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I Just Want to Hear the Words

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Album Review

Given the track record of actors-turned-singers, it's easy to be suspicious that Danny Aiello's 2004 album I Just Wanted to Hear the Words is nothing but a vanity project, which he himself admits in the liner notes. But in those very liner notes he argues against that idea, claiming that he's been singing for years, long before he became an actor, and he just never had the "guts" to make a go of it professionally until now. Instead, he sang at family parties and weddings, or afterhours at the nightclub where he worked as a bouncer, which gives a pretty good indication of what I Just Wanted to Hear the Words is. It's a mellow, likeable, and not particularly remarkable set of standards sung in the style of Sinatra, and it gets by on personality as much as skill. Which isn't to say that Aiello doesn't have skill, since he does, but his choice of material, his arrangements, and his phrasing are so safe, so familiar that the only thing that distinguishes the album is Aiello's personality, how he inhabits the songs. And that's where it gets tricky, because if you listened to the album without knowing it was Aiello the actor, you'd likely think that it's the work of an ingratiating wedding singer. When you know it's Aiello the actor, you tend to view it a little more kindly, impressed that it's not embarrassing like some other records by actors, yet mostly cutting it slack because you already like the guy. Even so, I Just Wanted to Hear the Words is unlikely to gather too many repeat plays since it's so similar to other albums by better singers — namely, Sinatra — that there's little reason to put it on at home. But it does suggest that it would be fun to see Aiello sing in a club sometime.


Genre: Pop

Oscar-nominated actor Danny Aiello, best known for his roles in Moonstruck and Do the Right Thing, grew up in the Bronx, where singing on the street corners was a common thing, and Aiello took his share of vocal turns. He sang in at least one of his movies, Once Around, which also starred Holly Hunter, and Rabbit Ears released his spoken word album, Pinocchio, in 1993, which featured musical backing from Les Misérables Brass Band. He also appeared in Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach" video in the 1980s....
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I Just Want to Hear the Words, Danny Aiello
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