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7 Days In Memphis

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Album Review

Unbeknown to many of his fans who are only familiar with his work via such films as Sex Lies & Videotape and American Beauty or his starring role on the TV soap opera The OC, actor Peter Gallagher has a considerable background in musical theater; in fact, his first movie role was as a wannabe '50s teen idol in Taylor Hackford's 1980 cult classic The Idolmaker. These musical roots were overshadowed by his success as a film actor in the late '80s and '90s, to the point that only his most devoted fans knew of his skills as a singer. This wound up serving a dramatic purpose on a pivotal episode on the second season of The OC, in 2005, when Gallagher's Sandy Cohen appeared to forget his 20th wedding anniversary but wound up surprising his wife Kirsten with a performance of Solomon Burke's "Don't Give Up on Me" at the show's local nightclub. The audience was as surprised as the characters that Sandy could actually sing — which not only made the episode work dramatically, but made Gallagher's performance a digital hit, leading to several offers for him to record a full-length album. Gallagher wound up signing with Epic, headed down to Ardent Studios in Memphis, teamed up with some of the city's best musicians (produced by Michael Mangini and led by guitarist Steve Cropper), and recorded a set of blue-eyed soul, comprised largely of standards but also featuring a couple of new songs. And like Sandy Cohen's performance at the end of that OC episode, Gallagher's album 7 Days in Memphis comes a surprise. Far from being a vanity project, or the awkward attempt of a show tune singer to sound soulful, it's a damn good blue-eyed soul record, thanks in part to that crackerjack collection of Memphis studio pros, but largely due to Gallagher's impassioned, unexpectedly subtle and soulful performance. Instead of sounding polished and affected, Gallagher sounds as if he's singing from his heart, bringing his own phrasing to familiar songs and giving these performances some real grit and heart. While he doesn't reinvent warhorses like "When Something Is Wrong with My Baby," "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye," and "A Song for You" — they're straight up Memphis soul, adhering to the trademark Stax/Volt sound — he does make them sound fresh, and the newer songs, highlighted by Lucinda Williams' "Still I Long for Your Kiss" and Gary Moore's "Still Got the Blues," sit comfortably next to the classics, making this a well-rounded, consistent album. What's most impressive about 7 Days in Memphis is that it doesn't just succeed according to an adjusted grading curve for celebrities: it's very good by any measure, and in a way, it's more impressive that a singer raised on musical theater could make an album this soulful than it is that an actor could make an album this credible. Either way, 7 Days in Memphis is a satisfying, enormously likeable album that will not only surely please anybody who loved hearing Sandy Cohen sing, but could also win over skeptics who know little of The OC or Peter Gallagher.


Born: 19 August 1955

Genre: Rock

Years Active:

A handsome, brooding actor equally at home in mainstream Hollywood fare and in American independent projects -- as well as on the theatrical stage -- Peter Gallagher was born August 19, 1955 in Armonk, NY. While attending Tufts University, he spent his summers appearing with area theater groups, and after graduating in 1977 appeared on Broadway in a revival of Hair. Gallagher then starred as Danny Zuko in Grease, a performance which led to his portrayal of a '50s-era pop singer in his film debut,...
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7 Days In Memphis, Peter Gallagher
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