breathtaking songs, but also they recorded, sorry for inconvenience, some crap. So newspaper often mustn't write it, because it could be possible that insulted star reject your offer for interview. I am not proud of it, but because of that, it took me seven years to discover a wonderful Bob Dylan's "Time Out Of Mind" album and I needed three more to listen to "Flaming Pie". True, I've heard "Young Boy" single, but you know, one good song doesn't make a good album.
Paul McCartney was mostly known as musician who recorded only one good album in his career, "Band Of The Run", but had more hit singles than any of his generation. So he was labeled as pop star, middle of the road, someone who makes albums for desperate housewives and enjoys an extreme popularity, while many of "more serious" artists have caught a less attention. Needlessly to say, it is very unfair perspective to him. He couldn't surpass recordings made by The Beatles, but hand on heart, who could? The last masterpiece The Rolling Stones recorded was 1972's "Exile On A Main Street". And McCartney released "Band On The Run" a year later! And while The Stones were still seen as the best r'n'r band in the world, McCartney had to be labeled as too old for pop music, too young to die.
Back in 1997, The Stones and McCartney released albums the same year. Both were labeled "their best since" in press. While "Bridges To Babylon" was set to oblivion, and served as one good reason for Stones to go to another farewell tour, "Flaming Pie" is sparky, inspired record made by young boy, naively believing in power of music and song, someone who couldn't wait to write more new songs, go to tour and let the world see and hear him. Given that McCartney was 55, and that he had not to prove anything to anyone, it is even bigger compliment. His singing is incredible, all songs are memorable, except two fillers "Used To Be Bad" and "Really Love You", overcooked with trying too hard to sound bluesy. Many rock and film stars want to be young or at least look or sound younger, but only few of them reach truly second youth like McCartney did here.
The album kicks off with "The Song We Were Singing", maybe reflection on jamming with George Harrison, Jeff Lynne and Ringo Starr in 1995. It is unusual Van Morrison-like song that make me feel that Paul could do it more often, first he wasn't doing it a lot in the past, and second it is very suitable for him. OK, next to the last song "Beautiful Night" is in the same vein, also very successful. It could be the album's better closer than charming but a bit lightweight "Great Day". Songs number two, Stonesy, dark rocker "World Tonight", and number three, "If You Wanna" offer some dark clouds insight, and excellent guitar work, but it is "Young Boy", single, that steals the show, but it is better song here on the album than on the radio. And although he rocks convincingly, delicate ballads "Little Willow", "Heaven On Sundays", "Somedays" and "Calico Skies" are truly hidden treasure, maybe not after first listen.
"The Flaming Pie" is record that is so good that I am not sorry for all CDs I bought of the old rock stars because they are labeled "Their best since". Two fillers aside, it is masterpiece, offers vitality, happiness because of playing and positive energy in quantity rarely seen in these days.