Released: 5 May 1997 (UK), 27 May 1997 (US)
Paul McCartney: vocals, guitar, bass guitar, double bass, piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, Wurlitzer electric piano, Hammond organ, Mellotron, vibraphone, harpsichord, harmonium, drums, percussion
Jeff Lynne: vocals, guitar, keyboards, electric spinet, harpsichord
Steve Miller: vocals, guitar
James McCartney: guitar
Linda McCartney: vocals
Ringo Starr: vocals, drums, percussion
Belinda Bunt, Marcia Crayford, Roger Garland, Jackie Hartley, Bogustav Kostecki, Adrian Levine, Peter Manning, Rita Manning, David Ogden, Bernard Partridge, Keith Pascoe, Macej Rakowski, Jonathan Rees, Briony Shaw, Julian Tear, Jeremy Williams, David Woodcock: violin
Levine Andrade, Philip Dukes, Peter Lale, Graeme Scott, Robert Smissen, Stephen Tees, Ivo Van Der Werff: viola
Robert Bailey, Christian Kampen, Martin Loveday, Stephen Orton, Anthony Pleeth: cello
Chris Laurance, Robin McGee: double bass
Michael Cox, Andy Findon, Susan Milan, Martin Parry: flute
Roy Carter: oboe, cor anglais
David Theodre: oboe
John Barclay, Mark Bennett, Andrew Crawley, Kevin Robinson: trumpet
Richard Edwards, Andy Fawbert: trombone
Nigel Black, Michael Thompson, Richard Watkins: horn
Richard Bissill, John Pigneguy, Michael Thompson, Richard Watkins: French horn
Dave Bishop, Chris ‘Snake’ Davis: saxophone
Skaila Konga: harp
Gary Kettel: percussion
The Song We Were Singing
The World Tonight
If You Wanna
Heaven On A Sunday
Used To Be Bad
Really Love You
Paul McCartney spent much of the mid 1990s working on The Beatles’ Anthology project. When he returned to his own music, he attempted to bring to the studio many of the spontaneous working practices his former band had deployed in the 1960s.
I came off the back of The Beatles Anthology with an urge to do some new music. The Anthology was very good for me because it reminded me of the Beatles standards and the standards that we reached with the songs. So in a way it was a refresher course that set the framework for this album.
Watching the Anthology also reminded me of the time that we didn’t take to make an album and of the fun we had when we did one. The Beatles were not a serious group …
So I wanted to try get back into some of that, to have some fun and not sweat it. That’s been the spirit of making this album. You’ve got to have a laugh, because it’s just an album. So I called up a bunch of friends and family and we just got on and did it.
And we had fun making it. Hopefully you’ll hear that in the songs.
EMI had told McCartney that they didn’t want another album from him for two years, during the release period for the three Anthology collections. That gave him the freedom to write and record at his own leisure. He began to stockpile songs with no album project in mind, and when he began recording it was with a new set of musicians.
You do get a feeling that something is working, though you can always be wrong. I’ve thought I was working on something good and then it turned out that people thought it was average. I don’t know if I was right or they were right. Time will tell.
I was checking the songs in my own mind against some of the early Beatles stuff, because I had just been doing the Anthology and it surprised me how simple, and yet complete, some of the early Beatles work was. I didn’t see any reason why my new stuff shouldn’t be just as simple and complete. So whereas I might have been a little bit lazy in the past, and just thought, ‘Ah, near enough,’ which is very tempting to do, I made it a point to go in and sharpen the chisel and get it a bit tighter.
Guitar World magazine
Several of the songs had a wistful, nostalgic air about them. The Song We Were Singing was about the heady 1960s, when “For a while, we could sit, smoke a pipe/And discuss all the vast intricacies of life/We could jaw through the night”. Little Willow was written for the children of Ringo Starr’s first wife Maureen, who had recently died of cancer.
Souvenir includes the sound of a 78 rpm record towards the end of the track. The title track, meanwhile, features a piano part which recalls The Beatles’ 1968 hit Lady Madonna, which itself referenced Humphrey Lyttelton’s 1956 jazz recording Bad Penny Blues.
The oldest song on the album was Great Day, which had been written in early 1970. During an August 1991 holiday in Long Island, McCartney remembered the song, which he and Linda had once performed while “sitting around the kitchen or when the children were dancing”. McCartney also wrote Calico Skies during the Long Island holiday, which was affected by the passing of Hurricane Bob.
The sleeve design for Flaming Pie was credited to The Team, and all photography was by Linda McCartney.
The vinyl inner sleeve and CD booklet contained the album’s lyrics, plus notes by Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn and McCartney’s publicist Geoff Baker, detailing the recording sessions and musicians that appeared on the songs.