The Manhattan Transfer

The Manhattan Transfer

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The Manhattan Transfer first came to the general public's attention as a retro act, a nostalgic throwback in a era consumed with nostalgia -- the early/mid-'70s -- and their debut Atlantic album, as well as their 1975 summer replacement TV series, catered unashamedly to that market. As a result, this record seemed old when it came out, and it still sounds more than a little sappy, especially when one considers the astonishing growth of the Transfer since. True, "You Can Depend Upon Me" is a lively precursor of vocalese triumphs to come, enlivened by a brief solo from Zoot Sims, and there are subdued reminders of their jazz roots on "Tuxedo Junction." But the object of the latter exercise was to bring back sweet memories, specifically of a wartime era evoked more explicitly by the unctuous, sugary rendition of "Candy." Nothing if not eclectic even then, the Transfer also evokes the Ink Spots, 1940s jive, 1950s doo wop, New Orleans funk, even 1975 with the proto-disco "Clap Your Hands." Yet the net results usually seem calculated, not fresh and innocent. Best bet: Seek out the originals and sample later Transfer projects first.

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