Saturday, June 25, 2005
From the "He's so much of a geek, I wonder why I'm still reading his self-indulgent blog" file...
... and you'd be right to wonder- ordinarily. However, every once in a while, an album (yes, I'm old enough to still call them albums) comes along that transcends mere "what was Mr. Jones thinking recommending this" and becomes "wow, should I buy this... or kill it so it can never reproduce?"
Paul Anka's "Rock Swings" is just such an album. I think a lot of us (well, maybe just me and the children of the producers) remember the albums "Lounge-a-palooza" and Pat Boone's immortal "In A Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy". I didn't have the privilege/time/inclination/patience/will power to listen to Mr. Boone's take on metal music, but I happen to own a copy of the former and I still have been known to torture those close to me with the track of Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme singing Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun". Ahhh, good times, good times.
Anka's album differs from the others in that it seems he takes all of these songs seriously, has had some seriously swinging arrangements done of them, and commits to knocking them out as close as a guy who wrote Sinatra's "My Way" (actually the guy who took the french song it was based on, added a few bars and re-wrote the lyrics in English to fit an older Frank) can to Sinatra's Capitol (the more swinging tracks remind me of the Nelson Riddle/Billy May arrangements for Frank) and Reprise (and the slower ones are more like a Jobim-ish bossa arrangement) recordings. By the way what you read was one sentence. Because that's how I roll, yo.
And yes, there is a big band arrangement of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" that will make you either love or hate this album. There is also an arrangement of "Black Hole Sun" that makes me wonder if this song is destined to be the one that everyone covers years from now, hopefully at weddings. But the only one I hate is the version of Eric Clapton's "Tears From Heaven" that is so slow, you'll think it was written by Clapton when he was still on heroin.
Okay, that was a cheap shot. But at least I didn't reference his dead son.
Except right there of course.
Anyhoo, this record (that's right, record, punk!) had me at "Hello" or more specifically the arrangement of Lionel Richie's "Hello" that had me knocking back the last of my scotch as it the trumpet section proves it needs no drums to knock out it's stings. Richie should always have his songs arranged for old baritone Vegas crooners to record.
Imagine what Anka could have done with "All Night Long".