I like to imagine myself a record producer in an alternate multiverse somewhere. Two of my favorite productions are the 1998 Beatles reunion album Flaming Pie and my mix of the lost Beach Boys album SMiLE, more about which some other morning. I even had my own “record label” for such imaginings, WARP Records, for “Warren’s Alternate Reality Project.”
Yesterday I found my CD of the WARP edition of Flaming Pie, which features tracks from the real-life albums The Beatles Anthology, Flaming Pie by Paul McCartney, Vertical Man by Ringo Starr, and Photograph Smile by Julian Lennon.
From the “liner notes”:
“The success of the singles ‘Free As A Bird’ and ‘Real Love’ finally motivated the surviving Beatles to reunite for this 1998 project, with Julian Lennon sitting in for his late father. It was the band’s first album in more than a decade and, sadly, turned out to be its last with George’s death three years later. The title, of course, comes from John’s legendary joke that the Beatles’ name came in a vision of a man on a flaming pie who said, ‘You are the Beatles with an A.’”
Among the highlights are Ringo’s remake of “Love Me Do,” their first single, and Paul’s lovely ballad “Calico Skies,” which bears the still-relevant lyric, “Long live all of us crazy soldiers/Who were born under calico skies/May we never be called to handle/All the weapons of war we despise.”
I picked what to me were the two Julian Lennon songs that most reminded me of his father — one day maybe I’ll do a “new” final Beatles album circa 2002 that features bits of Brainwashed, the unfinished George Harrison project that son Dani Harrison completed with Jeff Lynne to lovely effect and released posthumously.
I tinkered with “Beatles albums” from the early 1970s, using the most Beatlesque tunes from their solo projects, lost interest after about “1973” but was rekindled when the Beatles Anthology came out. One of these days I may work back through the late 1970s and 1980s when the boys kept putting out intriguing solo projects that might have been even stronger if they were still working together.
If you want to produce your own copy of “my” Flaming Pie, here’s the track list — or I challenge you to make your own version.
1. The Song We Were Singing
2. Love Me Do
3. Free As A Bird
5. I Don’t Wanna Know
6. King of Broken Hearts
7. Young Boy
8. Flaming Pie
9. I’ll Be Fine Anywhere
10. How Many Times
11. I Was Walking
12. Real Love
13. Calico Skies
15. Beautiful Night