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Puttin' On the Ritz - Bangin' Your Way into the Future

  by Anthony Middleton

published: 5 / 9 / 2008



Puttin' On the Ritz - Bangin' Your Way into the Future
Label: Hot Cup Records
Format: CD

intro

Over-the-top and eventually grating reworking of songs from the Great American Songbook by New York-based duo, Puttin' On the Ritz


The self reverential, hallowed concept of the Great American Songbook is given a punk-over by this New York based duo. With BJ Rubin’s vocals usually seeming to descend when you expect an ascension or expressing, for instance, desperation when that emotion really isn’t called for in 'The Girl From Ipanema'. He is never going to be known as The Voice. Crashing percussionist Kevin Shea, of experimental group Talibam!) makes himself known more than is strictly necessary. What first drew me to this was hearing 'Gee, Officer Krupke' which is a great, funny song anyway, while also being an ever so slightly subversive critique of the American Dream in its original West Side Story version. Here it is given a see sawing, discordant interpretation, with pulsating horn section providing commentary to the narrative of the song. It’s all very well, but the original is already camp and funny. So this is a pastiche of what in itself is already a knowing lyric (“my sister wears a moustache, my brother wears a dress”) dressed up in comic music format. There is of course a long history of new interpretations on classic, revered songs. 'My Way', 'Happy Talk' and 'Wonderful World' have been desecrated, or re-inveneted for a new generation, depending on your point of view. At least on 'Bangin’ Your Way Into The Future' there is no simple formula and there is obviously a lot of musical talent going on to deconstruct these songs. Some of the best are those which are really dissected; 'My Funny Valentine' becomes a spoken word jazz poem which virtuoso upright bass and horns. 'That’s Amore', and to be honest most of the numbers, simply seem to rely on lack of harmony for comic effect. The problem with this is just what you are going to do with it after the first few listens. It is fun, but everyone I have played it to has insisted it be turned off at most four songs into the eleven. DJ Rubin is credited as the album’s purveyor of croons, but this is a long way from Frank or Bing. Too often something sounds like it is being skinned. If you last the distance, the final track is the best for me. 'POTR vs BOP!' with a simple lyric (“skipidybop”) sung in tones of desperation and resignation and most points in between. This is counterpointed by great be-bop backing. 'Bangin Yor Way' into the Future is neither a destruction nor a simple homage to the genre of show tunes and big bands. There is an acknowledgement that these are fine tunes whilst also accepting that they are there to meddled with, to be remade. Often the reinvention here is based on chaotic cacophony that begins to grate like a joke which is funny, even hilarious the first time, but after eleven tellings…



Track Listing:-
1 Gee, Officer Krupke
2 The Girl From Ipanema
3 Earth Angel
4 Let's Fall in Love
5 The Rainbow Connection
6 My Funny Valentine
7 Fly Me to the Moon
8 That's Amore
9 The Candy Man
10 If You Wanna Be Happy
11 Potr Vs. Bop!



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