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The Puppini Sisters - Betcha Bottom Dollar

The Puppini Sisters, Betcha Bottom Dollar

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

LAST year, classic crooner Paul Anka put a big band spin on contemporary hits such as Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit and Oasis’ Wonderwall.

Now, The Puppini Sisters bring us Betcha Bottom Dollar, a collection of classic songs and contemporary releases that have been revisited in a 1940s style. Hence, the likes of The Smiths’ Panic and Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive are delivered in the style of World War II-era sweethearts, as are the likes of old-time hits Sisters and Jeepers Creepers.

And while the urge is to scream out “novelty”, there’s something strangely addictive about many of the renditions – all beautifully delivered in a vocally distinct style, and with more than a little tongue-in-cheek revellry about it.

The Puppini Sisters started out by performing light-hearted versions of classics such as The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights that led to a cult following in some of the coolest clubs and a management contract with the ex-managers of acts such as The Sundays and Smashing Pumpkins. A record deal quickly followed with Universal Classics and Jazz.

“We think of our music as pop,” says one sister, Marcella. “But the jazz crowd have enjoyed it and thought it was really clever.”

Not just great singers, the sisters are also accomplished musicians, with everything from piano through saxophone to harp on their combined CVs – a skill-set that has helped them to create contemporary reinterpretations of old-time favourites including Mr Sandman and In The Mood, in tune with modern translations of tracks like Blondie’s Heart of Glass.

In truth, it’s at its most interesting when reshaping the modern songs, many of which turn out to be real head-turners as you figure out what they’re going to be. Hearing the Puppini’s sweet, all-girl vocals deliver lines like “hang the DJ, hang the DJ, hang the DJ” from Panic is one of several occasions where the album borders on the hilarious, yet somehow plays it straight. There’s is a far cry from the melancholy tones of Morrissey and while it sounds like a complete mis-match and something ill-advised, it incredibly works.

Less surprising, but no less endearing, is the sisters’ take on Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights and Blondie’s aforementioned Heart of Glass which still manages to sound familiar, despite being delivered in three-part harmonies.

You’ll smile, you’ll scratch your head in bewilderment, but somehow you find yourself appreciating it no matter how many reservations you may have before listening.

Given their 1940s looks, fashions and vocal arrangements, it’s little wonder to find that their style is perfectly suited to the classics but there is still an irresistible pleasure to be found in hearing their take on bygone hits such as Sway and Jeepers Creepers. It’s what helps to make the album one of the most eccentric of the year – but one that has the talent to match the ambition of its cheeky creativity.

It’s well worth checking out, even if the novelty does wear thin in places.

Track listing:

  1. Sisters
  2. Mr Sandman
  3. Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (From Company B)
  4. Java Jive
  5. Bei Mir Bist Du Schon
  6. Wuthering Heights
  7. Jeepers Creepers
  8. I Will Survive
  9. Tu Vuo’ Fa L’Americano (Recitative)
  10. Tu Vuo’ Fa L’Americano
  11. Falling In Love Again
  12. Heart Of Glass
  13. Sway
  14. Panic
  15. Heebie Jeebies
  16. In The Mood

  1. Very Good

    Enrique    Aug 9    #