Friday, September 6, 2013
Linda Ronstadt - What's New
Teaming up with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra for backing, the album scored big (becoming a multi-Platinum seller and spending eight-one weeks on the US Billboard Album chart). It charted at number 31 in the UK, number 29 in Japan, number 21 in New Zealand, number 18 in Canada, number 11 in Australia, number 3 on the US Billboard Album chart and number 2 on the US Billboard Jazz chart. It was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance Female.
Side one opens with the title track. “What’s New?” was a popular song in 1939. Ronstadt’s version was released as a single, and it charted at number 53 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 5 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and number 1 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart.
“I’ve Got a Crush on You”, a George and Ira Gershwin classic that appeared in two different Broadway productions in the early part of the century, was the second single from this album. Ronstadt’s cover went to number 7 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and number 1 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart.
“Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry” is next.
“Crazy He Calls Me” was selected as the B-side to the first single.
Her cover of the Gershwins’ “Someone to Watch Over Me” was released as the third single from the album.
Side two begins with Bing Crosby’s 1932 song “I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You”.
“”What’ll I Do”, written by Irving Berlin in 1920, was a theme in Riddle’s score for the 1974 film The Great Gatsby. The version from this album was the B-side to the third single.
“Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be?)” was a hit in 1945 for Billie Holiday. Ronstadt’s version, with a subdued sultriness to it, was chosen for the B-side to the second single.
The emotional heartbreaker “Goodbye” appropriately closes the record. The 1935 composition by Gordon Jenkins was used as the closing number for the Benny Goodman orchestra.
I have always had a soft spot for songs from this early era in American music; I suspect a lot of that comes from watching the Lawrence Welk Show most Saturday nights growing up over at my grandmother’s house. The music was something that reminds of simpler times in my life and something that I could enjoy with her.
Linda Ronstadt does an incredible job on the vocals here; her time on Broadway clearly shines through in her perfectly phrased and spot-on pitched performance. And you cannot deny the amazing accompaniment of Nelson Riddle and his orchestra on songs they know so well. It speaks volumes that the combination of these two musical forces could hold the number 3 spot on the US charts for five straight weeks, blocked from the top by only Lionel Richie’s Can’t Slow Down at number 2 and Michael Jackson’s Thriller at number 1. What’s New was a very successful experiment by all accounts.
And the beautiful thing about this album is that it is timeless, just like the songs chosen for the record. Listening to this one simply melts away the modern world around me.
Looking for more Linda Ronstadt reviews on my blog? Check out the links below:
For 1977’s Simple Dreams, click here.
For 1982’s Get Closer, click here.
For her 1987 team up with Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton on Trio, click here.