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KISSES AT THE BOTTOM

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Kisses on the Bottom

Kisses on the Bottom is the fifteenth post-Beatles (discounting his Wings-era discography, his orchestral works and his output as the Fireman) studio album by Paul McCartney, consisting primarily of covers of traditional pop music and jazz. Released in February 2012 on Starbucks’ Hear Music label, it was McCartney’s first studio album since Memory Almost Full in 2007. The album was produced by Tommy LiPuma and includes just two original compositions by McCartney: “My Valentine” and “Only Our Hearts”. The former features Eric Clapton on guitar, while the latter features Stevie Wonder on harmonica. Kisses on the Bottom peaked at number 3 on the UK Albums Chart and number 5 on the US Billboard 200, while also topping Billboard magazine’s Jazz Albums chart.

In addition to the standard release, the album was made available in a “Deluxe” edition, which added the songs “Baby’s Request” – written by McCartney and originally recorded by Wings for their 1979 album Back to the Egg – and another cover, “My One and Only Love”. In November 2012, an expanded edition of Kisses on the Bottom, subtitled Complete Kisses, was released exclusively on the iTunes store. The latter release features the fourteen-track album with four bonus tracks, and the complete iTunes Live from Capitol Studios performance.

A year prior to recording the album, jazz producer Tommy LiPuma and an unnamed keyboardist tried out some ideas for five days with Paul McCartney at McCartney’s home studio in East Sussex. Featuring just vocals and piano, the trio “put about 15-20 songs on tape”, to see what tracks would work. Around this time, an unknown McCartney original was recorded, with the help of engineer Geoff Emerick. The songs that McCartney would work on were voted upon democratically: McCartney comments, “I pulled up some songs from my memories, when I was a kid and we had family sing-songs, which was the original inspiration for the whole idea, I said to Tom, ‘Let’s look at these ones. This is the kind of era I want to look at.’ Tommy himself suggested some; a girl in my office; … Diana Krall] suggested some. Then I played Tommy a couple that I’d written, and he said, ‘Whoa, that’s a great idea,’ so we selected a couple of those. … We all made suggestions, and we took all those suggestions to the studio.”

An alternate musical arrangement of “My Valentine” was recorded, along with remakes of earlier McCartney songs: “Baby’s Request”, and “Goodnight Princess”. Both the version recorded during the album sessions, and the original 1983 vocal version are unreleased. Arranger of “My Valentine” was Alan Broadbent, who recalled his work with McCartney in the book Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013), speaking about the ideas McCartney offered him about the arrangement. Some songs were from McCartney’s childhood, in which his father, Jim, would often be playing on the family piano. Most of the songs were played based on the sheet music, as LiPuma said that “We’d have somebody write out a chord sheet for us, and then we went in and figured it out on the date”. LiPuma also said McCartney wasn’t unfamiliar with the group’s way of recording, saying that McCartney said “I love this. It reminds me of the way we used to do the Beatles. John Lennon and I would write a song, we’d have a date booked at Abbey Road, and neither George Martin, George Harrison or Ringo Starr knew what the songs were about. They’d work it out right there in the room”.

The album was recorded during March 2010 – 2011 at Capitol Studios and Avatar Studios. The album’s title comes from the lead track “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter”, originally a hit for Fats Waller in 1935. Said McCartney in the liner notes, “I worked with Diana Krall, and great jazz musicians like John Clayton. This is an album very tender, very intimate. This is an album you listen to at home after work, with a glass of wine or a cup of tea.” The disc was helmed by LiPuma who has previously worked with Miles Davis and Barbra Streisand, among others. The album is mostly standards, with two originals written in the same style (“My Valentine” and “Only Our Hearts”). “My Valentine”, composed by McCartney, the first song released from the album, features Eric Clapton on guitar. Stevie Wonder plays harmonica on “Only Our Hearts”. McCartney plays acoustic guitar on “Get Yourself Another Fool” and “The Inch Worm”, but otherwise contributes only vocals.

Singles

McCartney performed “My Valentine” live at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards in 2012 with Diana Krall and Joe Walsh of the Eagles The single climbed to number 20 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart after its debut at number 28. “My Valentine” also reached number 23 on the Japan Hot 100, number 27 on the Billboard Jazz Digital Songs chart, and number 23 on the Billboard Rock Digital Songs chart. “Only Our Hearts” debuted at number 84 on the Japan Hot 100.

Track listing

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” Fred E. Ahlert, Joe Young 2:36
2. “Home (When Shadows Fall)” Peter van Steeden, Jeff Clarkson, Harry Clarkson 4:04
3. “It’s Only a Paper Moon” Harold Arlen, E. Y. Harburg, Billy Rose 2:35
4. “More I Cannot Wish You” Frank Loesser 3:04
5. “The Glory of Love” Billy Hill 3:46
6. “We Three (My Echo, My Shadow and Me)” Sammy Mysels, Dick Robertson, Nelson Cogane 3:22
7. “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer 2:32
8. “My Valentine” Paul McCartney 3:14
9. “Always” Irving Berlin 3:50
10. “My Very Good Friend the Milkman” Harold Spina, Johnny Burke 3:04
11. “Bye Bye Blackbird” Ray Henderson, Mort Dixon 4:26
12. “Get Yourself Another Fool” Haywood Henry, Monroe Tucker 4:42
13. “The Inch Worm” Loesser 3:43
14. “Only Our Hearts” Paul McCartney 4:21
Total length:
49:19