tremble clef

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Burt Bacharach with Rufus Wainwright, "Go Ask Shakespeare" (2005)

Rufus Wainwright, also, is a bit of a whore. He always seems ready, at the drop of a hat, to contribute to soundtracks and compilations, duet or provide guest vocals, or record a new song for your second cousin's bar mitzvah tape. Thankfully, many of these extra-curricular activities result in some gems: his cover of "Hallelujah," for example, is where he gives one of his best vocal performances; I love his version of "I Eat Dinner" with Dido to pieces; and his attempt to set a Shakespearean sonnet to music was, if nothing else, interesting. This does make it tough to be a Rufus completist, or even just a fan. About two years ago I was already able to make a compilation for a friend of most of Rufus's non-album tracks. I called it "A Secret Chord." (Good, eh?) It's probably time to do a Volume 2.

Here Rufus shows up to sing on a track from Burt Bacharach's At This Time. This new album has gotten a bit of attention because Burt worked with Dr. Dre in the prep stage; supposedly much of their work isn't seeing the light of day, but Dre did end up "providing drum loops" for a few tracks, including this one. They are...not remarkable drum loops, and I feel as if I could have done as well with the right Casiotone. In all, the whole disc is pretty awful: another collaborator is trumpeter Chris Botti, so a lot of the record sounds like terrible smooth jazz, or something off of the Kenny G CD that's currently available from Hell's Mall. (Except, you know, with trumpets.) Seriously, don't bother with the album. Sometimes I listen to crap so you don't have to, and this is one of those times.

But this track with Rufus is alright. It's probably best to ignore the lyric, despite the intriguing title: the whole album is tritely about how the world has gone wrong, and won't someone think of the children? "Is Love Enough?" Burt asks on one of the tracks, because he is No Longer Convinced that what the world needs now is love, and it's all kind of horrifying. Apparently Shakespeare has the answer, though. I myself suspect that the Bard will tell you that there is nothing that the comic relief afforded by a bear chasing an actor off the stage won't fix, but I know nothing. Musically, this track seems quite unusual: we get an instrumental bit -- some nice strings, and someone blows something -- for three and a half minutes before Rufus even begins to sing. Except that many of the songs on the album are structured that way. But you don't know that, so maybe just listen to this track in itself and try to pretend I haven't spoilt it for you? It is Rufus, after all, and we like him.


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