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Published: 2012/02/08
by Ron Hart

Paul McCartney
Kisses On The Bottom

MPL/Hear Music-Concord Music Group

For his 14th proper studio album under his own name, Paul McCartney dives into the Great American Songbook, pulling from a selection of favorite songs that he used to hear his father Jim, a former jazz bandleader in the 1920s, play on the piano in the parlor of his childhood home.

This is not the first time a Beatle has tackled the standards, as Ringo Starr mined similar territory for his 1970 solo debut, Sentimental Journey. But Macca, whose roots in old-timey music played such a prominent role in the Fabs’ late period oeuvre such as “When I’m Sixty-Four”, “Penny Lane” and “Honey Pie”, takes the concept a step further by really digging deep into the depths of his jazzbo heritage and channeling his inner Hoagy Carmichael. Entitled Kisses On The Bottom, nicked from the lyrics of the 1935 Fats Waller hit “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter” that opens up the album, McCartney employs veteran producer Tommy LiPuma, whose has worked with everyone from Randy Newman to Barbra Streisand to Miles Davis to Anita Baker to Antonio Carlos Jobim over the course of his five-decade career, to oversee this 14 song set, part of which was recorded at the legendary studio inside Sir Paul’s old label Capitol Records.

And as opposed to the likes of McCartneys I and II and 2005’s Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, where he played virtually every instrument, the bass man’s only obligation on Kisses was to croon these dozen covers and two originals. Here, he leaves the instrumental work to modern jazz siren Diana Krall, whose husband Elvis Costello achieved success in collaboration with Macca in the late 80s, and her band, who deliver an air of authenticity his touring band never could properly achieve, especially when they dig into such sentimental sizzlers as The Ink Spots’ “We Three (My Echo, My Shadow and Me)” and Irving Berlin’s “Always”. Also guesting on this record is longtime Beatles associate Eric Clapton, who delivers a wonderful acoustic solo on the McCartney-penned first single “My Valentine”, and Stevie Wonder, whose sprightly, soulful harmonica solo punctuates the lush arrangements of the album’s other original, closing track “Only Our Hearts”.

Be forewarned, Kisses On The Bottom is very much an adult contemporary LP, so those of you who might balk at the kind of gauzy romanticism on display here may be wise to sit this one out. However, any of you Fab fans with a flair for the imaginary ballroom of your grandparents’ era will most certainly find enjoyment in McCartney’s wonderful journey through the past.

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