Charlie Byrd

Byrd Song

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"Charlie Byrd With Voices" is an odd subtitle for this mid-'60s album, considering that vocals are only heard sporadically; that voices aren't even heard on some of the tracks; and that, when the vocals are heard, they're wordless background choral bits, not a vocalist or vocalists actually singing lyrics. In truth, it seems like a gimmick or an attempt to sell the album to a crossover audience, the vocal component of the record feeling like an afterthought. And not an especially inspired one, either; the white-bread soothing choruses sound like refugees from straight easy listening records. The album's actually for the most part a typical, if low-key, Byrd session, on which his only instrumental accompaniment consists of Keter Betts on bass and Bill Reichenbach on drums. Just a couple of Byrd originals, "Action Painting" and "Swing 59," are on a collection slanted toward covers of popular standards, including "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," Lionel Bart's "Who Will Buy?," Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Felicidade," Rodgers & Hart's "This Can't Be Love," Cole Porter's "Let's Do It," Rodgers & Hammerstein's "My Favorite Things," and Billie Holiday's "God Bless the Child." When played just by the trio, it's fine, with sterling Byrd guitar, though the less sappy and more forceful material (like "Wildcat") overshadows the more conventional romantic standards. When those voices enter, though, it treads on the annoyingly saccharine.

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