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Painting the Clouds

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Album Review

Nick Lucas is a somewhat forgotten name in music. One of the first talented jazz guitar soloists, his guitar playing (with the exception of a couple solo pieces) always took a secondary role behind his high-pitched tenor voice. Lucas introduced "Tiptoe Through the Tulips With Me" in the 1920s and, although that decade was his heyday, he had a long career that did not end until his death in 1982. Painting the Clouds features Lucas radio transcriptions that probably date from the mid-'40s. The first 14 selections are solo numbers in which Lucas is just accompanied by his guitar. His voice was still at its prime and his supportive guitar work is subtle and swinging. Among the songs given charming interpretations are "Tangerine," "In a Little Spanish Town," "Three Little Words," and "The Song Is Ended." The last two numbers, "Tiptoe Through the Tulips With Me" and "Painting the Clouds With Sunshine," sound like they are from a soundtrack, since Lucas is joined by a band, background singers, and a tap dancer or two. Fans of vintage vocalists would do themselves a favor by discovering Nick Lucas, and this set is one of his few CDs currently in print.


Born: 1897 in Newark, NJ

Genre: Vocal

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s

Listening to Nick Lucas' high-pitched voice and knowing that he introduced "Tip Toe Through the Tulips" makes one immediately realize that he was a major influence on the infamous Tiny Tim in the late '60s. But there was much more to Nick Lucas than that; even beyond his singing. Lucas was a musical wizard, learning guitar, banjo, mandolin, and ukulele early in life. Born Domenic Antonio Nicola Lucalese, he and his brother played for money on trains, entertaining riders, at the age of ten. Lucas...
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