The Anita Kerr Singers

All You Need Is Love

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The multi-talented, Nashville-based Anita Kerr had been a studio arranger and behind-the-scenes mover and shaker in Music City USA for nearly two decades when she signed with Warner Brothers in the mid-'60s. Her fourth LP bore the optimistic title All You Need Is Love (1967). In addition to remaking the Beatles' Summer of Love anthem, Kerr (soprano/soloist) leads her ensemble -- which also consists of B.J. Baker (alto), Gene Merlino (tenor), and Bob Tebow (bass) -- through an assortment of contemporaneous light rock and pop. Some of the re-arrangements work better than others in a choral setting. For instance, the Bee Gees' languid "Holiday" is exquisite and moody with Kerr's voice hovering over the ensemble for an ethereal listening experience that is particularly recommended for those who like the original. The Addrisi Brothers-penned "Never My Love" bears the same harmonic earmarks and complexities as the Association's hit version with the buoyancy of Kerr's gliding vocals. From the Bacharach/David songbook comes arguably the most endearing inclusion of them all, Kerr's interpretation of "The Look of Love." It retains all of the mystique and subtle charm of Dusty Springfield or Dame Shirley Bassey without becoming too instrumentally watered down or vocally tarted up. While not quite on par with the previously mentioned tunes, for the remake of "How Can I Be Sure?," Kerr and company match the minor-chord noir, yet can't seem to believably pull off the blue-eyed soul ingrained within the Rascals' formidable grooves. And to the same point, Kerr perhaps would have been better served having shelved the utilitarian choral reading of "(You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman." Clearly, Aretha she ain't! And for her next album Sounds (1968), the Anita Kerr Singers returned to delivering selections that are uniformly better suited to the combo's strengths.

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