Claudine Longet

Cuddle Up With...: The Complete Barnaby Records Sessions 1970/74

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Claudine Longet's long suit was really her album's covers, which made their purchase almost irresistable (at least, to men) once they were displayed in record stores. That said, this collection of her combined output for Barnaby Records (the label founded and owned by her then husband, Andy Williams) isn't bad -- the two albums We've Only Just Begun and Let's Spend the Night Together have been combined in these 24 tracks, all remastered in state of the art sound -- little expense was spared in an effort to give Longet's voice the most favorable surroundings possible, so even if her vocalizing on "Close to You" isn't going to make anyone forget either Karen Carpenter or Dusty Springfield, the playing behind her is fine enough that the record is worth hearing, just not necessarily for Longet; and her version of "We've Only Just Begun" isn't half-bad, just not in a league with what the Carpenters did with the song. And on the more solidly uptempo numbers, such as "Broomstick Cowboy," she is very much worth hearing. It all comes off as glittering vocal pop/rock, impeccably played (the CD is almost worth owning just for Joe Osborn's bass work, which is in almost as much sharp relief as Longet's singing). She also acquits herself surprisingly well on "Let's Spend the Night Together," transforming the paean to post-teen lust into a torchy pop ballad that kind of works in its own odd way, almost in the same manner that Alma Cogan's rendition of the Beatles' "Eight Days a Week" gave that song some unexpected twists and permutations. The accompanying booklet is also highly informative, and the trippy faux-psychedelic design of the digipack sleeve is also a fun twist on this material.

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