Upstairs at Larry's: Lawrence Welk Uncorked

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Upstairs at Larry's: Lawrence Welk Uncorked Review

by Stewart Mason

Well, it had to happen eventually. Vanguard Records, a label run by The Welk Group, has gathered together the master tapes of an album's worth of tracks by the late corporate head Lawrence Welk and his legendary "champagne music" band and handed them over to a largely unknown group of producers for the full dance remix treatment. The 68-minute album is front-loaded with clever and danceable winners like the Greens Keepers' lounge-exotica throwback "Green Shiek of Araby" and Rithma's funky, fractured take on The Lawrence Welk Show's theme, "Champagne Time." But after the second deconstruction of Henry Mancini's "Baby Elephant Walk" and a groovy but seemingly endless version of "You Are My Sunshine," the album's second half bogs down with a parade of too-similar remixes that show up the limitations of the album's central concept. Welk's music was proudly square, but it was also comfortingly predictable, with little in the way of variety; this makes a full album's worth of remixes from the same unchanging source material get pretty tiresome toward the end. Only the clever found-sound commentary "Bubbles in the Wine" gets much traction on the album's second half, and even it goes on a minute or two too long. Perhaps a more inventive set of remixers (one can only imagine what Cut Chemist or DJ Spooky could do with this stuff) would have made a more varied, less predictable album, but given the uniformity of the source material, perhaps not.

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