Zucchero & Co.
First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2005, Volume 12, #8
Written by T.J. Simon
For nearly 30 years, Zucchero (Italian for "sugar;" real name: Adelmo Fornaciari) has been adored as a pop artist in Europe, though he has amassed little more than a cult following in America. In an interesting attempt at vertical marketing, Starbucks Coffee’s own record label Hear Music chose Zucchero as the artist to catapult the java giant into a major, music industry player through the release of his U.S. "breakthrough" album Zucchero & Co. To expand his fame to American audiences, the company assembled a who’s who of adult contemporary guests including Sheryl Crow, Sting, Eric Clapton, Vanessa Carlton, and Macy Gray to carry the ball on this spotty and uneven release.
Zucchero’s English-language vocals are a dead ringer for those of Peter Gabriel, and Zucchero & Co.’s best tracks are generally found within the album’s first half. The opener I Lay Down is the best of the bunch, putting to good use the ethereal, blues-y croak of John Lee Hooker. The Sheryl Crow duet Blue also bristles with infectious energy, and the employment of Irish songstress Dolores O’Riordan’s distinct voice makes Pure Love an absolute pleasure. The Italian language "collaboration" with Miles Davis on Dune Mosse is hampered by dull percussion, but the bilingual pairing with Sting on a revamped version of Mad About You, which has been retitled Muoio Per Te, is a must-hear.
Things get considerably dicey during Zucchero & Co.’s second act. Despite Jeff Beck’s contributions on guitar, the Macy Gray-Zucchero blues-pop fusion on Like the Sun is wholly unremarkable, and his duet with Eric Clapton on A Wonderful World fails largely because Zucchero mishandles the verses. Elsewhere, the considerable talents of B.B. King, who sounds old and tired, and Solomon Burke, who sounds corny and exploited, are wasted on their respective tracks Hey Man — Sing a Song and Diavolo in Me. As for the concluding, operatic number Miserere, it features Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli in a clear attempt to inject a dose of high culture into the target audience’s Frappacino-laden lifestyle.
As an album, Zucchero & Co. is such a mixed bag of styles, guest stars, and musical gimmicks that listeners never get a chance to decide whether they actually care for Zucchero as an artist. While the disc contains some damn fine singles, the effort never feels cohesive. Although everyone is bound to find something here to savor, the idea of anyone loving this hodgepodge of a collection from start to finish is highly unlikely.
Zucchero & Co. is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box