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Tony Bennett & K.D. Lang: A Wonderful World (Released in 2002, Rating 4)
1.Exactly Like You
2.La Vie en Rose
3.I'm Confessin' (That I Love You
4.You Can Depend on Me
5.What a Wonderful World
6.That's My Home
7.A Kiss to Build a Dream On
9.Dream a Little Dream of Me
10.You Can't Lose a Broken Heart
11.That Lucky Old Sun (Just Rolls Around Heaven All Day)
12.If We Never Meet Again Produced by T.Bone Burnett
There are two kinds of singers in popular music. The first is the singer who can sing perfectly with rich voice and accurate pitch control. That is a professional singer; nobody will imitate his/her song in karaoke. The second is the singer who sings in a natural and intimate way, although he/she might not have a great vocal technique. That is an amateur-singer. I think that the microphone and amplifier which pick up and extend the whispers enabled these singers to became singers. So, the historical origin of the second type of singers is rather new. An singer had been forced to sing in a bel-canto like singing when he/she sang in a theater without microphone.
As you might guess from my selection of the review page, as it understands, I prefer the singer of the second category. And a female singer. They are often not good at a song. I love the imperfection of singing. Love for the imperfection. Tenshin Okakura describes it as the essence of the tea ceremony in "a book of tea". So, it might be explainable that, in Japan, there is the high popularity of the singers who cannot sing well like Jane Birkin. (Ha ha ha.)
Now, K.D.Lang is likely to belong to the first category with a very nice singing. However, in her "Ingenue" (1992), she sang very intimate songs with the feeling of love, so naked, and two categories had mixed ideally. This album is a kind of miracle; the complex mixture of nostalgia and modern sense, Gypsy-exoticism and Cole Porter like U.S. music, country-music-sentimentalism and city-feeling.
Although the following albums of K.D.Lang were not bad, the wonderfulness of "Ingenue" was not attained. For example, the cigarette related cover songs were sung in "Drag"(1997). This theme called the transiency of love like the smoke, or the indulgence to love like poisoning to a cigarette. This looked very good theme to K.D.Lang, and it was highly expected album, with production of Craig Street But her way of singing was somewhat too serious and it cannot be enjoyed repeatedly. Moreover, at "Live by Request" (2001), she sang "Crying" of Roy Orbison. There was no intimacy which used to be when Lang sang a duet with Orbison. Here, the rich vocal technic was only used intently, and there was little impression. I begun to feel she became the first category singer completely.
Then, here is an album with this Tony Bennett. This is wonderful without a complaint. I am hearing this once every day. What is so good? There is no surprising element in this album. There is also no new interpretation of standard songs.These are covers of common standard numbers.
Nevertheless, this album is wonderful. It is because of the intimate and relaxed way of singing of K.D.Lang and Tony Bennett. Lang sings, without depending on the skill of vocal here. It reminds me of "Ella and Louis"(1956) by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, and "Bossa Eterna de Elizeth e Cyro" (1966) by Elizeth Cardoso and Cyro Monteiro. In these albums, the female singer, who is the owner of a too perfect vocal technic, sings in a relaxed way with the lead of natural male vocal. I think that I will hear this album for a while as I love to hear these classic albums.
Hoagy Carmichael : Ole Buttermilk Sky (Released in 1998, Rating 5)
1. Washboard Blues
2. Little Old Lady
3. The Old Music Master
5. Star Dust
6. Hong Kong Blues
7. Huggin' And Chalkin'
8. I May Be Wrong (But I Think You're Wonderful)
9. Talking Is A Woman
10. Ole Buttermilk Sky
11. Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief
12. Riverboat Shuffle
13. Rockin' Chair
14. Georgia On My Mind
15. Casanova Cricket
16. For Every Man There's A Woman
17. The Darktown Strutters' Ball
18. The Old Piano Roll Blues
19. Stay With The Happy People
20. Coney Island Washboard
21. Some Days There Just Aint No Fish
22. The Aba Daba Honeymoon
23. My Resistance Is Low
24. Lazy River
Hoagy Carmichael (1899-1981) is the legendary composer of famous American standard songs. Even if you don't know his name, you certainly know some of his great songs. And if you don't know the titles of the songs, you might know some of the melodies. Particularly, Star Dust is among the most popular songs for American people. Songs he wrote bring a nostalgic good old time American feeling. They have a lazy-Southern-country taste, and they also have a modern sophisticated sense at the same time. This sense of mixture makes his music truly modern, and his music still has a new appeal for the today's listeners.
Carmichael was not only a composer, but he was also a unique performer. His way of singing really fits to his music. He was not a good singer. But his singing was gentle, lazy and humorous. He could present the essence of his songs very straightforwardly, he was the best performer of his songs.
This CD gathers Carmichael's great performance from 1939 to 1955 in Decca Records. Because there are many compilation CDs of his recording, I don't know which one is definitive. Recently, there was a paper sleeve re-issue of The Stardust Road in Japan. Even though it is faithful to an original 10 inch record, it only contains 8 songs and about 20 minute music. On the other hand, this compilation gathers most of his famous songs and includes 24 songs and more than 60 minute music.
So, you can hear full of nostalgic good old American swing music, here. And there might be some extra funs for rock listeners.
First of all, you can hear the original version of Hong Kong Blues, that Haruomi Hosono picked up in his Taian Youkou (1976). The arrangements and singing styles of both versions are very similar. So, it is obvious that Hosono covered this version of the song, not other people's interpretations. Hosono was also famous for his love for Martin Denny. I have to admire him as a great non-genre listener.
Second, I was feeling that the singing style of Dan Hicks has a similar taste with Hoagy Carmichael. But I was not sure about his musical origin very well. When I heard songs like The Old Piano Roll Blues and The Aba Daba Honeymoon, I get sure that one of Hicks's ideas must come from Carmichael. These songs are sung in duet with female singer, and this style is very similar to the one of Hicks. (The Old Piano Roll Blues and The Aba Daba Honeymoon are not in The Stardust Road .)
Third, this can be heard as so-called "acoustic swing". I am not sure about the definition of the word, but it is said to be fashionable now. The Stardust Road is released as one of "acoustic swing" series of Universal Records.
Hoagy Carmichael : Hoagy Sings Carmichael (Released in 1956, Rating 4+)
1.Georgia on My Mind
4.Memphis in June
6.Two Sleepy People
9.Ballad in Blue 10.Lazy River
11.Georgia on My Mind [instrumental]
Another self cover album of Hoagy Carmichael. This record was recorded with gorgeous west coast jazz musicians such as Art Pepper, Don Fagerquist and jimmy Rowles etc. And this was released in 1956 from Pacific Jazz. So, this record is famous among jazz listeners. I, myself, started hearing Hoagy Carmichael with this record, and I lately heard Ole Buttermilk Sky.
Musical style of Carmichael basically belongs to the pre-modern swing jazz age. Modern Jazz, which started with Be Bop Jazz of Charlie Parker etc, brought the incredible artistic improvement into jazz music, while it also limited various possibilities that swing jazz had as popular music. In short, swing jazz was a popular music for wide range of listeners, but modern jazz has limited listeners nowadays. So, listening to swing jazz or Hoagy Carmichael is to enjoy the other possibilities of jazz music.
In this album, Carmichael sings with modern cool jazz players. The two styles of jazz are well mixed, and music is very comfortable to hear. The singing style of Carmichael is more relaxed and gentle than his earlier recordings. It becomes one and only singing style.
The song selections are basically Carmichael's well known songs. Though there is no Star Dust, you can hear wonderful Skylark and Two Sleepy People, which are not in Ole Buttermilk Sky. For the post-new-wave listeners, Winter Moon, which Weekend covered in Live at Ronnie Scotts (1983), may be one of the highlights. According to the liner notes of the record, Winter Moon is not famous because it was not sung by famous singers before. So, it is almost certain that a member of Weekend found Winter Moon with hearing this record.
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