Zero System, Inc. | CD REVIEWS: Sweet songs to trigger laughter in the rain
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CD REVIEWS: Sweet songs to trigger laughter in the rain

CD REVIEWS: Sweet songs to trigger laughter in the rain

11:14 30 April in Biker Planet reviews

CD REVIEWS: Sweet songs to trigger laughter in the rain

At the age of 69, Neil Sedaka is still an indefatigably cheerful performer, and has a lifetime’s worth of catchy songs that he doesn’t mind overhauling. These characteristics serve him well on his first children’s album, “Waking Up Is Hard To Do.”

Yes, the title track is a reworking of his No. 1 1962 hit, “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.” On the original, he sang: “They say that breaking up is hard to do/Now I know, I know that it’s true/Don’t say that this is the end/Instead of breaking up I wish that we were making up again.” Here, he goes with “They say that waking up is hard to do/Wear a smile, don’t you be blue/Just rub the sleep from your eyes/Instead of going back to bed you gotta stretch and face the day.” Sedaka follows the pattern throughout the CD, whose booklet doubles as a coloring book.

The original versions of the songs were all written or co-written by him, though in some cases, they were most famously sung by other artists. “Where the Boys Are,” the Connie Francis hit, becomes “Where the Toys Are.” “Love Will Keep Us Together,” best known as The Captain and Tennille’s signature song, becomes “Lunch Will Keep Us Together.”

“Laughter in the Rain,” Sedaka’s 1975 hit, retains its title, but has new lyrics. “Ooh, I hear the laughter in the rain/Don’t forget your boots and umbrella/Ooh, wear your raincoat and your hat/You will always, always stay dry,” he sings. His rocking 1959 novelty song “I Go Ape,” however, was silly enough in its original version that he doesn’t change a word.

Weiss and pianist Davis solo over quietly surging Burno notes and delicate cymbal rings and snare shudders from Waits

Sedaka has said he set out to make a record that would entertain his grandchildren, and later realized that other children would enjoy it, too. He made a mistake, though, by enlisting his 5-year-old twin granddaughters to sing backing vocals on many songs. I’m sure it was a great experience for him, and for them, to sing together. But every time they are heard, they make this otherwise charming and sweet album sound contrived and cloying.

Originally released in 1973, “No Pussyfooting” by King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp and ex-Roxy Music knob twiddler/future star record producer Brian Eno was a futuristic masterpiece of ambient music — the LP featuring two 20-minute pieces of Fripp’s serpentine electric guitar droning, keening and echoing as both background and foreground thanks to Eno’s double-layered tape loops. “The Heavenly Music Corporation” has both a timeless beauty and an otherworldly edge, making it appropriate for hypnotic focused listening or as alluring backdrop. Although less enjoyable, “Swastika Girls” — the title having nothing to do with the weirdly chiming, woozy loops — has a similar feel. The original analog tapes have been remastered beautifully for this reissue via Fripp’s label.

Not without a sense of humor, Fripp and Eno have also provided “The Heavenly Music Corporation” in a reverse version as a bonus for this reissue, with the piece working both ways, oddly enough. The reissue’s limited-edition, double-CD incarnation also includes the piece in a half-speed rendition on Disc 2 (a druggy experience for those who know the music), along with a reverse version of “Swastika Girls.”

Fripp and Eno have also remastered and reissued their 1975 follow-up album, “Evening Star.” The disc includes three relatively brief and pastoral guitar/tape-loop pieces, plus the spookier, 28-minute “Index of Metals” and an edit from a solo Eno synthesizer-tape work that he later released in full on the LP “Discreet Music.”

Newark native, Springfield-residing trumpeter David Ginsberg, heard Tuesdays at the Crossroads in Garwood, has loaded his debut CD with intriguing originals and covers. Employing vigor and invention, he performs these in the excellent company of pianist Ed Alstrom, bassist Ed Howard, and drummer Don Guinta. “We Kings” has a rumbling, African-flavored piano-bass rhythmic figure — and a lean, bobbing theme with a slight gospel flair. The bridge goes to a march, with crisp trumpet notes. Whipping along, “Hubbard’s Cupboard” has an appealing riff-based melody. The Harmon mute gives Ginsberg’s sound a soft sizzle, and his lines have rhythmic pop and lyric ingenuity. The rhythm team also crackles “My Shining Hour” is another brisk Harmon item, with splendid Ginsberg in a trio. “Esther’s Child Dance” is a sprightly, sweet-themed waltz, and “Little Spats” is a peppy swinger. “Little Man” is a ballad with real feeling, big Howard notes, and more ace trumpet.

In a wonderfully ironic turn, the BBC played “No Pussyfooting” in reverse for its radio debut, the network not noticing that the reel-to-reel had been wound backward even after the music began to play (or, supposedly, even caring much after Eno phoned in)

Ginsberg plays Tuesdays at the Crossroads Restaurant, 78 North Ave., Garwood; (908) 232-5666; xxroads. He also plays a CD release party Feb. 20 at The Priory, 233 West Market St., Newark; (973) 242-8012.

The New Jazz Composers Octet showcases smart, expressive original compositions and arrangements by a commanding crew of writers and players. Together since 1998 with scant personnel changes, these A-1 fellows are trumpeter David Weiss, saxophonists Jimmy Greene, Myron Walden, and Norbert Stachel, trombonist Steve Davis, pianist Xavier Davis, bassist Dwayne Burno, and drummer Nasheet Waits. On the band’s third CD, West Orange-based pianist Davis’ 6-part “Faith Suite” includes “Twilight,” with numerous moving parts, like a community conversation; and “Doubt,” with hunks of horn color over a quasi-funk beat. Weiss’ strong title track moves from light to dense textures over a bass figure; later comes a more lyrical, swinging section. Burno’s “Once” starts with slowly moving, poignant and song-like clouds of sound. Walden’s “Onward” starts as a gentle, flute ballad, then lights up as more instruments arrive engagingly. Later there’s a modern beat, with bravura Walden alto.

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