Posts Tagged ‘Lounge-A-Palooza’

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Plenty of classical and jazz musicians have crossed over to rock ’n’ roll, but not many crooners. Where are the interpreters in the style of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, and Tony Bennett?

There’s a stream of jazz musicians interpreting rock today, and as for classical musicians, that stream is a Class 5 whitewater adventure. You can’t swing a sackbut in a concert hall without hitting yet another eager band of classical musicians who are ready to step up and throw down: 2Cellos, The Harp Twins, The Vitamin String Quartet, and, my favorite, Bella Electric Strings.

Qualifications for membership in Bella Electric Strings:

1. Must be white, female, and under 30
2. Must dislike food
3. Must play the violin

But who is performing the rock (and hip-hop) repertoire in a lounge/swing style? In this, Part I of a four-part investigation by our Spotlight Team, we look at our first competitor: Pat Boone.

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In a Metal Mood released in 1997

Boone, who made his reputation defusing black music for white teenagers in malt shops, goes for broke on 12 hard-rock classics, from Judas Priest to Led Zep. Sorry, Pat, no sale. The 1950s big-band arrangements and the chorus of women from the lite-rock channel are silly. Boone’s voice isn’t suited to this work; it’s smooth, seamless, and not at all steamy. Mitt Romney could’ve recorded this disc.

Of the 12 songs here, Dio’s “Holy Diver” works best as a bouncy lounge number, but Boone’s bland voice gets in the way. He doesn’t do too badly with Nazareth’s “Love Hurts”; the original moved at a Boone-like stroll. Unfortunately, that lack of speed makes the original and the cover boring.

His version of Van Halen’s “Panama” achieves some warmth, probably because Van Halen gave us a show tune with killer guitars. But when he gets to the spoken-word part about driving a car on a hot night and reaching down between his legs, he reminds you that he’s Pat Boone.

In a Metal Mood is not bad for a man who released his first record way back in 1956 (it was called Howdy!, the most inoffensive title in the history of titles), but, also, not good. I will say this for Pat: I’m convinced he was serious when he conceived this project. Plus he’s got titanium balls (though no common sense) for covering Metallica and Jimi Hendrix.

Am I experiencing a jab of guilt, or is it just an undigested bit of beef?

Sometimes even Run-DMSteve must be fair. Pat Boone in his prime had a fine-tuned voice with some power behind it, and he made what changes he could to keep his career going for decades. He had a record in the Billboard Top 40 every week for four consecutive years. In the decade of the ’50s there was only one artist who outsold him and that artist was somebody named Elvis. I don’t care for Boone’s music and this particular project was ill-advised, but look, he tried.

This is more than I can say for the 14 or so artists who put together Lounge-A-Palooza in the same year, all of whom should’ve been stopped at the border and incarcerated in wire cages and separated for months from their instruments. Sadly, this includes Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé, who covered Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun.” Compared to them, Pat would’ve thrown up his rawkfist.