Picks and Pans Review: Torch

UPDATED 11/09/1981 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 11/09/1981 at 01:00 AM EST

Carly Simon

When Willie Nelson's collection of pop classics became a smash in 1978, it inspired other artists to try panning for gold in the rich mainstream of American music. While Carly hasn't exactly hit the mother lode with this LP, it's a pleasant effort. As one who has shown a respect for standards, if not for convention, she has picked songs that fit roughly into the genre for which this collection was named. Carly's delivery, as the worldly-wise-and-hurt-but-still-passionate woman, is faultless. It would be easy to compare her versions of these songs unfavorably with the originals—after all she's taking on a lot when she sings Duke Ellington's I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good). She also comes off pallid on Rodgers & Hart's Spring Is Here. But she redeems herself with an absolutely dazzling rendition of Hoagy Carmichael's I Get Along Without You Very Well. In addition to oldies like I'll Be Around (1942) and Body and Soul (1930), there is a '81-vintage Carly tune: the maudlin From the Heart. The best cut is a poignant, beautifully sung tune, to which Carly added some lyrics, called What Shall We Do With the Child. Simon gets points for trying a medley like this, which she presents with genuine affection rather than just nostalgic campiness.

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