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Because of You

James Darren

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Album Review

Darren is perhaps best-known as the actor who played Moondoggie in the original Gidget, and more recently the character of Vic Fontaine in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Concurrently with his acting career, he spent the '70s doing nightclubs in Vegas, Reno, and Tahoe and fairs around the country as a popular crooner. On this appealing collection featuring classic songs from various eras and shimmering, jazzy big-band arrangements by Patrick Williams, Darren follows in the footsteps of his idols Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Not surprisingly, he recorded the 14 tracks at the Capitol studios where Ol' Blue Eyes did some of his most famous work. Darren has an easy, Bennett-like voice — instantly likeable, rich, and emotionally resonant. So, with solid vocals and one of the best arrangers in the business, the only wild card would be choice of material — and it's spectacular. He opens with a perky take on Cole Porter's "Just One of Those Things," then digs into the catalogs of Leslie Bricusse (the playful "My Kind of Girl"), Oscar Levant ("Blame It on My Youth"), and, of course, joyful songs that Bennett popularized like "Because of You" and "Good Life." On the opposite side emotionally, he tackles "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" with a slight Brazilian-flavored arrangement. Darren also has a great time turning pop classics like "More Today Than Yesterday" and "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" into jazzy songs that sound like they were written a generation before they were. The set closes with a charming jazz trio take on "Dream a Little Dream of Me," which won't make you forget Mama Cass but is nevertheless engaging. Darren hardly crafts a crooning style of his own, preferring to go after the warm familiarity of his idols. Still, in its own way, Because of You is pretty irresistible.

Biography

Born: 08 June 1936 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Even more than the typical teen idol, James Darren's roots in authentic rock & roll were tenuous. Darren began recording for Colpix in the late '50s at the beginning of a screen career that saw him star in numerous films, most notably Gidget. More at home with standard MOR, show tune-like material than rock, and not much of a singer in any case, Darren was nonetheless marketed as a pop/rock performer to his predominantly young female constituency. He ran off quite a few novelty-tinged hit singles...
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Because of You, James Darren
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