These days a compact disc can be recorded, manufactured and packaged on a relatively modest budget. The upside: tons of talented musicians unable to hook up with a major label are now able to get their music "out there" to the public. The downside: an awful lot of horrid crap that ought to get trucked right out to the landfill without ever coming near a stereo system gets foisted on an unsuspecting public. Cheek to Cheek: Ellis Leahy Sings Sinatra
, falls, sadly, into the downside category. Thirty secords into the opener, Leahy's rendition of Rodgers and Hart's "I Wish I Were In Love Again," has one asking "My God, how drunk is he?" Sinatra's nuanced phrasing and easy swing, his ease and nonchalance of delivery are all a distant memory here as Leahy butchers the melody and bulldozes the lyric with an comically stentorian delivery that at times borders on outright bellowing.
And when he sings (if you want to call it singing) the sly lyric, "When love congeals, it soon reveals, the faint aroma of performing seals," he makes it sound so dirty. Where Mr. Sinatra carried this bawdy bit of naughtiness off with a twinkle in his blue eye, a wink and a guileless grin, Ellis Leahy sniggers like an abject pervert, depravity incarnate.
Enough! Enough words about this sonic travesty.
But there is justice in this world sometimes. This writer caught an ad in our local paper advertising a performance by "The One and Only Ellis Leahy, Vocalist" performing at De Nio's Pizza Parlor. It was a moth-to-flame thing I suppose, that drew me there. I entered the dim confines that were redolent of oregano and tomato sauce, and found the One and Only on a small stage in the rear, belting it out to a disgruntled audience in front of a Megastar karaoke machine, the Irving Berlin hit "Cheek to Cheek."
Vocalist Leahy, fat, square-headed, decked out in a rumpled, ill-fitting suit and a sweat-stained fedora, blared out the lyric: "Heaven, I'm in Heaven, And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak, And I seem to find that happiness I seek, When we're out together dancing, Cheek to Cheek." (off the Come Dance With Me disc, Billy May orchestrating). A performance that can only be described as fatuous and criminally buffoonish, the lyric rendered in a voice like that of a bull sea lion in the rut, in this writer's view.
And I wasn't alone in my low opinion, because before Leahy could continue, a svelte man in a sleek suit sprang on stage and swaggered forward; he sported a sprinkling of grave dust on his shoulders, with dirt clods nestled in the brim of his snappy hat, and he approached Ellis Leahy from the rear and applied a series of vigorous kicks to the singer's buttocks, moving from cheek to cheek with the applications, smiting each bun a good half a dozen times apiece before Leahy leaped howling to the dance floor, into the crowd that chased him to the parking lot and beat him senseless, while the kicker dusted his shoulders, tilted his fedora, grinned and did a jaunty strut, stage right, off into the night.