Saturday, November 25, 2006

That Old Black Magic

Not even the dead are safe from the venal machinations of the record industry. Now that the Beatles are crawling out of the vaults to make a 21st century comeback; it seems that Sinatra too has yet to croak his last croon.

Back in 1957 Ole Blue Eyes apparently had the idea of making a TV show performing his favourite songs in front of the camera with only a piano for accompaniment, leaving the Nelson Riddle orchestra to add their blazing brass at a later date. However, for one reason or another, the project fell on its face ā€“ the show was never completed and the recorded tracks have been languishing in the Sinatra Co. archive ever since - until now that is. Producer Ken Barnes, the founder and CEO of The Laureate Company - a music and movie restoration company - recently used British session musicians to add the Nelson Riddle arrangements to 28 new tracks during 2 days of recording sessions in London.

The practice of resurrecting the dead to perform with the living is not an altogether new idea: Nat King Cole, that memorable merry old soul, achieved this triumphal feat as far back as 1991 when he was dug up to perform with his daughter Natalie. Moreover, the addition of singers after the fact [though not always dead ones] is common enough even within the classical music fraternity. Indeed, few large-scale opera productions unfold without at least one soloist falling ill or being otherwise indisposed. The inevitable tracking session that ensues rarely attracts much attention, either because the practice threatens the idealised illusion of performance that the industry likes to perpetuate, or because the process invariably cedes discursive musical dialogue between interacting musicians to commercial pragmatism; the results of which are seldom more than a lop-sided dispute across the divide of space and time.

Whether such enterprises really add to the sum of artistic achievement: Iā€™m not sure, but they certainly avert potentially catastrophic logistical and financial consequences for record companies without which, large-scale studio opera recordings would long ago have become a thing of the past.

Now playing ā€“ An Operatic First by Madame Cathy Berberian ā€“ I want to Hold Your Hand


Blogger Guthry Trojan said...

And here are a crowd of others planning to cash in on the dead.

Thursday, November 30, 2006 11:01:00 pm  

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