Duets with my American Idols – Oleg Frish
The album begins with an introduction from 1950’s and 60’s top charting female vocalist Connie Francis “Oleg and the great singers featured here on his new cd are all helping to keep the music we love, alive, all over the world, so relax and enjoy!”
Enjoying this album is all too easy from the outside as Oleg and BJ Thomas (Rain Drops Keep Fallin’ On My Head) kicks things off in great fashion with the jazzy ‘Sunny’.
By Bagel and Lox it becomes abundantly clear that this album is a celebration of music at it’s simplest, it’s a bizarre song but Oleg makes it work through the sheer joy of his workmanship and for a brief moment I’m able to picture an older version of myself, cane in hand, sitting in a comfy chair with a worn but happy face, blissfully snapping my fingers along whilst inevitably craving a bagel…seriously don’t listen to this song if you’re hungry, only bad things can happen.
Dancing on the Ceiling keeps the groove coming as Oleg’s Russian heritage comes to the fore, some how on this track the accent becomes more apparent than ever, but it only adds to the tracks enjoyment. Oleg’s performance, in tonality, pitch and style seems to draw an uncanny parallel with the work of Michael Buble during this track and obviously that’s a great thing!
The frantic high energy takes a purposeful dip on ‘The Things we did last Summer’ as the tempo is slowed with a sexy jazz fusion with beautiful piano and saxophone work throughout the track. Oleg’s performance is incredibly warming, his careful annunciation of each line sounds as if his directly serenading his sweet heart.
‘Oleg the sensual’ continues in ‘Till There Was You’ as Oleg is accompanied by a beautiful ballroom arrangement that ties his poetic vocals together.
After two slower tracks the album swings into full gear, in every sense of the word. Volare is one of the most famous Eurovision songs in history having placed third in the 1958 competition and having sold in excess of 22 million copies worldwide. It is a testament to the professionalism and joy exhibited from Oleg throughout the album that he does this number justice alongside the effervescent Bobby Rydell given some of the brilliant renditions that have been completed over time by the likes of Dean Martin. Oleg’s language proficiency is also showcased in this song as he effortlessly delivers beautiful lines in genuine Italian.
What A Difference a Day Makes, popularized to English audiences by Diana Washington (the 1959 recording later being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998) was originally written in Spanish by Maria Grever, and not one to be deterred of a challenge Oleg decides to treat his listeners to both the original Spanish version during the first half of the song and then happily translates the song into English during the second portion with the assistance of Chris Montez and it makes for blissful listening.
Perhaps the biggest selling point of this album other than Oleg himself is the chance to hear the legendary and sadly deceased Ben E. King one last time. Day By Day marks the last known recording of Ben E. King and it also marks a wonderful entry into both Ben and Oleg’s discography as the two meld seamlessly on this classic track. Day By Day serves as the best illustration of the albums title “Duets with My American Idols”. One of the most revered artists in history combining with Oleg for an ultimate duo cut. Whilst the song is a joy to behold it is quite saddening to think these two can’t head back into the studio and put out a whole album of work together as they really do compliment one another brilliantly. The features continue in fine form on ‘You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You’ with Gary U.S Bonds as the two go back and forth with verses, harmonizing and some terrific adlib.
The swinging soul continues well into the albums tail as does the personality from Oleg and his singing companions delivery classic lines such as “your as cold as yesterday’s mash potatoes” with irresistible charm on ‘A Fine Romance’ (with Melissa Manchester) as all of the albums features step up the plate in equal measure; Lainie Kazan bringing the flair on “Hello, Dolly!”, Lou Christie delivering some deep and soothing tones on “When You’re Smiling” and Peggy March proving once again that she oozes quality that a supposed ‘one hit wonder’ simply cannot possess on ‘The Way You Look Tonight’. Oleg’s opening lyrics on ‘On the Sunny Side of the Street’, “grab your coat and get your hat” ironically and unfortunately paint the picture that it’s time for this musical journey to end. But leave it to Oleg to ensure that when a good thing does indeed come to an end it does so with a bang as he and Tony Orlando combine brilliantly to leave you tapping your feet to the very end as Tony offers fitting parting words for ‘Duets with My American Idols’, “Hey Oleg, I think we’re looking at sunshine”, sunshine indeed as this album will leave you sporting a huge grin, sore feet and fingers from the tapping and clicking and should be occupying space in your record player as this is a must have for fans of classic music.
Review by James Preston