Posts Tagged ‘Soul’

Dexys: One Day I’m Going to Soar – review

Thursday, May 31st, 2012


Kevin Rowland hasn’t written mere songs for his Dexys comeback; rather a West End musical. To call it a concept album underestimates its high-camp, red-velvet theatricality. The plot: man reflects on youth, and how he was “always dreaming of some way that I could be”; man pants over a beautiful woman; she reciprocates; their love implodes; man concludes, “I can’t be what anybody wants me to be.” Even if it isn’t autobiography, the man’s heart-on-sleeve individualism and resistance of any attempt to “overpigeonary” him are pure Rowland. The music is recognisably Dexys, endlessly quoting from 1960s soul and pop songs, but it’s also perfunctory, happy to mooch along aimlessly beneath Rowland’s monologues. Which are laugh-out-loud preposterous, mostly – but so defiantly idiosyncratic that you can’t help admiring him.

Rating: 4/5

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Dionne Warwick – review

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Royal Albert Hall, London

In the 1960s, Dionne Warwick became the muse and conduit for more than 30 immaculate pop nuggets by BurtBacharach and Hal David. Now she is undertaking a world tour to mark a 50-year career that has seen her remain a pop-soul icon, while rarely rescaling such precipitous aesthetic heights.

She launches the tour by compering this annual charity gala in aid of the Hunger Project, an event that demonstrates how showbiz schmaltz is as ingrained in her DNA as her interpretive abilities. The slew of MOR performers lauding her is like a Radio 2 playlist, yet it’s impossible not to yearn for fewer guest cameos and more Warwick.

At 71, she remains twinkly eyed and folksy, qualities that come in handy when forced to introduce Katie Melua plugging her new single, Tony Hadley bellowing Gold and a shiny-suited Cliff Richard jitterbugging through Devil Woman. Sure, let Joe McElderry sing Don’t Stop Believin’, but does he really need to reappear for Nessun Dorma?

The duets sequence is less grisly, with the understated Warwick guiding a homburg-sporting Boy George through I Say a Little Prayer, and dovetailing neatly with Rumer on Bacharach and David’s underrated Hasbrook Heights. It’s also oddly sweet to hear an overwhelmed Alexandra Burke pause from remassacring Hallelujah to thank her host for “everything what you’ve done for the music industry – you’re an absolute legend!”

The evening’s undoubted highlight arrives when the silver-haired Warwick is left alone to ease through a handful of her vast reservoir of piquant pop gems: Walk On By, There Is Always Something There to Remind Me, I’ll Never Love This Way Again. Thankfully, her solo dates will have more of these moments and fewer showbiz chums.

Rating: 3/5

Pop and rockSoulBoy GeorgeKatie MeluaCliff RichardJoe McElderryAlexandra BurkeIan 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

I’ll Be Your Mirror – review

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Alexandra Palace, London

“Slayeerrrr! Slayeaaargh!!’ There was only one name echoing around Alexandra Palace on Friday, the first of three days of the I’ll Be Your Mirror festival, part of the All Tomorrow’s Parties portfolio of events away from the mainstream. While Wolves in the Throne Room, Sleep, Yob and the Melvins all shook the palace to its foundations, there was no chance of them overshadowing the headliners. Slayer were here, and were going to play their 1986 thrash metal masterpiece Reign in Blood.

With some fans flying in from as far away as Japan, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that a good 50% of the crowd appeared to have come solely to see the metal veterans, regardless of the calibre of the supports. This tunnel-vision devotion was rewarded handsomely – the pit was moshed, blood was spilled, and Slayer reigned supreme.

Day two was all about the downbeat. “Hands up anyone who’s actually here to listen to this depressing shit,” asked Harvey Milk’s hangdog frontman, Creston Spiers. “Nobody? That’s good.” The Athens, Georgia three-piece have the look of good buddies getting the old covers band back together to play a neighbourhood barbecue, but in reality they create some of the most bleak, emotionally raw music around. There wasn’t a whole lot of sunlight in their stunning set. With grunge veterans Mudhoney providing a bit of light to the shade, and the Dirty Three’s elemental soundscapes softening up the crowd, Mogwai rounded off the day with people stretched out on the floor – and one man even meditating – in response to their elegiac, post-rock son et lumiere.

On the Sunday, Thee Oh Sees and Tennis finally brought some sunshine indoors, while the Make-Up’s off-kilter R&B offered some spiritual salvation. Frontman extraordinaire Ian Svenonius walked off stage and on top of the crowd to offer a gospel-style sermon, stood on the shoulders of his flock, from the middle of the hall. And it was left to the Afghan Whigs’ raucous but soulfully swooning anthems to bring a balmy weekend of extremes to a satisfyingly emotional conclusion.

Rating: 4/5

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Michael Jackson’s Bad reissue to feature unseen video footage

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

The 25th anniversary edition of Jackson’s album will feature demos, previously unreleased songs and a never-before-seen 1988 Wembley concert video

Michael Jackson’s Bad will be reissued this autumn, with a never-before-seen video of the singer’s performance at Wembley stadium in 1988. In honour of Bad’s 25th anniversary, the remastered album will also include a selection of demos and previously unreleased songs.

Prince Charles and Diana, princess of Wales, were both in attendance for Jackson’s London concert on 16 July 1988. So were 72,000 other fans, with hundreds of thousands more buying tickets for the other dates of the seven-night residency. According to a press release, only one video of the gig exists: the version of the concert that was projected on the arena’s JumboTron screens. In turn, only one copy of this video has ever been found: this new DVD is sourced from Jackson’s personal VHS tape.

In addition to the concert DVD, Bad 25 includes a bonus disc of unreleased music. Although the track list has not been revealed, the label promises “demos and songs that didn’t make the final cut of the original version”. These are tantalising tracks: Bad is one of the bestselling albums of all time, and 10 of its 11 tracks were released as singles.

The Jackson estate has also learned from the fiasco surrounding Michael, the singer’s first posthumous collection of material. Even Jackson’s mother accused the label of doctoring some of those new songs, using the voice of an imposter. For Bad 25, the press release emphasised, “nothing has been added”; “All of this material is being released as it was recorded during the Bad sessions.”

On 5 June, Jackson’s label will re-release the album’s first single, I Just Can’t Stop Loving You, which reached number one in the UK and US. Bad 25 is out on 25 September.

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Cold Specks: I Predict a Graceful Expulsion – review

Saturday, May 19th, 2012


When mysterious, pseudonymous Canadian singing guitarist Al Spx first surfaced last year, her self-taught strangeness was as captivating as a field recording from the Deep South. Some of that strangeness survives on her debut, on the final track Lay Me Down, and in patches elsewhere. There’s chilling, unspoken violence on the first two tracks and a “Rotterdam, goddamn” opening to the intriguing Holland, which might echo Nina Simone. But the arrangements here, courtesy of PJ Harvey collaborator Rob Ellis, seek to relocate Spx in too elegant a vein, making her sound less singular and more assimilable. It is a shame.

Rating: 3/5

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