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Dance or Die!

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Album Review

Like a lot of the retro-swing recordings that came out in the '90s, Dance or Die is bound to take some jabs from jazz's hardcore. With her sexy Rita Hayworth-ish looks, flirtatious delivery, and fondness for tongue-in-cheek lyrics, Quinn Lemley comes across as a caricature of the film noir vixen-goddess of the '40s. (Had she been around back then, one could easily envision her tormenting Glenn Ford's Johnny Farrell character in the film-noir classic Gilda). But she is a very fun caricature, and her third album, Dance or Die, is certainly an entertaining pop-swing date. To be sure, humorous tunes like "Mister Ninety Miles an Hour," "I Been Bad," and "Ev'rybody's Gotta Swing" (all written by Bob McDowell, who Lemley co-produced the CD with) aren't for bookish jazz purists — Lemley isn't a straight-ahead jazz singer any more than she is someone who will be accused of taking herself too seriously. But thankfully, the big-voiced Lemley has talent and chops to go with her sex siren image; in fact, her range and technical skills aren't half bad. For those who simply want to be entertained rather than challenged, Dance or Die is recommended.


Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The person singer/actress Quinn Lemley has found herself compared to more than anyone is the late Rita Hayworth. Not only does Lemley look a lot like the famous 1940s/1950s sex siren -- she has also portrayed her in The Heat Is On, a New York musical that is based on Hayworth's life. But unlike Hayworth -- whose real voice wasn't heard in Gilda, Pal Joey, and other major films -- Lemley is also a talented recording artist. In fact, she has an impressive vocal range and is a playful, lively singer...
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