BRENDA LEE: BY REQUEST (1964)
1) More; 2) Days Of Wine And Roses; 3) Danke Schoen; 4) Tammy; 5) Why Don't You Believe Me; 6) I Love You Because; 7) As Usual; 8) Blue Velvet; 9) My Whole World Is Falling Down; 10) I Wonder; 11) I'm Confessin'; 12) The Grass Is Greener.
By May 5, 1964, when this album was officially released on Decca, the States had already been wriggling in the clutch of Beatlemania for several months — but, naturally, you wouldn't even begin to whiff it on By Request. By whose request? Certainly not by request of those rebellious teens who could have embraced stuff like ʽDynamiteʼ eight years ago — more likely, by request of their parents who were secretly hoping that this new trans-Atlantic craze might pass them by even faster than the older, homebrewn rockabilly madness.
In retrospect, this album is even more awful than its predecessor. The only song that barely escapes the sacchariney quicksand of lush ballads is ʽMy Whole World Is Falling Downʼ, a jovial mix of pop and R&B that would have felt right at home on a Manfred Mann album — the joviality being particularly neat in the light of the song's tragic lyrics. On a record like All The Way, the track would have been a nice, energetic, forgettable bit of filler — here, it is a giant among songs that... well, in retrospect, some people have developed a nostalgic kick for this sort of mush, but I wonder just how many of them can honestly stand a song like ʽTammyʼ, which arguably embodies all of the very worst aspects of «mainstream pop» in the early 1960s. "Does my darling feel what I feel when he comes here?.." Oh, please!
«Highlights» include an unnecessary attempt at appropriating ʽBlue Velvetʼ (the song is hardly any good on its own, but at least The Clovers gave it some color); Wayne Newton's ʽDanke Schoenʼ, sung with the same Yiddish accent ("danke shaayne!..") and preserving all the neo-cabaret corniness of the original; and a lushly orchestrated ʽDays Of Wine & Rosesʼ — I must say that I am a sucker for ʽMoon Riverʼ when it comes to Henry Mancini (probably due to the obligatory childhood crush on Audrey Hepburn), but not this one. Why not ʽMoon Riverʼ? Whoever chooses ʽDays Of Wine & Rosesʼ over ʽMoon Riverʼ deserves a wicked thumbs down for that reason alone. Better still, why can't she just cover the Pink Panther Theme? At her best, she certainly used to be more of a «pink panther» than a «Tammy's in love (woo woo woo woo)».