Lounge / Vocals
of this title may be spotty in some areas. You can contact All
or Wowsville directly at Wowsville Music
P.O. Box 4352
Burbank, CA 91503-4352)
the surface, it would seem that "Swing" has taken over for Lounge
in current popular culture. Dig a little deeper and you'll find
it's often all a big mixed stew of various forms of retro. Most
of the Swing being performed today is really some sort of late ‘40s
R&B or Jump, having little to do with Benny Goodman or Artie
Shaw, and Lounge can be anything from the 1950s to 1975, as
long as there's something in a martini glass nearby and there's
a fez on top. Little of it is great and the only improvement over
the original recordings is the audio quality. Happily, it's still
fun and the musicians, on the whole, do it out of love for the music.
The saturation point is coming soon, however. Seeing Rufus Wainwright
mumble his way through What Are You Doing New Years Eve on
a televison commercial as a classic vocalist, rather than in his
own style of folk-pop, is pretty horrifying. Open your mouth when
you sing, son!
L.A.-based group Dead Ringer seems to be riding the martini-Swing-Lounge
wave and they're successful at it to a point. Where they really
succeed is in making great music. Ignoring the quasi-retro cover
art and Swing fever press release, you'll find a solid set of just
plain great classic pop music, mostly thanks to vocalist Kathleen
Frasca. She possesses a beautiful peppy voice that's somewhat husky.
Her singing is stylized but it suits her voice and the melodies
perfectly (unlike the aforementioned Mr. Wainwright who should stick
to his own compositions to insure hitting all the notes.) We think
she could sing just about anything but we're happy she's chosen
a fine set of standards and novelty numbers like Give Me the
Simple Life, Girl Talk and Thou Swell.
piano-less back-up trio (guitar, drums, bass) is fine and when they
go for a laid-back cocktail mood, everything works. Some of the
upbeat numbers could use more interesting arrangements, particularly
concerning the rhythm. The only real dud on the album is Why
Don't You Do Right which is taken at an oddly peppy pace that
adds nothing and just reminds you how well Peggy
Lee and Lil Green did with the number.
a few reservations, we think Atomic Cocktail is a swell disc and
you'd be wise to follow the career of Kathleen Frasca. There's gold
in them thar' hills!
Beat at Cinecittà
Crippled Wax Records 003 Lounge/Soundtrack
learned the beautiful Italian language from Pop records and fotoromanze,
the photo-story magazines laid out like comic strips, complete with
dialogue bubbles. We wish we had these cheesy movies to heighten
at Cinecittá is a collection of musical tracks from 1960s and
‘70s Italian "erotica" that is this year's album to beat. The sounds
go from rock to go-go to jazz and back, all with that wonderful
Euro-cheese feeling that provides sensitive Yanks with the unsettling
feeling that things really are different in Europe.
films had titles like The Search of Pleasure, Insatiable Women,
One on the Other and More Can Be Done with Seven Women.
Most of the music is silly, but it's also clever, deviant and sometimes
sexy. You'd need to take yourself very seriously or have a great
sense of humor to actually use Beat at Cinecittà as make
out music, but it's perfect for most everything else, from housecleaning
you've been tempted to dip your toes in the post-lounge waters,
this would be a great place to start. It's rare to find a collection
so stupid, clever and enjoyable all at the same time.
from Fall 1997)
Varèse Sarabande VSD-5791 Easy Listening/Lounge
evolution is not limited to Rock. The evolution from Elvis to Iron
Butterfly to James Taylor to punk to Green Day is well documented.
Ferrante and Teicher, known to most of us through our grandparent's
record collections, did their share of edgeless "beautiful music"
on their dueling Steinway pianos, but they also took Easy Listening
to new places that are as trippy and innovative as anything their
counterparts in rock were doing.
Off! is beyond weird, completely wonderful and still under the
banner of Easy Listening. Their pianos were loaded with rubber wedges,
paper, wood and various other accessories to simulate other instruments
that result in a mixed acoustic and electronic sound, but the only
electronic trick is a recording technique that extended the piano's
range four octaves. It sounds both familiar and new at the same
time. The best way to enjoy Blast Off! is with a pair of
good headphones in the dark, giving the stereo separation and kooky
effects your full attention.
like the way they milk every nuance out of standards like Ain't
Misbehavin', I Got Rhythm and Bye Bye Blues, but we really
think their original numbers In the Rain and Busman's
Holiday are top notch.
is a really odd slice of musical history that isn't for everybody
but we're nuts for it. We just don't know quite what to think.
from Fall 1997)
Irma America 42847822 Pop
Italians miss the boat on so many aspects of popular culture but
when they get it right, they hit the nail right on the head. Raccolta
No. 1 is hopefully the first of many releases by Montefiori
Cocktail, two Italian brothers who take the feeling of Lounge and
update it, but not so much that it sounds mechanical or sterile.
been working on a particularly heinous project, unrelated to MrLucky,
that involved long days and nights on the computer, and we really
don't know if we could have survived without this CD reminding us
not to take our music or ourselves too seriously.
album opens with Lazy Busy, which is a laid-back Boogaloo
shuffle that's as infectious as The In-Crowd or Tequila.
Other highlights include a techno/Earl Bostic-style version of Ravel's
Bolero, Tekila Bum Bum (inspired by Tequila)
and So, What's New, a gentle bossa nova straight out of the
the beats drift to more contemporary dance music and we have to
wonder how much different things would have sounded with a real
drummer rather than a computer. The sax and flute are quite real,
however, and this makes Raccolta No.1 the perfect bridge
between Lounge and "modern" music.
awfully nice to see the kids having such a good time!
from Fall 1997)
Tinder Records 42848562 Salsa
the Manhattan Transfer decided to play salsa and Latin American
music in French, it would probably sound something like Fatal Mambo.
The band is competent but there's not a lot of fire. It's always
slick and very much under control but there's obviously a love of
the music and a strong dose of humor which is completely lacking
in contemporary Latin music.
real danger is with the vocals on the call response part of the
salsa numbers. If Celia
Cruz is the queen of this improvisational vocalese, Fatal Mambo
are the court jesters. It's just not an easy thing to do and Fatal
Mambo either decide to camp it up (as in Lache-La) or fall
flat on their faces (as in Malediccion).
(Review from Winter 97)