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CD: The Glory of Gershwin..George Martin

15 Jan 01 - 10:57 AM (#374886)
Subject: CD: The Glory of Gershwin..George Martin
From: Rick Fielding

Sorry, couldn't think of a quirky Header for this.

A friend and I were discussing this album the other day and I'm curious if any of our mutual Mudcat friends have an opinion about it.

It's honouring the great chromatic harmonica player (and life-long shit disturber) Larry Adler. Adler was one of those Americans who spoke out loudly against discrimination of blacks in the 40s, was branded a Communist, blacklisted, and high-tailed it to Europe. He fully admits that without the participation of several Rock stars (Elton, Sinead, Sting, Cher, Meatloaf etc.) this album of Gershwin songs would never have gotten made.

Taken on those terms, it's easy to criticise the album as "Gershwin Lite", and I can picture jazzophiles gagging at the prospect of Elvis Costello singing "But Not For Me", or Jon Bon Jovi sinking his teeth into "How Long Has This been Going On".

But....But...From the first note to the last, there's not one false step, TECHNICALLY, so if ya hate it, it's got to be a matter of just can't stomach Rockers messing with George and Ira. If it's the arrangements that bug you, then you gotta dis George Martin and Larry Adler, 'cause they came up with them (and don't forget who's version of Rapsody in Blue, Ira Gershwin loved the best...Adler's)

I'm not suggesting blanket tolerance here. "Rockers singing Gershwin", probably strikes some the same way that "Rockers (Van Morrison, Mick etc.) doing Celtic", with the Chieftans, or "Rockers with the London Symphony" does.

A few years ago I heard classical Violinist Yehudi Menhuin play with Ti-Jean Carignan. The result was horrid (folk) music, although both were at the top of their game skill wise. The genres simply didn't jell.

As far as my own prejudices go, I cringe when I hear Bluegrass music (I'm a fanatic) performed slickly by modern "New country" matter how technically accomplished they are. Nope, I'd much rather hear old recordings of the Stanley Brothers than new ones by Alison Krause (doing Stanley material).

Many years ago the same disagreements came up when "folkies" discussed Peter Paul and Mary or the Kingston Trio. Many loved the new sound, but some said it "destroyed" the "real" music. The arguement was made that a percentage of their fans would dig deeper after being hooked on the "pop" treatment and go on to enjoy more traditional music. Same thing could be said about the Gershwin album. It may be a bit of a stretch, but those "Classical Music's Greatest Hits" that they're always flogging on TV ("Now you can enjoy Mozart's 'good bits', without having to listen to the 'boring stuff') in theory at least, can lead people in the right direction.

There can be no question that the inclusion of the Rockers have made "The Glory of Gershwin" a best seller. Anyone got any thoughts?


15 Jan 01 - 11:19 AM (#374899)
Subject: RE: CD: The Glory of Gershwin..George Martin
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler

I haven't heard this CD (here he goes again -talking about things he knows nowt about!) but I did see a few clips of its making on tv. I was impressed by Sinead O'Connor's care and attention in getting the right notes,I don't like her much but she is clearly serious about her work.
Larry Adler I admire for the reasons Rick states though I've never been a great fan of his "classical" style of playing (give me Sonny Terry or Walter Horton any day!). His chat show appearances are always entertaining if only to see how many times he can name drop "as Ira said to me once at George Kaufman's house..."
I prefer my Gerswhwin by Ella, Cleo, even Barbara Cook, but this CD has been praised by some critics as revealing some of the participants having hidden depths their normal repertoire doesn't show.

15 Jan 01 - 03:30 PM (#375035)
Subject: RE: CD: The Glory of Gershwin..George Martin
From: Peter T.

Another version of this was "Red, Hot, and Blue" which was for AIDS, Cole Porter tunes. The only read standout was k.d. laing's "So In Love" (the video was the most terrifying video I have ever seen -- she was spunging out and destroying all the contaminated materials left by her lover who had just died of AIDS). The lady from the Eurythmics did a nice piece too. Sinead O'Connor's album of torch songs was dreadful. And I love her singing. yours, Peter T.

15 Jan 01 - 05:28 PM (#375095)
Subject: RE: CD: The Glory of Gershwin..George Martin
From: Lanfranc

Personally, I love the CD - it has a regular place in my "ready use" rack. It's good to hear artists normally regarded as rockers (MeatLoaf sings Gershwin!) showing a more sensitive side and making a pretty good fist of it too.

George Martin's contribution to eliciting the performances was probably considerable.

Hearing artists perform material other than that they are best known for is often interesting. Does anyone else cherish the memory of Peter Bellamy singing blues, or the Roche's version of Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus"?

16 Jan 01 - 12:08 PM (#375351)
Subject: RE: CD: The Glory of Gershwin..George Martin
From: Rick Fielding

Well this may be wayyyy off track, but when the seminal rocker Jerry Lee Lewis started singing straight country music, I think he did an exceptional job.

Saw an old clip of The Stones on Ed Sullivan show from the sixties the other night. Mick singing and squirming to "Ruby Tuesday" with Bill sort of bowing(!) stand up bass, Brian playing horrid recorder, Keith on piano (or celeste) and Charley stoically beating on drums. Verry scary!


16 Jan 01 - 01:26 PM (#375443)
Subject: RE: CD: The Glory of Gershwin..George Martin
From: LR Mole

Elvis Costello's "But Not For Me" on the CDis just swell, though I had to ask someone who Beatrice Fairfax was.The Roches have a lovely cover of "It's Bad For Me" on one of their earlier albums: "Nurds", maybe.

16 Jan 01 - 02:23 PM (#375496)
Subject: RE: CD: The Glory of Gershwin..George Martin
From: rabbitrunning

I love "Glory of Gershwin" and am another one who has the album near the top of the "I need something to play" stack.

Frequently, I find that I do like music done by someone who is stretching away from their usual style. (Well, given my collection of Christmas CD's that's probably a given.) Not always, but often, there's a nice fusion that makes me reconsider both song and artist.

16 Jan 01 - 07:28 PM (#375765)
Subject: RE: CD: The Glory of Gershwin..George Martin
From: Callie

I didn't like The Glory of Gershwin. And it's not for purist "rock musos shouldn't sing Gershwin" reasons.

I thought some of the singing was outstandingly good, including Sinead O'Connor and Elvis Costello (mind you, I think Elvis Costello farting in a bath would sound good - here I go ducking fruit once more). The real eye-opener was Meatloaf - wow what a voice!

What I didn't like about it was the clean/glitzy production. While I think George Martin's talent is unsurpassed, the cd doesn't swing, doesn't groove. It lacks a certain soul. So although it's maybe note-perfect, I can't hear any of the warmth, character or inventiveness which I think are three important elements of Gershwin's music.

It also had some really grating tracks. Robert Palmer sings "I got Rhythm" but the track DOESN'T GROOVE - so in fact, he DOESN'T have rhythm (unless he's singing ironically, which seems unlikely).

I gave the cd away.


17 Jan 01 - 02:10 PM (#376340)
Subject: RE: CD: The Glory of Gershwin..George Martin
From: GUEST,wcs

Don't know "The Glory of Gershwin". But there's an album by Herbie Hancock doing all the Gershwin standard with Joni Mitchell is among the artists contributing,doing "Summertime" and some other song - forgot which one. Anyway I really like it very much! Highly recommended!