Paul Shaffer, David Letterman's long-time nutty bandleader, recaptures some of the old TV magic on his new album with The World's Most Dangerous Band and help from Bill Murray, Shaggy, Jenny Lewis and Dion.
Displaying the same versatility and chops which served them so well for so long in late night, tunes by Vince Guaraldi, Lloyd Price and even a Bob Dylan instrumental are given stylish makeovers.
Shaggy puts his reggaefied vocals on Guaraldi's Grammy-winning "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" jazz standard, while Dion tackles Sam Cooke's "Win Your Love for Me."
Lewis helps on "Sorrow," a tribute to David Bowie, and Valerie Simpson is in the pocket for a song she co-wrote for Ray Charles, "I Don't Need No Doctor."
Murray assists on "Happy Street," akin to the theme song from a slightly spaced-out PBS children's show, while a soulful Leo Napier owns Curtis Mayfield's "Rhythm."
Shaffer even ventures into lead vocals — not his strongest talent, to put it kindly — giving "Yeh Yeh" a modern twist with lyrics like, "Turn the phone off so we can Netflix and chill."
Dylan's "Wigwam," one of his least typical singles, sums up the Shaffer trademarks — anything goes but excellence prevails, respect for the singers and the songs and an occasional surprise proving why he's been at the top of his profession for decades.
Shaffer and his dangerous musicians will be on tour soon and that's the best way to hear these songs — whether there's a now wooly-bearded host sitting at the other end of the stage or not.