(Chesky Records, JD 184.)
I have no idea why music like this exists. There’s nothing really wrong with Chuck Mangione, just as there’s nothing really wrong with margarine or Erma Bombeck. What we have here is a clear example of the smorgasbord effect: some artists aim to be a smorgasbord of versatility, while others aim to entertain people at a smorgasbord. There’s really no point in evaluating Chuck’s flugelhorn, for I suspect that if after all these years buying one of his albums still seems like a good idea, then you probably know what you’re in for.
My favourite songs are those in which producer/arranger Cliff Korman unleashes the vocalists: three women who strive to sound exactly like a flugelhorn, the perfect missing spice to a flugelhorn album. With five songs clocking in at more than six minutes, the end result is a full hour of Love Boat rerun, minus the commercial breaks. The production values are detailed and rich, a common trait of all Chesky records I’ve heard. The album’s closer, “La Vie en Rose,” is also worth noting on its own merits. Chuck is trying really hard here, and the result is somewhat pleasant. He stretches out his flugelhorn as far as he can take it, and the song feels like an apologetic postscript to a letter that had nothing to say.
After listening to The Feeling’s Back, I had to take the dog for a walk around the block to say the same about my butt. This is a truly numbing effort from one of the all-time grocery store greats, and unless convincing people to buy two heads of lettuce instead of one is tops on your priority list, consider leaving this one on the shelf.