Dirk Bogarde

Lyrics for Lovers

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In the tradition of popular actors who can't really sing making records, Dirk Bogarde made his one and only album in 1960, at a time when he'd become one of Britain's leading film stars. And, like some other actors who've been cajoled into the studio to make albums in order to exploit their popularity, Bogarde opted to recite lyrics rather than actually sing them. This treatment was given to 12 standards by the likes of Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Hoagy Carmichael, and George Gershwin, with Bogarde languidly and dramatically intoning over a lush easy listening orchestral backing supplied by the Eric Rogers Orchestra. (Actually Bogarde recorded his vocals accompanied only by piano, the orchestral strings added later.) Certainly this is neither a noteworthy musical endeavor nor anything more than a footnote in Bogarde's estimable career. The arrangements are mushy, and Bogarde's recitations on the likes of "The Way You Look Tonight," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," and "As Time Goes By" sentimental to the point of verging on camp. It's not quite on the novelty level of William Shatner, however, if only because Bogarde's a superior actor, and does deliver his lines with suave elegance, though the whole premise of the project is so absurd that the best thespian in the world couldn't really make it work. The result wasn't to everyone's taste; Elvis Costello criticized it four decades later in a Vanity Fair article. Yet British DJ David Jacobs got a lot of response after playing a track from it in 1981, and there was enough interest in this collectible to reissue it on CD, with historic liner notes, in 2005.

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