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Red Hot + Blue: A Tribute to Cole Porter

Various Artists

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Customer Reviews

Nearly Perfect

I've had this on CD since it's original release and, while it suffers from a few very bizarre tracks, the overall result is well worth it. (Note: This digital download rearranges the tracks from the original release. Using the digital version's track numbers, the original order went 1, 4, 3, 15, 5, 7, 8, 6, 10, 20, 2, 9, 19, 14, 13, 11, 16, 12, 17, 18.)

The opening track, Neneh Cherry's take on "I've Got You Under My Skin," shows how incredibly versatile Cole Porter's songs can be. Although Neneh reworks the lyrics, her take is incredibly well-suited for this AIDS benefit project. Starting with a blistering rap, and building off a decidedly pulsating rhythm, Neneh takes a song that had been a romantic ode to the obsessive power of love and turns it into a dark, sometimes menacing, look at how AIDS was affecting love at its very core.

Sinead's rendition of "You Do Something to Me" was a foreshadowing of her next full-length album, "Am I Not Your Girl." That album would see Sinead's takes on songs that had been made famous by vocalists like Peggy Lee, Doris Day, Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra, as well as her take on "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina." This recording seems a bit tame when compared to her debut album and even somewhat anemic compared to "Nothing Compares 2 U" but it showed how Sinead (much like Prince) never seems satisfied with resting on past laurels and wants to take a different direction.

Jody Watley's "After You, Who" and Lisa Stansfield's "Down in the Depths" show both singers' ease with torch-style music (Jody could easily handle an album of traditional jazz and Lisa shows off a sound that wouldn't be out of place as a big-band vocalist).

Both k.d. lang and Annie Lennox showed off, on this album, just the merest hint of what they could accomplish beyond the alt-country that k.d. had been doing or the synth-pop that Annie'd been doing as half of Eurythmics; it might be worth noting this project came out about two years before both singers' pop masterpieces, "Ingenue" and "Diva." If you have either or both of those albums, you've GOT to get their RH+B tracks, "So In Love" and "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye," respectively.

While most of the artists on this project are straight, it only seems right that two openly gay acts (okay, one and a half openly gay acts) provide material. Jimmy Sommerville and Andy Bell (of Erasure) were among only a handful of openly gay artists in 1990 that had any level of name recognition (many big names were speculated to be gay or bi but even some of the "openly" gay/bi big names had gone "back" in the closet or waved it off as "experimentation"--I'm looking at you, David Bowie). Both Somerville and Erasure's contributions were definitely club-oriented, though Erasure's "Too Darn Hot" was a little slower than the duo was best known for. Somerville's "From This Moment On," of course, features his trademark countertenor/falsetto sound (and even sneaks in a snippet of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love").

As for the other tracks, the best is the Neville Brothers' "In the Still of the Night" with Aaron's angelic voice leading the way. David Byrne and the Thompson Twins take their tracks with a little more levity than the songs normally receive (the Twins' take on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" has a definite sarcastic undertone). Iggy Pop and Debbie Harry pull off "Well Did You Evah" with exactly the right amount of goofiness (and cattiness) the song deserves. And the medley of "Miss Otis Regrets/It Was Just One of Those Things" starts off well with Kirsty MacColl's gorgeous take on "Otis" but goes off-track when Shane MacGowen of the Pogues picks up with "Things."

U2 prove to be the biggest disappointment with their take on "Night and Day." They don't take any real opportunity to make the song their own; instead, the band just turns the song into another overblown U2 rocker. One can only wonder how much better this song would've been if the group had already been working on "Achtung Baby" before they did this track (RH+B was released a few weeks before the band went to work on "Achtung").

The Fine Young Cannibals had already passed their sell-by date by the time RH+B came out so their take on "Love for Sale" really depends on how much you like the group.

I can't recommend Tom Waits' track, "It's Alright With Me" simply because I just cannot stand the man's voice. (If you're a Waits fan, I suppose you'll be better able to judge the song's merits.)

Aztec Camera do a fair take on "Do I Love You" but nothing really amazing and the Jungle Brothers' rendition of "I Get a Kick Out of You" seems to be the most Cole Porterish of the bunch (Porter did a lot of rewrites of this song so this hip-hop take, which shares little beyond the melody and title, has to be judged solely on one's appreciation of rap and hip-hop). As for Salif Keita's "Begin the Beguine" and les Negresses Vertes' "I Love Paris," the songs will largely be for fans, either of the artists themselves or world music in general; neither track is in English so that will likely affect a general audience's appreciation of the songs. (This album, most likely, was the widest exposure for both acts in the US.)

...Try, try again.

As someone has posted earlier, I also had this on CD but lost it a long time ago. I've tried over the years to find it here on iTunes without any success. Really happy to find it now. Feeling bad for the those not interested in the whole thing. I find the cuts fresh and interesting!

The proceeds for this went to some aids research or something of that nature back in the day. I hope that is still the case!

A fundraiser for AIDS

What a great selection of artist. A amazing 90's version of Cole Porter songs!!!!

Red Hot + Blue: A Tribute to Cole Porter
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Customer Ratings