Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dead Lived

A live album is always tricky. Sometimes the magic just does not translate on record. Karen Oberlin's Frank Loesser show at The Algonquin was praised by Stephen Holden in The New York Times. Writing about it, he calls it a "smart, polished show" and praises Miss Oberlin because she "concentrates on Loesser’s softer-edged zaniness and on his unjustly neglected romantic side"  This recording doesn't really zip anywhere, it just registers bland, and I got bored with it after the second song. And I can't really fault the Loesser canon, because it is filled with wonderful tunes. he wrote some of my most favorite ones, like "My Time Of Day," More I Cannot Wish You," and "Spring Can Be A Little Late This Year." Those songs are sung without any punch. She sings it almost without feeling or nuance. Even a most dramatic "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve" just lies there flat, unanswered. the slowed-down  "Heart And Soul," for example, is slowed down, but it doesn't smolder as it should have. (I also wonder how Mary Cleere Haran would have sung it with the same arrangement, and I am sure it would have been better) Perhaps the show's charm wasn't captured by the recording? Maybe she exudes charm that is not aural? She is a very attractive woman, perhaps her strength lies there? I disliked this recording so much that it felt like a chore listening to it, and since I wanted to be fair, I listened to it a couple of times before going "negative." But I want to be honest, this was interminably bad. 

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