Review: Jack Foley
DAVE Grohl, legendary rocker and Foo Fighters supremo, gave classic
crooner, Paul Anka, the following recommendation when he heard
"Holy shit! That's Teen Spirit! And I thought it was fucking
amazing. I thought it was so great. It was such an interesting
arrangement. It's pretty classic."
Not bad, huh? Wanna know more? Anka is a classic singer, more
akin to the Rat Pack/Dean Martin style of crooning rather than
the hard rock/grunge style of Grohl.
But with his latest studio album, Rock Swings, he takes modern
rock classics, such as Smells Like Teen Spirit, Wonderwall
and Blackhole Sun, and reinterprets them in the style
of the big band sound.
The result has to be heard to be believed. It's different, occasionally
funny, but almost always classy in the way that a Rat Pack member
would have been sure to deliver it.
Take, for instance, Anka's take on the melancholy REM classic,
Everybody Hurts, which puts a completely different perspective
on the track. It's beguiling and enchanting in a different sort
of way, but equally reflective and poignant.
This is in stark contrast to his spin on Oasis' Wonderwall,
which feels positively upbeat when compared to the Gallaghers'
version. It encapsulates the big band sound very well and dazzles
with a brass section midway through that goes some way to displaying
Anka's creative vision.
Soundgarden's seminal Black Hole Sun, meanwhile, sounds
positively romantic when given the big band treatment, complete
with tinkling pianos, big brass sections and Anka's deep, classy
vocals. It strips the track completely of its dark roots.
While the Pet Shop Boys' synth-heavy, pop classic, It's A
Sin, gets a similarly classic makeover that demands to be
Anka, to his credit, doesn't merely copy the tracks, but puts
a completely different interpretation on things, so that part
of the pleasure when listening is trying to guess what he's about
It's little wonder that Dave Grohl exclaimed in the way that
he did, given the way that Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit
unfolds - for if ever there was an unlikely track to be given
the big band treatment, then this was probably it.
In Anka's capable hands, however, it becomes a happy go-luucky,
almost breezy affair, that replaces the menace of the original
with an altogether more vibrant style.
Amazingly, however, it doesn't tarnish the memory of the original
but puts a different, even fun, slant on it - proving that music
doesn't have to be constrained by genre; merely imagination.
Rock Swings is, therefore, a wildly imaginative big
band joyride through some of the unlikeliest rock tracks of the
The cynics may raise their eyes and dismiss the idea behind it
as folly, but give it a listen and you're sure to be hooked.
Find out more about Paul Anka...
1. It's My Life
3. Eye Of The Tiger
4. Everybody Hurts
6. Black Hole Sun
7. It's A Sin
9. Smells Like Teen Spirit
11. Eyes Without A Face
12. The Lovecats
13. The Way You Make Me Feel
14. Tears In Heaven
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