Monday, 21 July 2014
Wiley was Cole Porter's favourite interpreter of his work, most likely because she pretty much sung the notes he wrote. This is a different approach to the Great American Songbook that we're now used to, with the singer doing little to get in the way of the song as opposed to vomiting themselves all over it.. It's easy to forget that such an expressive singer as Billie Holiday was an exception to the rule at the time she has come to embody. Lee Wiley was the rule, but she was one of the best at it.
Although at first she may seem too reserved, the way her voice allows melodies to songs such as 'Anytime, Anyday, Anywhere' (co-written by Wiley), 'I've Got a Crush on You' and 'It's Only a Paper Moon' to glide on air can be exquisite.
Ultimately, Wiley is a Rich Tea jazz biscuit and not a Fox's Crunch Cream, but sometimes that's all you want.
Monday, 30 June 2014
What is undeniable, however, is the quality of his songwriting. This is pre-outlaw country pop at its most tuneful and toe-tapping. Occasionally melancholy, rarely morose, it's a bag well worth dipping into, and you may well recognise a few. 'Sweet Dreams' was made famous by Cline, while others would get the full country treatment from Ray Charles and Elvis. Oh, and 'Oh, Lonesome Me' from After the Goldrush by Neil Young is here as well, albeit sounding a lot chirpier.
Monday, 9 June 2014
Although many tracks are just plain failures, Prima's last albums are worth listening to purely for the sheer fascination of hearing someone venturing where they were never meant to go. To understand what Prima was really all about, however, check out 1956's The Wildest, where he channels Louis Armstrong, puts him through an Italian American filter, and explodes with so much energy he nearly makes that new-fangled rock 'n' roll redundant. Primia, Smith and the Witnesses come across as a bunch of swing renegades. 'I ain't got nobody', they all sing together. They may be freaks, but they've got each other's backs. Also, check out any videos of him performing with Keely Smith on Youtube. They are bloody funny.