Live albums are always a bit of a gamble. The idea of releasing an audio version of what is, in some part at least, visual entertainment is slightly strange. Fortunately then, clean-cut Vancouver swing vocalist Michael Bublé’s Caught In The Act is a CD/DVD extravaganza of Bublé’s recent performances at the Wiltern Theatre in LA. They’ve even gone as far as to get David Horn – who has worked alongside Eric Clapton, Steely Dan and Billy Joel – in on the action as director. Unfortunately, the promo of the DVD is Region 1 encoded, and thus about as useful to this review as Viking repellent spray. What we are left with is an eight-song CD featuring highlights of the performances on said DVD, as Bublé (that’s pronounced ‘boob-lay’, for anyone who wants to know) takes on such classics as _'Feeling Good', the Beatles’ 'Can’t Buy Me Love' and Charlie Chaplin’s 'Smile'.
Although Mikey is renowned (internationally, at least) as some kind of master of swing, Caught.. does nothing to indicate how this reputation came about. The best moments on this CD arrive in the form of ballads, which Bublé delivers comfortably. In fact, he sounds a lot more convincing when delivering his self-penned slow song _'Home' than he does when coping with the livelier numbers. Whilst he seems comfortable with the decidedly laid-back _'Feeling Good', his rendition of Sinatra’s _‘Summer Wind’_ doesn’t pack enough of a punch. Whilst the thirteen-piece band behind him swings perfectly, (actually, remove Bublé from the equation, and the musical arrangement on this Cpagan wanderer luD is flawless), he himself sounds too lazy and lethargic. It literally doesn’t swing, it’s all too easy to ignore and the lack of vocal conviction pushes it all into the background like lounge music. It’s the same story with _'Can’t Buy Me Love'. The band behind him creates an implosion of differing time signatures, walking basslines and short, sharp bursts of brass, whilst the man himself barely breaks a sweat; his vocals saunter unrushed, unaffected and ultimately uninspiring as he declines the opportunity to feed off the magic happening behind him.
Perhaps Michael Bublé is hailed as swing to gloss over quite how much he sounds like Enrique Iglesias or Michael Bolton, rather than his idols Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Tony Bennett. Whilst out of place when the volume is raised, his efforts at the low-volume numbers are faultless. Vocally-smooth standout track _'Home' is not a million miles from Iglesias’ fairly soulless global hit 'Hero', allowing Bublé to showcase his considerable talents in the field of soft, sensual vocals. Like Mr Bolton, and every other suave knicker-moistening crooner before him, Bublé’s interaction with his audience is slick, family friendly and polite. Before he launches into the Chaplin-penned _‘Smile’_, he looks to the audience with _"for those of you young kids in the audience, it might shock you but... he could talk", and a cacophony of female middle-aged laughter ensues. It’s borderline Cliff Richard: so wholesome, so nice, so.. _sickly. It could leave you feeling ill.
"Every single day that I wake up", Booby confides in his audience, "I can’t tell you how lucky I feel that I get to continue the legacy of my idols". It’s touching stuff, but its delivery sounds void of any emotion. It could well be saccharine showmanship disguised as honest appreciation or he could actually believe that, as he puts it, he gets to "continue the legacy of my idols... the legacy of these great songs", even though there are plenty of other people doing exactly that in casinos and bars worldwide. Whatever his story, there is no doubting that Michael Bublé has talent, both as a vocalist and an entertainer, but there’s very little substance here, very little to make Caught.. anything other than average. If these eight songs are the highlights from the DVD then – barring a visual display of immense proportions – I probably wouldn’t rush out to buy that either. Still, your gran is going to love it.
4ben marwood's Score