CHICKS & DOCLINGS HATCH NEW CD  SATURDAY AT PORTLAND UNITED CHURCH

13CoolChicksJustHatchCDcoverExuberant…that describes their CD Just Hatched…but not humour inspired exuberance as anyone who has seen The Cool Chicks & Ugly Doclings perform would expect. This disc is a recording, vocally and instrumentally, exuberant in its sheer beauty.

Their new…and first…CD Just Hatched, is being launched this Saturday, 7 p.m., at Portland United Church, 50 Newport Crescent, just off Adelaide Street in Saint John’s North End. Known for their humour and nonsense rearrangements and re-writing of old favourites, the only thing nonsensical about this, their first recording, is it’s packaging.

The eye-stopping cover is a Disney-esque cartoon: a duck doc with a finger pointing to the album title, Just Hatched and a cool 1930’s Chick in a ball gown and fur boa neck piece, a finger pointing to the unique act’s official monicker, The Cool Chicks & The Ugly Doclings. The most novel idea for a record cover ever to be hatched in any incubator. But it’s such a far cry from the songs of deep emotion and inspiration encrypted on its tracks.

“What a terrific recording of Hallelujah!,” my wife Carol exclaimed on first hearing the CD: she’d heard its composer, Leonard Cohen, sing this powerful song of his at Harbour Station, a month earlier. “It’s the first time I’ve been able to make out all the words.”

She was referring to Brenda Brooks phrasing in such lines as : “I heard there was a secret chord, that David played that pleased the Lord.”

If you’re one of the unfortunate few that have not seen or heard the Cool Chicks & The Ugly Doclings in concert, then, for your edification, they are seven local health care professions and one teacher, who have been doing charity performances in southern New Brunswick for over ten years, raising money for not-for-profit organizations.

The album opens with Andrew Clark, an anaesthetist, singing lead on Cannibals, written by Mark Knopfler. Then Blue Bayou, that Roy Orbison wrote the lyrics for, is given one of the most beautiful treatments, that I have heard, by respiratory therapist, Jennifer Rooney. Next a song, Drinking Black Rum (and eating Blueberry Pie) sung by retired orthopaedic surgeon, John Acker but made famous on CBC-TV’s Singalong Jubilee by it’s writer James Lawrence (or just plain Jim) Bennet. And Andrew Clark, an anaesthetist and guitarist, vocally interprets his own Servant To The Music (the only original song on the disc). Then Wendy Stewart, a pediatric neurologist and singing accordionist from Scotland renders I Only Want To Be With You, by Mike Hawker and Ivor Raymonde. And nurse Brenda Brooks does a grand recital of Gordon Sumner’s Fields Of Gold.

That’s a half dozen enchanting songs and there’s another seven just as beguilingly sung and played on the CD: family physician, Steve Willis along with the ensemble do a rousing interpretation of Those Were The Days (My Friend, We Thought They’d Never End) a song written by Gene Raskin and made famous by England’s Maryanne Faithful and in North America by the Limelighters (Stephen plays guitar and mandolin, too). And Jerry Jeff Walker’s ever popular Mr. Bojangles gets a rousing revival, by respiratory therapist Mike Willis, who plays bass, guitar, bodhran and sings. Next the only instrumental track, an Irish Jig Set, is performed by the eight musicians. And, Joni Mitchell’s River, is stunningly sung by Maggie Bockus ( Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on); Bob Dylan’s Wagon Wheel (that Jay Secor wrote the music for) is intriguingly performed by Mike Willis, (Rock Me Mama, like a wagon wheels.) Then Brenda Brooks wonderful interpretation of Hallelujah and the final track 13, with a slight re-writing (here and there) of the Sherman’s You’re Sixteen (And You’re lovely, you come on like a dream, all peaches and cream) with the new closing lines “We’re the Chicks (voiced by the four Chicks) and The Doclings ( voiced by the Doclings), and we’re here. If you’re digging the songs just sing along. We’re not famous, we’re not rich. It’s the end of the show and we’ve got to go.”

This wonderful CD, you’ll play over and over again, Just Hatched, is available Saturday at it’s Portland United Church launch or you can phone the office of Dr. Wendy Stewart, 848-4622 for a copy.