All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Serving jazz worldwide since 1995
All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Extended Analysis

Regis Philbin: When You're Smiling

By Published: February 5, 2005
Regis Philbin
When You're Smiling
Hollywood Records

Sure, it's grade-A wholesome, but I felt like I was buying a Playboy for the articles when I handed it to the music store cashier. I desperately felt like defending my dignity by saying I wasn't buying it for the music.

Nor am I a fan of Good Morning America , Who Wants To Be A Millionaire , or Donald Trump's waterboy on The Apprentice. No, I was buying it because I write reviews and I saw it as my responsibility to give this megastar a good smacking around for whatever delusions of grandeur prompted him to step into a recording studio.

But When You're Smiling really is just too dull for that.

Given the potential of this album (in the disastrous sense), that's not the worst outcome. It's so inoffensive that Regis fans can play it without embarrassing themselves. They might even be able to get those who could care less about him to politely agree with suggestions of "all that and he can sing, too." The merely curious can get free satisfaction hearing samples of all the songs at the Hollywood Records web site .

Philbin, 73, says the album stems from an "out of the blue" offer shortly after a 37-year-old recording of him singing while hosting Joey Bishop's TV show was released in spring of 2004. That show, featuring Philbin's musical idol Bing Crosby as a guest, led to a contract for the album It's Time For Regis! (number 19 on Maxim's "30 Worst Albums Of All Time") and a subsequent tour of Hollywood nightclubs.

Philbin is a competent vocalist and, despite his comic leanings, he's smart enough to play it straight and tight here. This isn't Pat Broone doing hard rock or William Shatner singing drug-centric Beatles tunes. It's also not Crosby. It's just Regis sounding like Regis singing, which is probably all his fans need.

There are no unfamiliar titles or surprise arrangements in this collection of standards. A highlight of sorts is "They Can't Take That Away From Me," a duet with his wife Joy, which has the sort of syrupy homegrown interaction that would weigh down a superior album but actually elevates this one. He also performs an updated version of "Pennies From Heaven," a song he performed on his debut album and Bishop's show, and ends the set in a duet with Ronan Tynan on "Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral," the song Crosby performed during his TV appearance.

A sizable cast of instrumentalists and background vocalists act in a largely orchestral role, but they seem to understand Regis is the star of the show and do nothing to threaten that. Everything is performed and packaged in a squeaky clean format worthy of a big cog under the Disney corporate umbrella.

Your decision on this one essentially comes down to whether you're a fan of Regis. Those who are can check it out in good conscience, but others will find little to make it worthy of competition among even the most mainstream of contemporary jazz vocalists such as Jamie Cullum and Harry Connick Jr. I wouldn't encourage a followup, but my desire to inflict punishment is mollified since it at least achieves a competent enough level of dullness to be harmless.

Tracks: You Make Me Feel So Young; Pennies From Heaven; It Had To Be You; When You're Smiling; I Can't Give You Anything But Love; They Can't Take That Away From Me; The Very Thought Of You; Cheek To Cheek; What'll I Do; You're Nobody 'Til Someone Loves You; Exactly Like You; Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ra.

Personnel: Bob Mann, guitar; Michael Markman, violin; Victoria Miskolszy, viola; Simon Oswell, viola; Allan Schwartzberg, drums; Harry Shirinian, viola; Haim Shtrum, violin; Steve Tyrell, vocals; Nancy Roth, viola; Robert Peterson, violin; Ed Howard, bass; Timothy Landauer, cello; Phillipe Levy, violin; Gil Romero, violin; Edith Markman, violin; Charles "Chip" Jackson, bass; Ana Landauer, violin; Steve Richards, cello; Bruce Dukov, violin; Sid Page, violin; Kenny Ascher, keyboards, String Arrangements; Denyse Buffum, viola; Franklyn d'Antonio, violin; Brian Dembow, viola; Stephen Erdody, cello; David Finck, bass; Dorian Holley, vocals; Mortonette Jenkins, vocals; Marlena Jeter, vocals; David Low, cello; Warren Luening, trumpet; Warren Vach', trumpet.

comments powered by Disqus