Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Brat Pack Sings - "Smile" (an old song)

Oh all of the Brat Packers, probably the person with the most intruiging resume is Robert Downey Jr. And he has moved in a new direction:

This fall [2004], the actor strikes out in a new direction with the release of The Futurist, his debut album as a singer/songwriter, on the Sony Classical label. Working in collaboration with producers Jonathan Elias and Mark Hudson in a style he calls .highbrow pop with jazz and classical influences,. Downey has written eight powerful, deeply felt new songs for The Futurist, which also includes two striking covers . Charlie Chaplin.s .Smile,. featuring jazz bassist Charlie Haden, and the Yes classic .Your Move,. with Yes.s Jon Anderson joining him on the vocal.

But this isn't something new for Downey:

Downey began playing music and writing songs when he was a struggling actor in New York some 20 years ago, with influences as diverse as Harry Nilsson and Steely Dan, and The Police and U2. After years of encouragement from friends and colleagues, the actor decided to go into the studio and build his first album (for which he also designed the cover) largely on original tunes that have been around for several years as well new songs he recently wrote.

Matt Collar reviewed the album:

Having sang in various film and TV projects, it was often rumored that Downey wanted to make a move to the music business. Well, the rumors were true and the results are largely laudable. Vocally, Downey has a unique sound that falls somewhere between the melancholy twang of Bruce Hornsby and the soulful grit of Joe Cocker — think Bruce Springsteen doing a cabaret night....Downey's ear tends toward the languid and his lyrics, while heartfelt, are obtuse and often seem to dance around deep issues without revealing much.

To date, Downey has not recorded a follow-up.

Regarding the cover version of "Smile," here are some details:

'Smile' was the theme music for Chaplin last silent picture 'Modern Times' in 1936. It became officially 'Smile' when John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons added lyrics to Chaplin's composition in 1954. Nat 'King' Cole recorded the song and it became a hit!

Here's the 1936 version:

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