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Musical Maunderings in Sunni's Salon

February 2006

I've already confessed that I'm a sucker for romantic songs, so it's a given that I listen to a lot of 'em. This month my attention has been focused on two acts that are about as disparate as possible, but which never fail to move me. Perhaps it's the strange juxtaposition of them that I've been enjoying so much this month.

How could any self-respecting, anti-authoritarian individualist not like Australia's best-known problem children (check your sound level before clicking on the link)? Yes, I'm an unabashed AC/DC fan -- especially their pro-sex songs, of which there are many. I've a lot of AC/DC albums, having been a hard-rocking college girl in the 80s when they became big. Two discs are jockeying for prime time this month: Highway to Hell and The Razors Edge [sic]. It's hard to say anything about H2H that hasn't already been said; and as the songs still get airplay, there's no need to introduce them. For those who dismiss AC/DC and much of 80s hair metal as testosterone-fueled, I'll just say that that's what I like about it. Raw energy, enjoyment of women and sex, pursuing the good life -- what's not to like? Looking beyond the obvious, AC/DC also treats with unexpectedly evocative or amusing lyrics; see Walk All Over You and Beatin' Around the Bush for examples. Even the opening riff of Thunderstruck on The Razors Edge sounds sexy to me -- just the kind of rhythm guaranteed to bring good results when tapped on a lover's body. Fire Your Guns, Rock Your Heart Out, and Lets Make It (again, not a typo -- they must not be fond of apostrophes) are other highlights for me from this release.

Now, to AC/DC's antithesis: . His warm, versatile voice is unmistakable, even to someone like me who discovered him years after his death in 1965. The only disc I currently have is a double set, The Nat King Cole Story. It's not a collection of original hits, of which many were recorded in mono, but a 60s-era stereo re-recording of them. I'd say the stereo capability more than makes up for the performance differences, although I do plan to add some originals to my collection.

Best of all, this collection spans his jazz days, albeit too briefly for a jazz fan like myself, and his pop turn which includes some fun tunes featuring that new-fangled thang, the electric guitar. Whether with spare instrumentation such as with the King Cole Trio (there's no drum in the trio!) or the lush orchestration of many of his ballads, Cole's clear voice and masterful control shines. Almost as much as I adore his voice, I appreciate being taken back to a simpler, less cynical time in the perennial dance of the sexes. Examples include It's Only a Paper Moon, For Sentimental Reasons, Orange Colored Sky, Nature Boy, and perhaps my favorite, the classic Unforgettable. Even in this innocent-appearing setting, hints of more action going on are present, most notably in Walkin' My Baby Back Home. While there are some sentiments regularly expressed that I don't share, primarily that of the one-and-only aspect of love, the top-notch quality of the songcraft, performance, and production are welcome changes from so much of today's perpetually redlined corporomusic pushed by major record labels. If you're familiar with Nat King Cole's standards and you like them, this would be a great place to begin your exploration of the deep treasure chest awaiting you.

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