Release Date: Feb 7, 2012
Record label: Mercury
Genre(s): Vocal, Pop/Rock, American Popular Song, Vocal Pop
What’s most surprising about Paul McCartney’s new LP is not that it’s full of pre-rock pop standards, but that it took him so long to get around to this kind of project. He was the son of a jazz band leader who turned the future Beatle on to songs like 1933’s "It’s Only a Paper Moon," among the tunes covered here. McCartney’s writing always had old-school flavor: "WhenI’m Sixty-Four" and "Martha My Dear" evoked vaudeville; "Yesterday" echoed Nat "King" Cole’s style.
An aging rocker paging through the Great American Songbook: It’s a cash grab as old as its intended audience. But working here with jazz star Diana Krall and her band, McCartney, now 69, refreshes ”Bye Bye Blackbird” and Irving Berlin’s ”Always” like a cool spring breeze; Kisses on the Bottom might be his lowest-key effort since 1970’s McCartney, with mercifully little of the orchestral treacle we’ve grown to expect from the September-years standards set. It’s de-lovely.
Neil Young once said if you live long enough, you’ll be so far behind the times that eventually things will come around and you’ll be on the cutting edge again. He could have been talking about his pal Paul McCartney. After enduring years of critical indifference and releasing album after album of music that many considered lame or irrelevant, Sir Paul has become fashionable again.
After recent Fab Four nostalgia, Kisses on the Bottom may see anyone left arguing that Macca was the progressive, avant-garde Beatle gnashing their teeth. In a similar tradition to 1999's Run Devil Run album of rock'n'roll standards, it's an album of shamelessly retrospective songs he first heard his father play on the piano. And yet, it's beautifully done, with palpable affection for the songs, airy whimsy and perhaps a hint of mischief.
Way back in 1963, Paul McCartney sang "A Taste of Honey" on the Beatles' debut album, and "Til There Was You" on their second LP, establishing that his tastes ran far beyond the world of rock & roll and R&B. Over the years, he touched upon pre-rock & roll pop -- writing pastiches like "Honey Pie" with the Beatles and, crucially, snatching up the publishing rights to many of these tunes, thereby building his MPL empire -- but he never devoted a full record to the style until 2012's Kisses on the Bottom, a cheekily titled (pun not only intentional but solicited) collection of songs you know by heart. He's not the first Beatle to sing songs his mother should know: Ringo's first step outside the Fab Four was 1970's Sentimental Journey, a record of standards produced by George Martin.
Let’s get the good news out of the way first: Paul McCartney’s new album of old standards isn’t quite as disappointing as Rod Stewart’s “Songbook” series. Kisses on the Bottom, a… well… cheeky title taken from the lyric of the collection’s opening number, “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter”, originally popularized by Fats Waller and possibly a song which made the young McCartney giggle like a loon when he was a wee lad in Liverpool. To his credit and sometimes also to his detriment, McCartney has been unafraid in the past of publicly flogging his personal playlists.
Regrettably, Kisses On The Bottom isn’t the ode to anal activities that we have all been waiting for from Paul McCartney. Instead the album title is a lyric taken from Fats Waller’s ‘I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter’, one of 12 tracks covered by McCartney here that he was first introduced to by his dad. There are also two original McCartney compositions on show: ‘Only Our Hearts’ and ‘My Valentine’.
Imagine you’re traveling somewhere. Anywhere. You can’t sleep. You’ve managed to scrounge up enough money to afford a weekend in a nice, five-star hotel. Congratulations. You’ve earned it. You don’t wear a robe at home, but since the hotel was nice enough to provide you with one, you opt ….
Kisses on the Bottom’s concept: Paul McCartney makes jazzy renditions of pop standards he treasures. That’s about it. “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth ….
Can we please call a moratorium on aging rock stars recording cover albums of their early influences? Good intentions aside, they almost always suck, which is exactly the case with Sir Paul's 16th solo studio album. He sounds like he's having fun playing the jazz lounge singer, but he's clearly enjoying it far more than we are, despite some help from Diana Krall, John Clayton, Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder. Detractors might say he's always been schmaltzy, but he's usually pretty good at the mushy, sentimental stuff.
Even the most distracted student of popular culture has probably learned that pop and its unkempt cousin, rock, came along in the 1960s and swept away all that had come before. Teenagers no longer wanted to listen to the same music as their parents, and their parents before them: that frumpy aural wallpaper known as "the standards". The Beatles were responsible for much of this melodic overhaul, channelling the energy of rock'n'roll and R&B.
PAUL MCCARTNEY Kisses on the Bottom (Hear Music) The music on Paul McCartney’s first “standards” album, “Kisses on the Bottom,” floats over you like a light mist on a cool spring morning in an English garden as the sun glints through the haze. You want to inhale the fresh air, taste the fragrance of buds blooming, as the sky clears to a serene deep blue. Mr.
A very pleasurable set of less-than-common covers from the still-rocking knight. Patrick Humphries 2012 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.
Kisses On The Bottom, Sir Paul McCartney’s new album of reworked jazz-pop standards, features a cute little number called “Ac-Cent-Chu-Ate The Positive,” written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer (covered by Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Ella Fitzgerald, and Aretha Franklin, among others). Quite frankly, who does cute better than Paul McCartney? Throughout, he sounds like he’s having a blast, playing around with the song’s life-affirming chorus, his voice surrounded by sweet harmonies and sprightly jazz guitar. More than likely, “Accentuate the Positive” is exactly the point McCartney’s trying to make with Kisses On The Bottom, his breezy (and often skippable) 16th solo album.