NAT KING COLE: Re:Generations (Label: EMI)

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NAT KING COLE: Re:Generations

Some years ago Nat King Cole’s music was given a successful makeover when new technologies allowed Natalie Cole to duet with her late father. Since then the technology has pushed on further and more and more artists’ and label’s back catalogues have been given the remix/rewind treatment. Now the wheel comes full circle with the keepers of Cole’s music (basically his family) allowing a distinguished posse of cutting edge soul, R&B, reggae and rock artists to rework a baker’s dozen of his classics. Projects of this nature always polarize opinion. Some say (with some validity) that if the music is already “timeless” and “successful” why tamper with it; others (again with a degree of validity) argue that allowing new musicians to tamper, brings the timeless and successful to a new audience. The truth of the matter (or so it seems to me) lies halfway between those two arguments. If the remix works it will attract new listeners, but if it doesn’t then the effort was worthless. Here, quite patently, some of the new tweaks work rather well but some fail miserably – most notably TV On The Radio’s atrocious electronic assault on ‘Nature Boy’. The best efforts here are those that approach the music with the respect that it deserves. In that category are Cee-Lo’s look at ‘Lush Life’, the Roots’ efforts on ‘Walking My Baby Back Home’, where the track is effectively made up of two halves, and’s ‘Straighten Up And Fly Right’ while Bebel Gilberto adds some Latin authenticity to ‘Brazilian Love Song’… all perfectly acceptable and worthwhile. What is also eminently worthwhile about this project is that the remixers have selected some lesser known Cole tracks – like ‘The Game Of Love’, ‘Calypso Blues’ and ‘Hit That Jive Jack’. That alone should make people realize that there’s a lot more to Nat King Cole than the chestnuts that are continually rotated on the radio. In that respect alone the project should bring the maestro to a wider audience.
(BB) 3/5