I had a friend years ago who wrote songs for a publishing company. He would go into the studio every once in awhile and lay down tracks on a reel-to-reel, sometimes alone and sometimes with a few musicians or singers, many times the same songs in a variety of styles. The idea was to give an artist a taste of each song in the hopes that they would record one or more.
The concept may not be the same here, but the idea is. Fred Moolten is the key to this album, having written all songs, but he is neither the band leader nor a vocalist (though he does add keyboards to a few tracks). Still, he is the reason, and though these tracks are more produced and fully realized than my friend's demo tapes, the results are similar.
Moolten's songwriting style is pretty much out of the Fifties, the era of the strong individual vocalist, and he has matched song to singer fairly well. Dale Cinski, with imperfect but apt voice, sings six of the thirteen songs on Snakebite and Valentine, including the title track, more folky than the others but still steeped in the Fifties vocal style. Donnie Marsico adds three similar vocal stylings and acquits himself nicely.
The female vocalists, though, seem more fit to their songs. Maureen Budway excels on the light lounge song It Won't Be Me, a cross between a Fifties Doris Day and Shirley Bassey, and handlesAfraid To Fall nicely. Moolten's choice of Indira Corales to sing Danzon was probably an automatic, the slight Latin flavor right in her style. And ditto on Maria Becoates-Bey's take on the jazzy/bluesy Midnight Fugue, complete with a male talking poetry ending before fadeout.
While I am not sure what Moolten wanted to do here, this CD does stand as a demo of his songwriting abilities, which are substantial. And while the CD itself suffers in terms of continuity because of the shifting of vocal chores from track to track, it holds up well enough. That is, if your ear is tuned to the Fifties' vocal era. Mine is, but I grew up during those days and remember the music fondly. Those were great days when the song was king and the singer, largely, a vessel (outside of the Frank Sinatras and the Bing Crosbys and the Doris Days, anyway). Maybe what Moolten wanted to do is make the song king again. I wonder... I mean, maybe what we need is another Your Hit Parade era. Not a bad idea, really.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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