March 31, 2007 / 6:52 AM / 12 years ago

UK's Puppini Sisters bringing retro-pop to U.S.

LONDON (Billboard) - The U.K.-based “sisters” who last year spruced up favorites from the ‘70s and ‘80s with a whiff of ‘40s glamour are now bringing their retro-pop to the United States.

The Puppini Sisters’ worldwide deal with Universal Classics & Jazz generated major media coverage and a top 20 U.K. placing last August for the trio’s debut album, “Betcha Bottom Dollar.”

The album sold close to 13,000 units in its first week and won the act further media attention in continental Europe, notably in Italy. A U.S. release May 1 on Verve precedes a two-week residency at the 90-capacity Oak Room cabaret inside New York’s Algonquin Hotel.

The trio — Marcella Puppini, Stephanie O’Brien and Kate Mullins — came together in 2004. Their “Forward to the ‘40s” mantra is to the fore on the album, with vocal stylings of the type made popular by the Andrews Sisters primarily applied to rock-era songs like “Heart of Glass,” “I Will Survive” and the Smiths’ “Panic.”

“Betcha Bottom Dollar” also includes songs from the ‘40s and ‘50s, such as “In the Mood,” “Mr. Sandman” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (From Company B).”

Universal Classics & Jazz A&R/artist development manager Tom Lewis signed the Puppini Sisters after seeing them live at Trinity College of Music in London, where the girls met.

Lewis believes the trio has worldwide potential. “The music they sing has a timeless quality — it just hasn’t been heard for a while,” he says. “There are other factors, too, such as the cult popularity of the Oscar-nominated movie ‘Belleville Rendezvous,’ and the revival of the burlesque scene and 1940s styling,” exemplified by “New Burlesque” figurehead Dita Von Teese.

Not only did the music from “Belleville Rendezvous” (2003) inspire the group, its French composer Benoit Charest went on to produce “Betcha Bottom Dollar,” which Puppini describes as “complete serendipity.”

A second U.K. album planned for later this year will include some original compositions.

“People might think this is a novelty (act) until they see the show and realize we’re all accomplished musicians,” Puppini says.

Looking ahead to the U.S. launch, Puppini says, “In my dreams, (we’re) going to take over the world, because what we do is their music — it’s part of their culture.” She adds light-heartedly, of a U.S. superstar’s current image, “Even Christina Aguilera has become the Puppini Sisters.”

Reuters/Billboard

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