Album Reviews: Dan Burton – Broadway Melodies / Patti LuPone – Don’t Monkey With Broadway / Kyle Riabko – Richard Rodgers Reimagined

 

Something of an undersung talent in this country (all his top gigs have taken place in Paris, or Kilworth), Dan Burton is nevertheless leading man material, and his debut album Broadway Melodies is proof thereof. Short and sweet at ten concise tracks, Burton swoons and slides effortlessly through the Great American Songbook. 

Highlights include the happiest of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’s, a most elegant sway through Camelot’s ‘If Ever I Would Leave You’, and a chirpy duet on ‘Well, Did You Evah?’ with Lee Mead, a palpable warmth of friendship apparent throughout. Also good is The Pajama Game‘s ‘Hey There’, perfectly crooned and symptomatic of the good feeling suffused through this record.

All hail Queen Patti. I can’t pretend to be objective when it comes to Patti LuPone and I don’t care. She’s a brassy, ball-busting legend who doesn’t disappoint and her latest live album Don’t Monkey With Broadway maintains that standard. Recorded in her hometown of Northport, Long Island, at the John W. Engeman Theatre with musical direction and arrangements by Joseph Thalken, it’s a superbly well put together cabaret set.

Acknowledging the hits that have put her where she is – ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’, ‘Meadowlark’, ‘Some People’ – her interpretations are as bold and bright as you like. But it is the unexpected twists and turns that give us the most life. Spine-tingling takes on ‘Anyone Can Whistle’ and ‘Another Hundred People’ come up breathtakingly new,  there’s a glorious ‘Happy Talk’ from South Pacific, the sheer commitment to variety sees her take on both Maria and Anita in West Side Story’s ‘A Boy Like That/I Have a Love’. Recommended.

 

I was such a huge fan of Kyle Riabko’s Close to You: Bacharach Reimagined which managed that all-too-rare feat of actually doing what it said on the tin, in completely rearranging Bacharach’s music into something enchantingly new. So I was pleased to hear of a new album looking to do the same thing for Broadway composer Richard Rodgers, in the inevitably entitled Richard Rodgers Reimagined.

Covering his catalogue with both his major lyricists, Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II, some of the world’s most famous songs are here – ‘Blue Moon’, ‘My Funny Valentine’, ‘The Lady is a Tramp’.. But there’s also something of a case of diminishing returns here. The same approach to rearrangement into contemporary pop/rock remains but without the intricate patchwork of the Bacharach medleys.

Which means it feels much more like a conventional covers album, which is a bit of a shame since Riabko is much more than that. But as appealing as the mellow takes on ‘Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin”, ‘My Favorite Things’ and ‘Bewitched…’ are, there’s little to make this stand out from the crowd. Stick to the Bacharach cast recording instead…

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