Reviews

Burt Bacharach, A Life in Song (Eagle Rock Entertainment, 2016)

Some of the first songs I fell in love with as a child were written by Burt Bacharach. My parents weren't huge music fans, and most of the records they owned were of Latino music origins, but they had quite a few albums that would fall in the "Easy Listening" section of the local Woolworth's store. That's where I first heard Burt Bacharach-penned songs like "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" and "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" I have been a fan of the legendary composer ever since then.

Filmed at London's Royal Festival Hall in 2015, A Life in Song was originally commissioned and aired by the BBC in November of that year. The special features British television executive Michael Grade interviewing Bacharach about the latter's celebrated songbook. The Q&A is interspersed with performances of the songs by such artists as Joss Stone, Justin Hayward (The Moody Blues), Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and Michael Kiwanuka.

Hayward's take on "What the World Needs Now" and Ellis-Bextor's bewitching "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" proved to be the standout performances of the evening. Bacharach and his band's medley featuring songs from his soundtrack work also brought a smile to my face. I wonder if the BBC producers reached out to Noel Gallagher to appear in the special, since he's a fellow fan of the man's work? It would have been a treat to see Gallagher strip down a song like "Alfie."

Throughout the years, I've enjoyed seeing Bacharach playing on television, since he always looks like he's having the time of his life, and that's also the case during his A Life in Song performance.

I have only one gripe about A Life in Song: Michael Grade. When I received the Blu-ray in the mail, I was most looking forward to the interview portions of the special, but Grade often got in the way of Bacharach during the Q&A. Howard Stern also has the same habit of cutting off his guests just when it seems like they're about to elaborate on an interesting idea, and it frustrates the hell out of me. I wish Grade would have laid back in the cut more and let Bacharach think through his answers much more.

Grade's interview crimes aside, A Life in Song is still an entertaining special thanks to Bacharach's timeless melodies.

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