CD Whatever It Takes * [Sandra Bernhard] (CD 4676367),
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Whatever It Takes * [Sandra Bernhard]

  • 1. All Around
    2. Whatever It Takes
    3. Don't Cry in Bed
    4. New World, A
    5. Touch in Love, A
    6. We're on Our Way
    7. Can You See
    8. Why So Blue
    9. Sun Comes Out, The
    10. Woman in Love, A
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 001402

  • Credits
    ProducerTed Mason

    Personnel: Sandra Bernhard (vocals); Chrissie Hynde, Erol Josue, Erol Josu, Jean Paul Samputu (vocals); Ted Mason (guitar, percussion, background vocals); Rachel Golub (sitar, strings); Dave Eggar (strings); Frank Coleman, Chris Eddleton (drums).
    Recording information: The Cutting Room Studio, NYC.
    Sandra Bernhard is best known as an actress and comedian, and she's released five albums featuring both music and her trademark acerbic humor, but if Whatever It Takes is supposed to be funny, the wit is so bone dry that it entirely refuses to announce itself as such. Instead, Whatever It Takes appears to be a sincere and straight-faced exercise in internationalist pop with a social conscience. Produced by Ted Mason, a former member of Modern English, Whatever It Takes merges big rock & roll guitars and dance-friendly beats with rhythmic and melodic accents from Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America; Rwandan vocalist Jean Paul Samputu guests on three tracks, while Haitian singer Erol Josu also contributes his talents, giving this material some legitimate world music cred. Bernhard wrote all ten songs in collaboration with Mason, and while she doesn't exactly hop on a soapbox, much of the time she clearly has some sort of message to share with us, declaring "All around, we just want to be free again," "It's a new world, leave your fears behind" and "I'm going to change the holy word, I'm going to bring you 'round from what you've heard." (Bernhard has told more than one journalist that the optimism of Barack Obama's presidential campaign was in her thoughts while making the album.) Musically, Whatever It Takes is strong and well-crafted stuff, and the mixture of dancefloor-approved grooves, Mason's guitar heroics and the global sound and feel brought by the guest artists makes this a surprisingly successful experiment. The trouble is that Bernhard is a better comic than she is a singer; she's not bad by any stretch, but when she duets with Chrissie Hynde on the opening cut "All Around," it takes only seconds to realize which singer has been fronting a great rock band for three decades and which is a comic who sometimes sings. (Not to mention the contrast between Bernhard and Samputu's powerful vocal cameos.) Bernhard's ambitions outstrip her gifts as a singer on Whatever It Takes, despite an obviously sincere and concerted effort on her part, and while it's novel to hear her sing with such purpose, if she's going to make music her main focus from now on, a visit with a vocal coach wouldn't be a bad idea. ~ Mark Deming

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