Tuesday, 9 November 2010


Purists will be appalled but this CD based on the stage show, Viva Elvis by Cirque Du Solei is a worthy release of classic Elvis material with a little modern twist. It's much like they did with The Beatles, Love album several years ago and even ardent Beatle fans took to that remix, which made the much heard classics kind of fresh again.

 The Canadian producer, Erich van Tourneau had exclusive access to Elvis Presley’s extensive catalog, more than 900 recordings. His mission was daunting: Select choice cuts, deconstruct them, add new elements and put them back together while maintaining the integrity of the originals. “It was a mix of pain and pleasure,” van Tourneau said. “I had to listen to everything he did. It was really important to do that, to understand the nuances of the catalog and the changes. Elvis changed a lot during his career.”
Van Tourneau’s reimagined productions of classics such as “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Love Me Tender” and others appear on “Viva Elvis – The Album,” the soundtrack to the Las Vegas show by Cirque Du Soleil.

The stage show is one thing, though but how does it work as an album? Well, mostly very well - the up-tempo numbers especially work well and Blue Suede Shoes and Suspicious Minds are excellent. Of course they'll never replace the originals but then that's not what they are intended for and instead offer a new and fun way to listen to the greatest voice there ever was.

Blue Suede Shoes
That's All Right
Heartbreak Hotel
Love Me Tender
King Creole
Bossa Nova
Burning Love
Can't Help Falling in Love
You 'll Never Walk Alone
Suspicious Minds

To fully appreciate this album one needs to treat it as a whole and not just a collection of  tracks. It covers all Elvis eras from the hillbilly cat of 'That's All Right' to the sequin clad showman of 'Suspicious Minds .

It's out worldwide today and gets my album of the month award.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Give my Regards to Broad Street

The thing with Paul McCartney is that he's often a genius, but more often than not he's a plant pot - take for example his 1984 movie, Give my Regards to Broad Street which rates as one of the biggest piles of tosh ever put on celluloid. The music's great, though even if the 80's versions of Beatle classics pale besides the originals. Though to be honest a better version of Silly Love Songs you won't find anywhere. It's all this middle of the road stuff that leads people to think he's a smug bastard... you know, on times it's hard being a Paul McCartney fan.

The movie depicts a day in the life of Paul McCartney, as in the style of A Hard Day's Night, but the problem is there's no Lennon, Harrison or Star here to provide relief from the saccharine moments - well actually Ringo is here but he's merely there for decoration and doesn't really offer anything to the movie. No this is Paul's movie - he wrote it, produced it and sort of acted in it. I say sort of because whatever Paul McCartney is he is no actor, nor for that matter is he a scriptwriter and the plot, what there is of it, is nonsense and the kind of thing a ten year old could have dreamt up.

Let's look at the good points - the Eleanor dream sequence is imaginatively staged and the classical piece by George Martin and McCartney that spins off from the Eleanor Rigby song is excellent and perhaps gives an hint of the full scale classical pieces McCartney would compose later. And of course all of the music is great which is no surprise since it comes from one of the most important voices in 20th century music.

There are two Paul McCartney's - the one who is true to his artistic self and produces groundbreaking works like McCartney, Ram, Red Rose Speedway and others of that ilk and then there is the man who is so desperate to please the masses that he shamelessly produces pap - he's still doing it, you know. How can the same man who gave us Electric Arguments then appear on something so banal and tacky as The X-Factor.

McCartney's firmly in pap mode with the Give my Regards to Broad Street movie - Now don't get me wrong, I love Macca and am a huge fan of his massive talent but it's hard to defend crap like this. So defend it I will not.

Give my Regards to Broad Street - good music but the film's shit. And of the music - the (then) all new power ballad, No More Lonely Nights is great and soft rocker No Values is a hidden gem. I also like the medley of acoustic Beatle numbers which then leads into a great version of Wanderlust. The soundtrack album is a must buy - the film isn't but then maybe that's why it remains unavailable on both DVD and VHS.


Out of all the recent John Lennon remasters this is the one that is truly essential - Lennon's 1980 album was always too cluttered in 80's production, but for this reissue they've stripped back the over production which brings a clarity to Lennon's voice which is startling. The original album is also included on a second disc.

All in all it's a nice little package - the cover carries a pencil sketch by Sean Lennon based on the original cover photograph. There's also a nice booklet containing an essay written by Yoko Ono and some of the last ever photographs taken of John before his senseless murder.

The reason we're here though is the music - I must say I much prefer the stripped down version to the original album - it is startling how well Lennon was singing in these last few months of his life and by removing much of the overlaying vibes, the songs are really brought to life. I'm Losing you sounds so crystal clear that Lennon could be there in the room with you and Woman has never sounded so beautiful. Even Yoko's songs have a post punk grungy feel to them.

If you've already got Lennon's back list then the remastered versions don't really add anything new - well all except for Double Fantasy stripped down which really does make Lennon's final album that much better than it actually was.

There's a sadness to this album - hearing how on form Lennon was it makes the listener feel doubly cheated by that cunt who gunned him down.

Declaration of fabness

This is the place to be if you dig gear tunes and rocking riffs - the rock and roll years are the times that concern us and the beautiful people are all here.

And so without any flippityflop or bowseywowsey let's kick off...enjoy yourselves!