Paul McCartney: Kisses on the Bottom
Kisses on the Bottom
Paul McCartney can do whatever he wants. After over five decades as a musician, he's earned the right to experiment, change his style, and not give a shit if he so chooses. The man was a Beatle, and that means that, for all intents and purposes, he could deliver an album wherein he just blew raspberries into a microphone for 80 minutes and no one would question his legendary status (though few, myself included, might question his sanity). So, following that premise that ambivalence is allowed of the rightly entitled, Kisses on the Bottom is McCartney's perhaps inevitable standards album.
The standards album itself has an uphill climb to relevance to my mind. Good covers are few and far between, and having a legend "sing the classics" is all well and good, but is unlikely to contribute anything musically that hasn't been around for decades. It feels more like self-indulgence than artistic expression, as if McCartney (and, for that matter, Rod Stewart, Tony Bennett, and anyone else who has recorded volumes of "standards" to make a quick buck) decided he wanted to sing some old favorites in front of his piano and could use another million dollars.
If this all sounds like I hate Kisses on the Bottom, I should make clear that I don't, not because it's a very good album, but because it inspires ambivalence far more than vehemence. McCartney's version of "It's Only a Paper Moon," for example, is a fine rendition of a fun song, and "My Valentine," which McCartney played at his recent wedding, is an ode to romance in the long-term, a much more substantial relationship than the infatuation McCartney has sung about for most of his career. It's just that this album feels phoned in throughout. McCartney clearly enjoys the songs he's singing (and that isn't hard to believe, as they are all quite likable), but he comes across as bored throughout. It's true, Paul McCartney can do whatever he wants. I'm just not sure why (or, frankly, if) he wanted to do this.