Neil Sedaka

Circulate

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Neil Sedaka released his second solo album, Circulate, in 1961 when he was at the peak of his powers as a hitmaking songwriter. Instead of emphasizing his original compositions on Circulate, he covered a bunch of pop standards, including such mainstays as "Smile," "All the Way," "Angel Eyes," and "Everything Happens to Me." By choosing to deliver an album of standards instead of cutting versions of his rock-influenced pop hits for LaVern Baker, Clyde McPhatter, and Roy Hamilton, Sedaka confirmed that he was as much an old-fashioned singer as he was a teen idol, and Circulate certainly has a snazzy, almost schmaltzy, sound that is better suited to Vegas than the pop charts. And if the album was intended to showcase his range, it certainly does a good job of doing so. Perhaps Sedaka's voice is a little bit thin and nasal in comparison to Frank Sinatra -- and perhaps he doesn't quite have the flair for this material that his peer Bobby Darin did -- but Sedaka comes across as a born showman, delivering these songs with a smile and a bit of a swagger. If it's not the best collection of standards you'll ever hear, it's at least a thoroughly entertaining album, one that captures the sound of 1961 -- and it's also the first indication of Sedaka's range as a musician.

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