Steve Tyrell - Back to Bacharach

2008-12-22 08:44
Back to Bacharach
There's a reason why every Idols competition includes a couple of Burt Bacharach songs in its repertoire each year. Despite their easy listening gait classic pop ballads such as "Walk On By" and "Look of Love" are tough vocal nuts to crack. Their unusual chord structures and octave-leaping vocal range reveal the limitations of any singer. Cool, but surely this is no problem for a classy crooner like Steve Tyrell? After all, didn’t this guy score a string of Top 10 jazz album hits with his interpretations of Great American Songbook standards, Sinatra and Disney?

Uh-huh. And when it comes to taking on Bacharach he's certainly got the CV. When he was working as a Hollywood movie music consultant he hired B.J. Thomas to sing Bacharach and David’s Oscar® winning theme "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" for Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid. He also included Dusty Springfield's "The Look of Love" in 007 spy spoof Casino Royale and helped Dionne Warwick score her first #1 with the theme from Valley Of The Dolls.

So Tyrell clearly knows and loves Bacharach. And like any classy crooner, he knows his own limitations. Sure he struggles to give "Walk on By," "Always Something There to Remind Me," and "This Guy's in Love with You" that bewitching upper register ennui. But he does't fret. Instead he gives "The Look of Love" a soft rock fusion edge with some funky bass and guitar licks.

Then he tries to forget that The Carpenters, Dionne Warwick and Cher ever sang "Close To You", "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself" or "Alfie" with low key Vegas lounge lizard readings. They work - but only if you've never heard the originals. Ditto his emotive interpretation of “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” which is unfortunately cobbled by his choice to clone B.J. Thomas' original bottom-of-the-bottle rasp.

Still, when Tyrell shares the spotlight things sound a whole lot more convincing. Soulful diva Patti Austin provides some welcome pizzazz on duet renditions of "I Say A Little Prayer" and "Don’t Make Me Over". And the all-star take on "What the World Needs Now" featuring Dionne Warwick, Rod Stewart, James Taylor, Martina McBride and Bacharach himself on piano is a real show-stopper.

Steve Tyrell clearly knows and loves Burt Bacharach's songbook. And like any classy crooner, he knows his own limitations.

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