Reviewer: Glen Pearce
Harold Sanditen hosts London Cabaret venue The Crazy Coqs’ long-running open mic night. Here, though, is a CD capturing his own show at the same venue, Flyin’ High.
As Sanditen confesses, he has something of a wanderlust, having, at the last count, visited 66 countries.His set opens with a mash-up of Come Fly With Me and Route 66, a suitable taster for the theme of the show. Route 66 holds a warm place in Sanditen’s heart, coming as he explains from Tulsa Oklahoma, a place the legendary road heads through.
Travels link the numbers – tributes to the midwest indigenous tribes (and wildlife) in Pass That Peace Pipe and Rocky Racoon – giving Sanditen the opportunity to show his versatility with some nicely tongue-twisting lyrics.
Further afield, travels are recalled in the more exotic climbs (When In Rome (I Do as the Romans Do) and Brazil). Songs are introduced with an impressive selection of locations that feature on many travel wish lists, but often those anecdotes remain just that, a checklist. We get the odd bit of context, such an encounter with the aggressively sexual advances of Papua New Guinean women, but frequently we are left yearning to know more about the locations mentioned and their influences on Sanditen’s musical style.
That style here is mainly laid back balladeer, there are some inventive arrangements of these familiar tunes and while, on the whole, they work to provide a new take on a well-trod piece, some such as I Got The Sun In The Morning seem muddled.
It is in perhaps moving away from ballads into the more uptempo numbers where Santiden is less successful, such as Dreamgirls’ One Night Only mixed with Weill’s Speak Low. It’s an inventive marriage but loses something in transition.
Sanditen closes the set and CD with The Beatles Classic In My Life. The lyrics seem entirely apt to the homage to travel. “There are places I remember…“, the number begins and, for a musical photo album of travel memories, it seems an appropriate coda.
There is always difficulty in capturing a live show on CD. For those who have seen Sanditen’s show live, the recording will probably bring back many fond memories; for those who haven’t seen it, it is somewhat sterile. The songs themselves are well performed and Sanditen obviously is at home in the cabaret setting, but as a stand-alone audio experience, it needs more tone, more light and shade and more context.