Thursday, September 06, 2012

'Paul McCartney's Live Kisses' is a magical ride

One of the genuine musical surprises of early 2012 was the release of Paul McCartney's Kisses On The Bottom album. Released back in February, the album is a wonderful collection of standards that Sir Paul listened to as a young boy, as well as several originals (notably, the evocative "My Valentine," my favorite song on the disc).
The album was a definite artistic challenge for McCartney with him focusing strictly on singing and leaving the instrumental duties to Diana Krall and her top-notch band, as well as guest appearances from Stevie Wonder and Eric Clapton.

In celebration of the release of Kisses On The Bottom, McCartney and many of the players who helped him complete that album gathered in the same Capitol Studios space in Los Angeles on Feb. 9, 2012 (the 48th anniversary of The Beatles' U.S. TV debut on The Ed Sullivan Show) to revisit their roles in the first-ever live performance of the songs.

Diana Krall, left, with Paul McCartney
The glorious results can now be seen by all when Paul McCartney's Live Kisses comes to Great Performances, set to air at 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012 on PBS stations (check local listings here).
Over the course of the fast-paced 53-minute special, McCartney joins forces with Krall at the piano, guitar great John Pizzarelli and others - all of it captured by Grammy-winning producer Tommy LiPuma and Al Schmitt in the studio booth.

Those wondering why McCartney veered off recent path of rock-styled releases (2007's Memory Almost Full, 2005's Chaos and Creation In The Backyard) or experimental rock he has pursued with Youth as The Fireman, will see the life-long love affair McCartney has had with traditional pop music through interviews, old family photos, vintage video clips on The Beatles back in the early '60s and through the 10 performances themselves.

From the opening performance of Fats Waller's "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter" to more affecting material ("More I Cannot Wish You," with McCartney's emotive vocals on full display), other standouts on the special include the affecting "My Valentine" (featuring Joe Walsh's fantastic acoustic guitar work), the poignant "Bye Bye Blackbird" and bouncy "My Very Good Friend the Milkman." On several songs, his longtime live drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. contributes winning harmony vocals.

Jumping back and forth between black & white and color, the flow and look of the film is seamless, and director Jonas Akerlund gets all the details just right. At one point, McCartney recalls "John (Lennon) and I both loved this old stuff."

Thanks to Paul McCartney's Live Kisses, the rest of us get to share a little bit of that love too.

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