Saturday, September 17, 2011

Buddy Greco: Talkin' Verve (2001)

I'm gonna just own the fact that until I decided I had to pick up this whole series, I had never heard of Buddy Greco.  Turns out he's a crooner-lounge singer type;  as the liner notes make clear, he sings like Frank Sinatra but tries to play piano and band-lead like Nat King Cole.

This disc is hardly representative of his career;  even I can tell that.  It draws from precisely four albums he made in the late '50s, three for Kapp Records and one for Coral.  Presumably somewhere along the way those two catalogs entered the Mercury/Verve/Universal morass, and that's why this disc.  So I have no idea if it's his best or not.  That's my caveat.

If Sinatra is the Chairman of the Board, then Buddy Greco works for the same company, but somewhere way down the food chain:  he's in Sales, probably travels, mostly lives out of midpriced hotels in midsize Midwestern cities, where he hangs out at the lounge bar hitting on middle-aged married women.  Or:  If Sinatra is Tony Soprano, Greco is Chris.

Sinatra has swagger, which may or may not be empty depending on whether you like that kind of thing.  But he also has enough restraint to make you feel like he loves the music, even if he mostly coasts through it.  Greco doesn't sound like he has any respect for these songs at all.  He mugs and vamps his way through "One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)" like it's nothing, like maybe it's so old and hackneyed that all you can do with it is joke around.  His singing on this record is all about him, never about the song, or what it's about.

Which is almost a shame, because he's got an agile, expressive voice, and plays a great piano.  Has a nifty band, and some rather okay arrangements - clever flutes and whatnot.

Sincerity, man.  It's such a drag.

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