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Laine And Starr Sing At Ambassador

November 13, 1986|DON HECKMAN

Old singers, unlike old soldiers and old ballplayers, don't always fade away. The better ones--like Frankie Laine and Kay Starr--hang in there, secure in the knowledge that warmly nostalgic audiences will continue to delight in the golden songs of an earlier era.

Sometimes they do more. Tuesday night at Pasadena's Ambassador Auditorium, Laine and Starr reprised their many hits with a vitality that dramatically emphasized how much life and energy and spirit there was in popular music in the antediluvian days before the rock era.

And, in Laine's case, a convincing connection with the present was established in his effective interpretations of "Jambalaya" and "I Won't Miss Her at All" from a coming new album of country songs.

The country connection makes sense for Laine, the acknowledged master of high-spirited, Western-themed material. His ability to bring melodramatic set pieces like "High Noon," "Rawhide," "Cool Water" and "Mule Train" to reasonable credibility has surely been one of the marvels of pop music.

He was better Tuesday, however, with the gently swinging, jazz-tinged songs that tapped the more attractive qualities of his loose and easy rhythmic flow and his still-appealing, whisky-baritone voice.

Starr, who opened the show and returned for a final duet with Laine, sang with a burry-sounding, down-home twang that revealed her appealing Oklahoma roots far more than did her original recordings.

But the obligatory "Wheel of Fortune," "Bonaparte's Retreat" and "Rock and Roll Waltz" were less attractive than her warm interpretations of "Up a Lazy River," "Honeysuckle Rose" and, especially, Willie Nelson's "Crazy."

Following a scheduled Wednesday show at the Ambassador, Laine and Starr are due tonight at the Downey Theatre, Friday night and Sunday afternoon at Citrus College and Saturday night at a sold-out El Camino College appearance.

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