Light In The Attic Records releases a re-mastered 180-gram vinyl of an unusual 60’s pop duo.
Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood – Nancy & Lee – Reprise Records (1968)/Light In The Attic Records LITA 198 (2022) 180-gram stereo vinyl + 20-page booklet, 41:33 ****:
(Nancy Sinatra – vocals; Lee Hazelwood – guitar, vocals; Billy Strange – strings arrangements, guitar, conductor; Chuck Berghofer – double bass; Hal Blaine – drums; Glen Campbell – guitar; Al Casey – guitar; Roy Canon – trumpet; Carol Kaye – bass; Bobby Knight – trombone; Donnie “Dirt” Lanier – guitar; Lew McCreary – trombone; Oliver Mitchell – trumpet; Don Randi – keyboards; Emil Richards – percussion; Julius Wechter – percussion; Larry Knechtel – keyboards; Jim Gordon – drums and many others)
Being the child of an iconic musical performer has challenges. You get opportunities easier than outsiders, but in exchange, there will be increased scrutiny. Some like Liza Minelli and Natalie Cole managed to navigate this and enjoy a successful career. Another is Nancy Sinatra. After modest attempts at singing, she released the #1 single, “These Boots Were Made For Walkin’” in 1966. The song became embroiled in the 60’s culture and the video clips of Sinatra added a fashion element. Country-influenced singer/songwriter Lee Hazelwood wrote and produced the hit. Their collaboration would extend to other hits including “Summer Wine”, “Jackson” and “Some Velvet Morning”. Additionally Ms. Sinatra achieved commercial success with the James Bond Theme, “You Only Live Twice”. She and Hazelwood would continue to work together for several years.
Light In The Attic Records has released a re-mastered 180-gram vinyl of the 1968 album, Nancy & Lee. With two additional tracks from the original album, there is an eclectic mix of pop and country songs with string arrangements by Billy Strange and session work by the renowned Wrecking Crew. Side One opens with the ambitious “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin”. This “Wall Of Sound” touchstone was one of the last hits for Phil Spector and launched The Righteous Brothers into stardom. The arrangement epitomizes the unusual vocal pairing of Sinatra and Hazelwood. The juxtaposition of sweet pop tonality and deep twangy baritone are showcased with languid melancholy that separates it from the original. A loping tempo on “Elusive Dreams” is reminiscent of classic 1960’s country duets with Chet Atkins-inspired strings. A spoken word interlude by Sinatra is nicely executed. Switching to up tempo country, Tom T. Hall’s quirky “Greenwich Village Folk Song Salesman” examines topical subjects with good-natured humor (“green-wich”). On the first Hazelwood original, “Summer Wine” (a B Side of “Sugar Town”), his cinematic essence is vibrant. This song has been covered by many artists in different languages.The duet chemistry is at its strongest here. The deliberate pacing and dramatic accents return on “Sundown, Sundown” with orchestral flourish. In perhaps the most traditional cover, “Jackson” is playful and flows smoothly. It incorporates the duo’s singing with Nashville aesthetics (harmonica, steel guitar).
This unusual pairing of psychedelic pop and country hits its artistic crescendo on “Some Velvet Morning”. Hazelwood’s dirge-like moody rumination (in 4/4) with Greek Mythology symbolism is countered by Sinatra’s gossamer 3/4 time flowery reflections, making a compelling recording. The listener will feel transported back to 1968. Hazelwood’s folky writing and Western romanticism are at the core of another original dialogue number, “Sand”. His sense of doomed love permeates the context, especially on “Lady Bird”. There is more than a casual attention to self-deprecation. On “I’ve Been Down So Long (Looks Like Up To Me”), it appears that this might be a blues translation. But in the context of this album, it is a weird, amiable pop ditty with string enhancement and unlikely harpsichord. The occasional talking exchanges add to the anecdotal fluency. The remaining two tracks are previously unreleased covers. The understated energy of Nancy & Lee is a bit overproduced for a basic rock and roll gem like “Tired Of Waiting For You”. But the percussive, horn-driven “Love Is Strange” is jaunty (including a “Sock It To Me” reference) and distills the inherent whimsy of the beloved standard.
Light In The Attic Records has done an excellent job in re-mastering Nancy & Lee to 180-gram vinyl. The stereo separation is excellent and the overall mix is strong. Both Sinatra’s willowy voice and Hazelwood’s deep-toned baritone are front and center.
You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling;
Greenwich Village Folk Song Salesman;
Some Velvet Morning;
I’ve Been Down So Long (It Looks Up To Me);
Tired Of Waiting For You;
Love Is Strange.