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The Puppini Sisters - The Rise & Fall of Ruby Woo

The Puppini Sisters, The Rise & Fall of Ruby Woo

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

YOU either like The Puppini Sisters or you don’t. Comprised of Mercella Puppini, Kate Mullins and Stephanie O’Brien, the trio led the retro wave in 2006 with their 1940s influenced blend of “pop with swing”, Betcha Bottom Dollar.

That album delivered a mix of The Smiths’ Panic and Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive in the style of World War II-era sweetheart songs, with old-time hits such as Sisters and Jeepers Creepers.

It became the fastest selling jazz debut in Britain on its release and, earlier this year, debuted at No.2 in the US jazz charts and in the top 10 of the Billboard Heatseekers chart.

The follow-up, The Rise & Fall of Ruby Woo, offers more of the same and demonstrates that the girls are growing in confidence. Four of the songs are their own compositions, while covers include ambitious takes on The Bangles’ Walk Like An Egyptian and Dusty Springfield’s Spooky.

But it seemed like a natural progression for the girls, with Kate revealing as part of the album’s PR: “When we started thinking about this album we knew that we wanted to move on from being a close harmony “Andrew Sisters tribute act” to creating our own distinctive sound.”

And that they have done. Not everything works but when they get things right, The Puppini Sisters really succeed in forcing you to sit up, take notice and hail the quality of their music.

Spooky, in particular, is a revelation – a high energy 1940s drum and bass version of the Springfield classic. It sounds totally original, with the Sisters’ harmonising a real treat.

Walk Like An Egyptian is a funky, groove-based shoe shuffler complete with Middle Eastern yodelling that works surprisingly well, and Old Cape Cod reinvents that classic with extra chillout value.

Of the original songs, Soho Nights stands out as a 1940s Latin dance anthem that’s suitably upbeat and sexy, while there are some clever nods to the cinema of Fellini in And She Sang.

Album highlight Jilted is a teasing lament about being dumped that’s dark, sassy and ripe with quality lyrics such as “I jumped through hoops to keep that man, oh how did I get it so wrong, I tried new positions, I learned his friends’ names, I made myself sit through football games”!

And then there’s covers of We Have All The Time In The World, which is steeped in classic values, and Crazy In Love, a spellbinding version of the Beyonce hit to savour as well.

You won’t mind that some efforts, such as Could It Be Magic, don’t work as well.

The Rise & Fall of Ruby Woo probably won’t win too many converts or persuade the diehard sceptics that their musical style works – but for anyone who embraced Betcha Bottom Dollar (myself included), this is a terrific follow-up that firmly establishes The Puppini Sisters as one of the finest (alternative) acts of the moment. The novelty has yet to wear thin.

Download picks: Jilted, Walk Like An Egyptian, Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree, We Have All The Time In The World, Old Cape Cod, Crazy In Love

Track listing:

  1. Spooky
  2. 2. Walk Like An Egyptian
  3. 3. Old Cape Cod
  4. 4. Soho Nights
  5. 5. I Can’t Believe I’m Not A Millionaire
  6. 6. It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)
  7. 7. Could It Be Magic
  8. 8. Jilted
  9. 9. Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree
  10. 10. Crazy In Love
  11. 11. It’s Not Over (Death Or The Toy Piano)
  12. 12. And She Sang
  13. 13. We Have All The Time In The World

  1. Five of the songs are Puppini Sisters originals, not four. Three are written by Marcella and one each by Kate and Steph. And what is it with these people that refuse to credit the original artists on certain songs? If I read one more time about Andy William’s or Dusty Springfield’s “Spooky” or for that matter Take That’s “Could It Be Magic”, I think I’m gonna scream.
    For the record, “Spooky” belongs to The Classics IV who scored the original huge hit with it in 1968 even though it was co-written by Mike Shapiro who charted with it (#57) in 1967 under the name Mike Sharp. And “Could It Be Magic” is, always was, and always will be Barry Manilow’s. It was his first single in 1973 and he’s even re-done it on his new album “Greatest Songs Of The 70s. Just gotta set the record straight.

    Paul Richards    Oct 8    #