Columbia / Legacy C2K 65505 Vocals
you are of a certain age, your exposure to Doris Day might very
well be limited to her films, most notably co-starring with Rock
Hudson. You may have only heard her sing some pretty trite ditties
like Que Sera Sera and Move Over Darling. You're not
to be blamed; it's your generation. If your perspective is a bit
wider, you'd know that Day was a very popular Big Band singer and
later, a successful solo artist. She made many movies before she
teamed up with Rock Hudson and in certain circles, there is no finer
singer anywhere. We're out of these circles but we think Doris has
a very pretty voice and when she's teamed with a great song and
tasteful arranger, she can be great.
this new compilation, Golden Girl, is not going to be your
introduction to the great Doris Day. We're very confused who the
market is for this kind of compilation. As the sticker on the CD
proclaims: "Includes All the Hits!" Well, the hits are among Doris
weakest material and they've been available on Columbia's 16
Most Requested Songs for years, and on the Encore companion
disc. Someone who was after the "hits" could care less about the
five previously unreleased (in the U.S) tracks. A Doris fanatic,
who simply must have her rendition of Tacos, Enchiladas and Beans,
would already have it on the German-label Bear Family's Doris box
set. The album's sticker also proclaims: "With Rare/Unseen Photos
and In-Depth Notes!" Well, there are two photos inside the booklet
and neither is going to get anyone too excited. The notes are standard.
really off is that the really good Doris Day material isn't even
on this disc. She recorded many long-playing albums of standards
with tasteful arrangements, such as Day By Day, Day By Night,
Day in Hollywood and Cuttin' Capers. This compilation
almost ignores these albums and instead features less than stellar
attempts at 1960s pop drivel.
Records (owners of the Columbia catalogue) has been very remiss
in not seriously issuing vintage Doris Day (or dozens of other entertainers,
for that matter.) Luckily, Sony U.K. has many complete albums available
on CD and for the hardcore Doris-freak, there are the Bear Family
box sets. Shame on you Sony!
A&M (Japan) POCM-1572 Pop
you remember the paper sleeves that housed your records inside their
covers? These sleeves were often filled with instructions on how
to care for your LPs or explained the miracle of high fidelity sound.
The best ones featured tiny little pictures of other discs available
on the same label. Sometimes you'd see the same photos for years
on the same label. Well, whether you were enjoying Herb Alpert's
Whipped Cream and Other Delights, the Sandpiper's relaxing version
of Guantanemera or even Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen,
you were sure to spot several covers of Chris Montez. His happy
mug on the LP The More I See you was featured well into the
1970s. Having never heard him as a kid, we just assumed he was a
classic pop crooner. Oops!
friend Sean, who runs Medium Rare Records in San Francisco, was
playing this new Japanese compilation of Montez' A&M recordings
from 1966 to 1968 very loudly, and we just knew this was going to
be our "summer favorite". The arrangements are mostly classic 1960s-pop
with the piano prominent and occasionally popping a boogaloo or
bossa nova riff. The drums are leaden but enthusiastic. The backup
singers surely inspired the Partridge Family. But the real treat
is The Voice. Montez sounds like a pubescent girl imitating Brazil's
Astrid Gilberto. When he's focused, he sounds surprisingly musical,
if not a bit surreal. When he's day dreaming or singing material
beyond his reach, he sounds as if he could possibly be Mrs. Miller's
just so much to take in when embarking on the Chris Montez experience.
The first thing is to get over the absolute cheek of recording classics
form the Great American Songbook like The More I See You, There
Will Never Be Another You, Time After Time, I Didn't Know What Time
It Was and Fly Me To the Moon. The peppy pop arrangements
are one thing, but Montez' sweet and slightly stonato voice
are just icing on the cake. What's even weirder is when you start
tapping your toes in sympathetic rhythm. You will doubt and perhaps
even laugh, but this is bar none the best version of Sunny
available. It starts out rather tepid but builds to a swinging crescendo
thanks to the driving piano and R&B-inspired horns.
the sick and twisted, the best tracks are Foolin' Around
and Girl Talk. Foolin' Around would be the perfect
soundtrack to a montage sequence about teens in love from a 1960s
film ("We won't do anything that shouldn't be done / Only the
groovy things like having fun…"). Montez' voice is so weak and
unfocused on Girl Talk that you may just want to scream (if
you're not laughing.) When he reads the line: "But though we
[men] joke we wouldn't trade you for a ton of gold",
we fellows might just ask out loud, "What do you mean 'we'?"
can't imagine anything better for summer fun than this disc.
Sony Classical / Columbia Legacy SK 60848 Broadway
in case you didn't know, the best show ever produced was not Rent,
with its anemic rock and bland ballads, but Gypsy. Star Ethel
Merman, composer Jule Styne, lyricist Stephen Sondheim and playwright
Arthur Laurents were four huge meteors who collided at exactly the
right time. Ethel Merman needed an edgy "important" vehicle to make
her part of the new Broadway and still capitalize on her strengths,
and Gypsy was just the thing to do it for her. The melodies
are the catchiest ever and after years of listening to the songs,
Sondheim's lyrics still sound fresh and clever.
new release cleans up the bad sound available on CD previously,
and adds four interesting bonus tracks. The author of the liner
notes takes a rather nasty anti-Merman stance. He obviously sees
this as Sondheim's shining hour. Sondheim, who referred to Merman
as "the singing dog", should get down on his knees in thanks that
Merman delivered such a performance. Ironically, one of the bonus
tracks is Merman singing Little Lamb with just a piano. Little
Lamb is sung by Sandra Church, as Gypsy, in the show and it's
the biggest yawn of all. Sung by Merman, it sounds like a Sondheim
song and it's great.
liner notes aside, if you buy one cast recording in your life, it
should be Gypsy.
Meet Me Where They Play the Blues
Telarc CD-83460 Vocals / Blues
reading the liner notes, we listened to this disc and thought, This
could be a Charles Brown album! So it's not surprising that the
original concept for Meet Me Where They Play the Blues was
to be a collaboration with Maria Muldaur and Charles Brown. Brown
did get to record one song with Muldaur before passing away, Gee
Baby Ain't I Good to You, but he's not in great voice and the
song makes an odd duet. It's a shame the original plan didn't work
still much to recommend. We like Maria Muldaur's voice and jazzy
blues is probably a smart direction for her to take. In the 1970s,
she had several great albums and one hit, Meet Me at the Oasis.
A rootsy and vintage approach to music (Muldaur, Dan Hicks, Captain
Beefheart) was in vogue for awhile but the incessant bland beat
of disco won out.
is in no sense a traditional blues singer. She's bluesy, jazzy and
even folkie, but she's not the blues. She has a distinct and beautiful
voice but she can be affected and cloying. The phrase "Shut up and
sing" entered our thoughts more than once. It's really on the track
All to Myself Alone that Muldaur sounds 100 percent confident
and herself and it's really more a well-crafted pop song than the
blues. It's too bad that singers of Muldaur's caliber aren't being
offered great new pop songs to sing.
album is beautifully recorded and if you can get past Muldaur's
affectations (we did after two or three listenings), Meet Me
Where They Play the Blues is very good indeed.