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Popular Music - Part 36 - August, 2000

Graham Vine

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"Peace"

Eurythmics

BMG; 74321695622

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)Star (605 bytes)

When Dave and Annie get together for a new Eurythmics release, many of us sit up and take notice. My own collection from the duo is surprisingly limited, so, you know how it is, any excuse . . .

The voice of Annie Lennox has stayed remarkably constant over the years. Accurate intonation with a slight huskiness and little vibrato - all too often used by others to hide poor pitch, breathing, and diaphragm-control. The mixing on this album makes the absolute most of these qualities, placing her up-front and right in the room with us listeners. 

Album opener "17 Again" sets the scene for good melodies and harmonies, together with thought-provoking lyrics. 'I feel like I'm seventeen again' with that disjoint between external persona and internal self-awareness. 17 again - ah, if only! Interesting that a solid quote from their song "Sweet Dreams" is in there, hinting at a merging of the two selves. 

I don't hear too many similarities with other tracks, but I can't resist mentioning the Ringo-style drumming in the second half of "Forever". Maybe that long fade was just too irresistible. Then again, there is the guitar arpeggio sounding a lot like George's on "I Want You (She's So Heavy)". Listen out for that on the last track "Lifted". Nice link.

I can't finish this review without expressing my utter admiration for the incredibly daring slide between notes Annie sings on track 10. To come out of it spot-on demands such control that I feel I have come full-circle in these notes. Her vocals, the excellent songs, and superb arrangements make "Peace" a 'must'. I may well need to work my way through the Eurythmics' back catalogue.

For reference, complete track listing:

1. 17 Again

2. I Saved The World Today

3. Power To The Meek

4. Beautiful Child

5. Anything But Strong

6. Peace Is Just A Word

7. I've Tried Everything

8. I Want It All

9. My True Love

10. Forever

11. Lifted

- GV -

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"Chewy Marble"

Chewy Marble

Permanent Press; PPCD-52706

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

Listening to Chewy Marble for the first time, I was held by each and every one of its 12 tracks. Not being much of a lyric person myself, it came as a surprise to me that I wanted to follow the words from the very well presented CD booklet. And it should be no surprise that the 'words-per-song' quotient is high because expressive words and phrases have been written for all of them. Yes, I appreciate word-smithing of this calibre.

Anyone who likes Squeeze and The Beautiful South will find a lot to enjoy in Chewy Marble's album. This is mostly due to the lead vocalist, Stu Forman, and he is pushed well forward in the sound-stage. This is almost invariably successful, though a couple of notes in "She Still Shines" are not as precise as I would have liked. Having latched-on to this issue, I feared I would hear problems elsewhere, but not so; it's just a one-off. 

From the sleeve-notes, I deduced that Tammy Glover is responsible for both percussion and the highly-prized lightening of the vocals, adding harmonies and therefore extra texture on many tracks. Regular readers of these reviews will know I never flinch from an adverse comment on drumming when required. Tammy's is spot-on, and my one hope is that the additional vocal duties required in a live show do not reduce those interesting fills I value so much.

There is always something to savor in the instrument-playing on all these tracks. I particularly enjoyed just the right amount of distortion on guitar to give the effect of an oboe. Never heard that before! I did wonder if I might tire of the chord sequence, just going up a notch at the end of some phrases but no, I've always loved that change, and still do. This is an album I felt immediately at home with. I wish Chewy Marble great success and hope this review helps that aim in some small way. They deserve it.

For reference, complete track listing:

1. Down

2. I Want You Only

3. Loneliest Man

4. She Still Shines                       

5. My Reaction

6. Peculiar

7. I Just Fall

8. Mistry Train

9. Jennifer Smiles

10. Silly Place

11. Teacher's Pet

12. Touch And Go

- GV -

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"Greatest Hits

Jerry Lee Lewis

Fun; FUNCD-9014-2

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

There was that sense of anticipation as I ripped off the cellophane wrapper. Would these tracks have the magic that they used to? Would they even be the originals? The tension was still rising as the CD player whirred into action. Then those 4 notes on piano, followed by 'you shake my nerves and you rattle my brain', and I knew all was well. 

This recently-released compilation of 20 tracks by Jerry Lee Lewis calls itself "Greatest Hits", but at least half of the tracks are new to me. Of those, maybe half are standard tunes given the Lewis treatment. "Jambalaya" and "Waiting For A Train" give us a blend of Country and Rock 'n' Roll. "Matchbox" is a welcome addition. As the B-side (at least on  my copy) to Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes" it is an otherwise somewhat neglected RnR standard. 

Of the tracks which were major chart hits, the opener and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' on" sound to me like the originals. The others sound to be 'in period'; there is no change in Jerry's voice or the general acoustics. There is a little overloading on a few peaks but nothing to spoil the enjoyment. Again, it is astonishing how those old analogue recordings stand up to modern scrutiny. It also says something about modern recordings. 96 kHz sampling will not make up for bad music.

The compilation would have benefited from the inclusion of more of the hits, such as "What'd I Say" and "High School Confidential" but then I really couldn't recommend any tracks to leave out. There are a couple of misprints on the sleeve-notes and very little to inform, apart from the tracks, their composers and the times. The year of recording would have helped, but even so, it's the music I wanted, and I certainly got that. 

For reference, complete track listing:

1. Great Balls of Fire

2. When The Saints Go Marching In

3. Jambalaya

4. Honey Hush

5. Hand Me Down My Walking Cane

6. You Are My Sunshine

7. Cool Cool Ways

8. Big Legged Woman

9. Bonnie B

10. It'll Be Me

11. Be Bop A Lula

12. Good Rockin' Tonight

13. Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On

14. Singing The Blues

15. Pink Pedal Pushers

16. Lewis Boogie

17. All Night Long

18. Matchbox

19. Waiting For A Train

20. Down The Line

   - GV -

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Copyright 2000 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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