Vargas & The Black Dahlias
The Tease...The Torch & The Noir
50-year-old unsolved murder of would-be Hollywood starlet/B-girl
Elizabeth Short, otherwise known as the "Black Dahlia,"
has long held a strangle- hold on a number of writers' imaginations.
Tough-guy noir novelist James Ellroy fictionalized her life in
The Black Dahlia and true-crime author John Gilmore posited a
believable solution to her murder in Severed.
singer Jimmy Vargas is similarly possessed by Elizabeth Short
on The Tease...The Torch & The Noir (Teasa-Varga Records). See,
Vargas has developed a whole, um, "concept" around the
Black Dahlia mystery. Here's the gimmick: Vargas is a reincarnated
crooner 1958 Elizabeth Short in his former life. In his current
incarnation, Vargas and his trashy swing combo, The Black Dahlias,
make '40s-style noirish soundtrack music based on the Black Dahlia's
life and (more precisely) death.
overshadows content pretty extensively in the Vargas oeuvre. So
when Vargas croons "her ghost still haunts you at 3 a.m./she'll
never let you go," in his torch shuffle "The Girl You
Left Behind," you know he's serious, even if he sounds a
little like Anton LaVey working the crowd at an exotica benefit.
In fact, both "Sacrificia El Mayombe" and "Maya
Noir" sound as if Old Scratch is the real inspiration for
Vargas' obsessions. But, in spite of the pretensions, a number
of the songs work exceedingly well "Dreamland" and "Striptease
in Noir" Scotch-and-emphysema fetish vibe. Hey, you can even
dance to some of it! Whadda ya know? Hell ain't a bad place to
be after all.