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Great Performances: Paul McCartney's Live Kisses

Musicians Joe Walsh, John Clayton and Paul McCartney rehearsing.
Courtesy of 2012 MPL Communications Ltd/Photographer: MJ Kim
Musicians Joe Walsh, John Clayton and Paul McCartney rehearsing.

Airs Friday, September 7, 2012 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

"Paul McCartney’s Live Kisses" captures the magical night of February 9, 2012 in the City of Angels – coincidentally, the 48th anniversary of The Beatles’ U.S. TV debut on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW no less – when Paul McCartney decided to bring "Kisses on the Bottom," his newly released collection of pop standards and two originals, to life at the very same Capitol Studios where much of the album was created.

A few hours after the long-awaited addition of McCartney’s star to the Hollywood Walk of Fame drew a traffic-stopping throng to pack the stretch of Vine Street in front of the famed Capitol Records building, McCartney took his place behind the same microphone that had captured so many of the most magical voices of the past several decades.

The core team that backed McCartney on his debut turn on "Kisses" prepared to reprise their roles in this one-time-only concert event. McCartney and the assembled musicians had never performed this material live, adding to the evening’s electricity.


The reunited all-star entourage included Grammy-winning producer Tommy LiPuma and Al Schmitt in the control room, musical director Diana Krall at the piano, and "Kisses" players John Clayton, Karriem Riggins, John Pizzarelli, Anthony Wilson, Mike Mainieri and conductor Alan Broadbent.

McCartney eschewed his usual tools of bass, guitar and piano to focus solely on his vocal interpretations of this material.

In exclusive interview segments with McCartney and "Kisses on the Bottom" collaborators Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, Krall and LiPuma, among others, "Live Kisses" offers new insight into the conception and creation of the "Kisses" album, the McCartney family gatherings that introduced a young Paul to much of the material, the Fats Waller line from "Live Kisses" opener “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” that gave "Kisses on the Bottom" its title, and more.

Highlights include “Home,” “More I Cannot Wish You,” “Always,” “Bye Bye Blackbird” and McCartney harmonizing with his longtime drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. on “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter,” “The Glory of Love” and “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive.”

There are spontaneous moments, such as a flubbed first take on “My Very Good Friend the Milkman.” McCartney’s rendition of his new composition “My Valentine” receives acoustic guitar punctuation courtesy of Joe Walsh (who contributes another outstanding turn in a completely different mood on “Get Yourself Another Fool”).


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Watch Paul McCartney's Live Kisses Preview on PBS. See more from Great Performances.

GREAT PERFORMANCES joins McCartney for an intimate concert recorded at the historic Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, featuring performances of such standards as “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter,” “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” “Always,” “Bye Bye Blackbird” and more.