Thursday, June 26, 2008

wKHM - 45.5 All Music, All the Time

OK kids, time for some new tunes; grab your babies and settle in. Pull over, lie down, whatever; just get comfy and mellow out while I tell you everything you need to know...

Steve Tyrell -- Back to Bacharach
First things first, kitttens: Clever title? Check. Love it. Cover Art? Not sure---perhaps too much color in that gloss on his lips.

Straight up: I like this Tyrell album more than I've liked any. Lots of reasons; the Bacharach catalogue is like pop-culture wallpaper from the late 60's/early 70's---a time period we all know is heavily imprinted in my psyche. These are just pretty, sweet melody-driven songs with great instrumental features.

Interestingly, I think that this may well be among the rare cover-cds that doesn't leave me longing for the originals. After just one listen (and I'm a bitch on the first listen), my impressions are that the differences in instrumentation provide a refreshing, but not distracting, dimension and that Tyrell's vocals are so different that there is no inclination to compare them to Dionne's, Marilyn's, Karen's, Mendes', etc. I also give a lot of credit here to long time Tyrell arranger/collaborator and guitarist extraordinaire, Bob Mann. Mann knows exactly how showcase Tyrell's growly voice in its natural (albeit narrow) range. And one other thing on Mann: I've got to check him out more; I've seen him as a sideman with loads of huge musicians so perhaps I can pull pieces together and figure something out about him. He appears to have the kind of music career I'd aspire to: great skill and talent, steady work with the heavy hitters, surely earning plenty o' cash but able to go to most restaurants without being mobbed. Props also to Alan Broadbent who contributes some arranging talent as well. I admired his work on Natalie Cole's "Unforgettable" disc back in the day.

Tyrell's voice is nice on these songs. In particular, on "This Guy's in Love" (another version of which appeared on the cd of same name), I practically melt with his delivery of...

and what. I'd. do. to. makeyoumiiii(grrr)ne....
Mmm. Nice touch.

A really lovely surprise was the very amazing "What the World Needs Now" which, again, is courageous given the strong identity with Warwick's one-of-a-kind vocals. This single is dedicated to his late wife's memory and proceeds from the single will support cancer research. On this track Steve enjoys the support of Bacharach and Warwick themselves, but also James Taylor, Rod Stewart, Martina McBride---and James Taylor's part just really spoke directly to me; he's my man. On the whole, this cd has a lot of feature talent including his daughter, Lauren, on some backing vocals...awwwww. And let's not forget the inimitable Patti Austin duet; she was the right partner for "I Say a Little Prayer for You".

As ever, Steve took lots of talent into the studio with him. I'll be the first to say it was absolutely fantastic to see Lyman Medeiros pick up bass credits on "Reach Out for Me" and "Always Something There to Remind Me"--the latter of which is a big favorite of mine.. Being just a first listen, I've not yet found the words to describe the contributions Lyman has made--but trust me, I shall. I'm thrilled also to see the rest of the "boys in the band" make appearances---Tyrell has toured with many of these guys for a while so the numbers sound very cohesive---never underestimate the value added by a long-working band; there's an understanding of the music that is just felt between the players and it show on those numbers. So Quinn, Jon, Lyman, Mr. Mann and Soloff: thanks for playing these tunes for me. I also really dug Warren Luening's trumpet and fluglehorn.

Summing up, I'd say this is a cd that Bacharach and Tyrell lovers should really dig. Additionally its a pop cd done precisely the way it should be: the right players at the right time doing what they do best. Tyrell is very, very good at that. Kudos!

Birthday Music
Sure, it wouldn't have been my birthday without a new disc or three. This year my supersweetiepie picked something adventurous from my Amazon wishlist: Gary Louris' "Vagabonds". I heard a snippet of one of his songs on one of those Amazon Listmania things and decided it would be worth hearing more and I was correct (everybody in unison "she's ALWAYS right!"). Like David Baerwald, it defies description; neither folk, rock, pop or country, it is all of those things. Largely downtempo and meditative, shrewd lyrics. Totally my bag. Love it. All together now, "I solemnly swear to take risks in picking new music. I will buy music I don't know much about. It will make me happy and confound A&R people!" Turns out Mr. Louris has had a decent career, beginning with The Jayhawks and going on to write many hits for others.

Speaking of Baerwald (and I was), about this time last year I purchased his second cd "Music from the New Folk Underground". I never really listened to it all the way through but rather allowed it to emerge as it would in my random has done that smoldering thing where all of a sudden, its etched indelibly in my psyche. Yeah---its good. So realizing this just recently, I dug further back and bought Baerwald's first effort with David Ricketts, David and David's "Welcome to the Boomtown". Darkly brooding, this was social commentary on the wrecless greed of the 1980's--funny; it seems very pertinent to me today.

Coming next: just received Sheryl Crow's "Detours" and have reasonable hopes for it; I've seen good reviews. Also Jamiroquai's "High Times"---but there's nothing new there; just filling in stuff missing from my collection.


Anonymous said...

I loved the cd too for all the reasons you gave. Steve's voice isn't well suited for melody music and all of Bachrach's songs are so full of melody but he did pull it off. You forgot to mention my Rod. I loved the way he and JT, especially JT, harmonized on What the World Needs Now. I've listen several times and it gets better each time. LYFE Milo's Nona

Marietta said...

hey! i missed your birthday! oh i suck!!!