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Review: Paul McCartney’s role as “Crooner” for new CD, “Kisses on the Bottom”, takes some getting used to

Paul McCartney plays the role of “crooner” in the style of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett on his new CD, “Kisses on the Bottom“. However, the vocal style he utilizes to sing these classic songs like “It’s Only A Paper Moon” and “Home (When Shadows Fall)” is at a different vocal range than what Beatles/McCartney fans are used to.

It almost sounds like Macca is pretending to perform as if he was another character– Macca the “jazz singer”. Very similar to the higher-pitched, whispery voice that he sang “Honey Pie” with on The Beatles’ White Album, this style works well on the humorous, light-hearted songs “My Very Good Friend the Milkman” and “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter”, but not so much on the more serious standards on the first half of the CD.

On the second half of the CD, McCartney’s voice returns more to the deeper singing voice that we are all used to on songs like “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” and “Get Yourself Another Fool” which are quite enjoyable. The jazzy musical arrangements are led by Diana Krall and her band and produced by Tommy LiPuma.

Of course, as one would expect, Paul shines on the songs that he wrote himself, especially “My Valentine”. The included 6-page interview in the CD booklet reveals the interesting story about how “My Valentine” came about. McCartney wrote the song on a piano in the foyer of a hotel while on vacation in Morocco with then-girlfriend, Nancy Shevell. The inspiration came from a simple conversation about the rainy weather to which Shevell urged: “It doesn’t matter, we can still have a good time.”

Watch Paul McCartney sing “My Valentine” on the 2012 GRAMMYS:

The CD booklet is presented in a classy style featuring photographs from the special “Kisses on the Bottom” photo shoot taken by Paul’s daughter, Mary McCartney. Shots of the iconic Capitol Records tower are also included. Half of the album was recorded at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, and the other half at Avatar Studios in New York, with orchestral arrangements recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios in London.

Kudos to Paul for following his creative heart and exploring the “jazzy” side of himself. We’ve seen McCartney go through different incarnations throughout his 50-year career including roles as the Fireman, the classical composer and now the jazz crooner. If you’re open to hearing another side of Paul, as well as another side of his voice, then give “Kisses on the Bottom” a try. I always have found that learning about The Beatles and solo Beatles’ music has led me to explore many other music genres and artists, and this CD is no exception.

–Trina Yannicos

Note: “Kisses on the Bottom” is available in the standard CD format with 14 tracks; as a digital download; in vinyl format; or the Deluxe CD with two bonus tracks plus access to a download of the Capitol Studios show (available via paulmccartney.com), plus longer liner notes and expanded packaging featuring three postcards. This review was based on the standard CD.

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Paul McCartney interview about Kisses On The Bottom; free stream of entire album online

Paul McCartney’s new album of standards, Kisses on the Bottom, will be released on February 7. Paul has apparently had some fun with his choice of album title—the phrase ‘Kisses On The Bottom,’ comes from the album’s opener ‘I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter’.

Originally made a big hit by Fats Waller in 1935, the song opens with the lines ‘I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter and make believe it came from you.  I’m gonna write words oh so sweet.  They’re gonna knock me off of my feet.  A lot of kisses on the bottom, I’ll be glad I got ‘em’.

(All photos courtesy MPL)

‘Kisses On The Bottom’ is a collection of standards Paul grew up listening to in his childhood as well as the two new McCartney compositions ‘My Valentine’ and ‘Only Our Hearts’.

(Courtesy MPL; Photo by Mary McCartney)

With the help of Grammy Award-winning producer Tommy LiPuma and Diana Krall and her band—as well as guest appearances from Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder, McCartney’s new album is a deeply personal journey through classic American compositions that, in some cases, a young Paul first heard his father perform on piano at home.

(Courtesy MPL; Photo by Mary McCartney)

Watch an exclusive interview with McCartney and Award-winning producer Tommy LiPuma discussing the new album:

The album was recorded at the legendary Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, New York and London throughout 2011.  It also features guest musicians Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder, respectively, on the original compositions ‘My Valentine’ and ‘Only Our Hearts’.  Eric also appears on the track ‘Get Yourself Another Fool’. Paul was photographed by his daughter Mary McCartney for the album sleeve.

(courtesy MPL)

Full tracklisting:
Standard CD – 14 tracks

01. I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter            02:36

02. Home (When Shadows Fall)                                                04:04

03.  It’s Only A Paper Moon                                                      02:35

04. More I Cannot Wish You                                                      03:04

05. The Glory Of Love                                                               03:46

06. We Three (My Echo, My Shadow And Me)                             03:22

07. Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive                                              02:32

08. My Valentine                                                                        03:14

09. Always                                                                                 03:50

10. My Very Good Friend The Milkman                                        03:04

11. Bye Bye Blackbird                                                                04:26

12. Get Yourself Another Fool                                                     04:42

13. The Inch Worm                                                                      03:43

14. Only Our Hearts                                                                     04:21

(courtesy MPL)

Deluxe CD Album will feature two bonus tracks plus access to a download of the Capitol Studios show (available from Tuesday 14th February via paulmccartney.com), plus longer liner notes and expanded packaging featuring three postcards)

15.  Baby’s Request                                                                      03:30

16.  My One And Only Love                                                           03:50

(Courtesy MPL; Photo by Mary McCartney)

The album will also be available digitally.

You can listen to the album in its entirety streaming for free at NPR.org.

[Source: Official Press release]

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