Flowers in the Dirt

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Flowers in the Dirt
Studio album by
Released5 June 1989
Recorded1 October 1987 – 12 January 1989
StudioHog Hill Mill, East Sussex; Olympic, AIR and Hot Nights Ltd., London; Mad Hatter and Soundcastle, Los Angeles
LabelParlophone, Capitol
ProducerPaul McCartney, Mitchell Froom, Neil Dorfsman, Elvis Costello, Trevor Horn, Steve Lipson, Chris Hughes, Ross Cullum, David Foster (and Phil Ramone on CD reissue tracks)
Paul McCartney chronology
Снова в СССР
Flowers in the Dirt
Tripping the Live Fantastic
Singles from Flowers in the Dirt
  1. "My Brave Face"
    Released: 8 May 1989
  2. "This One"
    Released: 17 July 1989 (UK only)
  3. "Où est le Soleil?"
    Released: 22 July 1989 (US only)
  4. "Figure of Eight"
    Released: 13 November 1989 (UK only)
  5. "Put It There"
    Released: 5 February 1990

Flowers in the Dirt is the eighth studio solo album by Paul McCartney. The album was released on 5 June 1989 on Parlophone, as he was embarking on his first world tour since the Wings Over the World tour in 1975–76. It was considered a major return to form, and earned McCartney some of the best reviews he had received in years. The album made number 1 in the United Kingdom and Norway and produced several hit singles (the first being "My Brave Face"). The album artwork was a collaboration between Linda McCartney and Brian Clarke. The album was reissued in an expanded form under the Paul McCartney Archive Collection project in March 2017, with the original demos recorded by McCartney and Elvis Costello included as part of the release.[1][2]

Background and recording[edit]

After the meager sales for Press to Play, McCartney realized that he needed to work much harder on his follow-up. Thus, he not only teamed up with several different producers, but also spent the better part of 18 months perfecting Flowers in the Dirt.[3] A highlight of the sessions was McCartney's alliance with Elvis Costello, with whom he composed many new songs. In his 2015 autobiography, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, Costello described the track "That Day Is Done" as, "the unhappy sequel to 'Veronica'", which they had also co-written.[4] Despite Costello's similarities to John Lennon, the partnership was not to endure. McCartney's then manager, Richard Ogden, confided at the time to Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn that the relationship between Costello and the former Beatle was "not entirely harmonious" and that at points McCartney had gone as far as to rant at him regarding Costello's attitude and approach to the sessions.[5] Costello would appear on the album, even co-singing "You Want Her Too" with McCartney. Another guest included was his friend David Gilmour from Pink Floyd, who plays the guitar on "We Got Married". On "Put It There", McCartney used an old Buddy Holly trick, the knee-percussion, that McCartney recorded on the same day as the backing track.[6]

Cover art[edit]

The album cover was designed by the McCartneys' friend and collaborator, the British artist Brian Clarke, who painted the background canvas, with photography by Linda McCartney. Clarke was also responsible for designing stage sets and promotional material for the world tour which accompanied the album.[7] The series of collaborative photographs that produced the cover artwork were exhibited that same year at the Mayor Gallery in London.[8][9]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[10]
Deseret News(highly favourable)[11]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[12]
The Essential Rock Discography6/10[13]
Los Angeles Times4/5 stars[14]
The New York Times(favourable)[16]
Q4/5 stars[17]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[18]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[19]

Knowing full well he intended to launch the biggest tour of his career thus far, McCartney also put together a regular band to take out on the road, and who would appear in various forms on Flowers in the Dirt. Hamish Stuart was best known for his tenure in Average White Band, while Robbie McIntosh had been a member of the Pretenders. Filling out the sound would be Chris Whitten on drums and Paul "Wix" Wickens joining McCartney's wife Linda McCartney on keyboards. The Paul McCartney World Tour opened on 26 September 1989 and featured concerts in North America, Europe, Japan and Brazil until the following July.[21]

Finally, early in 1989, the project was ready for release. In May, the Beatlesque "My Brave Face" was released as a single and promptly gave McCartney a US hit, reaching number 25, while reaching number 18 in the UK. In June, Flowers in the Dirt was released to high anticipation and went to number 1 in the UK charts, garnering very positive reviews from all around. In the US, the reaction was better than Press to Play, with the album reaching number 21, staying on the charts for a year and going gold, though it still sold beneath expectations. The second single, "This One", also reached number 18 in the UK. The follow-ups "Figure of Eight"/"Où est le Soleil?" and "Put It There" would all be minor UK hits.[22]

A limited-edition "World Tour Pack" of Flowers in the Dirt, sold in a facsimile trunk, was issued in Britain in October 1989, and America (with British catalogue numbers) in January 1990. The set included a bonus single of "Party Party" (mixed by Bruce Forest and released on a one-sided 7" single in vinyl editions of the "World Tour Pack" and a 3" CD-single in compact disc editions of the "World Tour Pack"). In March 1990, another limited edition of the album that featured a bonus disc was released exclusively in Japan and re-entered the country's chart.


A remastered CD was released in 1993 as part of The Paul McCartney Collection with several bonus tracks.

The album was re-issued on March 24, 2017 by Capitol Music Group as the tenth release in the ongoing Paul McCartney Archive Collection.[23] Formats included a two-disc (CD) Special Edition (the second disc included McCartney and Costello's demos recorded prior to the album's sessions), a two LP vinyl edition, and a three disc (CD) and DVD Deluxe Edition Box Set that featured previously unreleased demos, unseen archival videos, a notebook of Paul's handwritten lyrics and notes, Linda McCartney Flowers in the Dirt Exhibition Catalogue, and a 112-page hardcover book documenting the making of the album.

The album features the song "The Lovers That Never Were". Costello said of the song:

The real lost gem from that batch of songs – one of these days one of us should cut it – is "The Lovers That Never Were." In its original condition, it's like something Dusty Springfield or Jackie DeShannon would have recorded. Paul straightened it out in the studio [for 1993's Off the Ground album] and wanted it to go a different way, but the demo is, I'd say, one of the great vocal performances of his solo career. He's standing up playing a twelve-string guitar and, weirdly enough, I'm playing piano, just thinking, 'Don't fuck up! He's really singing this!' He's singing a ballad in the voice of "I'm Down"! He’s right over my shoulder singing all this wild, distorted stuff! I had never heard him do that before.[24]

Critical reception[edit]

Reviewing for AllMusic, critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote of the album: "Paul McCartney must not only have been conscious of his slipping commercial fortunes, he must have realised that his records hadn't been treated seriously for years, so he decided to make a full-fledged comeback effort with Flowers in the Dirt."[10]

Writing for the Chicago Tribune, David Silverman wrote that the album was "a welcome, if not wholly fantastic, return from the fabbest of the Fab Four".[25]

Cover versions[edit]

Phil Keaggy covered "Motor of Love" on his 2000 album Inseparable and on his 2012 album The Cover of Love.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
1."My Brave Face"
2."Rough Ride"McCartney4:43
3."You Want Her Too" (with Elvis Costello)
  • McCartney
  • MacManus
  • McCartney
  • Dorfsman
  • Froom
  • Costello
5."We Got Married"McCartney
6."Put It There"McCartneyMcCartney2:07
Side two
1."Figure of Eight"McCartney
  • Horn
  • McCartney
  • Lipson
2."This One"McCartneyMcCartney4:10
3."Don't Be Careless Love"
  • McCartney
  • MacManus
  • McCartney
  • Costello
  • Froom
4."That Day Is Done"
  • McCartney
  • MacManus
  • McCartney
  • Costello
  • Dorfsman
  • Froom
5."How Many People"McCartney
  • Horn
  • McCartney
  • Lipson
6."Motor of Love"McCartney6:18

Additional CD track[edit]

13."Ou est le Soleil?"McCartney
  • Horn
  • McCartney
  • Lipson
Bonus single on World Tour Pack edition
1."Party Party"McCartney5:36
The Paul McCartney Collection 1993 reissue bonus tracks
14."Back on My Feet" (B-side to "Once Upon a Long Ago" single)
  • McCartney
  • MacManus
Phil Ramone4:24
15."Flying to My Home" (B-side to "My Brave Face" single)McCartneyMcCartney4:15
16."Loveliest Thing" (B-side to "Figure of Eight" single)McCartneyRamone3:58
iTunes exclusive track
17."This One (Club Lovejoys mix)" (Remixed by Matt Butler)McCartney6:12

Special Package (1990 Japanese tour edition)[edit]

Following tracks are included on bonus disc.

  1. "Message" – 0:28
    • an environmental message from Paul to the Japanese fans.
  2. "The Long and Winding Road" (Lennon–McCartney) – 3:51
    • B-side to "Figure of Eight" single; re-recording of The Beatles song
  3. "Loveliest Thing" – 3:59
    • B-side to "Figure of Eight" single
  4. "Rough Ride" – 4:53
    • extended version; b-side to "Figure of Eight" single
  5. "Ou Est Le Soleil? (7" Mix)" – 4:50
    • single mix edit; b-side to "Figure of Eight" single
  6. "Mama's Little Girl" – 3:41
    • B-side to "Put It There" single; an outtake from the 1972 "Red Rose Speedway" sessions.
  7. "Same Time Next Year" – 3:06
    • B-side to "Put It There" single; an outtake from the 1979 "Back To The Egg" sessions.
  8. "Party, Party" (McCartney/Linda McCartney/Robbie McIntosh/Hamish Stuart/Chris Whitten/Paul "Wix" Wickens) – 5:35
    • bonus single from the World Tour Pack edition of the album
  9. "P.S. Love Me Do" (McCartney–Lennon) – 3:40
    • The studio version of the combination of two The Beatles songs. The live version is found on the "Birthday" CD single.

2017 remaster[edit]

  • Special Edition 2-CD; the original 13-track album on the first disc, plus 9 bonus tracks of Paul and Elvis's previously unreleased original demos on a second disc;
  • Best Buy Special Edition 2-CD + 7" single; same as Special Edition with additional "My Brave Face" b/w "Flying to My Home" limited collectors 7" vinyl colored single;
  • Deluxe Edition 3-CD/1-DVD;
    • the original 13-track #1 album remastered for all the new configurations at Abbey Road Studios;
    • 18 bonus audio tracks across two discs, featuring previously unreleased demos, written and performed by Paul with Elvis Costello;
    • three unheard cassette demos, as well as a collection of original B-sides, remixes and single edits as digital downloads only;
    • a 32-page notebook of Paul's handwritten lyrics and notes, a catalogue for Linda McCartney's 1989 Flowers In The Dirt photo exhibition, a 64-page photobook featuring the music videos for 'This One', and a 112-page book telling the story of making of the album;
    • a DVD includes all the music videos from the album, three new short films with unseen archive material that show some of the creation process of the album and the documentary Put It There originally released on VHS in 1989;
    • an access to downloadable 24bit 96 kHz high-resolution audio versions of the remastered album and bonus audio tracks.
  • Remastered vinyl 2-LP with a download card. The first LP includes the remastered album but in keeping with the original vinyl release doesn't include 'Où Est Le Soleil?' (this track is available with the accompanying digital download). The second LP includes Paul and Elvis's previously unreleased original demos;
  • Digital Download Digital album available as both standard and special versions.
  • Record Store Day 2017 exclusive 3 track cassette with demos of "I Don’t Want To Confess", "Shallow Grave" and "Mistress And Maid" as in deluxe edition[26]

Disc 1 The original 13-track album.

Disc 2 – Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello original demos
All songs written and performed by Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello, as an acoustic duo

  1. "The Lovers That Never Were" (Original Demo)
  2. "Tommy's Coming Home" (Original Demo)
  3. "Twenty Fine Fingers" (Original Demo)
  4. "So Like Candy" (Original Demo)
  5. "You Want Her Too" (Original Demo)
  6. "That Day Is Done" (Original Demo)
  7. "Don't Be Careless Love" (Original Demo)
  8. "My Brave Face" (Original Demo)
  9. "Playboy to a Man" (Original Demo)
  10. "The Lovers That Never Were" (Geoff Emerick Mix)
    • hidden bonus track, not listed in credits; also available as digital download with the download code included in the set

Disc 3 – Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello 1988 demos
All songs written and performed by Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello, with full band accompaniment

  1. "The Lovers That Never Were" (1988 Demo)
  2. "Tommy's Coming Home" (1988 Demo)
  3. "Twenty Fine Fingers" (1988 Demo)
  4. "So Like Candy" (1988 Demo)
  5. "You Want Her Too" (1988 Demo)
  6. "That Day Is Done" (1988 Demo)
  7. "Don't Be Careless Love" (1988 Demo)
  8. "My Brave Face" (1988 Demo)
  9. "Playboy to a Man" (1988 Demo)

Disc 4 – DVD
Music Videos

  1. "My Brave Face"
  2. "My Brave Face" (Version 2)
  3. "This One" (Version 1)
  4. "This One" (Version 2)
  5. "Figure of Eight"
  6. "Party Party"
  7. "Ou Est Le Soleil?"
  8. "Put It There"
  9. "Distractions"
  10. "We Got Married"

Creating Flowers in the Dirt

  1. Paul and Elvis
  2. Buds in the Studio
  3. The Making of ‘This One’ (The Dean Chamberlain One)

Put It There

  1. Put It There Documentary

Digital download only – original B-sides, remixes and single edits
All songs written by Paul McCartney except where noted

  1. "Back On My Feet" (McCartney, Costello)
  2. "Flying To My Home"
  3. "The First Stone" (McCartney, Hamish Stuart)
  4. "Good Sign"
  5. "This One" (Club Lovejoys Mix)
  6. "Figure of Eight" (12" Bob Clearmountain Mix)
  7. "Loveliest Thing"
  8. "Ou Est Le Soleil?" (12" Mix)
  9. "Ou Est Le Soleil?" (Tub Dub Mix)
  10. "Ou Est Le Soleil?" (7" Mix)
  11. "Ou Est Le Soleil?" (Instrumental)
  12. "Party Party" (Original Mix) (P. McCartney, L. McCartney, Robbie McIntosh, Hamish Stuart, Chris Whitten, Paul "Wix" Wickens)
  13. "Party Party" (Club Mix) (P. McCartney, L. McCartney, Robbie McIntosh, Hamish Stuart, Chris Whitten, Paul "Wix" Wickens)

Digital download only – Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello cassette demos
All songs written and performed by Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello

  1. "I Don't Want to Confess"
  2. "Shallow Grave"
  3. "Mistress and Maid"

Digital-only bonus tracks Available only on

  1. "Distractions" (Demo) [4:56]
  2. "This One" (Demo) [3:26]
  3. "Back On My Feet" (Demo) [3:23]



Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1990 Flowers in the Dirt Best Engineered Non-classical Album[28] Nominated

Brit Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1990 "My Brave Face" Best Music Video[29] Nominated


Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[50] Gold 50,000^
France (SNEP)[52] Gold 162,000[51]
Germany (BVMI)[53] Gold 250,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[55] Gold 86,000[B][54]
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[56] 2× Platinum 260,000[57]
Sweden (GLF)[58] Gold 50,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[59] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[60] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[61] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  • A^ Aside from standard version, Double-CD deluxe edition subtitled Special Package released in Japan. In 1990, it peaked at No. 27 on the chart and entered there for 4 weeks.[62]
  • B^ Combined sales of standard edition and its expanded reissue.


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External links[edit]