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"Christine's relationship with Raoul is her romantic awakening as a teenager, but her pull towards the Phantom is a very sexual, very deep, very soulful union"  -Joel Schumacher, director, The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
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Review by Brad Green:
Believe it or not, sexual allure has meaning beyond the abdomens of the 20-something Britneys of this world, the derrieres of the 30-something Kylies and the bosoms of the 40-something bra sizes. And believe it or not, the popular song has meaning beyond last week’s top-40 chart busters. 

What a triumph it is for glamour merchants that audiences so easily buy the idea that a Jack Nicholson stereotype considers it a compromise to be smitten by the ravishing Diane Keaton: last time I looked 57 was her age, not her waist line. Besides, have we forgotten that womanly charms come in many vintages, shapes and sizes? Yep. Just as we have forgotten the broader glories of the popular song. Image makers have blinkered our eyes and accountants disguised as radio programmers have muffled our ears.

This collection of venerable tunes proves a fitting soundtrack for a movie that contemplates where a less-than-young man’s fancy might turn; and I shudder with the certainty that there are many who will label it as “easy listening” -- in the pejorative sense. It is, in fact, “easy listening” -- in the same way that Albert Schweitzer was a “do-gooder”. 

The CD opens with Louis Armstrong’s reading of the Edith Piaf standard La Vie En Rose. If ever a recording was timeless this is it. The beautiful melody carries the empathy across period and place: from 1940s occupied France when Piaf’s plaintive strains must have been immeasurably cathartic to this post-war recording by Armstrong in his trademark gruff smile of a voice. Hardly surprising it’s so magical, considering that Satchmo’s charismatic genius was forged from the Creole musical melting pot of New Orleans, where French influences met ragtime and the blues. Moreover, the title translates loosely to “life in the pink” and the lyric is a simple sentiment about our perspective when we are in love. Armstrong was always in his element singing about a wonderful view of the world.

The song is later reprised by Jack Nicholson himself, who has shown in the past he can effectively croon a simple tune but finds this melody and the formidable task of following Satchmo beyond him. However, this cheap slice of novelty comes right at the end and in between every track is a winner. A couple more chansons are purred irresistibly by Eartha Kitt; virtuosity meets romanticism in the fiddling of Stephane Grappelli; I’ve Got A Crush On You is a great song given its dues by Steve Tyrell; Astrud Gilberto’s Summer Samba and Django Reinhardt’s version of Brazil are smooth and nostalgic; and Deon Jackson’s Love Makes The World Go Round is as stunning an example of pristine soul as Satchmo’s recording is of gravelled charisma. 

All the tracks share certain qualities -- flawless musicianship and singing (if you’ll excuse Jack), melodies that cut straight to the heart and a timeless poignancy -- yet in musical detail they vary widely. Yes, the whole album is easy listening if you like, but in the best sense of the term. If sex over fifty feels as good as this sounds, I sure hope I’m still getting some.

Published January 29, 2004

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TITLE: Something’s Gotta Give
ARTISTS: Louis Armstrong; Steve Tyrell; The Flamingos; Astrud Gilberto; Paris Combo; Coralie Clement; Charles Trenet; Eartha Kitt; Django Reinhardt; Stephane Grappelli; Deon Jackson; Jack Nicholson 

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