The first voice heard on 2017's Paul Shaffer & the World's Most Dangerous Band, the first album the famed bandleader and lounge lizard has released since David Letterman's retirement, belongs to Shaggy, the reggae singer who last had a big hit single in 2001. This proves that Shaffer is perfectly happy to live in the past, a past that goes much further back than 2001. Leaving aside the album's two big showcases -- old pal Bill Murray swings by for the cornball "Happy Street," while Jenny Lewis stops by to sing a subdued soft rock arrangement of "Sorrow," the Pretty Things song David Bowie popularized -- and maybe "Enjoy the Ride," a showcase for Will Lee, this 2017 album is essentially an oldies album, and a proud one at that. Shaffer makes no apologies for leading his rock-and-R&B revue through tunes you know and love, playing them cheerfully and faithfully, exhibiting enough chops so you know these guys are pros, but never being so flashy that they overwhelm the groove. In short, Paul Shaffer & the World's Most Dangerous Band sounds a lot like they did when they provided bumper music on either of Letterman's shows, only with the added bonus of vocals. Most of these come from invited guests -- Darius Rucker sings "Why Can't We Live Together," Dion fronts "Win Your Love for Me," and Valerie Simpson and Felicia Collins handle "I Don't Need No Doctor" -- but the endearing cuts come from Shaffer, who sounds hoarse and happy jiving his way through Georgie Fame's "Yeh Yeh" and Lloyd Price's "Just Because." It's clear that he's thrilled to be playing his old favorites again, which is reason enough for this album to exist.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine