Dean Martin – Forever Cool (2007)

FrontCover1 The concept of the artificially created duets collection — in which newly recorded vocal or instrumental performances by an array of big-name contemporary artists are spliced with existing tracks from another artist, living or dead — is hardly a new one. Now it’s Dean Martin’s turn: Capitol Records, Martin’s home throughout most of the 1950s, follows the established format by taking vintage tracks by the late, beloved crooner and grafting onto them vocal takes by country star Martina McBride, neo-R&B diva Joss Stone, actor Kevin Spacey, jazz musicians Chris Botti and Dave Koz and others, to unsurprisingly mixed results.

DeanMartin01The thing to keep in mind before diving in to Forever Cool is that Martin’s coolness credentials have never been in question — hence the title — whereas just about anyone who would dare breathe in his airspace is relatively uncool by default. Spacey, for example, may be engaging on the screen, but pretending to banter with the monumentally überhip Dino on “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” and Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” (which Martin cut for Reprise, his post-Capitol label, on 1965’s (Remember Me) I’m the One Who Loves You album), only makes Spacey seem dorky and the whole exercise somewhat ghoulish. Relative newbies like Stone and former American Idol contestant Paris Bennett don’t stand a chance in this company, trying so hard when all Martin has to do is open his mouth. Even a seasoned vocalist like McBride, taking the traditional female role in Frank Loesser’s seasonal perennial “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” comes off as flat and uninspired. And Robbie Williams’ turn on “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone” just emphasizes that he’s out of his league.

The instrumentalists fare better: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was born to create Rat Pack-style big-band arrangements, and they do Martin justice on both “Who’s Got the Action” and “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You,” which they share not only with the big bad CharlesAsznavourvoodoo boozer himself but with country’s Shelby Lynne, who holds her own. And both Botti (trumpet) and Koz (sax), maybe because they don’t need to vocalize, only blow and brighten up their respective tracks: “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” and “Just in Time.” There is one true standout here, the only character in the bunch with as much certifiable personality as Martin, and that would be French superstar Charles Aznavour, who swings with Dino on the signature “Everybody Loves Somebody.” Too bad, however, that the original hit single was not used but instead a lesser version. In the end, it’s Dean Martin who saves the day each time out. What Forever Cool ultimately reaffirms is that there is no one like him. So just don’t go expecting world-class performances from the posthumous partners and it’s easy to have a good time with this experiment in studio manipulation. Now, where is that martini? (by Jeff Tamarkin)

DeanMartin02Personnel:
Kevin Axt (bass)
Charles Aznavour (vocals)
Rick Baptist (trumpet)
Paris Bennett (vocals)
Wayne Bergeron (trumpet)
Chuck Berghofer (bass)
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (vocals)
George Bohannon (trombone)
Chris Botti (trumpet)
Brian Bromberg (bass)
Richard Bullock (trombone)
Lee Callet (saxophone)
John Chiodini (guitar)
Rob Christie (background vocals)
Gene Cipriano (saxophone)
Vinnie Colaiuta (drums)
Bill Elton (trombone)
Tiziano Ferro (vocals)
Gregg Field (drums)
Joey Gian (background vocals)
Craig Gosnell (trombone)
Gary Grant (trumpet)
Daniel Greco (vibraphone)
Justin Hageman (french horn)
James Harrah (guitar)
Dan Higgins (saxophone)
Greg Huckins (saxophone)
Dave Koz (saxophone)
Steve Kujala (flute)
Michael Lang (piano)
Charles Loper (trombone)
Sal Lozano (saxophone)
Warren Luening (trumpet)
Larry Lunetta (trumpet)
Shelby Lynne (vocals)
Frank Marocco (accordion)
Andy Martin (trombone)
Dean Martin (vocals)
Martina McBride (vocals)
Bob McChesney (trombone)
Larry McGuire (trumpet)
Rick Mitchell (flute)
Suzette Moriarty (french horn)
Brian O’Connor (french horn)
Tom Ranier (piano)
Paula Salvatore (background vocals)
Bob Sheppard (saxophone)
Robert Shulgold (flute)
Kurt Snyder (french horn)
Kevin Spacey (vocals)
Joss Stone (vocals)
Vince Trombetta (saxophone)
Randy Waldman (piano)
Chauncey Welsch (trombone)
+
Capitol Studio Orchestra

Booklet04ATracklist:
01. Who’s Got the Action?  (feat. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy) (Duning) 3.12
02. Ain’t That A Kick In The Head? (feat. Kevin Spacey) (Van Heusen(Cahn) 2.38
03. I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face (feat. Chris Botti) (Loewe/Lerner) 3.05
04. Baby O (feat. Paris Bennett) (Mercer/Rotella)
05. Who Was That Lady? (with The Capitol Studios Orchestra) (Heusen/Cahn) 2.24
06. Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone (feat. Robbie Williams) (Stept/Clare) 2.32
07. I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love (feat. Joss Stone) (Gaskil/McHugh) 2.42
08. Just In Time (featuring Dave Koz) (Styne/Comden/Green) 2.43
09. Baby, It’s Cold Outside (feat. Martina McBride) (Loesser) 2.56
10. King Of The Road (featuring Kevin Spacey) (Miller) 3.14
11. You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You (feat. Shelby Lynne and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy) (Morgan/Stock/Cavanaugh) 3.10
12. Arrivederci Roma (feat. Tiziano Ferro) (Rascel/Garinei/Giovannini/Sigman) 2.43
13. Everybody Loves Somebody (feat. Charles Aznavour) (Taylor/Lane) 3.17
14. Lullaby (Brahms/Traditional) 2.12

 

CD1*
**

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Joss Stone – Mind Body & Soul (2004)

FrontCover1On the cover of her debut, The Soul Sessions, Joss Stone’s face is obscured by a vintage microphone, a deliberate move that emphasized the retro-soul vibe of the LP while hiding the youthful face that would have given away that Stone was a mere 16 years old at the time of the album’s release. The point was to put the music before the image and it worked, selling the album to an older audience that might have stayed away, thinking that the teenager sang teen pop. If the debut was designed to give Stone credibility, her second album, Mind, Body & Soul, delivered almost exactly a year after its predecessor, is designed to make her a superstar, broadening her appeal without losing sight of the smooth, funky, stylish soul at the core of Stone01her sound. There’s no radical revision here — she still works with many of the same musicians she did on The Soul Sessions, including Betty Wright and Little Beaver — but there are some subtle shifts in tone scattered throughout the record. Certain songs are a little brighter and a little more radio-ready than before, there’s a more pronounced hip-hop vibe to some beats, and she sounds a little more like a diva this time around — not enough to alienate older fans, but enough to win some new ones. The album has a seductive, sultry feel; there’s some genuine grit to the rhythms, yet it’s all wrapped up in a production that’s smooth as silk. By and large, the songs are good, too, sturdily written and hooky, growing in stature with each play. While Stone has developed a tendency to over-sing ever so slightly — she doesn’t grandstand like the post-Mariah divas, but she’ll fit more notes than necessary into the simplest phrases — she nevertheless possesses a rich, resonant voice that’s a joy to hear. She may not yet have the set of skills, or the experience, to give a nuanced, textured performance — one that feels truly lived-in, not just sung — but she’s a compelling singer and Mind, Body & Soul lives up to her promise. (Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

Inside1Personnel:
Raymond Angry (keyboards, synthesizer)
Bombshell (background vocals)
Steve Greenwell (programming, bass on 10.)
David “Jody” Hill (drums)
Mike Mangini (programming; bass on 05. + 14., keyboards on 05.)
AJ Nilo (guitar)
Joss Stone (vocals)
Betty Wright (background vocals)
+
Teodross Avery (saxophone on 06.)
Ruby Baker (background vocals on 07. 13.)
Cindy Blackman (drums on 01., 03., 07. +  11.)
Astor “Crusty” Campbell (drums on 06.)
Willburn “Squidley” Cole (additional drums on 06.)
Delroy “Chris” Cooper (bass on 06.)
Jack Daley bass on 01., 03. +  07.)
Clovette Danzy (background vocals on 07.)
Tanya Darby (trumpet on 06.)
Jeni Fujita (background vocals on 08.)
Van Gibbs (guitar on 08.)
Commissioner Gordon (percussion on 06.)
Willie “Little Beaver” Hale (guitar on 04., 12. + 13.)
Vincent Henry (clarinet, saxophone on 08.)
Stafford Hunter (trombone on 06.)
Pete Iannacone (bass on 02.)
Jonathan Joseph (drums on 02. +  05.)
Ellison Kendrick (background vocals on 07.)
Benny Latimore (piano 01., 04., 12. + 13, wurlitzer on 10.)
Tom Malone (trumpet, trombone, saxophone on 03., 05. + 13; flugelhorn on 01. + 07.)
Mercedes Martinez (background vocals on 02. + 07.)
Tracey Moore (background vocals on 02. +  07.)
Angelo Morris (bass on 04., 12. + 13.) (piano on 01. +03.); guitar on 07. + 10.)
Ignacio Nunez (percussion on 10.)
Danny P (bass on 11.) (piano on 11. + 14.), (guitar on 07. + 11.)
Bruce Purse (trumpet, flugelhorn on 08.)
Conner Reeves (background vocals on 06.)
Salaam Remi (bass, organ, strings, wurlitzer on 08.)
Margaret Reynolds (background vocals on 07. + 13.)
Nile Rodgers (guitar on 03.)
Veronica Sanchez (background vocals on 07.)
William “Kooly” Scott (background vocals on 07.)
Jonathan Shorten (keyboards on 02., 06., 09. + 14.) (programming on 02. + 09.)
Earl “Chinna” Smith (guitar on 06.)
Angie Stone (piano on 07.)
Timmy Thomas (organ on 04., 10, – 13.)
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (drums on 14.)
Carl Vandenbosche (percussion on 09.)
Alan Weekes (guitar on 09.)
Troy Auxilly-Wilson (drums on 08.)
Jeanette Wright (background vocals on 07. + 13.)
Nir Zidkyahu (percussion on 02.)

Orchestra:
Brian Chen – viola
Carol Cook – viola
Elizabeth Dyson – cello
Dawn Hannay – viola
Vivek Kamath – viola
Lisa Kim – violin
Sarah Kim – violin
Tom Carney Myung-Hi Kim – violin
Krzysztof Kuznik – violin
Soo Hyun Kwon – violin
Jeanne LeBlan – cello
Jessica Lee – violin
Matt Lehmann – violin
Liz Lim – violin
Pat Milando – French horn
Matt Milewsky – violin
Kevin Mirkin – viola
Eileen Moon – cello
Phil Myers – French horn
Dan Panner – viola
Sandra Park – violin
Laura Seaton – violin
Sarah Seiver – cello
Fiona Simon – violin
Dave Smith – French horn
Sharon Yamada – violin
Jung Sun Yoo – violin

BackCover1Tracklist:
01. Right to Be Wrong (Child/Stone/Wright) 4.40
02. Jet Lag (Reeves/Stone/Shorten) 4.00
03. You Had Me (Stone/White/Stoker/Wright) 3.59
04. Spoiled (L.Dozier(B.Dozier/Stone) 4.03
05. Don’t Cha Wanna Ride (Stone/Child/Wright/Greenberg/Mangini/Record/Sanders) 3.31
06. Less Is More (Reeves/Stone/Shorten) 4.17
07. Security (Greenberg/Stone/Pierre) 4.30
08. Young At Heart (Stone/Remi) 4.10
09. Snakes And Ladders (Reeves/Stone/Shorten) 3.35
10. Understand (Stone/Wright/Morris/Mangini/Greenber) 3.46
11. Don’t Know How (Pierre/Richardson/Ruzumna/Gray) 4.01
12. Torn And Tattered (Howard/Wolf/Dean/Wright) 3.58
13. Killing Time (Gibbons/Stone/Wright) 5.11
14. Sleep Like A Child (Seymour) 15.27
(the actual duration of music on this track is 5:19; the rest is filled with silence)
15. Daniel (hidden track) (Stone) 2.46

CD1*
**

 

Joss Stone – The Soul Sessions (2003)

JossStoneSoulSessionsFCQ: She’s 16 and British, what can she possibly know about singing vintage American soul music? A: Enough to make you squirm, get off your ass, and dance close with anybody who’ll have you. Joss Stone is a young woman who, if you believe the story, was about to record her wannabe pop smash debut and then be well on her way to becoming the next Britney/Christina. Then she heard some vintage American Miami soul made by the likes of Latimore, Little Beaver, Betty Wright, Timmy Thomas, and the like, and genuine inspiration took hold. The result of all this career changing (or diva postponement) is The Soul Sessions, a collection of ten badass soul classics recorded with all of the above folks — soul princess Betty Wright and S-Curve’s Steve Greenberg produced almost all of it in Miami, though a pair of tracks were recorded in New York with R&B wunderkind Mike Mangini and a souled-out cover of the White Stripes “Fell in Love With a Boy,” guided by the Roots’ ?uestlove (Ahmir Thompson) on the modern tip, was cut in Philly. These jams drip honey sweet and hard with tough, sexy soul, and Stone’s voice is larger than life. It’s true she’s been tutored and mentored by Wright and her musical collaborators in the science of groove, but she keeps it raw enough to be real. Her reading of Harlan Howard’s “The Chokin’ Kind” reveals that it should have been an R&B tune all along — check out Little Beaver’s (Willie Hale) guitar solo. Her reading of Bobby Miller’s “Dirty Man,” a track associated with Wright, is gutsy and completely believable, and the interplay between Latimore’s piano and Beaver’s funky, shimmering guitaristry brings Stone’s vocal down to street level.

For a woman as young as Stone to tackle Carla Thomas’ “I’ve Fallen in Love With You” and Aretha Franklin’s “All the King’s Horses,” not to mention John Ellison’s nugget “Some Kind of Wonderful,” takes guts, chops, or a genuine delusional personality to pull off. Stone has the former two. She has unique phrasing and a huge voice that accents, dips, and slips, never overworking a song or trying to bring attention to itself via hollow acrobatics. The strings and funky backbeat provided by Thompson on “I’ve Fallen in Love With You” are chilling in the way they prod Stone to just spill a need out of her heart that one would believe would be beyond her years. And speaking of Thompson, his production of the Stripes tune is more than remarkable; it conveys Jack White’s intent but in an entirely new language. The set closes with Stone’s radical reread of the Isleys’ “For the Love of You,” a daunting and audacious task. The way she tackles this song, prodded only by Angelo Morris’ keyboard whispering alongside her, is far from reverential, but it is true, accurate, moving, and stunningly — even heartbreakingly — beautiful. This is a debut that, along with those fine practitioners in the nu-soul underground such as Peven Everett, Julie Dexter, Yas-rah, Fertile Ground, and a few others, is solid proof that soul is alive and well. And perhaps, given her youth and stunning looks, the perverse star-making machinery will use this unusual entry into the marketplace to reinvestigate the wonders of timeless depth and vision inherent in soul and R&B that are far from exhausted, as this record so convincingly proves.

JossStoneSoulSessions

 Personnel:
Cindy Blackmann (drums)
Jack Daley (bass)
Willie “Little Beaver” Hale (guitar)
Benny Latimore (piano)
Angelo Morris (keyboards, guitar)
Joss Stone (vocals)
+
Adam Blackstone (bass on 03. + 10.)
Deanna Carroll (background vocals on 07.)
Mark Ciprit (guitar on 07.)
Kirk Douglas (guitar on 03. + 10.)
Karen Dreyfuss (viola on 07.)
Taneka Duggan (background vocals on 07.)
Jimmy Farkus (guitar on 05.)
Sam Furnace (saxophone on 07.)
Steve Greenwell (bass on 07.)
Dawn Hannay (viola on 07.)
Kamal (keyboards on 03.)
Lisa Kim (violin on 07.)
Myung Hi Kim (violin on 07.)
Sarah Kim (violin on 07.)
Soo Hyun Kwon (violin on 07.)
Leanne LeBlanc (cello on 07.)
Liz Lim (violin on 07.)
Mike Mangini (tambourine on 02.)
Namphuyo Aisha McCray (background vocals on 01., 02., 04., 06. + 09.)
Ignacio Nunez (percussion on 02.)
Sandra Park (violin on 07.)
Danny Pierre (keyboards on 07.)
James Poyser (keyboards on 03. + 10.)
Robert Rinehart (viola on 07.)
Tom Rosenfeld (viola on 07.)
Laura Seaton (violin on 07.)
Sarah Seiver (cello on 07.)
Rob Shaw (violin on 07.)
Fiona Simon (violin on 07.)
Alan Stepansky (cello on 07.)
Angie Stone (background vocals on 03. + 10.)
Jenny Strenger (violin on 07.)
Timmy Thomas (organ on 01., 02., 04. + 08.)
Ahmir Thompson (drums on 03., 07. + 10.)
Jeremy Turner (cello on 07.)
Betty Wright (background vocals on 01. – 03., 04., 06., 09. – 10.)
Jeanette Wright (background vocals on 01., 02., 04., 06., 09.)
Sharon Yamada (violin 07.)
Jung Sun Yoo (violin on 07.)

JossStoneSoulSessionsBC

Tracklist:
01. The Chokin´ Kind (Howard) 3.35
02. Super Duper Love (Are You Diggin´ On Me ?) Pt. 1 (Garner) 4.20
03. Fell In Love With A Boy (White) 3.38
04. Victim Of A Foolish Heart (Buckins/Jackson) 5.31
05. Dirty Man (Miller) 2.59
06. Some Kind Of Wonderful (Ellison) 3.56
07. I´ve Fallen In Love With You (Thomas) 4.29
08. I Had A Dream (Sebastian) 3.01
09. All The King´s Horses (Franklin) 3.03
10. For The Love Of You Pt. 1 & 2 (E.Isley/M.Isley/K.Isley/R.Isley/R.Isley/Jasper) 7.33

JossStoneSoulSessionsCD* (coming soon)
**

Joss Stone – The Soul Sessions (2003)

JossStoneSoulSessionsFCQ: She’s 16 and British, what can she possibly know about singing vintage American soul music? A: Enough to make you squirm, get off your ass, and dance close with anybody who’ll have you. Joss Stone is a young woman who, if you believe the story, was about to record her wannabe pop smash debut and then be well on her way to becoming the next Britney/Christina. Then she heard some vintage American Miami soul made by the likes of Latimore, Little Beaver, Betty Wright, Timmy Thomas, and the like, and genuine inspiration took hold. The result of all this career changing (or diva postponement) is The Soul Sessions, a collection of ten badass soul classics recorded with all of the above folks — soul princess Betty Wright and S-Curve’s Steve Greenberg produced almost all of it in Miami, though a pair of tracks were recorded in New York with R&B wunderkind Mike Mangini and a souled-out cover of the White Stripes “Fell in Love With a Boy,” guided by the Roots’ ?uestlove (Ahmir Thompson) on the modern tip, was cut in Philly. These jams drip honey sweet and hard with tough, sexy soul, and Stone’s voice is larger than life. It’s true she’s been tutored and mentored by Wright and her musical collaborators in the science of groove, but she keeps it raw enough to be real. Her reading of Harlan Howard’s “The Chokin’ Kind” reveals that it should have been an R&B tune all along — check out Little Beaver’s (Willie Hale) guitar solo. Her reading of Bobby Miller’s “Dirty Man,” a track associated with Wright, is gutsy and completely believable, and the interplay between Latimore’s piano and Beaver’s funky, shimmering guitaristry brings Stone’s vocal down to street level.

For a woman as young as Stone to tackle Carla Thomas’ “I’ve Fallen in Love With You” and Aretha Franklin’s “All the King’s Horses,” not to mention John Ellison’s nugget “Some Kind of Wonderful,” takes guts, chops, or a genuine delusional personality to pull off. Stone has the former two. She has unique phrasing and a huge voice that accents, dips, and slips, never overworking a song or trying to bring attention to itself via hollow acrobatics. The strings and funky backbeat provided by Thompson on “I’ve Fallen in Love With You” are chilling in the way they prod Stone to just spill a need out of her heart that one would believe would be beyond her years. And speaking of Thompson, his production of the Stripes tune is more than remarkable; it conveys Jack White’s intent but in an entirely new language. The set closes with Stone’s radical reread of the Isleys’ “For the Love of You,” a daunting and audacious task. The way she tackles this song, prodded only by Angelo Morris’ keyboard whispering alongside her, is far from reverential, but it is true, accurate, moving, and stunningly — even heartbreakingly — beautiful. This is a debut that, along with those fine practitioners in the nu-soul underground such as Peven Everett, Julie Dexter, Yas-rah, Fertile Ground, and a few others, is solid proof that soul is alive and well. And perhaps, given her youth and stunning looks, the perverse star-making machinery will use this unusual entry into the marketplace to reinvestigate the wonders of timeless depth and vision inherent in soul and R&B that are far from exhausted, as this record so convincingly proves.

JossStoneSoulSessions

 Personnel:
Cindy Blackmann (drums)
Jack Daley (bass)
Willie “Little Beaver” Hale (guitar)
Benny Latimore (piano)
Angelo Morris (keyboards, guitar)
Joss Stone (vocals)
+
Adam Blackstone (bass on 03. + 10.)
Deanna Carroll (background vocals on 07.)
Mark Ciprit (guitar on 07.)
Kirk Douglas (guitar on 03. + 10.)
Karen Dreyfuss (viola on 07.)
Taneka Duggan (background vocals on 07.)
Jimmy Farkus (guitar on 05.)
Sam Furnace (saxophone on 07.)
Steve Greenwell (bass on 07.)
Dawn Hannay (viola on 07.)
Kamal (keyboards on 03.)
Lisa Kim (violin on 07.)
Myung Hi Kim (violin on 07.)
Sarah Kim (violin on 07.)
Soo Hyun Kwon (violin on 07.)
Leanne LeBlanc (cello on 07.)
Liz Lim (violin on 07.)
Mike Mangini (tambourine on 02.)
Namphuyo Aisha McCray (background vocals on 01., 02., 04., 06. + 09.)
Ignacio Nunez (percussion on 02.)
Sandra Park (violin on 07.)
Danny Pierre (keyboards on 07.)
James Poyser (keyboards on 03. + 10.)
Robert Rinehart (viola on 07.)
Tom Rosenfeld (viola on 07.)
Laura Seaton (violin on 07.)
Sarah Seiver (cello on 07.)
Rob Shaw (violin on 07.)
Fiona Simon (violin on 07.)
Alan Stepansky (cello on 07.)
Angie Stone (background vocals on 03. + 10.)
Jenny Strenger (violin on 07.)
Timmy Thomas (organ on 01., 02., 04. + 08.)
Ahmir Thompson (drums on 03., 07. + 10.)
Jeremy Turner (cello on 07.)
Betty Wright (background vocals on 01. – 03., 04., 06., 09. – 10.)
Jeanette Wright (background vocals on 01., 02., 04., 06., 09.)
Sharon Yamada (violin 07.)
Jung Sun Yoo (violin on 07.)

JossStoneSoulSessionsBC
Tracklist:
01. The Chokin´ Kind (Howard) 3.35
02. Super Duper Love (Are You Diggin´ On Me ?) Pt. 1 (Garner) 4.20
03. Fell In Love With A Boy (White) 3.38
04. Victim Of A Foolish Heart (Buckins/Jackson) 5.31
05. Dirty Man (Miller) 2.59
06. Some Kind Of Wonderful (Ellison) 3.56
07. I´ve Fallen In Love With You (Thomas) 4.29
08. I Had A Dream (Sebastian) 3.01
09. All The King´s Horses (Franklin) 3.03
10. For The Love Of You Pt. 1 & 2 (E.Isley/M.Isley/K.Isley/R.Isley/R.Isley/Jasper) 7.33

JossStoneSoulSessionsCD*
**