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November 2005

Carly Simon
Moonlight Serenade
Columbia Jazz

Is there a word to describe a Tin Pan Alley tune's premeditated murder? Melodicide? Euthananthem? Whatever you call it, the crime seems lately to know no better practitioner than Richard Perry. Having enabled Rod Stewart to slaughter "These Foolish Things," "Bewitched," "Night and Day" and some three dozen others across three bloodless discs, Perry takes aim at Carly Simon.

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Bob Gothard

Carly Simon

That Perry has, in the past, proven exceptionally gifted at pop puppet mastery is undeniable. One need look no further than his long-ago work with Simon on No Secrets, which served up the pop masterpiece "You're So Vain," and Hotcakes, with its effectively assertive "Haven't Got Time for the Pain." But as the Stewart discs so gratingly prove, apply the same athletic production principles to the delicate ilk of "All the Things You Are," "In the Still of the Night" or "Moonglow" and it's like drowning kittens in frat-party-sized beer kegs.

As demonstrated on her three previous collections of standards (respectively showcasing the keenly appropriate control-room gentility of Marty Paich, Mike Mainieri and Jimmy Webb), Simon has both the chops and the intelligence to make this material work for her. She deserves better than this overcooked pabulum.

Originally published in November 2005
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