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PAUL ANKA Rock Swings - Live At The Montreal Jazz Festival
Enter swingman...

Paul Anka

Rock stars have dallied with swing - Robbie Williams being the most celebrated exponent, and of course Rod has been amazingly successful with his American Songbook series. So it was only to be expected that an old crooner would attempt to turn the tables.

Enter 64 year-old Paul Anka - a star for over 4 decades and still just as popular with the fans he's picked up since day one of his quite amazing career. And Anka hasn't sustained his longevity by chance - no two ways about it, the guy's a pro.

He gives his public exactly what they want and is a polished showman. Complete with perfect tan, perfect teeth and looking in rude (if surgically enhanced) health.

This DVD is the follow-up to Anka's gold selling Rock Swings album in which he takes a wide range of 'classic' rock songs and gives them the 'swing' treatment. But unlike the album, this release features only a selection of numbers from that album, the rest being a range of his material from down the years.

The traditional swing material is what you would expect - a highly polished Vegas style show from a consummate pro. And if swing's your thing then there's no way you won't enjoy this. And even if you're not, you can't help but admire his delivery of songs like Mack The Knife.

As for the rock material, for me it doesn't translate. Those numbers that work best are the slower ballads like Spandau Ballet's True, Lionel Ritchie's Hello and a particularly cheesy version of Clapton's Tears In Heaven where Paul can barely hold back the crocodile tears.

The 'heavier' numbers like Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit, Survivor's Eye Of The Tiger and Bon Jovi's It's My Life share the same lyrics as the originals but the arrangements bear only a passing resemblance.

They're recognisable, but unless the Pink Panther gets your rocks off I'd recommend a wide berth. And as for Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun, just don't go there.

If swing is your thing I can strongly recommend this dvd. And it will certainly be an essential purchase for Paul Anka fans. But if, like me, swing doesn't get your rocks off, then avoid at all costs. But whatever your preferences you simply have to respect the man who gave us My Way.

As for extras, you get an excellent Lonely Boy documentary looking at the very early years of Paul's career. You also get a montage of archive stills and showcase performances of It's My Life, Put Your Head On My Shoulder, True and Tears From Heaven recorded live at The Orange Lounge.

****½ or *** depending of whether you love or hate swing.

Review by Pete Whalley

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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