February is always an exciting month for new releases, due to the fact that it’s when new stuff finally starts rolling out. I’m always glad to feature guest reviews and tonight comes from my good friend Duane Berry regarding the new Paul Mccartney album “Kisses On The Bottom”.
What an interesting name for a release, “Kisses On The Bottom”, I know I have had some co-workers do that in the past with some degree of success. But I digress. Actually, the name comes from a line in the first song, “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter”. The line goes on to say “I’m Gonna Leave Kisses On The Bottom”. Glad we cleared that up.
If this recording were to ever be made into a movie, the trailer would surely look something like this: Young Paul sitting at the kitchen table eating fish & chips, watching the Everton Football Club play soccer on the telly while listening to dad James play some of his favorite songs on the family piano. These days, it would be more like watching dad in his boxers sitting around eating Cheetos and listening to the Beatles White Album and singing “Ob-la-Di Ob-La-Da” and “Little Piggies”. But I digress, again, Doh.
This is the 35th post Beatles recording released by McCartney and it is totally different than anything he has ever done before. This harkens back to the songs his dad really did sing while playing his family piano. Classics one and all. The concept for this type of release has been around for a while. The first one I heard was a collection of standards done by Willie Nelson on his “Stardust” album that went on to become multi million seller. Not sure if this one is up to those lofty standards, but when you have had 188 charted songs and 33 of them #1 hits, including 60 gold records and 100 million singles sold in Britain alone, you can go old school on em and never look back.
Think Cole Porter, Nat King Cole, Irving Berlin and you get the idea behind the songs here. Only 2 written by McCartney. This disc is full of lushy orchestral maneuvers in the dark, with plenty of small, and not so small, stringed instruments and keyboards. You can just imagine the musicians sitting around in the studio recording this record wearing their “Old Guys Rule” shirts with a lot of Ensure cans all around.
Guiness says Sir McCartney is the most successful musician and writer in pop music history and with that kind of background, much is expected from any release, and this one delivers, in it’s own way. This is not the kind of disc that you will just pop into the player and jam to rolling down the highway, this is a real mood centric recording. Laid back with some excellent vocal work. Veteran musicians like Diana Krall, Robert Hurst, John Pizarelli and arrangements by Eddie Karam and Johnny Mandel make it hard to ignore what is here.
“Home (When Shadows Fall)”, and others feature the London Symphony Orchestra, “It’s Only A Paper Moon” is highlighted by the best string variety on any song while “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive” shows the still strong vocal work McCartney is known for. “My Valentine” and “Only Our Hearts” are the 2 McCartney compositions included. Eric Clapton is a featured guitarist on “Get Yourself Another Fool” and Stevie Wonder guests on harmonica on “Only Our Hearts”.My favorite is “Bye Bye Blackbird” the song that John Coltrane won a posthumous Grammy for in 1982. A song reportedly about a prostitute leaving the business and returning home to her mother. I like this version even more than the Etta James or Miles Davis versions.
I’ve always heard that when people the caliber of Paul McCartney go into a recording studio it should be their goal to make timeless music. This time, it was the timeless music that brought them together in the studio. For a guy that was mostly inspired by american R & B music growing up, McCartney hit a walk off home run with this disc.