HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 3 January 2007
Recorded in 1962 and 1963, this CD features, first, a remastering of "The Explosive Side of Sarah Vaughan," no longer available as a separate CD, and then "The Lonely Hours," both recorded during the height of Vaughan's Roulette years. The two CDs create a dramatic insight into Vaughan's many talents, the "Explosive Side" featuring songs that are all uptempo and swingy, while the "Lonely Hours" features songs more full of feeling--quieter ballads which emphasize the sense of loss.
In the "Explosive Side," Vaughan is at her most upbeat, swinging with her "happy voice," totally confident and relaxed. Here one experiences her versatility with scat and improvisation, along with her interpretive abilities. The pop novelty song, "The Trolley Song," for example, becomes a song of discovery and seduction. "After You've Gone," full of scat at the beginning and faster than normal, is full of improvisation. "Garden in the Rain" is sung in an unusual swing tempo, and "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" is vampy, her scat showing her full four-octave range. One of my favorites on the CD, "I'm Gonna Live Till I Die," shows great interpretation of lyrics, combined with wonderful variations in the melody.
"The Lonely Hours" features Vaughan singing less popular songs, grounding herself in the lyrics and giving them great depth of feeling. Here she is less prone to flights of musical variation designed to show off her voice, and she avoids scat almost completely in favor of thoughtful interpretation of the lyrics. The first two songs, "Great Day" and "Nobody Else But Me," both swingy, serve as the transition to the sadder songs of the album. The later melancholy songs feature numerous instrumental solos to add further to the lyrical interpretations, unlike the songs in the "Explosive Side," in which the musicians are there primarily as accompanists to Vaughan.
Among the special songs on this side are "Friendless (and Alone)," in which loneliness becomes palpable as she sings of leading a "friendless life of woe." Her famous low register adds to the sadness. "Look For Me, I'll Be Around," sung in a minor key, shows her strength, and "You're Driving Me Crazy," given a different interpretation and rhythm, becomes almost seductive. The album leads to a grand finale, with "The Man I Love," and "So Long My Love," two songs which Vaughan "sings pure," and makes her own here. An enlightening combination of two separate Vaughan moods and sets of talents, this CD shows the many sides of Vaughan at her peak. Mary Whipple