In the aftermath of his work with Wings and then a general decline in overall quality that marked his efforts in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, Flowers in the Dirt was greeted with some skepticism by the record-buying public. Paul McCartney was still capable of writing terrific songs, but none seemed to be making the emphatic impression that accompanied early hits like “Band of the Run,” “Jet” and Maybe I’m Amazed.” It was, at a point, all about “Silly Love Songs,” and in the wake of John Lennon’s murder, Macca was looked on as a light-weight, certainly not an artist that still merited serious attention.
Flowers in the Dirt changed all that, and though it didn’t exactly set sales on fire when it was first released, it did provide a sturdy stockpile of songs that McCartney and company could effectively showcase on their landmark 1990 tour. Several of the tracks became staples of his set, and for good reason. The catchy and compelling “My Brave Face,” penned with Elvis Costello, the irrepressible “Figure of Eight” and the tender ballad “Put It There” were but three of the songs that marked this album as one of McCartney’s best.
Listening in retrospect, it’s remarkable how well the album still holds up. Unlike his other albums, the quality is generally consistent throughout, and even some of the secondary songs — “Rough Ride, “This Day Is Done,” “This One,” and the like — do well even under careful scrutiny.
This latest in a series of expanded reissues of Macca’s music holds to the high standard established with previous releases and given two discs of demos — one in raw form, the other more polished — as well as a disc of videos sourced from the album, this package shines. Yet, that’s not all. The deluxe package comes with no less than four beautiful glossy books of photos, some of the album art, and another that boasts pictures from the sessions along with a narrative about the making of the album as well. As a package, it couldn’t be more impressive, and the fact that the bonus discs boast songs that were left off the final album makes this a treasure trove of unreleased material as well.
An excellent example of why an album deserves a second look, Flowers in the Dirt can easily be compared with McCartney’s best. Consider it a minor masterpiece.