Monday, March 29, 2010 at 10:04 a.m.
Artist: The Bird and the Bee
Title: Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates
Release date: March 23
Label: Blue Note
Have any of you seen that new White Stripes movie Under Great White Northern Lights? I watched it this weekend and was left pretty underwhelmed. The only reason I watched it was because of the rave reviews it's been receiving.
I like Jack White and all (I found his other recent movie, It Might Get Loud, to be more interesting), but he can't carry a movie, even if said movie is about him. Given that it's more a straight-up concert film than it is a documentary with any discernible narrative, UGWNL is strictly for die-hards only. The casual White Stripes fan (like me) is probably going to find the movie a little flat.
I feel the same way about the new Bird and the Bee record, a nine-song "tribute" to '80s hitmakers Hall & Oates. It's not that the record is bad; it's that there's little reason for its existence. And unlike the White Stripes movie, it's not for die-hards. It's clearly intended for . . . Actually, I have no idea whom this record's target audience is. It's not an exercise in irony, so hipsters may be turned off, and thought die-hard Hall & Oates fans may like it for its slavish re-creations of some of their biggest hits, more likely they'll quickly realize these nine interpretations are not in anyway better than the originals.
Sure, the production techniques sound a little more contemporary than what H&O employed back in the day, and there certainly are enough synth bleeps and bloops to keep the beard-and-sweater crowd interested for the album's 30-minute running time. But other than that, The Bird and the Bee don't actually do a whole lot of interpretation here. The songs are fairly straight readings of the hits you and know love.
The singer (is she the Bird or the Bee? I don't know) pulls if off admirably. She's got a great voice (sort of sleepy and sexy) and would probably sound excellent on original material. But playing the role of Daryl Hall only shows that Daryl Hall sold a bazillion records for a reason: He's a couple cuts above of even the really good singers out there.
I don't know, even though I don't really see much reason for this record's existence, I will say that I was singing "Kiss on My List" all weekend long. Damn you, The Bird and the Bee.
Best song: Here's the track listing -- "Heard It on the Radio," "I Can't Go for That," "Rich Girl," "Sara Smile," "Kiss on My List," "Maneater," "She's Gone," "Private Eyes," "One on One." Whatever your fave H&O song is will be your fave songs on this record.
Deja Vu: Watching the very first days of MTV after my family had just gotten this fancy new thing called cable TV.
I'd rather listen to: The originals, of course
"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.
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