❉ Hidden treasures from Dudley Moore in ivory-tickling mode, and guilty pleasures from Carly Simon in all her ‘80s AOR pomp.
Dudley Moore Trio – ‘Today’
Although best known as a comic actor – as Peter Cook’s long-suffering oppo on stage, screen and vinyl in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and unlikely romantic lead in blockbusters 10 and Arthur – Dudley Moore was of course an accomplished pianist and composer, leading the Dudley Moore Trio on three well-received albums for Decca (including the brilliantly titled Genuine Dud, and 1969’s ambitious Dudley Moore Trio) and 1971’s Today, originally released by Atlantic and recently reissued in a splendid repackage from Cherry Red subsidiary El Records, bringing this toe-tapping set of classy, sophisticated late night jazz to new listeners.
Today was recorded in 1971, during a hugely successful three-week tour of Australia, with some mono tracks added from a London 1961 session. As this set effortlessly demonstrates, Moore was not only a gifted musician but also a talented composer, with five formidable originals by the ‘Sex Thimble’ comfortably rubbing shoulders with minty-fresh reinterpretations of standards by the likes of Burt Bacharach and Henry Mancini such as a really quite brilliant version of The Look Of Love from Casino Royale and a sublime take on Two for the Road, co-written by Henry Mancini and Leslie Bricusse and first performed by Henry Mancini and His Orchestra in 1967. Another highlight is the Australian top ten hit, Song For Suzy (dedicated to Dudley’s first wife, the actress Suzy Kendall.)
Bassist Phil Kent (Tubby Hayes, Acker Bilk) recently wrote: “Although all of the trios recordings are excellent, in my humble opinion, the very best jazz album made by The Dudley Moore Trio is the classy “Today” recorded on the Atlantic label in Australia in 1971. This was an impromptu, spur of the moment recording made in the middle of the night, where by chance, the music really ‘happened’. This is pure earthy jazz that really gets ‘right down in there!’”
He’s not wrong, you know.
Carly Simon’s ‘Coming Around Again’ (30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
From timeless swinging jazz grooves to the somewhat more dated charms of toothsome baby boomer Carly Simon’s Coming Around Again, its recent thirtieth anniversary marked by an two-disc deluxe edition from Hot Shot Records. The album – Simon’s first for Clive Davis’ Arista label – marked something of a career revival for the literate chronicler of ‘me generation’ trials and tribulations after the failure of the dismal Spoiled Girl, a prime example of over-produced ‘80s AOR with a list of session musicians and producers almost as long as the war dead memorial scroll of a public school.
Coming Around Again was warmly received at the time, ranked by Rolling Stone as “her most consistent album since 1978’s Boys in the Trees… a strong reminder of how refreshing a diversion Carly Simon can be” and New York Times praising the album as “the latest and one of the strongest chapters in a growing catalogue that seems increasingly like the pop-music equivalent of the diaries of Anais Nin or Erica Jong’s autobiographical novels.”
In this expanded form, Coming Around Again boasts not only the UK top 10 hit title track (featured in Mike Nichols’ 1986 film Heartburn) and the anthem Let The River Run, from another Mike Nichols film, 1988’s Working Girl, which scored Simon a hat trick of awards: Best Original Song Oscar at the 1989 Academy Awards, along with a Grammy and a Golden Globe for good measure. Other tracks include non-album B-side Sleight Of Hand, If It Wasn’t Love (from 1986 movie Nothing In Common), an extended remix of Give Me All Night and The Wives Are In Connecticut, a rare oasis of quality from the aforementioned Spoiled Girl.
For blow-dried ‘80s AOR, this collection is 1987 in a bottle and makes for an interesting listen as Simon never made the same album twice, unlike many other singer-songwriters of her generation.
❉ Dudley Moore Trio – ‘Today’ (El Records WACMEM332CD) is out now from Cherry Red Records, RRP £9.95
❉ Carly Simon’s ‘Coming Around Again’ 2CD deluxe edition (Hot Shot HSRXD018) is out now from Cherry Red Records, RRP £11.99