Review Summary: Hollywood But Holly Shouldn’t
Slogging is a great underused word. However, I am sad to report I have to use the word slogging to describe the experience of The Puppini Sisters new album ‘Hollywood’. Their first two efforts, ‘Bethca Bottom Dollar’ and ‘The Rise And Fall Of Ruby Woo’ were filled with pep and spunk and a slight wink as they brought The Andrew Sisters into the new millennium. But here I don’t know WHAT went wrong but I felt like it was a slow tiring slog through the garbage bins of movie studio back lots.
The title track is swinging and sounds like it was ripped right out of ‘Singing in the Rain’. And the girls are in great form on vocals here. But by the second track ‘Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend’ I feel the dark clouds of musical doom gathering. Maybe it is because these songs are just TOO iconic. But that makes no sense, because they are not iconic for me. In fact ‘Heart Of Glass’ which the covered on their debut album is more iconic for me than anything on this album and was done with more panache than anything here as well.
One part of the problem is that they have taken their vocal flurries to the utmost extremes here, no track on ‘Hollywood is ever really sung straight and that gets tiring. The Andrew Sisters were so good because they could do all the vocal fancies but were very restrained in their use of them. I’m sure all that “jazz” will wow fans and audience members at live shows but for me the sisters sound like they are trying to compete with the queen of over singing Christina Aguilera (check out her Candy Man).
Also the whole package just feel likes instead of being an update of the vocal groups of the 40s and 50s it has become a cliché of itself. It’s not that they don’t have great material to work with; it is just that most of the song choices are obvious, even if they did skip ‘Over the Rainbow’ and ‘As Time Goes By’. But these girls are known for picking outside the box and when it comes to Hollywood, I would have liked to see them do some more contemporary songs from contemporary movies that defined Hollywood. Maybe Q Lazzurus’ ‘Goodbye Horses’ from Silence of the Lambs, or ‘Into The West’ from LOTR or maybe even ‘Power of Love’ from Back To The Future. And there are any number of James Bond themes to choose from.
My favorite track is the hoppin’ ‘Good Moring’ and they actually do keep the pep of the original and add their own to spunk to it. And considering the source material and the film scene from which it is taken that is quite an achievement. But this is followed by ‘Get Happy’, which attempts to sound like an old revival meeting sing along but never really gains any momentum in the way the Judy original does. Nor did it inspire any singing along. And you can rightly argue they are trying not to simply just do a remake of these songs but put their own stamp on it. But that is always the fine-line in cover songs; if you stay to close to source you are just doing karaoke and if you stray too far you might alienate your audience.
The worst affront is on, ‘I Feel Pretty’. I don’t know what happened here but this chirpy upper of a tune from ‘West Side Story’ sounds here like it sung but a woman who knows how pretty she is and is utterly bored with the idea. Not to mention the backing music drags along like a slow nightmare carnival waltz. For a more inspired and rocking cover version look up Little Richard’s on YouTube. Lastly, Moon River just sounds creepy. Holly does not go lightly this time around.
All in all the album slogs, like you are knee deep in thick marsh, or knee deep in molasses except that it is not sweet it is cloying and annoying. The songs are all too long, the girls are better when they keep it short and to the point. I’m sure there “were never such devoted sisters”, but these sisters need to lighten up and go back to what they do best, sending up The Andrew Sisters with an homage and wink, not trying to outdo them.