By Daryl Glenn
Infectious is the first word that pops into my mind to describe this collection, only the second solo outing by the fabulous Lucie Arnaz. Ms. Arnaz is, of course, the daughter of legends Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, who rose to fame during her memorable stint on her mother’s sitcom "Here’s Lucy!" and celebrated her Broadway debut in the Neil Simon/Marvin Hamlisch/Carole Bayer-Sager musical They’re Playing Our Song.
I had the pleasure of watching her perform a couple of the numbers from this album at the recent MAC Awards, and can attest that time has done nothing to dim the voice and look of this remarkable performer.
This CD is a valentine to her father, and Ms. Arnaz evokes fond memories of time gone by, while adding her own unmistakable stamp to several of the songs made famous, or famously rendered, by her dad. She slips effortlessly between English and Spanish, bringing to life such gems as “Blame it on the Bossa Nova” (with a new third verse written by Bary Mann and Cynthia Weil just for her) and “I’ll See You in C-U-B-A.” The opening, “You and the Night and the Music,” perfectly sets the mood for the delights to come, and there are many! I found a particular thrill in hearing that voice, untarnished and potent as ever, that I fell so madly in love with as a child devouring Broadway cast albums in Lexington, KY, tearing into these treasured songs! Ms. Arnaz has the infinitely pleasing sound of a Helen Reddy or Karen Carpenter, and I have always wished she had provided more for our enjoyment. However, this collection does more than make up for her lack of content in the ensuing years. Particuarly pleasing are versions of the now-standard pop hit “Johnny Angel” (which was, by the way, the moniker of our local gay disco!) which she turns into a tender ballad of longing set to a gentle Bossa beat, and her lovely take on the famous Dan Fogelberg creation “Leader of the Band,” which, as she astutely states in the liner notes, seems written just for her! This fantastic band is led by Ms. Arnaz’ longtime collaborator Ron Abel, and in addition to some fresh and fun reworkings of the classic tunes included here, is one of Mr. Abel’s own compostions with lyricist Chuck Steffan (“Just To Be Near You”) and another penned with Arnaz’ son Joe Luckinbill, with lyrics by Ms. Arnaz and Madeline Stone (“The Music In Your Heart”), both immensely enjoyable.
Bouncing back to the MAC Awards show for a moment, I must add that joining the sleek and sassy Lucie Arnaz onstage was the incompable award-winning singer/songwriter Billy Stritch, who dreamed up the simply mesmerizing entertwined arrangement of “It’s Alright With Me/Something’s Gotta Give,” which the two of them jointly (live and here) give something that’s more than alright with me! Highly entertaining as well, is a spirited take on “Promises” by Polish songstress Basia (whose catalog I simply must investigate further!) and the inspired pairing of Desi’s signature “Babalu” with Desmond Child’s “La Copa de la Vida” (who knew?). This winning album is a highly entertaining, spirit-raising and touching tribute by the endearing Lucie Arnaz to the endearing legacy of her famous and famously talented father.
BTW, be sure and listen for our very own Raissa Katona-Bennett and Dr. Garrett Bennett amongst the lively backup singers!