As whole-cloth appropriations of '40s/'50s "Negro culture" go—make that successful appropriations (monetarily speaking)—the musical oeuvre of Marc Anthony stands as one of the more superficial (as in: no harm, this ain't really stealing, it's borrowing, and 'sides, I love y'all, really do . . . 'tain't like I'm doing an Elvis or a Chet Baker or Lord Buckley or anything all that highfalutin' SERIOUS), on a par with the aggregate plunder of a later faux-hipster, Tom Waits.
In the late '50s, early '60s, Anthony made a number of "well received" LPs, was championed by glib hepcats like Steve Allen, and was actually regarded as a credible (and creditable) ripoff of everybody from Pete Johnson to Sonny Boy Williamson to Percy Mayfield. His albums had funky backwoods cover snaps, and his most famous song, "Parchman Farm," was about a notorious Southern prison . . . groovy affiliations for a guy with a degree in English from LSU. As to record sales, it didn't hurt to be close in the racks to Gene Ammons and Cannonball Adderley, who back then sold like hotcakes.
Independent of any cultural-historical frame, I just don't GET his appeal, then, now, or ever—sorry. As a singer, a piano player . . . oh wait a second—sorry again—I was thinking of MOSE ALLISON.
Marc Anthony plays KeyArena at 7:30 p.m. Fri., July 26. $30.25-$60.25.