Call it a comeback. With the No. 7 debut of Moonlight Serenade, her fourth album of standards, Carly Simon has her highest-charting Billboard album in 31 years. She's just the latest boomer artist to ride the Porter and Gershwin bandwagon to career rejuvenation. Here's a brief history of prerock revivalism.
RINGO STARR Sentimental Journey (1970) For the first vocal solo album from a Beatle, Ringo covers. . .''Bye Bye Blackbird''? It's got some charm, but for every Beatlemaniac formerly certain they'd buy anything a moptop put out, the dream is over. PEAK No. 22.
LINDA RONSTADT What's New (1983) After flopping with new wave and braving Elvis Costello's ridicule for her four EC remakes, Ronstadt covers less persnickety i.e., mostly dead songsmiths and, with Nelson Riddle's help, produces the genre's gold standard. Two sequels ensue. PEAK No. 3.
NATALIE COLE Unforgettable. . .With Love (1991) If you can't beat the folks pitting your legacy against your late dad's, join 'em. Seven Grammys help save Cole from having to live out her career pretending to be an R&B hottie. PEAK No. 1.
GEORGE MICHAEL Songs From the Last Century (1999) If he thought the Beverly Hills park incident put a crimp in his stardom. . . PEAK No. 157.
ROD STEWART It Had to Be You: The Great American Songbook (2002) Critics carp at predictable choices, but Rod pulls a Linda and his career has hot legs again. Scans 2.6 million units, with two sequels (so far). PEAK No. 4.
CARLY SIMON Moonlight Serenade (2005) You're so vain, you probably think people want to hear you sing ''In the Still of the Night'' in a strained lower register over a bed of synthesizers. And you're probably right. DEBUT No. 7.