Giuliano Palma & the Bluebeaters

Combo

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Over the last decade, Giuliano Palma and his cover band the Bluebeaters have become an unexpected success in Italy, mostly due to their effervescent live set. At this point, however, what is most surprising is their longevity, as novelty acts by definition do not tend to last. For their fourth studio album, Combo, the recipe remains the same, versions of Italian and English hits (sometimes sung in Italian) from the '60s and '70s, enthusiastically revamped in a rocksteady and/or Northern soul key. The expressly titled Combo thus indiscriminately combines Lucio Battisti, Ornella Vanoni, and Nada with the Zombies, Stevie Wonder, the Stray Cats, Buzzcocks, Bobby Hebb, and/or the theme from James Bond's From Russia with Love, and proves that the formula is alive and well. Much like UB40's Labour of Love series -- to which Palma's project probably owes a good deal -- the vocal and instrumental performances are superlative and exude genuine love for the material. While some may cringe at the relentless power of nostalgia, the truth remains that Combo, like all Bluebeaters records, makes for a fun and pleasant listen. A hint that some degree of renovation may eventually become a necessity is the inclusion for the first time of four originals (not counting instrumentals), among these "Un Grande Sole", featuring Subsonica's singer Samuel Romano. In truth, it is hard to tell any of these apart from the covers, as Palma & the Bluebeaters appear to be as adept at meticulous re-creation as composers as they are at performing.

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