RE: [fearnwhiskey] Clip: Here they are: Burt Bacharach, Ronald Isley and the music
- Here's the local angle since Ronald's a Cinti native.
Isley's CD deserves chatter, if not a shout
By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer
In this much-anticipated CD, due in stores Tuesday, Cincinnati R&B icon
Ronald Isley, 62, joins 2003's biggest craze: classic pop standards.
Rod Stewart, Bette Midler, Michael Bolton and Aaron Neville are among
rock and pop stars turning to the golden age of popular song.
Lincoln Heights' favorite son, who came to fame in the late '50s with
the Isley Brothers, looks to the later generation of pop standards
written by Burt Bacharach. It's a departure for Isley, whose phenomenal
R&B success of the past few years has come by playing the gangster/pimp
Mr. Bigg with R. Kelly.
The set opens with "Alfie," which Isley sings straight in a distinctly
female falsetto. The effect is a bit freakish, as Mr. Bigg morphs into
Little Jimmy Scott. "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" is looser, more
intimate and improvisational, sounding like an after-hours jam.
The biggest misstep here is "A House is Not a Home." Luther Vandross
owns that song, and his version remains the standard. Isley's wispier
edifice just can't stand up to Vandross' hurricane of heartbreak.
He hits his stride on "The Look of Love" and "This Guy's In Love With
You," two of Bacharach's biggest hits of the '60s. Here, Isley melds
perfectly with Bacharach's orchestra, imbuing the composer's original
vision with his own signature, smoothly seductive R&B.
That Carpenters favorite "Close to You" gets a straightforward
treatment, but even wrapped in Isley's silky tenor, the song's schmaltz
Isley's tenor, still clear, high and powerful 44 years after "Shout" hit
the charts, remains a miracle. But the marriage with Bacharach works in
only about half the 13 tracks, the ones in which the former doo-wop
singer's love of sweet pop meets Bacharach's bluesier side.
Had all of Here I Am been as good as "The Look of Love," the album could
have set a new standard for standards.
NEW & NOTED
Ronald Isley & Burt Bacharach
Here I Am: Ronald Isley Sings Burt Bacharach
2 1/2 stars