Angels Aweigh DICK SIEGEL SCHOOLKIDS' RECORDS Afriend of mine said it isnt fair that this recording will inevitably be compared to Siegel's classic late 70s recording "Snap" (also on Schoolkids' Records). I assured her that was true butit was not necessari ly a bad thing, especially when the second recording continuesawell-established path of excellence. "Angels Aweigh" does just that For instance, both "Aweigh" and "Snap" are eminently listenable. For the most part the tunes are catchy, fresh and memorable. Although on "Aweigh" the song quality is not as even as on "Snap," the more one listens to "Awiegh" the strenger it becomes. The subtlty of Siegel's lyrical interplay, his masterful use of different musical styles (from Dixieland to Rap), and the breadth of his emotive range all become strenger and more ing upon each listen. There's littte doubt that Siegel is still the best songwriter in town. He has again surrounded himself with excellent musicians. Siegel's solo rhythm guitar has always been the musical center of his songs, but on this recording he augments that sound with MexicanAmerican songwriter Tish Hinajosa's guitarist, the incomparable Martin Dentón Dykhuis. Percussionist Paul Pearcy, also of Hinajosa's band, keeps steady time and co-produces this work with Siegel. Siegel is further supported by Jeff Haley, bass; Freddie Mendoza, trombone; Stan Smith, clarinet; Ponty Bone, accordian; Dave Froseth, saxes; and Brandon Cooper, trumpet. Tracey Leigh Komarmy sings and arranges the background vocals. The recording starts out strong. "Red" is a good example of Siegel's expertise at word play. We're not sure f Red is a man, woman, or simply the color, it all depends on how one interprets these catchy lyrics. The result is a tune that takes on different connotations each time it is heard. Siegel uses a Dixieland combo on cut two, "Happy." The rhythms are jaunty, the word play is f un, and the excellent combo leaves one feeling. . . happy. If I have a gripe with Siegel's songs it's about his slowernumbers. Generallythemusicand phrasingis strong, but often the lyrics become more introspective. This leaves the listener with thefeeling that we're intruding into Siegel's musical mind thus the songs aren't as accessible as his faster tunes. Where cuts like "I Gotta Cat" and 'Train Song" steadily push and bounce the listener, tunes like 'The Secret" drag; interrupting the energetic flow of the recording. Siegel's skill at combining witty lyrics with strong melodies is never better than on back-to-back cuts: "Let Me Touch your Dress" (the old Tracey Leigh & the Leonards' standard) and the rocking "The Silvertones." On "Dress," when Siegel claims that "It's so simple reallyPlease don't make me guess Just turn around andLet me touch your dress," one can almost smell the perfume and feel the yeaming. The rockabilly-embellished 'The Silvertones" is a clearnod to Siegel's old musical pal, George Bedard. lts a great up-tempo, rocking, sweaty, tune. Siegel's masterful word play is never better than on rap-inspired "Mother's Plaint." This musical style seems a departure for Siegel. Although he can rap and scat with the best of them, this genre often requires a certain politics that a mere duplication of technique can't quite reach. Siegel's piece is impressive not because he dares to attempt this style but because he's captured the spirit of rap so well. 'Tic Toe" and "Heeby Beeby Boo" are two cuts that genuinely reflect Siegel's personal style. The melodies are catchy. The phrasing is magnificent The lyrics are compelling. The slow bailad "Someone's Crossing Over" suffers much the same malady as Siegel's earlier slow tunes: the rhythms and melodies do not couple well with Seigel's personalized lyrics. Fortunately, there is one exception to my criticism of Siegel's slower tunes: the extraordinary titie tune "Angels Aweigh." The melody is flowing and elegant; the lyrics are melancholy. The singing and playing is strong yet understated. The result is a near perfect popular tune which transcends any time period and is sure to appeal to a wide audience. This entine recording is highly recommended.
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