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March 2008

Nancy Wilson
The Nancy Wilson Show!
Capitol Records

Recorded in July 1964 at what was then L.A.’s chicest night spot, the Cocoanut Grove, The Nancy Wilson Show! can, apart from a handful of Bobby Short discs, be counted among the last of the great nightclub albums. The times they were a-changin’. Four lads from Liverpool had only recently invaded America’s shores, but the tremors of the music industry shake-up they would ignite were already being felt. Watering holes like the Grove would quickly become passé, as bejeweled and tuxedoed types opted to instead stay at home in front of their Philcos and watch The Dean Martin Show, leaving the nightlife to a younger crowd at rowdier spots like the Sunset Strip’s Whisky a Go Go.

So, too, would Wilson’s sleek, sophisticated brand of club material soon drift out of favor. Softly cooed suburban anthems liked “Guess Who I Saw Today,” “You Can Have Him” and “Ten Good Years” would be branded stodgily anti-feminist (though in all three cases it’s obvious the woman maintains a firm upper hand), and there’d be little room on anyone’s playlist for dryly witty specialty material like “Don’t Talk, Just Sing” (custom-crafted for Wilson by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen); nor would there be much of an audience, beyond Broadway theaters, for show tunes like the dazzling “Fireworks” from Do Re Mi or the gorgeously tender “The Music That Makes Me Dance” from Funny Girl. So, pour yourself a double martini, sit back and enjoy one of the all-time finest jazz singers at the height of her youthful prowess, and appreciate a time when a night on the town could be worth 10 times the cover charge.

Originally published in March 2008
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