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Let's Face the Music: The Songs of Irving Berlin

Susannah McCorkleAudio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 27, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Concord Records
  • ASIN: B0000006R0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,860 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. I'd Rather Lead A Band
2. Let's Face The Music And Dance
3. Isn't This A Lovely Day (To Be Caught In The Rain)
4. Heat Wave
5. How Deep Is The Ocean
6. Everybody Knew But Me/When You Walked Out Someone Else Walked Right In
7. There's No Business Like Show Business
8. Cheek To Cheek
9. Love And The Weather
10. Supper Time
11. Medley: You're Easy To Dance With/It Only Happens When I Dance With You
12. Better Luck Next Time
13. Let Yourself Go
14. Waiting At The End Of The Road

Editorial Reviews

Susannah McCorkle does not have a big, overpowering voice; she has built her reputation as a jazz and cabaret singer on the sheer sensuality of her purr. In other words, she's a musical descendant of Billie Holiday, not Ella Fitzgerald. When she understates material to give it a romantic intimacy, she's as pleasurable a vocalist as her field knows. When she tries to reach for a brassy climax to a show-stopper Broadway tune, she inevitably falls short. Fortunately, there's more understatement than overstatement on Let's Face the Music: The Songs of Irving Berlin. Many of the album's 14 Berlin compositions are associated with Fred Astaire, and McCorkle displays a rhythmic dexterity reminiscent of the old hoofer--who also compensated for a lack of vocal power with a seductive timbre. McCorkle is backed by solo piano, solo guitar, piano trio, saxophone quintet, and jazz octet, and the different settings give the project a welcome variety. The musicians are top-notch; Phil Woods bassist Steve Gilmore provides the supple pulse, and saxophonists Jerry Dodgion and Chris Potter supply solos as arresting as the vocals. McCorkle shows her imagination in reworking "Cheek to Cheek" as a bossa nova, and her good sense in resisting the temptation to belt out "Let's Face the Music and Dance;" instead she turns it into an invitation to a slower, sexier turn on the dance floor. --Geoffrey Himes

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better Than Most Berlin February 7, 2001
Format:Audio CD
Virtually every jazz and pop singer has recorded some Irving Berlin tunes, and many have done entire albums of them. Then Susannah McCorkle comes along with pianist Allen Farnham and some small groups to do it again -- and it works! You'll remember her haunting version of the title tune for a long, long time. And you'll tap your toes to some of the others but wonder why you've never heard one or two the songs in your entire lifetime. It's a wide-ranging assortment, and whether the songs are up tempo or slow and romantic, McCorkle performs them all very well.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the best interpreter of the select Berlin October 20, 2004
Format:Audio CD
I first became fascinated with "standards"-the songs,primarily, of the older generation of musical theater composers who could still write a solid melody-as a young audio buff building his own speakers and vacuum tube amplifiers on a hobby basis. At a listening session I brought a then-current disc of Cole Porter songs by current pop and rock acts,which featured a track by a couple of "punk pioneers" turned Frank and Bing emulators. I was (and for that matter still am) particularly enamored of one of the performers and championed her as a good singer who could have been successful 'back in the day'. The host got up and retrieved an album by Susannah McCorkle, who was nearly the same age-actually slightly younger-than the punk princess in question, and I had to admit that for all the other girl's talents she just wasn't (and, for all her remarkable efforts, still isn't) in the same league as McCorkle at this business of singing standards.

McCorkle was-she ended her life in 2001 by jumping out of a sixteenth story window with an uncontestedly holographic suicide note in her pocket-probably the best female standards singer in the world at the time of her sad but understandable death. She was not an operatic vocalist by any measure: hers was a microphone voice pure and simple. She used it to its full potential in a way that "serious singers" rarely if ever can when approaching this material:but she brought to the table the determined mastery, the musicianship,the timing that rock, country, and R&B singers simply usually lack completely and very occasionally, approach by sheer blind instinct (as with Willie Nelson's Stardust and the Riddle Ronstadt trilogy).
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Susannah sings Irving Berlin - her way. September 1, 2002
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
If you are looking for an album full of carbon copies of classic songs, look elsewhere. On this album, Susannah sings a selection of songs written by Irving Berlin, some famous, some obscure, in her own unique style, sometimes putting a completely different interpretation on the song.
This is never more apparent than on Let's face the music and dance. Instead of doing it as a joyful upbeat song, Susannah does it slow and sexy, and it suits her bluesy voice well.
It's a lovely day is also slowed down in a similar fahion, but Heat wave is much more bright and breezy.
Susannah gives There's no business like show business a whole new perspective. Of course, everybody knows that Hollywood is a place where dreams are broken more often than they come true, but Susannah's version makes this obvious without changing the words, only the arrangement - a masterpiece.
Regardless of whatever music of Irving Berlin's you have heard before, this is different and generally more downbeat than the song titles suggest, but it's well up to the quality I expect of a Susannah album.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Irving Berlin fans Will Be Happy October 9, 2001
Format:Audio CD
Susannah McCorkle was always known as an artist who gave proper tribute to the great composers. She has a wonderful catalog of tribute CDs to composers of all types and this is one of the best.
Diana Krall fans will immediately recognize two songs - "How Deep is the Ocean", and "Let's Face the Music and Dance". You will hear a more heartfelt treatment of these songs on this CD. "Cheek to Cheek" and "Heat Wave" are two other standards.
One of McCorkle's strengths has always been to takle the seldom heard tunes and to make them very accessible. She is not content to sticking with the standards but forays into lesser known territory. With Berlin, she handles tunes such as "Love and the Weather", "Everybidy Knew But Me", amnd "When You Walked Out".
But the show stopper is "There's No Business Like Show Business". Those who are used to the uptempo Ethel Merman version which is more a celebration of the joys of show business will be shocked when they hear Susannah's slow, and almost sad rendition. Rather than being a celebration, Susannah sings it as expousing the pain, agony, and heartbreak of show business, which is something she undoubtedly expereinced in her latter days prior to her death.
One of Susannah's strengths had always been her ability to take a song, and give it its own interpretation so that the song became her own. She was a singer who was not afraid to take chances and to sing songs she believed in. Her love of her songs was always very apparent. She selected songs that meant something to her, in the way that she always meant something to us.
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