Pitchfork: Stephen Thomas Erlewine: 28th March 2017:
The reissue of his 1989 collaboration with Elvis Costello reveals the art underneath its schlocky gloss. It is also the rarest of things: a McCartney record where you can sense his need to be loved.
Savvy as ever, McCartney decided it was time to strengthen his ties to his Beatles past on Flowers in the Dirt, the 1989 record that effectively opens the third act in his monumental career. McCartney designed Flowers in the Dirt to be taken out on the road in his first international tour in over a decade and while that in itself would’ve been a noteworthy event, he realized he should have a record to peddle as well. He’d been working on new songs but the project came into focus when his management suggested it might be a good idea to team with Elvis Costello, the former punk who had been a card-carrying member of the Beatles fan club since he was a kid.
Most of the contemporary press regarding Flowers in the Dirt highlighted the collaboration between Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello, positioning Costello as the salt to McCartney’s sugar. Comparisons to John Lennon were encouraged, as the publicity team pushed the idea that the songwriters composed “eyeball to eyeball,” just like the two Beatles did at the start of their career. Costello encouraged McCartney to dig out his iconic Höfner bass—he hadn’t used it since the Beatles—and the two wrote enough material to constitute a full record. But after initial sessions with Costello as a producer didn’t go as expected, Paul sought out other options, bringing in a bevy of producers (Micthell Froom, David Foster, Steve Lipson, and Trevor Horn) to help cast as wide of a net as possible with these songs. With McCartney also behind the boards, there was no shortage of cooks in the kitchen.