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Mae West Way Out West

Mae West was once infamous. In the 20's she was arrested for her play Sex, wrote another play about homosexuality, and of course became famous in the movies for her double entendre one liners. During the 50's she made some television appearances and released an autobiography.  But by 1966 she was 72 years old and hadn't had a hit movie in a couple of decades. So of course the logical thing would be for her to make a rock and roll record, right?

While this was an obvious attempt at clawing back some attention, it really didn't matter. It's hard to say the record is great in the traditional sense. Mae doesn't sing the songs so much as speak the lyrics in character. (She played pretty much the same character in most of her movies.)  But the way she moans and purrs through the songs, if someone catches you listening it makes you feel like you were caught watching a dirty movie. Most of the songs aren't ones that the general audience would know, though she does cover Day Tripper, When a Man Loves a Woman, Twist and Shout and Shaking All Over.

That last song is probably the highlight of the album for me. It fits the best with the character she plays, and also with the speak/singing style she adopts. It's good campy fun, that was a minor success making it to number 116 on the Billboard charts. I know that's not high, but it's higher than a rock album by a 72 year old former actress had any reasonable expectation of getting. The album is available as a digital release, and is definitely something worth checking out even though it most likely isn't going to make it into your daily rotation.


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