Various Artists

Songs for the Jet Set, Vol. 2

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On this second volume in the Songs for the Jet Set series, an actual concept truly starts to coalesce. The initial volume, while frequently wonderful (or at the very least full of guilty pleasures), often fell short on conceptual heft, making for a hodgepodge of adorable tunes that sounded as if they were pulled directly from the 1960s, as opposed to a deliberate collection that comments or reflects on the decade in any way. Volume 2 takes steps to remedy that stumbling block by giving the subgenre its own designation, "Cinema Pop," and by planting a few clues about the album's contents. For example, the inside liner-note graphics borrow the image of James Coburn disguised as a hippie from the psychedelic-era spoof, The President's Analyst. It could point to the idea of the compilation as a sly parody of jet-setter pop from the period. On the other hand, it could be a celebration of said period, reveling in all the goofball appeal and kaleidoscopic allure of the time. If the songs have anything to say about the matter, the answer probably lies closer to the latter because the music throughout is brilliantly executed and absolutely enchanting, absent of any of the detached irony or cynicism one might expect. Although this series is not in any way about "artistic growth" (and it could be argued that it is the direct antithesis), there is a sort of progression from the first album. Because most of the songs derive from actual soundtracks from the '60s, Vol. 2 sounds almost like a lost soundtrack from a psychedelic film circa 1967. "Tomorrow" from Tomorrow's World was written by Strawberry Alarm Clock, as was "Toy Boy," which appeared in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and is performed on the album with characteristic studio-bred sleaze by Wallpaper, who also take on Michael Legrand's "F for Fake" from the Orson Welles film of the same name. Kim & Co. chimes in with some feathery girl-group tunes in the Lalo Schifrin-composed "Look Up" (with references to both Christmas songs and "Auld Lang Syne") and a version of Nelson Riddle's "Lolita Ya-Ya" from Stanley Kubrick's 1962 film version of Nabokov's Lolita. Milky contributes a musical come-on, cooing through Billy Goldberg's "La De Da" (from Jerry Paris' racy 1969 film The Grasshopper), and Loveletter's wispy boss nova in "On Days Like These" originated with Quincy Jones. Some of the musical combinations are just plain weird and take on a bizarre cast that moves them past cutesiness and into almost scary-cool territory, such as Death By Chocolate's "Zap the World," a freak-out campfire sing-along, and Wallpaper's "Man of Flowers," a hip Bo Diddley-esque polka for cats that can look suave even in sky-blue tuxedos. A lot of this veers dangerously close to illegality in the sexual innuendo category, but who cares? It sounds exquisite.

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