"Golden Earrings" Serves as a Testament to Taste, Talent, and Exceptional Chemistry

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Whaling City Sound is excited to bring you this very special collection of music from the late, great guitarist Joe Beck and jazz vocalist Laura Theodore. This intimate and inspired series of duets effectively pays twin tributes. Initially conceived by Theodore as a tribute to the revered vocalist and popular music icon Peggy Lee, whose alluring, "cool" style captivated listeners through the '40s, '50s & '60s, it also stands as a tribute to the late guitar great Joe Beck, who passed away on July 22, 2008 at age 62 due to complications from lung cancer. While Theodore may have sparked the notion of interpreting tunes written by the songwriting partnership of Peggy Lee and her guitarist-husband Dave Barbour, it was Beck who came up with the intriguing arrangements and reharmonizations that underscore this winning collaboration. Their chemistry together is apparent on these 16 gems, from million-sellers like "Why Don't You Do Right?" (Lee's 1943 hit with Benny Goodman), "Manana (Is Soon Enough For Me)" (the most popular song of 1948) and her smash hit from 1958, "Fever," to more obscure but no less engaging offerings like "Take A Little Time To Smile" and "My Small Senor." There's an easy, organic flow to their give-and-take together. Everything is strictly in the moment with these two first-take daredevils, yet artfully executed.

On its surface, Golden Earrings is a simple duet recording. Just beneath that surface, however, lie several extraordinary qualities. Most obviously, it's a duet recording between two special talents. Secondly, it is a testament to the work of a legendary artist. And, finally, Golden Earrings serves as the swan song of an American guitar giant.

Golden Earrings is Laura Theodore (of Bloomingdale, NJ) and Joe Beck's ode to the work of Peggy Lee and her husband, guitarist Dave Barbour. Beck and Theodore touch on many of the couple's highest and most popular musical points, including "Manana (Is Soon Enough For Me)," the biggest song of 1948, and the classic "Fever," along with some lesser known hits. Theodore, a lovely singer in the Lee mold, comes up with some wonderful interpretations, as does the masterful Beck. This is not surprising, considering Beck actually accompanied Lee as her guitarist on and off for ten years--just one of the many highlights on his illustrious resume.

But rest assured, this is not a faithful recreation of the Lee/Barbour performances. Theodore and Beck are unique stylists and their collaborations are raw, elegant, and often connected to the originals by a single thread: the passion of the originals. Recognized critic Scott Yanow noted that the duet "gives listeners a new and sometimes offbeat look into these vintage songs. Laura Theodore is heard at her best and Joe Beck exits on top."

Indeed, Golden Earrings stands as the final creative statement from Beck. He died in the summer of 2008 at the age of 62. But Yanow is correct; he exited on top, the recording is his farewell tour de force. He tears through this material with the gusto and relish of a gypsy genius, by turns potent, dexterous, elegant and bluesy. Across the recording he demonstrates an affinity for multiple stylistic dimensions and colors. He's a master at creating an orchestra of sounds on his custom Martin Archtop (designed by Dale Unger) and his guitar bejewels these songs with glistening chords and polished picking.

Both Theodore's vocals and Beck's playing unite in perfect harmony and together create an extraordinary chemistry, one that Peggy Lee and Dave Barbour themselves would have undoubtedly been proud.

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Ginny Shea

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