CD REVIEW: MELISSA MANCHESTER – The Fellas

Label: Long Run Entertainment

Release Date: September 8, 2017

Rating: 8/10

Reviewed by: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur

As a sucker for the Standards, the latest release from songstress Melissa Manchester is a natural fit in my listening routine and my collection.  This disc has killer cool tracks with her voice and attitude putting her stamp on these classics, as well as a guest appearance by one of my favorite singers, but we will get to that one later.  Disc opener “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head” is a beautiful nod to one of the best out there.  Melissa’s take on Dean Martin’s classic from Ocean’s Eleven is a standout that perfectly kicks this disc in the right direction.  “Chances Are” is next and this track is the lone song to get a complete makeover musically.  While the building blocks of the Johnny Mathis track are solid and familiar, the current arrangement is a slight deviation, but it works with Manchester’s vocals.  “”For Me And My Gal” is a fitting tribute to Gene Kelly that features the one and only Barry Manilow in a duet with Manchester.  The arrangement is awesome and perfectly supports the tandem of Melissa and Barry.  The accompaniment is light and flows beautifully underneath the vocals, that has all the fun and excitement of the original from Kelly and Judy Garland.  “Smile”  allows Manchester to toast two classics – vocalist Nat King Cole and the song’s composer Charlie Chaplin.  Her vocals dance beautifully across the arrangement, paying tribute to Cole’s version while showcasing her range and delivery.

In her tribute to Johnny Hartman and his version of “They Say It’s Wonderful” from his collaboration with John Coltrane, Melissa wraps her smooth jazz-like vocals around the arrangement that mirrors the originals warmth and emotional delivery.  While this is cool, do yourself a favor and dig up the original.  You will understand Manchester’s love of that version that inspired this track.  “Love Is Just Around The Corner” brings all the swing and fun of Mel Tormé to the table and allows Manchester to do some scatting of her own as her tip of the hat to Tormé and his vocal ability.  This song, while not your normal listening, is a fun spin that gives the disc a bit of a shakeup.  “Night And Day” composed by Cole Porter and made famous (more than once) by Frank Sinatra is a cool addition to the mix, but let’s be honest… you couldn’t do a tribute to The Fellas without including the Chairman Of The Board.  The vocals Melissa recorded for this disc demonstrate her ability to pay homage without losing herself or the charm of the original.  Disc closer “How Do You Keep The Music Playing” is a terrific closed to this collection, as well as being an apropos way of showing love for Tony Bennett and his career.  While not one of his key tracks, it was highlighted during his birthday celebration and that is what stuck in Manchester’s mind when she was cultivating this project.  When it comes to classics and standards, nothing replaces the originals, but this comes damn close…

Tracklisting: Ain’t That A Kick In The Head – Chances Are – They Say It’s Wonderful – For Me And My Gal (featuring Barry Manilow) – Love Is Just Around The Corner – Smile – Night And Day – How Do You Keep The Music Playing

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THE FELLAS – ITUNES

CD REVIEW: MELISSA MANCHESTER - The Fellas

Filed Under: Music Reviews

About the Author: ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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