Jaye P. Morgan

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Lately! Review

by Stewart Mason

Younger generations know Jaye P. Morgan, if they know her at all, as that oddball panelist on The Gong Show who was notoriously fond of flashing her breasts at the audience during commercial breaks. Long before that late-career diversion, however, Morgan was a well-known jazz and pop singer. Recorded in 1983 but not released until 2005, Lately! was a small-scale attempt at a comeback that is nowhere near as terrible as one might suspect. (The dodgy cover photo, which makes Morgan look like Eddie Izzard dressed as Judy Garland, doesn't bode well, it's true.) Morgan has always had a fairly limited voice, but it's got quite a bit of character, and her husky tones haven't lost much since her '50s heyday. Although Morgan is in fine voice throughout, though, the material and arrangements definitely feel like they've been kept in a time capsule for two-decades-plus: even more so than the pallid cover of "Every Breath You Take" that opens the album. The adult contemporary pop of "Fascinated" is a textbook summary of soft rock clich├ęs of the early '80s, from the trebly, over-mic'ed synths to a guitar solo that was almost certainly recorded by a man with feathered hair and aviator sunglasses wearing an open-collared shirt and designer jeans. In the context of 2005, "Fascinated" is so completely wrong that it's oddly fascinating, even if, when judged by its own merits, it does sound like a Sheena Easton album track. None of the rest of the record lives up (or down, depending) to this one glorious oddity, it just comes off as pleasantly inoffensive middle of the road pop.

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