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with Jesus

By David Werther.

Hugh Laurie, Let Them Talk (Warner Music, 2011)

           All he wanted to do was row. And, he did, following in his father's wake, an Olympic medalist. He had already established himself as a world-class athlete before he went to Cambridge University to pursue his rowing passion. A bout with mono took him from the water to the stage and … long story short, to stellar performances as a comic actor, excelling in that most demanding of all roles, P.G. Wodehouse's nitwit, Bertie Wooster. These days Hugh Laurie has racked up rave reviews as one of the best dramatic actors on television in his role as the obnoxious M.D., House. As both Bertie Wooster and Dr. House, Laurie has had occasion to exhibit his musical talents. In Let Them Talk Laurie explores his passion for the blues with the likes of Allen Toussaint, Irma Thompson, Dr. John, and Tom Jones.

           Those inclined to talk may say Laurie has no business playing the blues with some of the best. But then they might have said the rower was out of line auditioning for Cambridge's Footlights and it made no sense for the comic genius to pursue a "serious" dramatic role. Well, let them talk. It's clear that Laurie is having too much fun with "Police Dog Blues," "Tipitina" and "Swanee River" to care. His innate gifts (his childhood piano lessons ended almost before they began) musical and otherwise are magnetic. He is a performer it is hard not to like. Most skeptics, I predict, will be won over, listening to his piano playing in the introduction to the first song, "St. James Infirmary." Laurie performed this song and others in a recent episode of PBS' Great Performances. On that show he notes that there are all sorts of ways to describe different musical genres but in the end there are only two classifications that count: good and bad. Let Them Talk is good.

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