Flowers in the Dirt
By David Chiu
(band promo photo: © 1989 MPL Communications Ltd / Photographer: Kim Knott)
At time of its original release in 1989, Flowers in the Dirt was seen as Paul McCartney’s comeback record, following the lukewarm response to 1986’s Press to Play. Today Flowers in the Dirt stands as one of Macca’s best solo works; historically, it was this album that led McCartney to mount a world tour after a long hiatus from performing—one in which he played classic Beatles songs once again. Working with a different cast of producers (Trevor Horn, Steve Lipson, Mitchell Froom, David Foster among others) and collaborators (most notably fellow songwriting great Elvis Costello, as well as a superb backing band with Hamish Stuart, Wix Wickens, Robbie McIntosh, Chris Whitten, and wife Linda)–McCartney sounded reinvigorated on the record, coming up with some great songs, and there were plenty of them: the catchy pop-rockers “My Brave Face” (co-written with Costello) and “Figure of Eight”; the lovely “This One” and “We Got Married”; the heartwarming and lush “Put It There”; and other stylistic diversions from the reggae-ish “How Many People”; the gospel-influenced “That Day Is Done”; and the electropop “Ou Est Le Soleil?” This special edition of Flowers in the Dirt, as part of the ongoing Paul McCartney Archives Collection series, contains a bonus disc of demos McCartney recorded with Costello and they’re a wonderful revelation to liten. In a mostly acoustic and unplugged setting. the two artists perform with heartfelt enthusiasm, from the chugging rocker “Twenty Fine Fingers” and the soulful folk of “So Like Candy,” through early versions of “My Brave Face,” “You Want Her Too” and “Don’t Be Careless Love,” with the latter three ending up on the album. Not that McCartney faded from view by 1989 in a decade that saw some records of his becoming hits and misses– but Flowers in the Dirt was a creative shot in the arm for the legend and he hasn’t looked back since. (For the hardcore collector, a super deluxe edition of Flowers in the Dirt includes the original album; the previously unreleased demos; and a DVD featuring promo videos and the behind-the-scenes making of the album, and the Put It There documentary).