Picks and Pans Review: At Last

UPDATED 12/15/2003 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 12/15/2003 at 01:00 AM EST

Cyndi Lauper

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It's hard to imagine the same woman who once sang "She Bop" and palled around with wrestler Captain Lou Albano singing sophisticated standards. But that's exactly what Cyndi Lauper does, with mixed results, on her first album—apart from a holiday release—since 1997. The disc was inspired by the songs Lauper listened to while growing up in a culturally diverse neighborhood in Queens during the '50s and '60s. Thematically the numbers, which range from the title torch song to the Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody" to Edith Piaf's "La Vie en Rose," don't always fit together. Nor do the arrangements, which veer erratically from spare jazz to orchestral to Latin lounge. While Lauper's vocal idiosyncrasies don't suit all the material, she nails covers of "Walk On By" and "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood." And "Makin' Whoopee," a playful duet with Tony Bennett, shows that she's still a girl who wants to have fun.

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