Music Review: Manhattan Transfer Spices Up Oldies on ‘Extensions’

Manhattan Transfer's Extensions

Like its predecessors, Manhattan Transfer‘s latest album evidences a fascination with and facility for such old musical genres as bebop, big-band swing, and early 50s pop. Anachronistic vocal arrangements predominate on Extensions, which taps copyrights that date back as far as 1933 (the classic “Body and Soul”). Nevertheless, the album finds the quartet making a strong bid for prominence in the 80s. The oldies have been spiced with synthesizer and imaginatively updated; and while much of the new material sports nostalgic themes, it’s obvious throughout that—as the opening cut proclaims—we’re “5,000 light-years from Birdland.” Among the highlights here: a tongue-in-cheek, disco-tinged “Twilight Zone”; a doo-wop reading of the vintage “Trickle, Trickle”; and an acapella remake of Tom Waits’s “Foreign Affair.”

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