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Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, the Café Carlyle

The still stunning and strong-voiced pop superstars deliver a wildly entertaining new act. logo
Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr.
Of all the unlikely songs to be performed within the usually staid confines of the Café Carlyle, none is quite as improbable as the theme song from the TV show Solid Gold. But there it is, smack in the middle of the career-retrospective medley being performed by the still stunning and strong-voiced pop superstars Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. as part of their wildly entertaining new act.

While that tune might fulfill a few fans' wishes -- McCoo hosted the show for a couple of seasons -- much of the audience is clearly there to hear the songs the pair recorded as part of the supergroup The Fifth Dimension. And rest assured, those classic hits, "Up, Up & Away," "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In," "Wedding Bell Blues," and "Stoned Soul Picnic," remain just as infectious four decades later, prompting many to sing along (whether asked to or not). Time also seems to practically stand still as McCoo belts out the Burt Bachrach-Hal David torch song "One Less Bell to Answer" in a voice that has only lost a little of its remarkable purity and flexibility.

Wisely, the act is more than an exercise in mere nostalgia, allowing each member of the couple (who will celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary this year) to showcase other sides of their musical personalities. Davis explores his passion for soul, R&B, gospel, and the blues -- all to excellent effect -- with such songs as "A Change Is Gonna Come," "Try a Little Tenderness," and "Grits Ain't Groceries," while McCoo shows off her skill as a jazz vocalist with a smooth-as-can-be rendition of "The End of a Love Affair." The pair -- who also shine on such duets as "You Are So Beautiful" and "Got to Get You Into My Life"-- get a lot of help from their first-rate four-piece band led by musical director Darrell Alston.

With its slightly overrehearsed patter and occasional Las Vegas-like feel, the show may not please cabaret purists, and those unfamiliar with the Fifth Dimension may feel a little left out. Anyone else, however, is advised to visit the Carlyle before May 31.

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