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3.6 out of 5 stars
Smile ~ Songs from the Movies
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Lovett's last set of all new original material came in 1996, so one can't help but be disappointed that the new "Smile" contains no new recordings and no Lovett compositions. (At least his last compilation, "Cowboy Man," brought us two new songs.) But all is forgiven once you put this CD in the player and give it a listen.
Even the die-hard fan isn't likely to own all the soundtracks from which "Smile"'s songs are culled; so getting this disc is an ideal way to complete your Lovett collection. But "Smile" is more than a completionist's must-have; it is also a concept album. And its concept is Lovett's passion for the movies. This concept makes the set hang together as a musical (and theatrical) whole.
Though there is nothing on "Smile" that feels like filler, a couple of standout tracks merit particular mention. Lovett's rendition of "Mack the Knife" from Kurt Weill's "Threepenny Opera" rivals (even surpasses) the well-respected Bobby Darin version. Though a far cry from Weill's original arrangement, the rich orchestration heard here somehow works with Lovett's restrained but plangent vocal.
Another highlight of the disc is Lovett's remaking of Ray Charles's "What'd I Say." True to the spirit of the original, this track proves that Lovett can sing soul music soulfully.
Perhaps the best-known song on the disc is Lovett's duet with Randy Newman--"You've Got a Friend in Me" from Disney's "Toy Story." In the context of this set, this song takes on new meaning and Lovett's admiration for Mr. Newman's music suddenly becomes more pertinent than the saga between Buzz Lightyear and Woody.
"Smile" may not break new ground the way that Lovett's last set of standards ("Step Inside This House") did, but it must be the most essential collection of previously released non-originals in the history of popular music. And like most of Lovett's records, it is just plain fun to listen to.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Years ago I decided on this simple credo: Any Lyle Lovett is better than no Lyle Lovett. This is a very good collection of music Mr. Lovett has recorded for several different movies over the last several years. Some are solo, some are collaborations, none are originals. Several of the cuts have the smoky, big-band sound that Lyle Lovett does so well. The three cuts in the middle of the disc: Moritat (Mack The Knife), Summer Wind & What'd I Say are three of the best interpretations I have ever heard. They're hot and they swing! Now...this collection continues a trend that concerns me and some of the other Lyle Lovett faithful I have spoken with: When can we expect a recording of "new" songs? Lyle Lovett's last release of all new vocal material was "The Road To Ensenada" in 1996. Such a long dry spell for such a vivid, expressive, original songwriter. I enjoyed this recording a lot, probably more than I expected. I look forward to the "new" stuff but, hey, "any Lyle..."
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I am amazed that all the criticism of this album is largely because this is not new material. So what!
This is a well crafted album of songs that are interpreted in Lyle's unique style.
Enjoy the album for what it is and not what it isn't. The material is wonderful. This is a mellow jazz album that is full of surprises.
Grab yourself a good scotch, turn down the lights and turn up the music.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Lyle Lovett's best recording is still "The Road to Ensenada," his last album of original material. Although it is disappointing that "Smile" doesn't include new material, the performances on this CD are outstanding. It's also nice to have them all in one place, rather than a song here and there on multiple soundtracks.
The varied styles here show Lyle's versatility and illustrate why he doesn't get radio airplay. This guy doesn't fit into some neat little box. Is he country? Rock/pop? Jazz? Big band? Gospel? Well, yeah, he's all that. Where else will you find songs written by Burt Bacharach, Irving Berlin, Randy Newman, Ray Charles, Charlie Chaplin, Bob Seger and others, all in one place?
Lyle Lovett is the only artist whose CDs I'd buy without even hearing a note first. I know the music will be excellent, and he hasn't let me down yet. If you are a Lyle Lovett fan you need to add this to your collection. If you haven't discovered Lyle yet, start with his greatest hits in "Anthology" and the classic "Road to Ensenada" then move on to "Smile" and his many other recordings. You'll be hooked!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Despite that warning about my lack of discretion about Lyle's musical output, I really do LOVE this album. While his song-writing talent has been long recognized, Mr. Lovett is an under-appreciated vocalist, who has a gift of immense proportions. It is a pleasure to hear him show that talent in his interpretations of these songs. The range of his gift is made clear in this selection of tunes, which showcase his skill from sweet and swingy ("Summer Wind") to cool ("'Til it Shines") to complexly sophisticated ("Walkin' Tall). What always comes through is his humanity, wry humor and intelligence, even when raking or yodeling. Of course, I just love Lyle. There is a quality in his voice that just make me feel better. Can't wait for the next new songs, but "Smile" makes me do so with every listen. Thank you, Lyle. Love to you!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Lyle Lovett is one of the most gifted performers on the music scene today, and I have been starved for a new release for some time. There are some great tunes on this album, though I would have preferred a true, new original album, like "Road to Ensenada" rather than a collection of tunes he recorded for the movies. "I'm a Soldier in the Army of the Lord" has become one of my favorites, and everyone will recognize "You've got a friend in me" from "Toy Story." "Pass Me Not" continues Lyle's Christian music influences, along with "Soldier." The "Mack the Knife" cover is probably the only album's disappointment, in my opinion. Lyle has a new album of originals coming out in September. This will have to do until then. If you have everything else Lyle has released, you'll have to have this one. If you have heard how great Lyle is (and he really is awesome) but you've not bought a cd of his before, go out and get "Road to Ensenada" instead.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2003
Format: Audio CD
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One thing about Lyle: whaen he does other people's songs, he does make them sound just like they're his own. Just as well, you might say, judging from recent releases.
But for now, forget the fact that Lyle hasn't put out anything truly new for years and consider "Smile". Is it something to smile about?
On the whole, yes it certainly is. The tracks on this album may well have been heard already in their respective movies, but do you know any of them? I doubt it. Except for the obvious ones like "Blue Skies" and "Mac the Knife" of course.
There are some great songs, especially "Walking Tall", a song perfectly suited to Lyle's laid-back throaty delivery. But everything in this collection is delivered so nicely, you can't halp but like it, and if you like the cool jazzy sound of Lyle with his big band then you will like this. It contains some of Lyle's most listenable stuff to date. Who can blame him for putting it all on one CD?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I had heard Lyle and the Large Band sing "I'm a Soldier in the Army of the Lord" and knew I'd have to get whatever album the song wound up on it. Some of the other commentators seem to find this album too schizophrenic for their tastes, but to me it demonstrates how you can't put Lyle in any peg -- and why no mainstream radio - except for San Francisco's KFOG and Austin's KGSR & KUT - ever dare to play Lyle.
It's a great album - and a great concept. Why buy a bunch of mediocre soundtrack albums just to get the Lyle song off of it, when you can get them all together.
Yes, I'm dying for a new Lyle album. But for crying out loud with the size of the Large Band - it's a matter of creating an orchestral score, not just putting some lyrics to a 4-3 beat.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2003
Format: Audio CD
This is a great CD but something still feels lacking. I guess I just miss the old Lyle. Dave Carter put out a couple of CDs that made me think that Lyle's spirit had found a new body. But then Carter up and died. Maybe it will appear somewhere new.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2004
Format: Audio CD
This is a compilation of Lyle's music from movie soundtracks. Some songs worked well in the movie, but may not set your toe to tapping as part of this collection. That's OK. One song on here will make up for any problems you may have with vocals here or arrangements there. Lyle's version of 'Moritat' (From Weil's Threepenny Opera, better known as 'Mac the Knife' ) is knock-you-down good. This songs been recorded too often as a happy, swingin' fingerpoppin' little number, ala Bobby Darrin. Nicht vahr, mein freund. It's really grim as grim can be, and Lyle gives you a peek at that side of it. Great arrangement.
His duet with Keb Mo' on Shine is another high point, and the closing number 'I'm a soldier (in the army of the Lord)' is a personal favorite. But the song that makes me hit 'replay' is Moritat. It's that good. I've said it before I'll say it again, Julia Roberts screwed up.
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