Paul McCartney – Kisses on the Bottom (2012)

History: Paul got together with jazz producer Tommy LiPuma to come up with ideas of various standards the two of them could record together. They decided to make a full album of it, also adding in a couple of Paul’s original songs done in the same style. With the exception of a little acoustic guitar, Paul is mostly singing on the album being backed by various other musicians and vocalists including Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder.

My own personal history and initial prediction: So every time I see that title I can’t help but think of it like bottom=butt and I want to cringe. Apparently it’s referring to a letter with kisses at the bottom of it, so I guess I just need to get my mind out of the gutter. That said, the idea of Paul singing old standards is a great idea, and he’s certainly done enough old style songs himself that I imagine his own songs will fit in quite well with the rest. I’m looking forward to this one.

Review: So maybe you can tell by that prediction, but I was initially thinking this was going to be a lot of songs in a similar vein as “When I’m 64” and “Honey Pie” and that’s not really what it is. These songs are slower paced, more in line with what The Ink Spots used to do. In fact one of the songs I recognized on here was because I was familiar with The Ink Spots version of it, “We Three (My Echo, My Shadow, and Me)”. It took a few songs for me to realize that the album was definitely going to be a little different than what I expected, but at that point I was able to embrace it for what it was.

Paul’s voice at this point and time is definitely well suited to this style, and he brings the right amount of emotion to them. These are definitely not big over the top numbers, but rather mellow soft jazz songs instead. While I couldn’t help but hope for a few more upbeat numbers here and there, this is a great listen for when you need to relax. This would definitely help lower your blood pressure if you need it.

Paul’s two original numbers fit in quite well with the classics, probably because you’ve got Tommy LiPuma doing the arrangements for all of them. His songs might lack just a little bit of swing that some of the others have, but they fit in just like they were all written around the same time. I didn’t really notice Clapton’s guitar on “My Valentine” but I absolutely recognized Stevie Wonder playing harmonica on “Only Our Hearts” as it’s that distinctive style that is 100% him and you know the moment you hear it. And if you’re me, it also fills you with joy. A great note to end the album on.

Even if you’re just a casual fan of 30s and 40s popular music, I’d recommend checking this one out. A lot of the songs I didn’t think I knew until I heard them, and a few key lines would jump out at me. “The Inch Worm” I know from a Muppet Show sketch using it, for instance. While this wasn’t exactly an album full of “Paul’s granny music” like I was hoping for, it was still a really nice listen.

Next Time: Of course Paul wouldn’t be content to just stick with a mostly cover album, so he’s also got another album of songs to put out called New.

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