Kay Starr

Blue Star

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The concept behind Kay Starr's second RCA Victor album, encapsulated in the title, is to bring together songs of romantic discord. These are not blues songs per se, but Starr's approach to them often has a bluesy edge. Still, there are rhythm numbers among the ballads; the musical style is less important than the lyrics, which always express a romantic situation gone at least slightly wrong. Starr begins by proclaiming that "It's a Lonesome Old Town (When You're Not Around)," but then gives an up-tempo treatment to "You're Driving Me Crazy (What Did I Do?)." "The House Is Haunted (By the Echo of Your Last Good-bye)," paced by a muted trumpet and a Greek chorus intoning, "Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye," is one of the more mournful performances, and while "Wedding Bells" (aka "Wedding Bells Are Breaking up That Old Gang of Mine") is more lighthearted, the lyric still views romance askance. Starr doesn't really seem as broken up as the words would indicate, focusing instead on her usual concerns of rhythm and emotive phrasing. By the spring of 1957, when the album was recorded, her success on the singles charts had diminished, so there was more at stake in appealing to the adult audience who bought LPs. But that change in emphasis was not enough to make the singer turn to strings and an overtly pop style. Blue Starr still had the kind of jazz and blues playing that characterized Starr at her best, and she remained an expressive vocalist whose style was a bit too hot for the more polite supper clubs.

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