Sunday, June 14, 2009

Review: 'RE: Generations' by Nat King Cole for Tom Magazine

For Tom Magazine.
Tribute Album: RE: Generations (Capitol/EMI)

A bevy of contemporary musicians try their hand at remixing tracks from jazz giant Nat King Cole’s catalogue, on this ambitious compilation, RE: Generations. The idea behind this record is genius’ take some of the world’s hottest contemporary acts, like Cut Chemist and TV on the Radio, and let them run loose with a musical legend. The only downfall of this record, is that in trying to mix Cole’s sound with as many genres as possible, from reggae, to techno, it’s hit and miss as to what works (and a lot of it does) and what really, really, doesn’t. Re: Generations is a wonderful testament to Cole’s prolific work, and the influence modern music can find in him.

Some of the tracks, which take on a Latin, or jazzy feel, still capture the basic spirit and tone of Cole’s sound, with subtle, fun differences. Cole’s daughter, Natalie Cole, does a wonderful job on ‘Straighten Up and Fly Right’, their voices work beautifully together, and the upbeat jazz tunes complete the picture. Some of the collaborating artists push genre boundaries with a number of winning tracks, and some bizarre mash-ups. Cut Chemist’s effort, ‘Day In Day Out’, fuses techno (complete with record scratches and breakdowns) with Cole’s smooth vocals. Unfortunately, either something is missing, or there’s too much going on, as the track ends up feeling hectic, and just a little odd. ‘Walkin’ My Baby Back Home’, featuring hip hop group, The Roots, maintains an old-school feel, despite rap breakdowns, as they manage to meet Cole with modern hip hop. Another standout track is ‘Hit That Jive Jack’, produced by Souldiggaz, and featuring Izza Kizza. Cole’s recognisable vocals melt into contemporary, upbeat hip hop/dance: blend until smooth, and add a pinch of kick-ass rhythm.

(Anna Angel)

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