At this stage in the game Sir Paul McCartney can say, say, say anything on record and it’s guaranteed to shift a unit or ten. He certainly knows this because he has indulged himself on the cheekily named, Kisses On The Bottom. It’s a collection of old standards initially made as a gift for his new wife, Nancy Shevell and while the name is a double entendre, it is not a reference to their boudoir antics but merely a song lyric lifted from the opener.
Kisses On The Bottom contains 14 songs with two originals by this knight in shining armour. The new material includes “My Valentine,” an ode to his optimistic sweetheart and “Only Our Hearts”. The latter boasts Stevie Wonder on harmonica while the former includes Eric Clapton on acoustic guitar making his first of two appearances. The guitar maestro reappears on “Get Yourself Another Fool” putting his indelible stamp on a song where his mate goes from being a fool on the hill to telling someone (one would imagine Heather Mills) to go find herself another dope.
McCartney’s original cuts slot in well with the remainder of the album as the overall feeling is classic, vintage and conservative, so not unlike the black and white photo of his suited self holding out a bouquet of flowers on the record’s cover. The music is often like the Sleepless In Seattle soundtrack and while it does run the risk of being drowned in romantic schmaltz, you can’t deny that the material is as smooth as honey, just ask the Rod Stewarts, David Campbells and Michael Buble’s (to name a few) that have kicked goals with this type of quote, “granny music”.
Sir Paul has said that this was the kind of record he had always wanted to make with The Beatles. And while it was a plan that has been germinating for sometime, here he sounds like he is having an absolute ball. He admits to holidaying in America, acting the tourist in LA and using Nat King Cole’s mic while playing with some great jazz players with nary a care in the world. It’s nice work if you can afford it; particularly when you consider that save for some acoustic guitar-work on the final two cuts, all Macca had to do was turn up and sing.
The musicians are the ones that really carry this piece. They include Diana Krall and the majority of her backing band. They sound tight as they deliver these sensitive and soft shuffles through starry-eyed period from the past. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for McCartney’s voice, which while pleasant enough is a tad thin at parts and at times shows signs of the aging process. Some people may go so far as to write McCartney off as a pop singer (and therefore never a jazz one) but it’s not that bad, it is just that his vocals are simply not full enough to carry the entire spectrum of emotion and poignancy that these songs are designed to carry.
For its faults, Kisses On The Bottom does succeed in realising McCartney’s original vision to collect the old songs from his parents’ generation and pay a sweet homage to them. With a little help from Tony LiPuma – another veteran of the business like Sir George Martin – these guys have found unusual numbers to rerecord and ultimately offer a bunch of gentle, easy-listening tomes, sentimental standards and other tender journeys. From the lounge-like croon of “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down & Write Myself A Letter” to the orchestral, “Home (When Shadows Fall)”. Then there’s the touching song from the Guys & Dolls stage show, “More I Cannot Wish You” while “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” is a much-loved, old chestnut. This one conjures up the image of Gene Kelly with his arms out, a huge smile on his face as he tap dances around a choir of angels that coo simultaneously with each other.
In 2012 Paul McCartney has turned the tables back to yesterday with nary a care or guitar in sight, as he offers a love letter to his wife via the past. It’s a misty-eyed, slow dance and an at-times sleeper effort that proves a decent enough slice of nostalgia that is so understated, subtle and cosy it’s like the musical equivalent of a warm cocoa and a nanna nap.
Originally published on 26 March 2012 at the following website: http://www.fasterlouder.com.au/reviews/music/32051/Paul-McCartney–Kisses-On-The-Bottom
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