Kisses on the Bottom is an album of covers of traditional pop music by Paul McCartney, his fifteenth studio album and his first since 2007's Memory Almost Full. It was released on Starbucks label Hear Music on 6 February 2012 in the UK and 7 February in the US, on LP and CD.
The album's title comes from the lead track "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter", originally a hit for Fats Waller in 1935. Said McCartney in the liner notes, "I worked with Diana Krall, and great jazz musicians like John Clayton. This is an album very tender, very intimate. This is an album you listen to at home after work, with a glass of wine or a cup of tea." The disc was helmed by jazz producer Tommy LiPuma who has previously worked with Miles Davis and Barbra Streisand, among others.
McCartney said, "For years I've been wanting to do some of the old songs that my parents' generation used to sing at New Year...But we tried to work out a slightly different approach, and used a selection of songs that wouldn't be the obvious ones...that everyone tends to cover." McCartney also said working with LiPuma reminded him of his Beatles days with former producer, George Martin, in that both were knowledgeable and influential veterans in the music industry.
"My Valentine", composed by McCartney, the first song released from the album, features Eric Clapton on guitar. Stevie Wonder plays harmonica on "Only Our Hearts". McCartney plays acoustic guitar on "Get Yourself Another Fool" and "The Inch Worm", but otherwise contributes only vocals.
You are the world’s most successful songwriter; you have written the most-covered song in the history of popular music; and changed the world by the age of 24: you are Paul McCartney. So if you want to record an album of neglected dishes from the great banquet of American popular music, you are fully entitled to do so.
There is much pleasure to be gained from Kisses on the Bottom: the jazzy piano of Diana Krall, for one. There’s some sensitive acoustic playing, and the lush arrangements help to swell familiar titles such as It’s Only a Paper Moon, The Glory of Love and Bye Bye Blackbird.
An equal bonus, because all he’s chosen to do is sing, is that there’s a vulnerability to McCartney’s vocals here, a sensitivity in his handling of these all-time classics. Get Yourself Another Fool and Irving Berlin’s Always remind you just what a good singer the rocking knight can be. And after years of personal and professional earnestness, he sounds like he’s having fun.
To his credit, McCartney hasn’t gone for an obvious selection of tracks ”“ it’s doubtful that Frank Loesser’s The Inch Worm would make it onto many desert islands. Ironically, though, it is this one track (with its glutinous children’s choir) which represents the album’s low point.
Of course there’s a history here which transcends these songs; this, after all, is an album from a man whose band effectively blew this style of popular music right out of the water half a century ago. But Paul’s music-loving dad Jim would have known these songs, and while thrashing through Hamburg all-nighters or lunchtimes at the Cavern, The Beatles often found room for songs from this showbiz pantheon.
Cynics may cast a jaundiced eye over Kisses on the Bottom ”“ only two new songs out of 14? (Although My Valentine stands as a breathtakingly good McCartney original.) And hasn’t Rod Stewart taken a scythe through the Great American Songbook? But what McCartney accomplishes here, in the best possible sense, is an album ideally made for Easy Listening. User Comments