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The Independent Culture
Paul McCartney: Flaming Pie (Parlophone, CD/LP/tape). No, Linda hasn't been burning the vegetarian rissoles again. The title derives from John Lennon's joke that the name of the Beatles came, in a vision, from a man "on a flaming pie". So, McCartney's past is another country which he is now quite happy to visit. He invites Ringo to play drums on the soul jam, "Really Love You", and on the queasy "Our Tune" candidate, "Beautiful Night". George Martin, who produced the Sixties Beatles, adds two typically sensitive orchestral arrangements, and Jeff Lynne, who produced the Nineties Beatles, plays more or less all the instruments that Macca doesn't handle himself.

The history lesson doesn't stop there. Quite apart from "The Song We Were Singing", an acoustic celebration of talking stoned gibberish in ye olden days, the title track's thumping piano recalls "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?", "Little Willow" is a softer "Hey Jude", and "Calico Skies" is a charming ballad from the same nest at "Blackbird". If none of the new songs match those they remind you of, they by no means fall horribly short.

Of all the Beatles memories that the Anthology series has reawakened in McCartney, the one that has inspired him most is not of the band's drive to experiment and improve, but of the casual ease with which they knocked out records: "The time we didn't take to make an album and the fun we had when we did one."

Sometimes the relaxed attitude is mere complacency. "If You Wanna" is a road song that doesn't go anywhere. But overall it gives the album a warm-hearted, easy-going, reflective and modest personality, exemplified by "Heaven on a Sunday", an unforced and pretty song with a persuasive refrain. And who would deny Sir Paul his right to make a little knight music? Nicholas Barber