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Music Reviews

Popular Music CDs - Part 6 - July, 1998


Graham Vine

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Ratings:
Extraordinary
Good
Acceptable
Mediocre
Poor

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bluecd.jpg (3217 bytes) "Blue"

Simply Red

Warner; 3984230972

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

Why oh why oh why oh why? Given the highest fidelity ever brought to the domestic listening environment, why is it that record producers insist on reminding us of what we left behind with vinyl by deliberately inserting fake clicks? And on "Blue", the new CD from Simply Red, we have it forced down our throats on the very first track, Neil Young's beautiful "Mellow My Mind". It's such a shame because Mick's version is (otherwise) very good indeed.

So, a Simply Red album where Mick hasn't written all the songs? Yes, apparently Mick started out to do a "covers" album and, I guess, couldn't resist the temptation to add some of his own. The title track is a terrific song by Mick - surely destined to be a single. The current single, "Say You Love Me" has achieved well-deserved success already, and the rest of the album is well up to this standard.

Of the covers, or should we call them standards, I'll draw particular attention to "The Air That I Breathe", one of my own all-time favorites. For some reason, there are two versions of it. Well, they are both very well done, avoiding changes in the harmonies like Feline did on the EMI centenary album "Come Again". Mick is certainly a craftsman, and builds on the emotion and feeling that was his intention in putting together "Blue".

Having put the disappointment of the opening track behind me, I now find it difficult to take the CD out of the player. This is an album of the stature of "Stars".

For reference, here is the full track-listing:

1 Mellow My Mind
2 Blue
3 Say You Love Me
4 To Be Free
5 The Air That I Breathe
6 Someday In My Life
7 The Air That I Breathe - reprise
8 Night Nurse
9 Broken Man
10 Come Get Me ANgel
11 Ghetto Girl
12 Love Has Said Goodbye Again
13 High Fives

- GV -

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lennoncd.jpg (3055 bytes) "Into the Sun"

Sean Lennon

Grand Royal/Parlophone; 7243 4 94551 2 2

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

With "Into The Sun", we see many pointers leading out from Sean Lennon: to his roots, his motivations, even to his future. There is no hiding Beatle infuences - I almost broke into 'goo-goo ga-joob' during "Mystery Juice" - but then why should he? He is clearly setting his own directions and to this reviewer there is a naivety which verges on the self-indulgent.

I say directions because there are many styles in there. From tracks with a grinding fuzz-guitar to tracks with a simple guitar backing sounding remarkably like "Til There Was You". From jazz to a Ray Davies-like song called "Part One Of The Cowboy Trilogy". Demonstrating diversity is good, but this sounds more like experimentation.

Sean has acknowledged his motivations in creating this album, and they are clearly stated in the sleeve notes. Whether this creates an album such that we want to share his introspection is another matter. One needs to be
objective. His voice, for example is rather nasal, but tuneful nonetheless. The backings are simple, using few instruments, though with that fuzz-guitar and synth-audio-oscillator effects there is plenty going on.

Comparisons with John - and indeed Julian - are inevitable, and I would say Sean comes off the worst in the comparisons. But there is plenty of time yet. Build on these experiments, Sean. If we expect a new Beatles album, we are being unfair (but check out track 8, "Queue"!), so let's let Sean pick one of his pointers, enjoy himself, and bring out further albums for us to sample and accept or reject. Above all, Sean should relax. He has the luxury of not relying slavishly on sales figures and should use it in his exploratory phase.

For reference, here is the full track-listing:

1 Mystery Juice
2 Into The Sun
3 Home
4 Bathtub
5 One Night
6 Spaceship
7 Photosynthesis
8 Queue
9 Two Fine Lovers
10 Part One Of The Cowboy Trilogy
11 Wasted
12 Breeze
13 Sean's theme

- GV -

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giltrapcd.jpg (5323 bytes) "Troubadour"

Gordon Giltrap

K-Tel; ECD 3390

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)

Gordon Giltrap is probably best known for his tune "Heartsong" which was used in the UK as the theme tune for a Holiday program on television. He is an excellent guitarist and composer, and on his new album "Troubadour" he displays both to good effect. This has to be one of the most relaxing albums I've heard in recent times. The compositions and the arrangements contribute to a lowering of the blood pressure, which I find very welcome.

Gordon is clearly very highly thought of in the world of music. Two "Sirs" have added their weight to the album: Sir Cliff Richard with some vocals and Sir Tim Rice with sleeve notes. The Giltrap involvement with "Heathcliff" has elevated his profile - the more people who notice this album the better, as far as I am concerned. Gordon is featured heavily in one of my favorite acoustic albums, "A Little Light On An Electric Night" where he performed with various members of ELO Part 2 together with Jo Bates and Mark Knight. That album was recorded live at Tamworth Castle and demonstrates very well how Gordon can bring his skills to both the live arena and to the recording studio.

Back to the Troubadour album, and the "Heartsong" track is not included, but there is one called "On Camber Sands" which was one of the tracks performed live on the Tamworth Castle album.

The string arrangements on the Troubadour album are superb - subtle and skillful - enhancing the overall mood of the tunes. None of the tracks is below par in content or performance, and I for one will certainly be looking out for more Gordon Giltrap albums in the future.

For reference, here is the full track-listing:

1 A Misunderstood Man / Be With Me Always
2 Rain In The Doorway
3 On Camber Sands
4 The Lord's Seat
5 Rainbow Kites
6 Who Knows Where Tomorrow Goes
7 Isabella's Wedding (Heathcliff's Wedding Song)
8 Quest For Nonsuch
9 A Dublin Day
10 Down The River
11 The Panic
12 Daisy Chain
13 Nursery Chimes
14 The Kerry Dancers

- GV -


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