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Kenny Rogers

143/Atlantic

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Let’s give the devil his due: Kenny Rogers is certainly honest when he writes in the liner notes, “Success in one field…doesn’t necessarily give you success in another field, but it does give you credibility and the ability to experiment at a very high level.” High level indeed—156 musicians and nearly 30 technical staff were involved in this project, a collection of (mostly) timeless standards. Also to his credit, Rogers lists them all by name, down to the supervising copyist. The credibility claim is arguable, given Rogers’ lumbering death-rattle vocals, which wrestle rather than caress these Gershwin, Mercer, etc. melodies. Nowhere are the Gambler’s limitations more clear than when Take 6 adds angelic backing harmonies to “Love Is Just Around the Corner.” But with the exception of the execrable “You Are So Beautiful,” these tunes are invulnerable, and Rogers is correct to admire them. His album, though, serves best as a reminder that everyone should have some Hoagy Carmichael, Rodgers and Hart, and Jimmy Van Heusen in their collection. Look under “Sinatra” or “Fitzgerald.”