The Paul McCartney Project

Recording "Kisses On The Bottom"

April - May 2011 ? • For Paul McCartney

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Kisses On the Bottom Official album.
Timeline More from year 2011
Studio:
Capitol Records Building, Los Angeles, USA

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About

After some preparation work with producer Tommy LiPuma in March 2010, the recording sessions for “Kisses On The Bottom” started in Los Angeles, in Capitol’s Studio A, in March 2011. Over the course of 2011, time was also spent in New York, and then in Abbey Road, with some additional recording in Hog Hill Mill and in Westlake Studios, Hollywood. The timeline and exact dates for those various sessions remain unclear though.

Most of everything — with the exception of ‘The Glory Of Love’, ‘My Very Good Friend The Milkman’, ‘Get Yourself Another Fool’ and ‘Only Our Hearts’ — had Diana [Krall]’s road-band members Robert Hurst on bass and Karriem Riggins on drums, along with the wonderful jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli. Then, on the other tracks, we had the bass player John Clayton, drummer Jeff Hamilton and guitarist Anthony Wilson, who are among the musicians I have recorded Diana with in the studio.

Although the first session for Paul’s album saw us recording three days in a row, it was a case of a day here and two or three days there over the course of about eight months. One time, he was going to be in LA for a day, so he asked me if I’d be available, I said I would, and since it didn’t make sense to start flying in the road-band guys for just a single date, I told him the ones who play on Diana’s records are great and Paul was fine with that. Clayton, Hamilton and Wilson are therefore on ‘The Glory Of Love’ and ‘My Very Good Friend The Milkman’, while Wilson is also on ‘Get Yourself Another Fool’, which has Christian McBride playing the bass.

Tommy LiPuma, from an interview with Sound On Sound, May 2012

Tommy LiPuma was the one who chose the recording studios – Capitol in Los Angeles, and Avatar Studios in New York:

They both have great old Neve 8000-series boards and they’re perfect for the music we were recording. What’s more, I like high-ceiling rooms that give the overtones space to be properly heard. Aside from [engineer] Al Schmitt’s expertise, the reason why the record has a sense of transparency is that mics are like ears and they have a chance to breathe in those settings.

Tommy LiPuma, from an interview with Sound On Sound, May 2012

Paul McCartney explains how enjoyable those sessions went:

We ended up at Capitol A Studio, in that very iconic building (Capitol Records Tower, Hollywood), where Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, even Gene Vincent recorded. I was thrown in the deep end, because I’m not a jazz player. I didn’t have a guitar or a piano to hide behind. I was just put on what the engineers told me was Nat King Cole’s mic, which was amazingly intimidating! In front of jazz musicians, which again was pretty intimidating. I just had to find my way through this. And once I’d got over the intimidated feeling, it became a very pleasurable way to work.

There’s such a high level of musicianship on there. And the nice thing for me was, other than going in to do the vocals, I didn’t feel like I had to do much hard work. The players did all the hard work, and I was just in the booth, singing. There was one moment when we were having a puzzle over some slight problem, and I said, “I don’t mind. I’m in LA. I’m British. I’m a tourist. I’m in Capitol A Studio, I’m singing on Nat King Cole’s microphone – I’m on holiday!” So, coupled with the fact that we were not working from musical charts, there is a very relaxed approach to it all.

Paul McCartney – from the “Kisses On The Bottom” liner notes

Each day I would come in [to the studio] and we’d say, ‘OK, what do we want to try now? What are you in the mood for?’ I’d say, ‘How about this one?’ And we’d just figure it out from the sheet music. Nobody had parts written. We just went through it. By the time I figured out how I wanted to sing it, Diana [Krall] and the guys had sorted out an arrangement, and we kicked it around among ourselves. We’d say, ‘This sounds like a good idea, let’s try it,’ then we’d do a take or two, Al [Schmitt] would record it, then we’d go in and listen. It was a very enjoyable process. […]

It was a labor of love kind of thing. We just had fun. We went in there and enjoyed the songs and enjoyed each other’s company. It was a great team, and I think it came out OK.

Paul McCartney, from an interview with Billboard, February 2012

It was very spontaneous, kind of organic, which then reminded me of the way we’d work with The Beatles. We’d bring a song in, kick it around, when we found a way to do it we’d say ‘Okay, let’s do a take now’ and by the time everyone kind of had an idea of what they were doing, we’d learnt the song. So that’s what we did, we did the take live in the studio.

It was important for me to keep away from the more obvious song choices so, many of the classic standards will be unfamiliar to some people. I hope they are in for a pleasant surprise.

Paul McCartney, from the “Kisses On The Bottom” press release

Here is how producer Tommy LiPuma viewed those sessions:

We’d have somebody write out a chord sheet for us, and then we went in and figured it out on the date. The next thing you know, things started taking shape, and the minute it started sounding like something, I would tell Al Schmitt, ‘Let’s start rolling the tape,’ and then boom, that magic would pop up. […]

He mentioned to me on many occasions, ‘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’. […]

When we first went in, the most crucial point was finding a manner for [McCartney] to approach telling the story. I think Paul felt completely comfortable. He had a great time doing it. […]

[Paul] lets you do your job. There wasn’t any second-guessing going on. The two most important things to him were, does it feel good and was he having a good time.

Tommy LiPuma from an interview with Billboard, February 2012

I like going into the studio with great material and a great rhythm section to do some pre-production. That’s generally how I work, although from time to time I’ve also gone in with an arrangement already written. For the most part, I like going in with a small rhythm section and a chord chart and just work out the song right there on the date. When you’ve got great musicians there in the room and equally great material, you end up getting something that’s not only magic, but spontaneous too.

Initially, we tried a bunch of songs with a small rhythm section as well as two numbers — ‘My Valentine’ and ‘Only Our Hearts’ — with Johnny Mandel’s arrangements and a full orchestra, and I quickly came to the conclusion that the ones that were done in a much looser fashion had a much better feel. I felt that ‘My Valentine’ would make more sense if we did it with a small group; Paul was willing to try it and we put the strings on afterwards. With the exception of ‘Only Our Hearts’, all of the strings were recorded after the fact.

With a small group, people can play off — and inspire — one another. So, that’s what we did, and it suited Paul because it reminded him a lot of how the Beatles used to do things. He told me that when he and John would write a song they’d go in and play it for George, Ringo and George Martin; they’d work it out and within an hour or an hour and a half they’d be ready to record it. So, coincidentally, how I work 98 percent of the time is also how Paul feels more comfortable working.

Tommy LiPuma, from an interview with Sound On Sound, May 2012
From SoundOnSound – Ageing has given Paul McCartney’s voice a ‘vulnerable’ quality which, according to producer Tommy LiPuma, helped to convey sincerity and respect for the material. The vintage Neumann U47 probably helped too. Photo: © 2012 MPL Communications Ltd / Photographer MJ Kim

About 24 tracks were recorded during the “Kisses On The Bottom” sessions. 17 have been released (16 on the “Kisses On the Bottom (Deluxe version)“, and “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)” released some months later). The following songs were reported to have been recorded:

Last updated on November 6, 2020

Songs recorded



2.


3.

The Glory of Love

Written by Billy Hill

Recording




6.

The Inch Worm

Written by Frank Loesser

Recording


7.

Only Our Hearts

Written by Paul McCartney

Recording


8.

Baby's Request

Written by Paul McCartney

Recording



10.

Cheek To Cheek

Written by Irving Berlin

Recording

Unreleased track


11.

If I Take You Home Tonight

Written by Paul McCartney

Recording • The version recorded by Paul McCartney during the "Kissing On The Bottom" sessions remains unreleased. But Diana Krall recorded her own version of it. It's unknown if this song was recorded at Capitol Studios or at Avatar Studios.

Unreleased track


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