CD REVIEWS: Pop's Old and New Cover Girls
Cyndi Lauper -At Last (Epic / Sony) She's been away for a while, but Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper is back among us with an album of torch songs.
Usually a sign of the artist's failure to come up with any new ideas, the covers album is aimed squarely at the nostalgia market, who like to have something they know.
In this case, the squeaky punkette of Girls Just Want To Have Fun has grown into the stylishly manicured 50 year-old we see here. Her new record is worth acquiring for the first three tracks, the powerful Etta James title song, her jazzy version of Walk On By, and the Sheila Escovedo-propelled salsa of Stay, along with the witty Tony Bennett-duetted Making Whoopee, but the rest of the record is hard going, mainly due to her choice of material.
Edith Piaf's La Vie En Rose and Jaques Brel's If You Go Away are valiant efforts, but, while Unchained Melody is a timely tribute to The Righteous Brothers' recently deceased Bobby Hatfield, the song has few surprises for we Brits, thanks to its prominent position in Pop Idol pundit Simon Cowell's record collection.
On a Motown tip, Stevie Won-der's Until You Come Back To Me comes complete with the obligatory harmonica solo from the composer himself, while Smokey Robinson's You've Really Got A Hold On Me is a very frail affair.Two songs associated with the late Nina Simone, My Baby Just Cares For Me and Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, get a going over by the Lauper larynx, but just as we settle into the melancholy mood, along comes the reggaefied On The Sunny Side Of The Street to shake us awake. …