Carol Noonan

As Tears Go By

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In her liner notes to this album of 1960s covers, Carol Noonan writes that the original concept was to include music "that our parents loved," but that "we ended up doing all the songs their kids loved in the sixties instead." That may help explain the presence at the end of the disc of the early-'60s hits "The Theme from 'A Summer Place'" and "I Count the Tears" (the latter a 1961 Top 20 chart entry for the Drifters written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman) on a collection otherwise drawn mostly from the post-British Invasion mid-'60s. The effectiveness of this version of "I Count the Tears," however, suggests that Noonan and her cohorts (notably featured guitarists Kevin Barry and Duke Levine) might have been better advised to stick with the original concept. Many of these songs she loved in the '60s are songs everybody loved, particularly in their hit recordings, tracks like the Left Banke's "Walk Away Renee," the Byrds' "Turn! Turn! Turn!," and the Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday," and the songs are indelibly associated with those recordings, which is why, although there have been a few other recordings over the years, these tunes, while certainly standards of their era, have not been performed by others anywhere near as often as standards from other periods. It's really impossible for most listeners, especially those likely to buy an album like this, to hear "As Tears Go By," sung by anyone, and not hear in their minds the Rolling Stones' version. Noonan, who has a warm voice reminiscent of Judy Collins, with just a touch of Buffy Sainte-Marie's astringent tone, sings calmly over the largely acoustic arrangements. (There's a bit of electric guitar here and there.) Her versions mostly work as tributes, but when she turns to a lesser known song, particularly "I Count the Tears," but also "To Sir with Love," which hasn't been that much heard since it topped the charts in 1967 (not as much as "Ruby Tuesday," anyway), her interpretations really bring something new and interesting. That leaves the impression that this might have been a more impressive album if she had dug deeper and found more songs like them, instead of just falling back on her favorites.

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