Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hugh Laurie, " Let Them Talk": Blues for dancing

A blues record by an English comedic actor?  In his own words “ Let this record show that I am a white, middle-class Englishman, openly trespassing on the music and myth of the American south.” 

After passing over it a couple times in iTunes, I spent some time listening to it and was pleasantly surprised. It is a great tribute to the New Orleans tradition of blues and includes covers of 15 standards. A large part of the success of the album can be attributed to producer, Joe Henry and an excellent band that includes such legendary artists such as Dr John, Irma Thomas and Tom Jones with horn arrangements by Allen Toussaint. Hugh Laurie does vocals and plays piano and guitar. His voice is a little thin on the vocals, yet he has a kind of an English actor's phrasing that gives the songs an “eclectic” flavor and makes you listen to the lyrics from a different perspective. I like that.

And it has some great songs for dancing.

 “Let Them Walk” is a blues waltz that has crossover possibilities. Its one of those waltzes where the tempo (150 bpm) does not match the energy of the song. (In a traditional rotary or Viennese style waltz, the tempo and energy mesh and invite a smooth, flowing style of dancing.) Because of this tension it offers other possibilities of using a variety of rhythms to dance to the emotion in the music. 

Other songs that invite dancing include:
“Battle of Jericho” -  A spiritual that is rousing two step. I love the arrangement on this one.
“St. James Infirmary”  -  The second half is a great blues/ west coast.
“Buddy Bolden’s Blues” and “Six Cold Feet” works nicely as slow blues.
Dancers will be hearing these songs at our dances. Let me know which ones you like. 

Check out the rest of the songs on Amazon:

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