The Greatest Pop Songs of All Time, Vol. 1

  • Post author:
  • Reading time:3 mins read

The Greatest Pop Songs of All Time, Vol. 1

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, January 9, 2015

Reviewed by Rob Lester for Cabaret Scenes

Greatest-Pop-Songs-of-All-Time-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212Granted, The Greatest Pop Songs of All Time is a convenient, subjective umbrella title for a grab-bag show. The fella with the umbrella (to quote unrepresented Irving Berlin): Scott Siegel, producer/creator/director/host/music history professor du jour. We got mostly 1960s radio hits in this recital, a quick substitute for a canceled Dinah Shore tribute. The agreeable “songs standing the test of time,” as our guide classified choices in this replacement Dinah-sty of baby boomer bounty, earned credibility with pages from the Beatles songbook. Stacy Sullivan and pianist Jon Weber, first at bat, warmed the room with a silky, moody “Here Comes the Sun” and Carole J. Bufford (regular member of the Siegel “repertory company” in his astonishingly prolific concert work) held forth with “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” slow and pleading.

How well I remember this boffo Bufford treatment from her “discovery” as 2009’s MetroStar competition runner-up: Singing this number in an original way was an assignment; her still-potent inspired idea was re-setting it as an adult child assisting a physically fragile aging parent.

With Lesley Gore gone, fiery Maxine Linehan owns “You Don’t Own Me.” And, from her sterling Petula Clark tribute, the international hit (preceded by Siegel’s amusing story of its genesis via tunesmith Tony Hatch’s NYC geographical confusion).

On the male side, there were captivating turns by Jack Noseworthy (star quality plus with “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do”), Todd Murray (an unannounced surprise treat), Bob Stillman (accompanying himself, with especially involved phrasing enriching “Bridge Over Troubled Water”), and versatile, grand pianist Ian Herman.  And to close, a return back to talent from the Beatles, one of its members’ solo hits, John Lennon’s anthem “Imagine,” felt all the more meaningful considering recent headlines, as powerfully presented by Brian Charles Rooney, with gravitas meeting hope. Ahhhh.

Rob Lester

2015 is native New Yorker Rob Lester's eighth year as contributing writer, beginning by reviewing a salute to Frank Sinatra, whose recordings have played on his personal soundtrack since the womb. (His Cabaret Scenes Foundation member mom started him with her favorite; like his dad, he became an uber-avid record collector/ fan of the Great American Songbook's great singers and writers.) Soon, he was attending shows, seeking out up-and-comers and already-came-ups, still reading and listening voraciously. He also writes for and, has been cabaret-centric as awards judge, panel member/co-host, and produces benefit/tribute shows, including one for us.