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Cool Crooners
Various Artists
El-Camel's Ratings:

ABM Label

michael white


The easy listening revival eased its kitsch and cuddly way through the nation's collective consciousness at the tail end of the '90s as Jimmy Webb, Burt Bacharach, Serge Gainsbourg, and many other fine purveyors of the classic art of the song, were subject to a new wave of interest. Much of the audience reaction resembled the process of poking a pointed stick at something they didn't quite understand - the whole commercial rehabilitation appearing to peak with the pastiche pap of the Mike Flowers Pops. Just another brick in the 'Wonderwall' of superficial sophistication.

Cool Crooners takes a step further back, to another era when the dictum of - 'the song is king, long live the song' - reigned supreme in the field of popular music: predominantly the '40s and the '50s. The album is a twenty-track oasis… an ocean of collected calm: the sitting room in a world of deep house. If you feel overloaded by those ever so rampant beats you need to chill out. Just relax to the tunes that your Mum and Dad, or your grandparents (Are you sure you should be out at this time?) swooned over as they gazed into each other's eyes and dared to hold hands. Realise that, hey!… Dad was right all along: they really don't write them like that anymore.

You've probably heard them all before anyway… they're the kind of tunes that creep insidiously into your consciousness over a period of time. These guys were the coolest things in a cardigan; the most dapper in a dark suit; the swooniest croon; the… (Okay, we get the message!) Melt into the velvet tones of Nat King Cole for a track that is truly - 'Unforgettable.' Sit in awed silence as he paints another masterpiece in seductive sound with 'Mona Lisa.'

There's the pissed-up bleariness; the hold on tight to the floor as the room goes round voice of Dean Martin on ' "A" You're Adorable.' Shame he only got to 'D' for drink. Guess it was lucky he couldn't spell alcohol. There is fellow feisty, hard-livin' Rat Packer, Frankie boy - Sinatra when he was the coolest dude on the planet and moistened the gussets of an army of bobby-soxers. 'You're Lonely And I'm Lonely' contains/continues with the priceless line… "Let's be lonely together." Must try that as an opening gambit sometime.

It's a fundamentally smooth experience: ba ba boom with old Bing on 'I Love You' - me too Bing baby: lay back horizontally with the man who could sing without opening his mouth; Mr comatose himself; the man who always seemed on the verge of sleep - that pointed stick would have come in useful here, a great 'Temptation' - ladies and gentlemen, I give you Perry Como! Mel Tormé tels us, oops… tells us about his butterfingers in a sleek 'Careless Hands;' while the mellifluous tones of Billy Eckstine will leave you all sort of 'Bewildered.'

Fred Astaire puts his light touch to good use on 'A Fine Romance' - yes, it's great to hear him dance on CD. Could do with a bit of gingering up, what do you think? Some are such pure tat that no amount of gingering up is going to make them hip - Russ Morgan's 'Cruising Down A River' needs a watery grave urgently and stretches the envelope of this collection somewhat.

So there you have it… the schmaltz, the songs, the time when men were men and women were discreetly worshipped, the romance, the lyrics that meant something, the top tunes that meandered gently to a chaste conclusion - a kiss; a look: who needs explicit when you can have imagination. The album's an all-round antidote to a world gone mad. Dust off your Dad's dinner-jacket, cop that chunky knit cardigan out of the wardrobe and have yourself a good croon. Aaah, that's better.

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