Duets with My American Idols
(Time Out Media)
May 26, 2015
Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes
Russian multi-media star Oleg Frish has combined his charm and warm, cheerful sound with ten of his American idols. Frish discovered American popular music as a young man in Russia and most of the vocalists that he performs with were pop stars of the 1960s and ’70s whose 45 RPM records somehow made it into Soviet Russia. The recording is a fun-filled collection of classics from the Great American Songbook with swinging up-tempo arrangements. The vocals are by Frish and his idols: Gary U.S. Bonds, Peggy March, Ben E. King, B.J. Thomas, Chris Montez, Lainie Kazan, Tony Orlando, Melissa Manchester, Lou Christie, and Bobby Rydell. Despite the rock ’n’ roll background of most of Frish’s partners, they all showed an affinity for performing songs from a different genre. Frish’s joyfulness is contagious and I found myself singing along with each track of the recording.
Connie Francis provides a warm introduction that leads into a swinging “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You” with Gary U.S. Bonds. Former teen star Peggy March works romantically with Frish on “The Way You Look Tonight.” B. J. Thomas teams up for a very jazzy “Sunny.” The CD is notable for featuring Ben E. King’s last recording, “Day by Day.” Chris Montez teams up for an English-Spanish, Latin-tempoed “What a Difference a Day Makes.” Frish and Lainie Kazan perform a hilarious English-Yiddish “Hello, Dolly!.” Melissa Manchester sounds great playing Ginger to Frish’s Fred on “A Fine Romance.” Lou Christie displays his three-octave range, while Frish’s cheerfulness comes through the recording of “When You’re Smiling.” He shows off his formidable chops as a vocalist on four solos, including a gem from the 1940s that I had never heard, “Bagel and Lox” (Sid Tepper/Roy Bennett), and a beautifully performed “The Things We Did Last Summer.” He saved the best for last on this recording, by closing with Bobby Rydell’s 1960 hit song “Volare.” Amazingly, Rydell, showing off an amazingly powerful baritone voice, sounds even better today than he did 55 years ago.