Sunday, July 29, 2007

Rex couldn't be righter

> Meanwhile, be grateful for crumbs. The world is so cacophonous and overwhelming that it's a challenge to persuade people to sit down and listen to eloquence. But if you're a student of the old school of sublime singers like Sue Raney and your brain needs musical oxygen, or if you're unlucky to be under 20 and don't know who Doris Day is, then buy "Heart's Desire" and die in ecstasy.>

That's the concluding paragraph of Rex Reed's July 22 review of Sue Raney's new Doris Day tribute CD in the New York Observer. And, in fact, there's an entire column's worth full of such encomia where that came from. Hyperbolic? Yes, a tad. . .maybe. But why should Rex Reed have all fun? Let me jump in with a bit of hyperbolic overkill of my own: Heart's Desire by Sue Raney is simply. . . "THE ALBUM OF THE YEAR!"

There was a time when "a cast of thousands" projects like this poured out of the nation's record labels every week. Not anymore, alas. But Sue was bound and determined to record, for her next CD, not just another trio album. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) And she's done it! There must be a symphony orchestra's worth of string players to be heard here, in addition to a large contingent of first call L.A. jazz/session players such as Andy Martin and Carl Saunders. Expensive? You betcha! But worth every penny of it. Interesting aside: Heart's Desire not only marks Sue's demi-centenary as a recording artist, but it was effected where it all began for her, Capitol Records historic Studio A in Hollywood. Talk about your symmetry!

Beyond Sue and the brilliant arranger Alan Broadbent, to my mind the other major contributor to the project is veteran recording engineer Andy Waterman. He's chosen what, to my ears, is a somewhat eccentric recording scheme. Sue mic-ed within an inch of her life, with not a lot of reverb, while the band is spread out behind her somewhat distantly with a bit more echo and a good deal more compression than is used on Sue's voice. (I probably don't know what the hell I'm talking about.) I've never heard any other recording that SOUNDS quite like it, but it works like a charm. If there were any justice or mercy, Waterman would win a Grammy for this. Not eligible, though. (see below for update) For like increasing numbers of such projects of quality, this was not released by a U.S. label. but on Fresh Sounds, out of Spain. But easy enough to find for sale on the internet. Especially recommended---per ususal---is the fine Fine SUPERFINE net retailer, Dusty Groove which is selling this for the unbelievable low Low LOW price of just 12.99 (I paid 20.00 for mine.) How can they afford to do it? volume Volume VOLUME no doubt.

[8/1 update: I've just been told by an informed source that "Bill, I just called NARAS, and if a CD has U.S. distribution, and can be purchased here, it is eligible for Grammy consideration." If Sue's CD does qualify, then that's the best news I've had all day.]

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