Fresh off his work with the Beatles on their two reunion tracks for their 1995 Anthology project, Paul McCartney called on ELO's Jeff Lynne to help co-produce 1997's Flaming Pie. The Grammy-nominated comeback set has just been reissued in a super deluxe version with dozens of demos, alternate takes, and recently rediscovered tunes.
In the new box set, McCartney recalled how he wanted Lynne to dial back his signature sound featuring a heavy snare and acoustic guitars — which at that time had been used to great effect on work by the Traveling Wilburys, and most of its members' own works, also produced by Lynne: “I said to him, 'Hey, you've got a sound and we should subvert it. We should be subversive on this, and I'm not going to let you get too Jeff Lynne (sounding).”
McCartney also explained, he only wanted Lynne to produce a portion of the album, saying, “It's going to get a bit boring if the whole album is 'A Jeff Lynne Album.' I'm not going to do that. . . I'll be bored with you after two weeks, Jeff, and you'll be bored with me. It'll be nice, two little concentrated weeks. And he came over for two weeks and sure enough, I think we did three songs, mixed them, got them all finished.”
Over the course of several sets of sessions, Lynne ended up producing eight of the album's 14 tracks — along with one of the collection's B-sides. McCartney recalled the ease of working with Lynne — and how it reminded him of recording with John Lennon and George Harrison: “Now, it was me and Jeff doing it all. He'd play guitar with me and I played bass and drums. And then he'd sing harmony with me — it's good having somebody like that who's a singer-guitarist, if you think about it, because it's John, really, isn't it? Or George. So it's something I'm very comfortable with. And we just built the album that way.”
Not too long ago, Paul McCartney revealed what it is exactly he loves about Jeff Lynne and his record-making technique: “Jeff is very precise — that's one of the things I love about 'im. Y'know, his stuff, just, just rolls out. And there's not a thing wrong. Y'know, you listen to it — and then you stop listening to it so precisely, and it just rolls over you.”