Chaka Khan - ClassiKhan (2005)

Chaka Khan
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Even though I'm absolutely worn out from standards albums recorded by everyone from Boz Scaggs to Rod Stewart to Queen Latifah, I must say I was looking forward to hearing Chaka Khan's take on the genre with ClassiKhan.  While I wasn't confident how well she would handle the softer, more sensitive material, the thought of hearing her big voice handling a couple of Shirley Bassey numbers ("Goldfinger" and "Diamonds are Forever,") was exciting.  But here's the surprise: More than any of the above named singers, Khan shows herself to be a true song stylist on ClassiKhan, handling such oft-recorded standard material as "Hey Big Spender," "The Best Is Yet to Come," "Is That All There Is?" and "Crazy" with a uniqueness and a sensitivity for the material and the genre that is quite amazing.  In fact, the first half of the disc as well as the beautiful closing number, "I Believe," are absolutely top notch.  Ironically, the album's weakest numbers are those I was most looki

Even though I'm absolutely worn out from standards albums recorded by everyone from Boz Scaggs to Rod Stewart to Queen Latifah, I must say I was looking forward to hearing Chaka Khan's take on the genre with ClassiKhan.  While I wasn't confident how well she would handle the softer, more sensitive material, the thought of hearing her big voice handling a couple of Shirley Bassey numbers ("Goldfinger" and "Diamonds are Forever,") was exciting.  But here's the surprise: More than any of the above named singers, Khan shows herself to be a true song stylist on ClassiKhan, handling such oft-recorded standard material as "Hey Big Spender," "The Best Is Yet to Come," "Is That All There Is?" and "Crazy" with a uniqueness and a sensitivity for the material and the genre that is quite amazing.  In fact, the first half of the disc as well as the beautiful closing number, "I Believe," are absolutely top notch.  Ironically, the album's weakest numbers are those I was most looking forward to.  Her tepid version of "To Sir With Love" makes me appreciate just how well Lulu's original, sweet vocal performance worked, and her cover of the Bassey numbers simply don't work, bordering more on shouting than on the type of stylish vocal work Khan shows on the rest of the album.  However, save those three questionable cuts, this is a fine album and a real epiphany for me on just how good and versatile a singer Chaka Khan is.  Recommended.
By Chris Rizik

 
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