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Monday, September 23, 2013

Brenda Lee: All Alone Am I


1) All Alone Am I; 2) By Myself; 3) (I Left My Heart) In San Francisco; 4) It's All Right With Me; 5) My Colouring Book; 6) My Prayer; 7) Lover; 8) All By Myself; 9) What Kind Of Fool Am I; 10) Come Rain Or Come Shine; 11) I Hadn't Anyone Till You; 12) Fly Me To The Moon.

Recorded in late 1962, released in February 1963, forgotten, I suppose, as soon as its lead single fell off the charts. And this time even the lead single, although it did rise to No. 3 on the charts, does not help out the situation — a sentimental adult pop waltz, sung with plenty of power but no subtlety whatsoever. The harpsichord adds a nice touch of anti-mediocrity, but there is only so long a distance I am willing to go as far as my admiration for Brenda Lee is concerned: a corny mainstream standart is a corny mainstream standart, period.

The subject of loneliness seems to have been raised to conceptual heights here — apart from the title track, one finds both ʽBy Myselfʼ and ʽAll By Myselfʼ (yes, they are two different songs: the latter from Irving Berlin's songbook, the former a recent composition), and then there is the sleeve photo on which the girl does seem sort of lonely. In fact, that purple-dress-on-black style would suggest some musical «doom and gloom» to go along, but the arrangements make no ef­fort to genuinely convey any dark emotions. Everything's glossed up again, with strings, pianos, and, occasionally, harps and harmonicas (as on the impossibly, almost Sesame Street-like «ange­li­fied» rendition of ʽMy Coloring Bookʼ) providing all the perks.

Most of the toughness that can be elicited from the performer here comes on fast-paced jazz-pop numbers, both new (ʽBy Myselfʼ) and old (a funny cover of the old Rodgers & Hart chestnut ʽLoverʼ, with Brenda's trademark «stern» approach), but even these are limited to two or three tracks. As for the rest — well, ʽMy Prayerʼ is probably as solemn and anthemic as she ever got to that point, but that does not mean this «regal» approach really suits her. Altogether, the whole thing is another disaster on par with Sincerely, and a good example of Decca's utmost stupidity in the early Sixties when it came to making the best use of their artists. But we all know that — «guitar bands are on their way out» and all the rest. Thumbs down.

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