Far Out . . . of Touch

Five more old fogies who should never have tried to bridge the generation gap and took a bad fall

1. Mae West--Way Out West!
(Tower) 1966
Mae still had an hourglass figure, but the sands of time were quickly running out, if her manglings of beat favorites like "Day Tripper," "Twist and Shout" and "You Turn Me On" are any indicator. This curio is like kissing Grandma and getting a wrinkled tongue rammed down your throat! Mae Day! Mae Day!

2. Bobby Darin--Born Walden Robert Cassotto
(Direction) 1969
In 1968, Darin dropped out of the biz to live in Big Sur. He returned a year later, having traded in his tux for blue jeans and his show tunes for sensitive, self-penned revelations. Yet the Woodstock generation had two problems accepting "Bob" Darin, as he then insisted on being called. One, he was over 30, and two, he stopped wearing his toupee.

3. Bing Crosby--Hey Jude, Hey Bing!
(Decca) 1968
Der Bingle does, er, Der Beatles! According to the liner notes, the studio musicians gave Mr. C. a standing ovation after completing these sessions. Maybe they were just grateful the pipe-sucking crooner didn't insist on bleating the title cut for seven-plus minutes. Neither Bing nor his audience had that much time, so his cover of the never-ending hit clocked in at a more conservative three minutes, 47 seconds. Stopping the climactic "better, better, better, better" segment dead in its tracks is Bing's incredible a cappella response--not the requisite "na na na na na na nas," mind you, but "pum pum pum pum pum pum pums." Leave it to Bing to find the hidden link between the Beatles and "The Little Drummer Boy."

4. Joel Grey--Black Sheep Boy
(Columbia) 1969
Cabaret's Grey is no "ol' chum" of rock 'n' roll. He wrings Cream's meaningless "White Room" of every last drop of potential bathos, informing us about "restless diesels," "goodbye windows" and "tired starlings" with all the fervor of someone who's just seen a UFO. This Sheep's baaaaahd! Very baaaaahd!

5. Ethel Merman--There's No Business
Like Show Business
(A&M) 1979

Everything about this album is not appealing! When Ethel's megaphonic vocals blasted Irving Berlin tunes over generic disco arrangements, even the boogie's staunchest supporters rushed to sound its death knell. Obviously, this wretched album could clear a dance floor in seconds. However, this writer once witnessed it virtually clear the entire floor of Bloomingdale's! At Christmastime!

 
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