Blue Gene

by: Gene Pitney

This 1963 album found Gene Pitney pursuing the blend of rock, pop, and pre-rock ballads that defined his unique style. The big highlight of this album is "Twenty Hours From Tulsa," a guilt-wracked Burt Bacharach/Hal David narrative about a man who strays from fidelity just 24 hours shy of reaching his true love. This song blended Pitney's operatic sense of vocal drama with a unique melody, combining country guitar twang and Latin-styled horn arrangements to create an international pop hit. Other memorable tracks on Blue Gene include "Yesterday's Hero," which layers dramatic horns over an unusual tango-styled melody to back up its story of a forgotten lover, and "Half the Laughter, Twice the Tears," a hard-hitting "beat ballad" about a cheater's remorseful second thoughts that uses some surprising heavy fuzz guitars in its punchy arrangement. Other tracks provide a surprising contrast to the pop/rock aspirations of those highlights: A straightforward cover of the pre-rock ballad "I'll Be Seeing You" finds Pitney paying an elegant tribute to crooners like Frank Sinatra over a jazzy, string-laden arrangement, and the Neapolitan-styled ballad "Answer Me, My Love" points the way toward the dramatic Italian-language ballads Pitney would soon record. However, Blue Gene falls short of greatness because the occasional track misfires: The biggest culprit is the title track, a gimmicky track whose too-cutesy style of wordplay undercuts its fairly likable melody. Despite this occasional misstep, Blue Gene is a stylish and likable collection of songs that will please Gene Pitney fans. ~ Donald A. Guarisco, Rovi

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