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JANET KLEIN & HER PARLOR BOYS

IT'S THE GIRL!

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Couer De Jeanette (BURNCDJ0008)

Sing To Me, Doin’ The Uptown Lowdown, In A Little Garden, It’s The Girl, Close Your Eyes, Old Man Of The Mountain, East St. Louis Toodle-oo, I Double Dare You, I’m Gonna Meet My Sweetie Now, Let’s Don’t And Say We Did, Look What You’ve Done To Me, Willow Weep For Me, You Learn About Love Every Day, Left Bank Medley, Shiny Shoes, The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise, Music Makes Me, Moonglow

A Californian gal born in the 1970s but with an obsession for the obscure, lovely and naughty songs of the 1920s and 1930s, it would be very easy to dismiss Janet Klein and her band as a curious novelty act whose appeal wouldn’t stand up to repeated exposure.

If this album is in any way representative, nothing could be further from the truth. Having danced this album around the CD player some twenty or so times the appeal, far from diminishing, is actually growing. The initial attraction of the consistently excellent and varied songs and Janet’s distinctive period vocal delivery continues to impress but, the more times you play this little beauty, the more you find to appreciate.

First up, the sound from start to finish is upbeat and joyous, giving the listener the sense that you have gate-crashed a party of musicians whose priority is having a good time. The producers and engineers of this album should obviously take much credit for this but, on this evidence, it is hard to imagine that the exemplary Parlor Boys even know of the existence of the word ‘lacklustre’ never mind comprehending its meaning. Their 1920s-style jazz instrumentation and arrangements strike a marvellous balance between sympathetically servicing the needs of each song while at the same time seeming to take great pleasure in being in each other’s musical company. If you love the way the hot jazz bands of the 1920s kicked up such a riot by sharing the solos around between banjo, cornet, piano, violin, clarinet, ukulele, alto sax, guitar and more, then this will undoubtedly ‘float your boat’. And boy can they mix it up, from a relaxed romp through Duke Ellington’s stylish instrumental city jazz of East St Louis Toodle-Oo to the charming  Parisian waltz music of Left Bank Medley, it is all served up with panache and great skill.

Most everywhere else though Janet is very much the focal point, leading the band through a set of special songs that pay homage not just to the early jazz era but also vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley songs of the same vintage. And fast or slow, familiar or previously unknown, they are all belters. The title track, It’s The Girl, is the band at full tilt while the closing song Moonglow is a slow paced ballad full of nostalgic yearning.

Best of all perhaps is the shortest song on the album (coming in under two minutes), Let’s Don’t And Say We Do, which features just Janet’s vocals with a piano as support. On this hilarious number, Janet expresses concern as to why her boyfriend won’t show the affection she would expect of any red-blooded male. The pay-off comes in the final verse (spoiler alert) where she croons: We go to moving pictures and we see great lovers/There’s Buddy Rogers and a lot of others/ I think John Gilbert’s grand it’s true/It seems my boyfriend likes him too! Well, it makes me laugh!

In case I’ve not nailed my colours to the mast enough already here, let me make it clear. I think this is a peach of an album, housing as it does 18 individually corking tracks that are each joyously presented, glorious sounding and beautifully played delights. There aren’t anywhere near enough albums in the world guaranteed to raise the spirits each and every time it is played.  But this is surely one of them!

Review Date: January 2016

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