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Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin - The Big Idea (1981) Retail CD
UK music fans of a certain age will of course know Stewart and Gaskin from their cover version of "It's My Party" which reached No. 1 in 1981. They also covered an eclectic series of other songs which are contained on their albums "Up From The Dark" and "The Singles". Musicians however already knew Dave Stewart (this is the non-Eurythmics one btw) from his old band Hatfield and The North; he is a brilliant musician and keyboard player, plus synth wizard - able to conjure incredible noises from vintage analogue machines like the Prophet 5. But the songs on this album are not prog-rock noodlingsmore…; each song here has immense musicality, thoughtful lyrics and a sharp pop sensibility.
The opening cover of Billy Bragg's "Levi Stubbs Tears" brings out the pathos in the lyric that the Bard of Barking's limited vocal talents could never do; for any woman who has lived with violence at home, this is a very moving song. A sultry and brooding cover of The Blue Nile's "Heatwave" (not a disco anthem, as the title might suggest) is just made for a British summer. But listen to Stewart's own songs - the yearning for a better life in "Grey Skies" and the paean to the inventor of the Theremin, "Mr Theremin", which makes you warm to the chap even though he was actually an eccentric Russian with one eye on the money-making opportunities his new instrument might afford. Stewart pens a mean tune and a nifty lyric, with the consummate skill of someone who obviously really understands what makes music work. Everywhere the wonderful use of harmonies, chord progressions and keyboard textures conjure up constantly-varying atmospheres.
There's a cover of "The Crying Game" to keep the pure pop quota up to the required levels, but even that comes with a devastatingly beautiful key change at just the right moment - and not a corny "semitone up" either. A chill shadow comes over the song precisely as it happens. Here (as on all the tracks) Barbara Gaskin's lead vocal and pitch-perfect harmonies follow the twists and turns of the arrangement without missing a beat.. how do they do that?!
If I have one tiny gripe, it's that the 80s drum samples and rhythms sound a bit clunky to 21st century ears, but this is a minor niggle. Excellent CD - I can't recommend it highly enough.
|1||Levi Stubbs' Tears|
|4||Subterranean Homesick Blues - Stewart Gaskin|
- Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin - The Big Idea (1981) Retail CD
- 1396 x 1410 px
- 611 KB
- 53 (0 today)
- 16/05/10 by pontiacc
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