Review of The Sweetest Punch
Herald Sun, 1999-10-31
- Pete Best


BURT can write. Bill can play. Elvis can't sing.

His voice runs like a flat, ugly scar through some of these BacharachCostello songs rearranged by Frisell. As a jazz guitarist, Frisell has probably already chalked up the record of the year with his charming and unexpectedly simple Good Dog, Happy Man album.

But even his delicate surgery can't hide the grating intrusions of the Costello larynx on the two songs that carry his vocals on this album. But two out of 15 ain't (so) bad.

It was an interesting project. After Costello and Bacharach had finished writing the songs that would make up last year's Painted From Memory, demos were sent to Frisell. The drifting, unhurried reinvention of some of these songs is trademark Frisell.

On Painted, the big names had been allowed indulgences that would have riled the New Wave-era Elvis. The music was sleepily tedious and the Iyrics unspeakably banal. But that barren landscape has given Frisell the room to move and from the fleshy, corpulent original he has carved a record of gentle delight.