Diane Renay's clearly got a thing for sailors going on here – but maybe that's no surprise, given that she's handled on the album by the great Bob Crewe – whose perfect presentation of the music is right up there with his best pop of the 60s! Charlie Calello handled almost all of the arrangements, and the pairing of his talents with Crewe is so great, it wouldn't even matter who was singing – as there's gentle grooves on most numbers, weird instrumental effects, and a sublime spacing of the tunes – that same magic that the pair brought to their Four Seasons recordings. Yet it also turns out that Diane's a pretty great singer – maybe more soul than you might expect, especially when female backup singers come in and push her along! Titles include "Soft Spoken Guy", "A Present From Eddie", "Bell Bottom Trousers", "Navy Blue", "Man Of Mystery", "Unbelievable Guy", "He Promised Me Forevermore", and "Hello Heartaches". CD features the full album in mono and stereo – plus bonus tracks "Growin Up Too Fast", "Waitin For Joey", and "It's In Your Hands". (Rock, Vocalists)CD
Gil Scott-Heron's first album – and his angriest! Unlike some of Gil's other albums – which have a sweet jazzy vibe and a mix of mellow soul styles – this one's a lot rawer, and features Gil rapping loud over very heavy percussion backing. All the work is his own, and the album's a showcase for his brilliant protest poetry – the most famous example of which is included in "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised", which leads off the album with an especially righteous groove! The set's a key link in the African American musical tradition of the 20thcentury – and proof that the underground, while not always afforded a good place in the broadcast markets of the US, could always burst forth in the "narrowcast" medium of recorded music. A landmark album – one we like even better than the early work by the Last Poets – and great all the way through! Tracks include "Whitey On The Moon", "Who'll Pay Reparations On My Soul?", "The Subject Was Faggots", and "Brother". (Soul, Vocalists)CD
One of the greatest Christmas albums of the 20thcentury – a rich tapestry of sadness and longing from Ol' Blue Eyes himself! Sure, most folks think that Christmas albums are supposed to be cheery and celebratory – but Frank, coming off of his best Wee Small Hours years at Capitol, rightly chose the sadder side of Christmas – and put together an album full of songs that really get at the bluer side of the holiday. Side one of the set includes some tremendous secular songs – the kind of mid-century tunes that often had a dark undercurrent of separation and unfulfilled desire – masquerading as holiday tunes, but in Frank's hands, coming off more like smokey late night tunes of lost love and wasted life. Side two's got some more spiritual-oriented tunes – but again, done by Frank, with arrangements by Gordon Jenkins, these tunes come off with a lot less celebratory spirit than you'd expect. Titles include "The Christmas Waltz", "Mistletoe & Holly", "The Christmas Song", "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear", and "I'll Be Home For Christmas". Includes bonus versions of "The Christmas Waltz" and "White Christmas" – arranged by Nelson Riddle. (Holiday Music, Vocalists)CD
Scott Walker —
Scott 1 ... LP Philips/Universal (UK), 1967. New Copy (reissue)...
Scott Walker's first album as a solo act – and an incredible set that's light years ahead of his earlier work with The Walker Brothers! Gone are the simple, straightforward pop tunes – and in their place is a more sophisticated mode of work – one inspired by the French pop of Jacques Brel, the cinema of Ingmar Bergman, and a host of other contemporary influences simmer in young Scott's head! The vocals are tremendous – more mature and balanced than ever before – clearly showing Walker's desire to ascend into the ranks of great male singers of the 20thCentury, yet not in a way that's cloyingly poppish. Arrangements are great too – handled by Brit easy maestros Reg Guest, Peter Knight, and Wally Stott – and the tracks include the classic originals "Such A Small Love", "Montague Terrace", and "Always Coming Back To You" – plus versions of Jacque Brel's "Mathilde", "Amsterdam", and "My Death" – as well as "Angelica", "The Big Hurt", and "When Joanna Loved Me". (Rock, Vocalists)LP, Vinyl record album
This may well be THE Christmas album of the 20thcentury – a 50s issue of 40s singles cut by Der Bingle, packaged in a cover with a classic cover image that's ensured that the record stayed in print for dozens of Decembers in years to come! Given that Bing virtually owned Christmas on TV during the 50s, 60s, and 70s, the album's place in popular music is well-earned – and honestly, Bing's "aw shucks, I'm just reg'lar folks" sort of approach to these tunes really helped create a kind of common man secular side to the Holidays that forever transformed America's celebration of the season. Or maybe we're going to far with this one . . . But whatever the case, the album's a standard, and one we were certainly raised on. Titles include "Silver Bells", "Jingle Bells", "Silent Night", "White Christmas", "Adeste Fideles", "Faith Of Our Fathers", "I'll Be Home For Christmas", and "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas". (Holiday Music, Vocalists)CD