I admit to having grave doubts about this latest offering from Mr. McCartney. Does the world need another set of standards sung by an aging rocker? I thought Rod Stewart had already milked that cow dry. And the title…Kisses On The Bottom…didn’t really send me racing to the CD player when my copy of the album arrived. But a month after its release, I finally gave it a good listen, and, surprise, surprise…it’s not bad.
Anyone who paid attention to Paul’s work with The Beatles would know he always had a soft spot for pre-rock standards. It was Paul who sang Till There Was You and wrote the British music-hall inspired Honey Pie.
On Kisses On The Bottom, McCartney sings his way through standards written by the likes of Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, Frank Loesser and Johnny Mercer. He also composed two tunes in a similar vein, My Valentine and Only Our Hearts.
The sound is light cocktail jazz with the core group comprise of Diana Krall (piano and rhythm arrangements), drummer Karriem Riggins, double bass player Robert Hurst and John Pizzarelli (guitar). Mike Mainieri contributes on vibes and Eric Clapton shows up on a couple of tunes. Stevie Wonder plays his harmonica on the final track, Only Our Hearts…the only one not to feature Krall who is a major presence on the album.
Paul himself plays no instruments, but concentrates solely on his vocals. For the most part they are elegant, restrained and just a bit fragile, which only serves to make them that much more likeable.
Veteran producer Tommy LiPuma produced the set with another veteran, Al Schmitt, engineering. The album was recorded in New York and at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles using vintage gear.
McCartney sounds right at home on tunes like I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter and It’s Only A Paper Moon and his My Valentine stands up well against these time-worn chestnuts.
The children’s choir on The Inch Worm is a bit too cutesy and Paul’s vocal on My Very Good Friend The Milkman sounds a bit strained, but otherwise this is very satisfying foray into the music that help form Paul McCartney as a musician and a composer.
Now, please, no more collections of standards by aging rockers. Let’s give Paul the final word on that one, eh, Rod?
Click here to listen to The Glory Of Love from Kisses On The Bottom: