Sentimental Eartha (See For Miles C5LCD 628)
This 1970 time capsule is one of those great albums where someone gets a hold of a big artist and tries to go for some kind of contemporary masterpiece. Hence, there are three Donovan covers on Sentimental Eartha, in addition to the usual Eartha Kitt fare served up in a slightly post-psychedelic style. I'd put it somewhere between Junior Parker's Love Ain't Nothin' But a Business Goin' On and Mel Torme's Right Now! in the pantheon of misguided albums that manage to succeed on their own terms.
The great thing about this CD is that it sustains a totally appealing mood from beginning to end. Eartha's voice is at its peak, beautiful in places and ridiculous in others, but always remaining quintessentially Eartha.
The high point is "Paint Me Black Angels," a revised version of Eartha's "Angelitos Negros" that truly sears with anger-might be one of Eartha's two or three single best recordings.
Other highlights: "Wear Your Love Like Heaven," turned out like a dance-of-the-seven-veils, "My Sentimental Friend," and the baffling "Hurdy Gurdy Man," which in some ways makes perfect sense with Eartha Kitt's trademark purring voice. Sentimental Eartha is massively dated, yet after about thirty seconds, you are totally absorbed in a wonderful lost world. This is not the lost world those hippie throwbacks lament the loss of ("Janisnow she was somethin'") but some alternate lost world where college students sit in dorm rooms getting high to Eartha Kitt and Mel Torme albums.
A true revolution of the mind, listening to this record. Highly recommended whether you like your music "real" or "fake."
Review by Morry Toner