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Betcha Bottom Dollar

The Puppini Sisters

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Album Review

Poised somewhere between the Andrews Sisters and Nouvelle Vague, the Puppini Sisters modernize vocal harmony pop while keeping its "so traditional, it's hip" appeal. On their debut Betcha Bottom Dollar, the Sisters' style is their substance; it's not a coincidence that the founding Puppini, Marcella, worked for fashion icon Vivienne Westwood before forming the group. Fortunately, the trio's style — vintage '40s outfits, cheeky covers of new wave and post-punk classics and all — manages to stay on the likeable, not grating, side of kitsch. Taken individually, the trio's voices aren't spectacular, but they blend together nicely enough to create a convincing homage to the heyday of vocal harmony pop in the '30s and '40s. A very pleasant "Mr. Sandman," a pretty, languid "Java Jive" and "Sway" are among the best vocal pop standards on Betcha Bottom Dollar, but interestingly enough, the Puppini Sisters often sound less campy on the songs they remake than on the classics. Not surprisingly, the original versions of the tracks they've chosen to give three-part harmony makeovers have strong melodies and distinctive singers, so it's not really all that surprising that Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights" sounds lovely with three-part harmonies, or that their version of Blondie's "Heart of Glass" fits right in with "Mr. Sandman." There are times on Betcha Bottom Dollar that things feel a little too knowing and ironic, as on the chirpy cover of the Smiths' "Panic," and the album might be a little too long for the mood it's trying to sustain. On the whole, however, the genuine affection for the styles the Puppini Sisters adopt and adapt saves Betcha Bottom Dollar from being insufferably cutesy.

Customer Reviews

Retro charm to spare

The Puppini Sisters will evoke the Andrews Sisters and the "girl" harmony groups of the '50s, as well as second-wave artists like early Bette Midler. Their harmonies are tight albeit without the harmonic complexity of vocalese groups like Manhattan Transfer or Rare Silk. They actually fare better on the "Nouvelle Vague"-style updatings of Kate Bush, Blondie, and the Smiths than on the vintage repertoire, both because there is no original model against which to compare them (occasionally unfavorably) and also because they sound freer and less constrained by precedent. This is a very enjoyable, well-recorded album that goes down smooth and cool. Originally released in Europe some time back, it's great to see it finally on our shores.

A Blast from the past

How wonderful to retro twice over - once for the seventies anthem revival to a forties vocal ensamble if you love the Andrew Sisters this is the CD for you, good harmony and uniquely contagious spunk.

Betcha Bottom Dollar (2007)

I didn't know The Puppini Sisters until today. I discovered them when I got a free song "Walk Like an Egyptian" off their sophomore album. I love their music, which is original. They're creative, artistic, talented and amazing. They did a great job in this debut album. RECOMMENDED SONGS: 1. Sisters 2. Mr Sandman 3. Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B) 4. I Will Survive 5. Heart of Glass 6. Sway 7. Heebie Jeebies 8. In the Mood

Biography

Formed: London, England

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Modernizing the harmony vocal pop of '30s and '40s groups like the Andrews Sisters, London's Puppini Sisters took the name of Marcella Puppini, who founded the act after being inspired by the music in the film The Triplets of Belleville. Puppini, a native of Bologna, Italy, moved to London in 1990 to study fashion and quickly became immersed in the city's music scene. Though she had a career at Vivienne Westwood's design studio, she left to focus on music, and in 2003 earned a music degree at Trinity...
Full Bio
Betcha Bottom Dollar, The Puppini Sisters
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