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Music Reviews

Popular Music CDs - Part 5 - June, 1998


Graham Vine

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Ratings:
Extraordinary
Good
Acceptable
Mediocre
Poor

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"The Apple Bed"

Nick Heyward

Creation; CRECD 210

Performance: Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)
Audio: Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)

Nick Heyward has a new album out called 'The Apple Bed'. Nick, ex-Haircut 100 ('Love Plus One', 'Fantastic Day'...) and solo efforts such as 'Whistle Down The Wind', is now with the Creation record label and the work is a far cry from those earlier songs. I do like to hear some dynamics in songs together with sufficient attention to detail in the production. With this album I get both in abundance!

The album opens with his new-for-'98 single 'Stars In Her Eyes' with some of those contrasts. There's very loud fuzz-guitar in places but then gentler moments for the vocals to come through clearly. Talking of the vocals, some might find it too nasal in places. For me, this accounted for perhaps 2 or 3 of the 12 songs. In the song 'The Goodbye Man' he has a nice hard edge to the voice; I felt it was a pity he doesn't use it more. But other tracks benefit from harmony vocals and these work well, too.

Nick isn't a child of the '60s but there are so many Beatles influences in this album that it can't go without mention. Not that I would call the album derivative - it does all sound fresh and new. That song 'The Goodbye Man' has a Beach Boys 'Good Vibrations' soundalike segment near the end and some guitar work very reminiscent of tracks from 'Revolver'. And then again 'Dear Miss Finland' has some more Revolver-era sounds with filtered vocals in the style of a simulated vocoder. Or maybe it's like 'Show Me The Way'.... Note the reference to 'Nowhere Man' in there! Does that give the game away or what?!

There are some fabulous tracks on this album, like the Beatley 'My Heavy Head' and that song from the summer of 1997 'The Man You Used To Be'. Now there's a song that should have charted. Just to finish I must mention a track called 'Just Like Sorrow'. It starts off with that other stereotypical sound of the '60s, the Sam & Dave/Wilson Picket style of soul-brass stabs before going into a quiet verse with some lovely strings and there's that fuzz guitar as a contrast. Yep that's enough dynamics for me! I wish Nick well with his new album - he deserves it.

 - GV -

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"The Leading Man"

Various Artists

EMI Soundtracks; 7243 8 54941 2 3

Performance: Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)
Audio: Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)

I have to admit to wondering who it is that soundtrack albums are aimed at. When all the music is of the same genre it's possible to want the album for that particular work. When the film is so successful and the soundtrack wins accolades for its writing and performance then the customer demand is assured. With the soundtrack for The Leading Man, however, we do not seem to be in either of these categories. The music is very widely spread (in all dimensions!) and the difficulty in putting it together in a coherent sequence must have been significant.

Having said all that, the album works! A collection which includes Jerry and the Pacemakers' with their song I Like It, right through to the London Metropolitan Orchestra with the Girl With The Flaxen Hair, and taking in Dubstar and Gary Barlow along the way has to be good to work. In fact it's Gary's song Forever Love which starts the album off - not so much setting the mood for the whole thing, that is not possible, but setting the scene for an album of good music. And each of the songs is good. Forever Love is a personal favourite of mine, but then so is Peter Sarstedt's Where Do You Go To My Lovely. Now the classical works, which are interspersed very tastefully, are the ones performed by the London Metropolitan Orchestra. They are likely to 'on the edge' of the average listener's knowledge - the tunes would be known but not necessarily the titles. Unfortunately, for me at least, the track I liked least is the last one, Gentlemen Who Fell by Milla. But that's a small criticism, and solely based on personal taste. It's a good album, the compilation works and no doubt brings back many memories from those who have seen and enjoyed the film.

We've been reviewing the soundtrack album from the movie: "The Leading Man".

- GV -

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"Casper, A Spirited Beginning"

Various Artists

Saban; 7243 8 21345 2 7

Performance: Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)
Audio: Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)

OK, it's a kid's film. So the music/soundtrack only appeals to teens and teenies, right? Well no, actually! There's a list of artists to appeal to .... well, just look: 911, Backstreet Boys, Supergrass and many more. Even the title track, which appears first on the album and brings us KC & The Sunshine Band together with Kool & The Gang has a rapping section. But it's pretty mild stuff - I guess designed not to alienate large section of the movie-viewing public. The full list of performers is: KC & The Sunshine Band, Kool & The Gang, J. T. Taylor, 911, Worlds Apart, Shampoo, Supergrass, C.T.F.G., Ellen ten Damme, BIS, Back Street Boys, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Oinga Boinga, Whitey Don and Bobby McFerrin. Highlights of the album were, for me: Track 2: Love Sensation by 911; (Track 3 would be, only he sings sharp! That's Back To Where We Started, by Worlds Apart); Track 5, Supergrass with Mansize Rooster; Track 6, CTIF and Best Friend; Track 9, I Wanna Be With You by Backstreet Boys; Track 12 Big Bad Bomb by Whitey Don and the classic Don't Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin, which apprears as Track 13 . Not at all bad for a soundtrack designed to move a film along. Next I suppose I should see the film..... Nah - I'm not that dedicated!

- GV -

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"Pearls of Passion"

Roxette

EMI; 7243 8 36196 2 7

Performance: Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)
Audio: Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)

Pearls Of Passion (originally released on vinyl in 1986) was not a hit album in the UK. In fact Roxette had no success until 1989 with their song The Look and album Look Sharp, which reached number 4. Since 1994 there has been little success for the band - in fact Run To You in that year only reached number 27 in the singles chart. The average listener will not know too many of the songs on Pearls Of Passion - in fact most will only recognise It Must Have Been Love - interestingly suffixed with [Christmas For The Broken-Hearted]. However the devoted Roxette fan will find this to be a must-have. There are 3 versions of Neverending Love and 3 versions of I Call Your Name. 2 versions of Secrets That She Keeps are in there too.

So it's a good-value version of the Roxette debut album but it is clear that the change of direction from this 1986 work to the more rock-based work of later years was 'instrumental' in achieving the success they were capable of. Much of the work is a sort of latterday Atlantic-Soul and the songs which worked best for me are the rather slower and, yes, rock-inclined numbers such as Surrender, Voices, From One Heart To Another and So Far Away. The performances are skillful but without something to grab the listener are destined to disappoint.

- GV -

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© Copyright 1998 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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