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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Botox on My Boombox

Cds & vinyl in NYC
Chelsea's source for (mostly dance music) cds
I have nothing against downloads. In fact, I download whenever it's convenient or it's the only way I can score a song. But, to my taste, there's nothing like cds: art work & design, the art of packaging, liner notes and credits. I also prefer the joy of walking into a store, plunking down my money, and walking out with my music in a bag over ordering online and waiting for delivery. With all the majors closed, I do my cd shopping in New York City at Rainbows & Triangles in Chelsea (Eighth Ave. between 19th & 20th Streets in Chelsea) and Rebel Rebel (Bleecker Street between Christopher & Grove in the Village. Rebel also sells vinyl! Can you believe it?)

Forever blonde: DeShannon
I finally purchased Jackie DeShannon's 2011 album, When You Walk in the Room. Jackie re-does her old hits, songs she's written that were hits by others ("Bette Davis Eyes," "Breakaway,"), songs others wrote for her ("Needles & Pins" by Jack Nitzsche & Sonny Bono), and a few obscurities and originals.

It's a strikingly minimalist production. Just DeShannon's vocals, guitar with additional acoustic guitar by Steve Luxenberg. The title song is the opener and it eschews the Spectoresque production of the original version for a folkier flavor. "Breakaway" and "Don't Doubt Yourself Babe" similarly shake off the more wired productions
made famous by Tracey Ullman and The Byrds, respectively.

"Put a Little Love in Your Heart," undoubtedly Jackie's best remembered hit (co-written by her brother, Randy Myers, and Jimmy Holiday (father of dance diva Debby Holiday)), emerges as a nicely mellow rendition, as does the Bacharach-David, "What the World Needs Now Is Love." And "Bette Davis Eyes," which Jackie first recorded, with Kim Carnes' cover responsible for making it an international hit, is done simply with a smooth, soft vocal.

It's a true joy to have a recent release by one of the Sixties' great female singer/songwriters. Mellow is not usually one of my favorite moods when it comes to pop music, but I'll make an exception for the clear, direct naturalness of the brilliantly intimate and pared-down sound on this cd. It lavishly invites us to hear the richness and versatility of music from Ms DeShannon's portfolio.

Out of the Game is Rufus Wainwright's new album, coming after 2010's All the Days Are Nights: Song for Lulu. That dark album was influenced by the death of Rufus' mother, Kate McGarrigle (of The McGarrigle Sisters). Now, Rufus is gonna tell me somethin' good, as his name demands.

Rufus, looking sporty
Out of the Game's opener is also the title tune, a bright pop number beautifully buoyed by Wainwright's rich tenor vox, followed by "Jericho," a song that sounds very Neil Diamond to me; very pop, very catchy. Both numbers are beautifully produced by Mark Ronson with equal, full-bodied brilliance.  (The British Ronson has previously, famously produced Amy Winehouse, Adele, Robbie Williams and Lily Allen.)

The two initial numbers had a mesmerizing hold on me and made me look forward to the tracks yet to come. The pedigreed, out Rufus takes us on a journey through well-crafted lyrics both purely pop and superficial, and revealingly personal. I would place him on par with Joni Mitchell when she was at her most accessible Court and Spark period.

This is Rufus' best album since the 2007 Release the Stars, produced by my man, Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys. Conclusion: Brits do the best producing when it comes to music. Special thanks to Jade DaRu, make-up artist to the stars and dear friend, for turning me on to Rufus.

Brits make the best cd compilations as well. And I adore the Disco Discharge series that thrills me with each and every two-cd release, the latest reaching these shores being subtitled American Hot. It opens with a very fabulous "Love for the Sake of Love" sung by Claudja Barry, which sounds like "Love to Love You Baby" mixed with "I Can't Stand the Rain" by Eruption mixed with a Dorothy Lamour South Seas number.

More excellence follows, as I spin back to my youth, the music on these discs like Botox, rejuvenating me.  "Last Night in Danceland" is quite the retro disco ballad, vocalist Randy Crawford informing us she "felt like Ginger Rogers after she left Fred Astaire."

Every track's a rarity and a winner, thanks to Mr Pinks. Herbie Mann's "Superman" is a forgotten popular disco floor-filler, and pre-Dawn Tony Orlando's "Don't Let Go" a funky groove-thang shaker.

Cissy Houston, Sylvester, Ritchie Family, Andrea True Connection, Aretha Franklin and Luther Vandross help round out this fantastic return to the heart and soul of classic disco.

Liner notes by Alan Jones. Visit Discoguy on Facebook:

Do it to me, Superman!


  1. You should try to interview Jackie D.

  2. Thanks, Edge! I'm trying to line some people up like LaLa Brooks, Debby Holiday (who has written to me on Facebook messages) & others.