Customer Review

102 of 115 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DEAR MUSIC APPRECIATORS, February 7, 2012
This review is from: Kisses on the Bottom (Audio CD)
Dear Music Appreciators,

If you've always wanted to get all up close and personal with "The Cute Beatle" then this may be the album for you. Notice Paul with his arms full of flowers on the cover of his new album - an album loaded with his close-mic vocals on old-fashioned romantic standards...released just a week before Valentines' Day...he might as well be saying "will you be my valentine?"

Whether it's a calculated marketing ploy or just a coincidence of timing, this is certainly a good album. But it will probably divide some of McCartney's fans and may not win him many new ones outside of those who enjoy "the standards."

If you're looking for an album full of Beatlesque singer-songwriter brilliance then you'd best look elsewhere. This is mostly jazzy, old-timey stuff from the 1920's and 30's that a young McCartney first heard from his father's piano. In the same way that many actors just want to direct, there are many singers who just want to sing the standards, and thanks in part to Willie Nelson's 1978 blockbuster STARDUST many of them eventually do. Rod Stewart is another prime example of a star who cashed in big on this same concept, though he drew a fair amount of criticism as well. And then of course there's fellow Beatle Ringo Starr's 1970 effort SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY.

After initially thinking "oh brother" (before hearing the album) I changed my tune pretty quickly about 25 seconds into the opening track - a 1935 tune that has been covered by a host of singers including Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Nat "King" Cole, and Dean Martin - McCartney gives it just the right amount of jazzy snazz and I found myself thinking "maybe he can do this after all - maybe he's just the right singer for the job."

For many music fans, their personal reaction to an album of cover songs can depend largely on their familiarity with the songs and the various previously released cover versions of those songs. I'm guessing your average fan will know about half of these by title alone. A personal high point of this record for me was the Irving Berlin classic "Always." McCartney gives a respectful and subtly nuanced performance, and I was unfamiliar enough with the song and all its versions so as to make this tune virtually new to me. A low point was probably "Get Yourself Another Fool" but only because I was already familiar with a beautiful rendition by Patty Griffin on her LIVE FROM THE ARTISTS DEN album, and then after I heard McCartney sing it I decided to pull up an old Sam Cooke version, and...well let's just say Sam Cooke can sing. Man can he sing. I also discovered that "Home (When Shadows Fall)" is another tune that both McCartney and Sam Cooke have now covered, and again I was hooked on Sam Cooke's version.

So thanks Paul for helping me realize how amazing Sam Cooke is (there are still some legends I just haven't gotten around to yet) and for delivering a stellar collection of standards just in time for V-Day. McCartney's version of any of these songs could probably play in the background of some big budget romantic comedy while the leading characters canoodle each other all over New York City.

There are in fact two McCartney originals on this album. "My Valentine" is probably the most intriguing of the two because it seems to fit right in with the other songs, as if it was written 70 or 80 years ago - and if it was I'm betting it would have been heavily covered and perhaps even have found its own slot in "The Great American Songbook."

If you only want pop-rock music from pop-rock legends then you should turn around and walk away, but if you're open-minded and feel like you could use some old school atmospheric romance in your life, then this album will give you a nice little injection of exactly what you're looking for.


Constant Listener
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 12, 2012 4:41:16 PM PST
Good review . . . deservedly in the "spotlight." Balanced, and concise -- yet anecdotal. I was hooked at your 'conversion' from someone who initially thought . . .

' . . . "oh brother" (before hearing the album). I changed my tune pretty quickly about 25 seconds into the opening track - a 1935 tune that has been covered by a host of singers including Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Nat "King" Cole, and Dean Martin - McCartney gives it just the right amount of jazzy snazz and I found myself thinking "maybe he can do this after all - maybe he's just the right singer for the job".'

[Nice to see, incidentally, that on the strength of only 56 reviews, "Andrew H. Lee -- Constant Listener" has risen to the "Top 1,000s" among the more than 9 million of us ordinary souls, pouring our hearts out at the world's biggest website.]

Over at the world's biggest website for musicians, I have a thread ("call it a blog now, Mark!") celebrating "great songs/great singers" titled, "A Great Melody First, THEN the lyrics," which is nearing a third of a million (correct) "views." Today -- before reading your fine review -- I 'appreciated' Paul's take on a song we celebrated a week ago, THE GLORY OF LOVE. Something tells me you might enjoy, if you can find your way there.

Keep writing the fine reviews.

Mark Blackburn
Winnipeg Manitoba Canada

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 12, 2012 7:28:15 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 12, 2012 7:28:49 PM PST
J. GENIO says:
Just one question. . . Didn't Ringo record an album of standards ("Sentimental Journey")? Wasn't Ringo's album severely criticised? I am just wondering, why would a shrewd businessman and talented artist like Macca try to do something that his former bandmate tried in the 70's? Am I missing something? I would appreciate some feedback.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 15, 2012 8:33:23 PM PST
There are several substantial differences between Ringo's "Sentimental Journey" and Paul's "Kisses on the Bottom."

1) McCartney is an excellent singer. Starr isn't. That's the main difference. I love Ringo's version of "Let the Rest of the World Go By," but he really isn't up to the majority of the songs on that album.

2) Each track on Ringo's album is arranged by a different arranger, including some outstanding ones: Elmer Bernstein, Chico O'Farrell (who worked with Count Basie), Quincy Jones, Ron Goodwin, John Dankworth, Oliver Nelson, Les Reed, and even Ringo's friends George Martin, Maurice Gibb (of the Bee Gees), Klaus Voorman and even McCartney himself (although I think Martin had more to do with that arrangement than McCartney). Thus, each track sounds very different from each other track. Each track on Paul's album (with one exception) features Diana Krall and her band, and there is a deliberate attempt to make the album feel like a single unit.

3) Ringo was about 29 when he recorded his album. Paul is 69. The standards lend themselves to more mature voices, at least if you want a real interpretation of the lyrics and not just an accurate representation of the musical notes.

Ringo's album was criticized largely because of Ringo's singing. Paul has proven himself as a singer again and again.

Don't get me wrong; I own Ringo's album, and enjoy listening to it. But I LOVE Paul's album, and think it's one of the finest of his career. And that's saying a lot.

One more observation: As bad as I think they are, Rod Stewart's albums of standards were big sellers. Linda Ronstadt, who was not known for this sort of thing, released three excellent albums of standards with the legendary Nelson Riddle, and those records did quite well too. Various other rock and pop singers known for other styles have done likewise with varying levels of success (and quality), but it isn't fair to criticize McCartney for deciding to do this simply because others have failed at it (like Ringo).

Have you heard McCartney's album? Do you like it?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 6, 2012 4:18:00 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 6, 2012 6:22:32 AM PST

I don't think one can make a fair comparison of any singer/musician performing covers of "oldies" unless the songs they've recorded are the same.

From my own personal opinion about this album I initially found myself asking why did Paul do this. I'm 57 years old and have followed all the Beatles closely from the very beginning of their American launch on the Ed Sullivan Show. Like many of you who are reading this I am and always will be a "Beatle Maniac". We all, or at least should, know that McCartney and Lennon wrote 90+ percent of the Beatles Music and if one examines the songs that Paul primarily wrote as opposed to the ones that John penned, and also examines all the four Beatles separate careers and public personas I think one would deduce that Paul was/is the most sentimental of the Beatles WITH RESPECT TO HIS SONGWRITING. I am in no way suggesting that he was "deeper" than Lennon, Harrison, or Ringo; quite the contrary in fact. I think every one of them were and are incredibly complex and sensitive people and musicians and the legacy of all of their music they've left for us is a testament to that. The vast percentage of Ballads and love type songs the Beatles recorded though were written by Paul.

What we have here I think is simply a 70 year old man who's had a most incredible life and, as with many of us as we age we reflect on much of our lives and certainly our childhood. McCartney has very naturally done that and he is in the enviable position of being able to record an album of songs that meant something to him personally from his childhood. Some people write memoirs, some sing and/or compose music and songs to express and expose their lives. I don't think he cares if this album is a commercial success or not. Nor do I think he's one bit concerned about the reviews it will get. Let's face it, this man simply loves music and he loves playing and singing. If he didn't, he would have quit decades ago. If anyone has seen him perform live over the past ten years then you've walked away realizing you've seen an artist who just loves what he does.

I don't think this album is about whether or not Paul sings these songs well or not. To me, it's something that gives me additional insight into why and how this man wrote beautiful songs such as Yesterday and Michelle to just note the very tip of the iceberg of Paul's magnificent opus.

Musician's like Paul McCartney are incredibly rare, having had a successful career spanning literally FIFTY YEARS, and are a gift to all of us who, as fans, have watched his career and public life evolve and in many cases affect our own lives on very deep levels. I don't think this album, and certainly not Paul himself, should receive any negative criticism whatsoever and I think that those who do critique it are missing the point and more importantly the whole picture. If you're not interested in listening to this music you don't have to buy it and if you've bought it you don't have to listen to it. But please, before criticizing any recording this man puts out at this stage of his life, think long and hard about the bigger picture (i.e., what this man has given to us) and at the very least, don't try to compare him to ANY other singer; former Beatle or otherwise.

I think it's safe to say that whatever Paul chooses to do musically is, and has been for a very long time, a labor of love. It's not about money or commercial success to him; of that I am highly confident. Whether or not these are the "greatest" recordings of these individual songs or not is not the point. Indeed, I should think that Paul himself would tell you they're not. They're songs that he loves and clearly, he's shown us he loves to sing. I think that's really all there is to this and intensely critiquing this effort is just wrong.

On November 8, 1975 I saw the legendary pianist Arthur Rubinstein perform two concertos with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Zubin Mehta. Afterward, he played six or seven solo encores. Not only is it unheard of to attend a concert and hear TWO piano concertos in one evening by the same pianist but at the time this took place Maestro Rubinstein was EIGHTY-EIGHT YEARS OLD. As is the case with any concert, classical or otherwise, there will be all kinds of people in the audience. Some of those people will be familiar with the music being performed, others will not, and a few will know it so well and have such well-trained ears, that they'll be able to pick out every missed or dropped note or mistake. Now Rubinstein dropped some notes here and there but I don't think anybody cared. That this man, who had been playing piano for people for seventy-five years or so was not criticized for his dropped notes or mistakes, nor should he have been. What Rubinstein gave to the world of music and to those who followed his career and life was nothing short of a blessing. To criticize him for doing something that less than 0.25% of the world population could come close to doing would simply be wrong.

Although McCartney's not a classical musician, I think the analogy is still a fair one to make. Paul's given us too much for too long; he has nothing to prove. The man is seventy years old and I think that at this point nothing even remotely negative should be said about what he records. Negative words and thoughts about his music or singing are best kept as thoughts. They ad nothing of value to anyone to be written in public reviews. There are very few entertainers in this world who by virtue of their tremendously great careers, simply shouldn't be criticized negatively; unless of course they turn out to be serial killers or something. IMHO Paul McCartney falls into that category. Don't like the music, don't buy or listen to it but regardless, before you consider yourself worthy of criticizing Paul's artistic output at this stage of his career and life I suggest you first compare your own life to his before you knock him.

I'm listening to the album right now and each and every song puts a smile on my face. I can tell, he had the time of his life producing this and the musicians accompanying him are superb!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 6, 2012 5:37:14 AM PST
@ robgman -- just for the record (ha ha, see what I did there?), "Something" was written by George Harrison alone. Paul contributed an extraordinary bass line to the Beatles' recording of the song, but had nothing to do with the song's creation.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 6, 2012 6:14:21 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 6, 2012 6:23:58 AM PST
You're right. I stand corrected. Thank you for pointing that out. For the record (ha ha - back at ya :-)) I've edited my comment.

Posted on Mar 6, 2012 6:26:09 AM PST
Terrific review and I LOVE the album. The more I listen, the more I appreciate and am amazed at Paul's diversity.

Posted on May 5, 2012 2:22:41 PM PDT
Regarding Ringo Starr's 1970 album SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY and this 2012 Paul McCartney C.D. KISSES ON THE BOTTOM: Isn't it about time Paul caught up with Ringo after more than four decades?! Paul even covers a song Ringo does on SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY, "Bye, Bye, Blackbird," on KISSES ON THE BOTTOM.

The Beatles were innovators, and that includes Ringo Starr. Did any rock era musician record an album of standards before Starr's SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY? If any did, none are nearly as big a name, as SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY is the first of which I know. Add McCartney to the list including Nilsson, Linda Ronstadt, and Rod Stewart who followed Starr's trend.

Next, Paul McCartney will tour with a group of star players - just you watch! "Paul McCartney and His Paul Star Band!"

Posted on Sep 25, 2012 7:12:38 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 25, 2012 7:13:29 AM PDT
moonwomanone says:
I strongly suspect Mr. McCartney would be happy his recordings made you go seek out the originals. Sam Cooke could, indeed, sing, and Mr. McCartney is one of his fans. I'm thinking about buying this CD, and your thoughtful review was very helpful.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 17, 2015 7:34:36 PM PST
Wayne Engle says:
Mr. Grossman, yours was a SUPERB review! I've been a professional writer for over 50 years, and I couldn't have done nearly as well. I believe Paul McCartney deserves every one of the good things you said about him, and more. He is a musical genius the like of which comes along -- oh, maybe once in a 100 years. No, make that 200 years.
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