Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Joe Pesci's Lounge Album and the Crossroads of Love and Anger

Released in 1998, Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just For You gave Joe Pesci fans the opportunity to listen to their favorite actor sing. Alas, the album was not well received and has since been largely forgotten. Thankfully, the powers that be saw fit to preserve “Wise Guy,” the Blondie-and-Mr.-Rogers sampling single, in a music video, which continues to pop up around the interwebs because frankly, who doesn’t want to watch Joe Pesci rap?

That campy masterpiece was enough to make me plop down $2.99 when I saw Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just For You (how can I shorten such a lovely title?) sitting in a used record store. Listening to the album as a whole, however, proved to be a different experience. Some of these songs are legitimately funny, like my favorite track, the big and brassy, “Take Your Love and Shove It.”

Take Your Love And Shove It [Explicit]

Like Pesci’s finest work in any medium, the song is a loud and elaborate “fuck you.” The snappy lyrics maintain this angry mentality, but Pesci’s cheery if critical asides to his backing band really make the song shine. Let me hear that tinkling piano! The pianist plays. That ain’t tinkling, that’s rolling! The pianist tries again. That’s fucking tinkling! Pesci exclaims. I knew you could do it! Yeah, Pesci’s being an asshole, but at least he’s a nice asshole! His breezy renditions of standards like “Old Man Time” and “Robbie Hood” feature the same loving heckling while existing as enjoyable romps in their own right.

Tracks like these elevate Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just For You beyond the typical Hollywood vanity project. Then again, the album itself isn’t a typical vanity project. Before gaining fame as an actor, Pesci had a career as a lounge act. In addition to his comedy routines with fellow Scorsese standby Frank Vincent, Pesci sang. He even released an album in the mid-1960s under the pseudonym “Joe Ritchie.”

Unfortunately, the rest of the album doesn’t prove to be as charming as these tracks. The opener, “Yo Cousin Vinny,” has the same indignation as “Take Your Love and Shove It,” minus the charming asides that keep the track from becoming too bitter. “Yo Cousin Vinny” is also the only track on the album to references My Cousin Vinny (discounting the Italian and Spanish language renditions of “Yo Cousin Vinny”). But aside from the lyrics mentioning a cousin named Vinny assisting his other cousins, there’s nothing connecting the track, let alone the album, to the film that supposedly inspired Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just For You.

Then there’s the aforementioned infamous “Wise Guy,” which Pesci plays so straight it’s hard to tell whether or not he’s in on the joke. Is the man pulling our collective leg with this rap routine, or does he actually believe it makes him a badass? Granted, that questionable obtuseness isn’t exactly atypical for the actor.

The rest of the album alternates between songs that showcase either Pesci’s anger towards the world (“I’ve Got News For You”) or his awkward sentimentality (“Twenty-One,” “What A Wonderful World”), but few songs combine these sentiments as well as “Take Your Love and Shove It” does.

Beneath his indignant bluster, Joe Pesci may very well be a sweetheart, but we love him for his anger. It’s fitting, then, that this album references arguably his most beloved role. Vincent LaGuardia Gambini was just as entertainingly angry as Goodfella’s Tommy DeVito,Casino’s Nicky Santoro, or even Home Alone’s Harry Lyme. But unlike those assholes, Vinny always tried to help others, even if his attitude got in the way. That mix of indignation and kindness serves Pesci well on the album’s best tracks. If he could have reconciled these two opposing sides of his personality, Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just For You could have been a masterpiece on par withMy Cousin Vinny. As it stands, the album ends up as more of “fuck you.”

Justin Geldzahler would appreciate Joe Pesci’s help in any situation, as he agrees that saying “fuck you” is often the best solution. But Justin is also a pussy, ergo the Pesci assist.

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  • Jake Carson

    …Could. "Clint" Eastwood. Possibly Be Competing With "Captain Kutchie

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    Perhaps?…But Then Again Perhaps He Is Just Waiting For "Kutchie Pelaez

    and Frankie Valli" To "Make His Day"!…Ha, Go Figure!….


    Heard A Few Years Back That Megyn Kelly Of Fox News, Really Loved Her

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    On That One, That One Would Have To Be "The Lovely –Mrs. Anita Pelaez"

    The Queen Of The Key Lime Pie World!

    ….I sure hope that this will be a great opportunity for everyone to

    see some of “Don Rickle's Scenes” from his productions of his classic hits

    “Tales From Kutcharitaville”. You Do know that Don Rickles and Johnny Carson

    together produced those comedy hits about their friend “Mr. Kutchie

    Pelaez” and their wild and crazy exploits of Kutchie’s Key West and The

    World of Key Lime Pies from the perspective of (Johnny Carson, Don

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    Classic Hits Surely Were. Don’t miss them, be sure to tune-in next

    month. We Laughed Until We Cried Watching Those Funny Movies. “The Tales

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    You Know, It’s No Wonder That Everyone Calls “Captain Kutchie

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    Kutchie Drinks Those Wonderful Mixed Drinks Named In His Honor Called

    “Kutcharitas”.?. There A Hell Of A Lot Better Than Any Mexican Beers.

    And Much Stronger To Boot!

    ….That Sunken Ship In The News These Days,

    ….It’s Been Resting Down On The Bottom Of The Sea Since Way Back In

    1857, “Mel Fisher” Even Overlooked That One! “Yankee Jack and Micheal

    McCloud Now Have Reason To Write Another Song.

    ….Hell, We Can’t Find A Boeing 777 That’s Been Lost Only A Little Over

    A Few Months Now! Could It Be Because The Jet Had No Silver and Gold Aboard,

    Just People?….Go Figure……

    ….Good Thing That All The ….(“Anita And Kutchie Pelaez’s Key West Key

    Lime Pie Shops”)..Are All Showing Increasing Pie Sales Throughout All

    They’re Areas Of Distribution. Consumers Just Never Seem To Reach

    They’re Fill Of Those “Yummy Key Lime Pies” That The “Peleaz’s Working

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    Bite”. Everyone Agrees, That The Loving Couple Have Been Baking They’re

    Culinary Delectables Over 40-Years Now!….Isn’t She

    Wonderful?….”AAAHHHH”, The Magic Of The Gorgeous “Mrs. Anita Pelaez”

    Well She Is Something Else!….

    ….Who The Hell Does That “Kutchie Pelaez” Think That He Is?….”Frankie Valli” Or Some Big-Shot Like That?

    ….It’s No Wonder That People Are All Calling Him “The Most Interesting Man In The World”,…Big Girls Don’t Cry…Do They?….

    ….Don’t Cha Just Love Em!?….We Sure Do!….It is A Well Known Fact
    That "Captain Kutchie Pelaez" Knows Who Put The Bomp In The Bomp Shoo
    Bomp Shoo Bomp And The Rama In The Rama Lama Ding Dong!.He Even Knows

    Who Put The Dip In The Dip Da Dip Da Dip!…How Cool Is That?….

    ….a-good-1-4-u-2-n-joy-ok!…"Very Interesting"!….

    …."Frankie Valli and Kutchie Pelaez"..Did Make-It As Big As "Frank Sanatra".

    A Few Wise Guys They Certainly Were "Frankie Valli, Kutchie Pelaez and
    Joe Pesci"!….Together "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight"!…..
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    ….I'd Give My Left "Nut" To Set Down With "Captain Kutchie Pelaez, Frankie Valli, Terry Levi, Joe Pesci, Bob Gaudio, Bob Crewe, Paul Shaffer, Bob De Niro And Clint East Wood! Rub Elbows And Shoot The Shit With That Whole Crew Of "Good Fellows" Or "Wise Guys" Or Whatever The Hell You Want To Call Them!…."Who Wouldn't"?….

    ….I Believe That "Kutchie" First Sang "My Eyes Adored You" And "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" To His Lovely Bride "Anita" Way Back In The Seventies! ….Sounds Like A Love Story To Us!…