Daily Archives: September 1, 2009

170. Alex Chilton – “A Man Called Destruction”

It is rather curious that in searching for an image of this album’s cover on-line that all the options showed Mr.Chilton photographed in colour.  The Australian version is a black and white pic… and that seems so much more appropriate given the highly retro content therein.

Album Cover Alex Chilton  A Man Called DestructionYou may recall my earlier reviews of one of Chilton’s bands – Big Star.  He is an icon (for some) of the power pop world, and had a young start as a white R&B star. 

He has written some classic tunes over his career.  Which makes this album even more bizarre.  Much of it sees him covering reasonably obscure old-school R&B tracks, and all in the incarnation of very standard bar band.

It seems below Chilton to be mucking around like this.  More importantly, it just isn’t that interesting a listen.  The tunes are very, very standard fare.  He clearly had a bit of fun playing with the cheesy What’s your Sign? but that ain’t enough.

The album is also poorly balanced, with three concluding Chilton-penned tunes that simply don’t gel with rest of the material. They are much closer to the Big Star sound… and better for it.

File under: Insufficiently distracting

169. Neneh Cherry – “Man”

My excuse for being so tardy in producing this review might be that I was attempting to capture the “long time between drinks” that has characterised Neneh Cherry’s recording schedule.  That sounds more thoughtful than my real excuse of being swamped with student assignments to mark and couch-shopping to do.

Neneh Cherry Man Album coverListening to this album several times over the past few days I have been pleasantly surprised.  Too often in the past I have only given Cherry a cursory ear, and I have probably dismissed her as residing at the earnest end of the pop spectrum.  This album (along with her two prior) dispels any such views.

From the outset this album is a mix of feisty and soulful. The almost title track (Woman) is a beautiful addition to the “Man’s World” genre.  The strength of  the tracks (for a change) is the use of rousing strings and sampled vocal tracks to create the necessary crescendo waves that swirl around Cherry’s breathy vocals.

The lass has come a long way since her debut.  There is almost no rapping here.  And the song topics seem more substantial and brave.  One prime example is her grandiose effort from Afrobeat star Youssou N’Dour (7 seconds) which curiously seems slightly out of place within an otherwise coherent release.

File under: More than a yeoman effort