Pre-Order Flaming Pie here! - Out July 31
Over the last 18 months, PaulMcCartney.com have been sharing an office with a very busy production team – at least that is, back when we were all sharing an office. We’ve seen all manner of samples and overheard several head-scratching conversations as they put the finishing touches on Flaming Pie, the next instalment in the GRAMMY-winning Paul McCartney Archive Collection.
Just by listening in, we’ve learned all sorts of interesting things about the forever fascinating production process of putting together one of these releases. One of our favourite things we’ve learned this time round is the art of half-speed mastering.
Fans who remember Flaming Pie the first time around may recall that it was originally released on one disc. Given its popularity today, it’s funny to think that back in the 1990s vinyl was becoming more and more of a niche product; the CD was king! That meant certain decisions were made by the record label to keep the cost down and they crammed the whole album on to two sides of vinyl.
Fast forward 23 years to 2020 and vinyl is back in a big way! So when the production team were putting their heads together about how best to present Flaming Pie on vinyl, they spoke with Paul and the decision was made to split it across two discs and cut it at half speed.
That last sentence contains two things that you may be unfamiliar with (we certainly were!), so here’s an explainer:
Why two discs? Vinyl can only comfortably fit around 20 minutes on one side. If you try and add more, you lose sound quality as you’re losing information by pushing the grooves closer and closer together. As Flaming Pie runs to about 54 minutes, Paul and the production team all agreed to give it some space and cut it across two discs. This way, you get wider grooves and better sound quality.
Why half speed? Half-speed mastering is quite an impressive artform! Normally, when a master lacquer is cut for an album, it is done in real time and the engineer skilfully makes any adjustments on the fly. It’s impressive. But imagine if you were learning to play that supercool piano riff from the song ‘Flaming Pie’ on piano. By slowing things down, you give yourself that little bit more time to get it perfect - the slower the moves the more info in the grooves! And that’s what happens with half-speed mastering. Without getting too technical, it allows the studio engineers to cut high frequencies (which are difficult to cut) as mid-range frequencies (which are easier to cut).
So this additional bit of work, by a very impressive engineer named Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios, means we can now enjoy listening back to Flaming Pie on vinyl at the best quality it’s ever been!
Go ahead, have a listen. To the man on the Flaming Pie.
Flaming Pie will be available on the following formats: 4LP/5CD/2DVD Collector’s Edition, 5CD/2DVD Deluxe Edition Box Set, 3LP, 2LP, 2CD and Digital/Steaming platforms - Pre-Order your copy here!