With Paul McCartney's upcoming “Archive Series” box set of 1997's Flaming Pie coming on July 31st, the former-Beatle took time to look back on his studio reunion with Ringo Starr for the album.
“Macca” recalled to GQ how he and Ringo joined forces for several tracks on the album — which followed closely on the heels of The Beatles Anthology: “I’d been saying to Ringo for years that it’d be great to do something, because we’d never really done that much work together outside the Beatles. One night Jeff Lynne suggested, 'Why don’t you get Ringo in?' and I said, 'OK!' It just sort of happened.”
McCartney went on to pull “Beautiful Night” out of mothballs, having recorded it originally in 1986 during a session in Manhattan with Phil Ramone and Billy Joel's band: “I got this song out for when Ringo was coming in and right away it was like the old days. I realized we hadn’t done this for so long, but it was really comfortable and it was still there. So we did ‘Beautiful Night’ and we tagged on a fast bit on the end, which wasn’t there before. And as we were coming away, out of the studio into the control room, Ringo’s doing like an impression of a doorman: 'All right then. On your way. . .' If you listen closely you can hear we left that in.”
McCartney realized that the “Fab Four's” legendary rhythm section was running hot: “Once we had done ‘Beautiful Night’ it wasn’t enough. I’d had too much fun and I didn’t want it to stop. So as Ringo was there, playing great and we’d got the sound, I said. ‘Why don’t we do a bit of jam or something?’ So I grabbed my Hofner bass, he started up on the drums and Jeff Lynne came in on guitar, the three of us getting a little R&B thing going.”
McCartney remembered: “And then I did the actor’s worst dream: he’s on stage and he doesn’t know what play he’s in. When you do a jam like that, doing the vocal is exactly that dream, you can just go anywhere, you can sing anything. But you’ve really got to clear your mind, forget everything — at the same time as playing the bass — and let your head go to some mystical place, just totally ad-libbing it all. Anyway, when we’d done it I played it back to Ringo and he said, 'It’s relentless.' That was 'Really Love You.'”
Flaming Pie, which marked Paul McCartney's first Top 10 album in 15 years, was heralded as a return to form — and in some circles is considered amongst his most Beatles-esque records in years. At the time of Flaming Pie's release, McCartney said he was simply following his muse in the studio: “I didn't, kind of, consciously start off to try to make a 'Beatles sound,' although these days, I don't try to avoid it — 'cause there are a lot of other people trying to make that same sound, and with great success, too! A lot of younger bands are harking back to the '60s and using the same instruments, and stuff. That's good, it's a turn on for me. Y'know, it just means, 'Wow — I remember why I loved that stuff, I can see why they love it.' It just makes a great sound — it makes the sound you wanna hear. So, I didn't try to avoid the Beatles' sound — it's a sound that I was part of the birth of, so it comes naturally to me.”