Vikki Carr

The First Time Ever (I Saw Your Face)

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When adult contemporary artists began competing with each other by copying hit songs of the day, everyone from Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis to Roger Williams and Ferrante & Teicher giving the world their take on popular favorites, much of what brought them their fame -- their individuality -- got lost in the shuffle. The competition became so fierce the once distinct identities would blur on some covers, Roger Williams sounding like Ferrante & Teicher and vice versa. Rock fans had no use for this "muzak" and when an artist came up with something superlative on one of these "cover" discs, as Vikki Carr does here on The First Time Ever (I Saw Your Face), it made little impact. With Cher's team of producer Snuff Garrett and arranger Al Capps the woman who five years prior to this begged God Almighty to "let it please be him" works her vocal stylings on movie themes and the big songs of Harry Nilsson (by way of Badfinger), Neil Diamond, Fifth Dimension, Liza Minnelli, and others. The most interesting moment is in one of Garrett/Capps' two re-creations of their Cher hits from 1971 and early 1972. Cher's Top Ten rendition of Kathy Kirby's brilliant '60s British hit, "The Way of Love," retained the gay double entendre -- "what will you do when he sets you free/just the way that you said good-bye to me." It got by the censors for Cher but either Vikki or her producer wanted none of that here. They change the A. Stillman/J. Dieval lyric to "just the way that he said good-bye to me" leaving nothing to the imagination. "Cabaret" is not as campy as it could be either, and one might make the claim that Carr is homogenizing these pioneering "alternative" tunes the way Pat Boone desecrated Little Richard and Fats Domino, but that wouldn't be fair. Carr has great pipes and lots of heart. She embraces the material and plays it for her audience. The unfortunate thing for the singer is that her hot production team didn't bring her a song to break out of this mix, something she could claim as her own à la "It Must Be Him." The First Time Ever (I Saw Your Face) is great middle-of-the-road fare with absolutely no risks, and for the talents involved, it is a pity. In fact, had they put a gem like George Harrison's "Isn't It a Pity" on here, perhaps they could have brought Vikki back to the Top 40. A listenable and enjoyable run through familiar music, very good but lacking because with all the talents involved it could have been so much more.

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