Rod McKuen

The Beautiful Strangers

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The Beautiful Strangers is a collection of home recordings and songwriting demos Rod McKuen made over a period of several years, and Marty Paich added string arrangements to the basic tracks for album release. One might wonder why the prolific McKuen elected to recycle recordings that were not originally intended for commercial release, but the finished product does not sound very different from his other albums, and many of the songs are very good. "The Beautiful Strangers" was recorded by Frank Sinatra, and several other songs ("Only Love" and "Like Children Do" among them) are quality compositions performed in McKuen's light folk-pop style. Two poems, recited over beds of music, will seem as little more than filler to listeners who strongly prefer the songs. McKuen's liner notes self-deprecatingly describe the albums' humble origins, warning prospective buyers that The Beautiful Strangers is a collection of odds and ends not to be viewed too critically.