Bobby Rydell

An Era Reborn

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Bobby Rydell and the Bernie Lowe Orchestra "re-create the days of the big bands" on An Era Reborn. This 1962 LP was released as part of Cameo's 4000 Series, devoted to pop albums recorded on 35 millimeter film instead of magnetic tape for improved sound quality. Traditional pop music and big-band vocalists prevailed in popular music before rock & roll, but rock didn't render pop obsolete; the teen idols brought traditional pop arrangements and melodies to rock, creating a new kind of music that retained some of rock's energy and youth orientation while having broader intergenerational appeal. Critics blame the teen idols for making rock "safe" and for smoothing its rough edges, but there is something to be said for artful arrangements and sophisticated melodies. Rydell was a talented vocalist who could handle traditional pop, and on An Era Reborn he is given the opportunity to prove his ability as a classic pop singer over an album's worth of arrangements by Jack Pleis. The songs -- show tunes, recent hits, and pop standards -- are varied and well performed, and the big-band arrangement of Brian Hyland's "Sealed With a Kiss" is a particularly rewarding exercise that should have been repeated. Pleis and Lowe enjoy a high profile on this release, with a period-appropriate emphasis placed on long instrumental passages and intros. An Era Reborn flatters everyone involved and shows that the big-band format still had some life left in it in the '60s, although the album's failure to chart suggests that the teens weren't buying.