Swingle II – Rags And All That Jazz (1975)

As someone who has gone on record as a fan of the Swingle Singers, it pains me to report that Rags And All That Jazz is a truly wretched excersise from conception to execution. A big part of the Swingles’ appeal lay in their prodigious, wordless vocal interplay, the way their voices became instruments/mere sounds in themselves. Ah, but this is Swingle II, so it is not the case here. In collaboration with a lyricist called Tony Vincent Isaacs, Ward Swingle foolishly recasts early Jazz and Ragtime melodies by the likes of Joplin, Morton and Armstrong into obvious, nostalgic evocations of America in the first half of the 20th century. Hamfisted vocal arrangements only make the triteness of Isaacs’ newly-written lyrics all the more eye-rollingly camp. And it’s got that really shitty hollow, I-just-bought-new-strings electric bass sound that should never be heard on music purporting to call itself “jazz”. Fugging yuck.

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Published in: on August 31, 2011 at 5:00 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Then I must have no taste at all!
    However, somehow these tunes stayed in my mind for 30 years, I lost the record along the way and searched on the internet for this music from the day search engines arose. Now the search has ended, and it brings tears to my eyes to hear the music again.
    I thank you for mentioning the name of the lyricist and the story behind it. With that information I can search for the texts themselves.

    Thank you, and I disagree completely with your review, I find the songs adorable.

    Nick

    • Well, I can hardly begrudge disagreement when thanks are given so fulsomely. I’m glad that I’ve aided your search even as I am bewildered by its object.

  2. Your review appals me. The musicianship involved in the production of this album is truly exquisite. Perhaps the reviewer should listen to it as music and not as a hate object

    • Lol. Would if I could.


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