The Puppini Sisters – Betcha Bottom Dollar
Verve Forecast (5/1/07)
Pop / Vocal
I’m sort of surprised by my reaction to The Puppini Sisters’ Betcha Bottom Dollar and how much I liked it. I was expecting something tiring and overly-gimmicky but I was wrong. If I were to express the sound of this album I would say in a joyous voice, “la-di-da.” The three voices of Stephanie O’Brien, Marcella Puppini and Kate Mullins blended together is sunshine, and upon hearing these songs it’s impossible to not at least smile. These UK-based retro darlings bring together a three-part harmony in a ’40s style, singing classics as well as some surprisingly modern choices. I usually reserve my taste for this style for Bette Midler, but I dig this and their artistic outreach.
The Puppini Sisters list a range of influences from Marilyn Manson to Carole King to the neo-burlesque movement. Another nice touch is they play their own instruments on the album, instruments that were previously used during genuinely inspired live performances.
I liked the peppy flavor added to covers of standards like “Mr. Sandman” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (From Company B)”, but “Java Jive” could have been cut. I love coffee and tea, but I would need a cup of coffee during this song even though I understand why it’s so sexy and slow. “Jeepers Creepers” is as creepy as the song tends to be, they make it so upbeat that it should be pushed toward the beginning. They cover Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” where I wouldn’t have recognized it as a Kate Bush song, but this gives classic proof that you can take good songs and successfully translate them into a completely different genre.
Gloria Gaynor’s classic disco hit “I Will Survive” got a extreme makeover that I would just love to see interpreted live. Think a passive-aggressive empowerment Sunday casual realization over a drink interpretation that somehow works. You just have to hear itâ€”it’s shocking and yet strong and simple with the different arrangement.
“Heart of Glass”, originally a classic Blondie song, sounds so different and is very much addictive in the ’40s style. “Panic”, an original song by The Smiths, was another good interpretation and the amazing cheeriness of the lyrics “hang the DJ”, in the Puppini Sisters vocal styling, is a nice touch.
No one can accuse The Puppini Sisters of cashing on any trends, as they are so strikingly different and retro, without being out-of-date or offensive to any of the songs they’ve interpreted. Who knows where these girls could go…