Little Mix: DNA (SYCO/Columbia)
Like their platinum selling U.K. colleagues One Direction, Little Mix also came from the Brit reality television show The X Factor.
Unlike One Direction, Little Mix won the top spot on the show while One Direction did not.
While One Direction is made up of five young lads, Little Mix is a female foursome based closely on the template that made The Spice Girls mega stars for a couple of years.
And it looks as if that formula is going to be a winner for Little Mix now that DNA has made its debut at the lofty No. 4 spot on both the USA and Canadian album charts.
Frankly I would not have predicted such high debut chart success in North America but right now the ladies are riding high with their hit simply titled Wings and its simplistic notions of self-empowerment (again playing the old Spice Girls so-called messaging).
Like Wings, the up-tempo songs here often turn into cheerleader arena chants with palmas (why use synth hand claps?) but with forgettable hooks while the power ballads merely crawl along and grow annoying.
A couple of minor bright spots include the flamenco guitar on Going Nowhere (a song on layabout boyfirends) while the venerable but buyable Missy Elliott turns up on How Ya Doin’ to lay down a standard, safe rap.
Fans may want to know that this also comes as a 16-track Deluxe Edition.
Bennett/Brubeck: The White House Sessions LIVE 1962 (Sony)
Dave Brubeck and Tony Bennett were hired by The White House at summer’s end 1962 for an outdoor concert for students who had been interns and volunteers. The gig was a big warm thank you from JFK.
Unfortunately, the tapes for this illustrious gig were lost and more or less became legendary over the last 50 years.
When Brubeck died last year, well into his 90s, the lost tapes were finally found misfiled in Sony’s classical music archives and are now available for the very first time.
Brubeck performed only four tunes in his half hour set with extended pieces Nomad and Castillian Blue, and of course his signature song Take Five that sounds oddly rushed here and doesn’t feature the great and expected Joe Morello drum solo.
Tony Bennett brought his own small combo and he ripped through show tune classics (all around two minutes!) like Rags To Riches, Make Someone Happy and Just In Time from the musical Bells Are Ringing.
Bennett also sang his signature I Left My Heart In San Francisco which had become a huge hit for him just a few weeks earlier.
But the real treasures of this album happened when Bennett and Brubeck decided to do an on the spot, unrehearsed four-song set and the two played off each other with great aplomb, highlighted by snappy versions of Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town), Lullaby Of Broadway and That Old Black Magic.
The show somehow heralded an end of innocence and unforeseen huge changes for the two artists when The Beatles and their English Invasion usurped the youth market, while JFK was assassinated just three months later.
A fine document of a bygone era.
New Politics: A Bad Girl In Harlem (RCA)
New Politics is a power pop trio from Denmark who moved to New York a couple of years ago in hopes of stardom after being signed by RCA.
The band’s first album more or less stiffed but this follow up album is faring a little better with the party hit Harlem that sounds as if it was inspired in part by Billy Idol’s take of Mony Mony.
The rest of this slim, 10-track, half hour disc features upbeat arena chant rock that quickly gets held up by its own lightweight limitations.
The ska-pop of Overcome isn’t unlike early No Doubt and offers perhaps another avenue to explore, but there is more ambition than talent here.