Wednesday, May 26, 1999

Rediscovered Randiness

Posted By on Wed, May 26, 1999 at 12:00 AM

The mercurial Lee Hazlewood was born in Oklahoma in 1929 and has been in motion ever since. Hazlewood discovered Duane Eddy in the mid-’50s and became the creative force behind Eddy’s infamous guitar twang. Establishing himself as an innovative producer with a knack for success, Hazlewood is best known for his work with Nancy Sinatra on "These Boots Are Made For Walkin’." Now, on the first two CDs in a series of reissues, Hazlewood’s method of blending countrified, symphonic lounge-pop with semilurid subject matter and a boozy nonchalance is quietly rediscovered.

A distinctively American singer-songwriter with understated grace, Hazlewood exudes a compelling mystique all his own. His penchant for suggestive vocal duets with members of the fairer sex is also well documented on the classic 1970 recording, Cowboy in Sweden. Sounding like a dustbowl Leonard Cohen with a mixed drink in hand, Hazlewood lazily drawls through such tunes as "Leather & Lace" and "The Night Before." A curious vocal stylist whose mature lyrical content is evenly matched with engaging musical arrangements, Hazlewood is a lost master of American pop songform.

On the 1998 CD, Farmisht, Flatulence, Origami, ARF!!! and me?, Hazlewood and the Al Casey Combo revisit a number of vintage compositions including "Ain’t Misbehavin’," "Makin’ Whoopie" and "It Had To be You." With authentic string and band arrangements by many of the same musicians who worked with Hazlewood four decades earlier, this is a contemporary lounge album for people who want the real thing, not just a reasonable facsimile thereof.

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