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Monday, September 16, 2013

Brenda Lee: Brenda, That's All


1) I'm Sitting On Top Of The World; 2) Fool #1; 3) White Silver Sands; 4) Just Out Of Reach; 5) Sweethearts On Parade; 6) It's A Lonesome Old Town; 7) Organ Grinder's Swing; 8) Gonna Find Me A Bluebird; 9) Why Me?; 10) Valley Of Tears; 11) Someday You'll Want Me To Want You; 12) You Can Depend On Me.

Fortunately for all of us who like a good friendly beat for our pop ditties, this album rectifies the mistake of Sincerely and returns to the tried and true: a balanced mix of «adult» and «teen» pop, without any one side trumping any of the others (although, as is always the case, my internal teen keeps gaining the upper hand over my external adult). Technically, perhaps, this is not altogether true, as the ballads numerically dominate over the bop stuff — 8 to 4, to be precise — but only the last three songs present a genuinely noticeable uninterrupted romantic stretch. Elsewhere, the sound is moderately and acceptably diverse, even if the songs themselves still tend to come from the pre-war era: notably, not a single recent teen pop standard is getting covered.

Predictably, both of the singles were ballads: ʽYou Can Depend On Meʼ is a bluesy one, previously tackled by Armstrong and Nat King Cole, and ʽFool #1ʼ is a freshly written country waltz, first tried on by Loretta Lynn before hitting the charts in Brenda's version. Nothing of particular inte­rest can be said about either one — the melodies are thoroughly generic, the arrangements fairly trite, and the singer certainly does not seem too interested in adding any subtle nuances, because, really, there is only so much one can do with this sort of material.

Things get much more interesting, in relative comparison, on the upbeat stuff, particularly on two songs. The organ-led speedy blues-pop of ʽWhite Silver Sandsʼ puts more of a rock'n'roll spirit in the song than the Don Rondo original from 1957 — leave it to the pirate girl to teach the suave baritone how to get that blood boiling. And ʽOrgan Grinder's Swingʼ is even more «piratish» in nature, putting a hooligan twist on a song that had been in need of rejuvenating ever since Ella Fitzgerald cut it with the Savoy Eight back in 1936, and, true to the song title, featuring cool organ swing a-plenty.

Other than that, there is not much to say, unless one is ready to take a crash course in writing about minor emotional inflections in stereotypically patterned country ballads. The worst thing about all of them is that they prevent Brenda's backing band from showing their chops — guitars, organs, saxes, the works, all of it only really comes out when the strings lose their monopoly, and this only happens during the anti-romantic breaks. But this was late 1962, after all, back when some people were beginning to think they'd finally done away with the rock'n'roll craze...

1 comment:

  1. Interesting person. I guess she was one of the many from that late fifties early sixties than was kind of swept away in the Deluge of the the mid sixties for having really done nothing more than make nice if somewhat sappy songs.