Culture: CD Reviews: Linda's Back and It's like She's Never Been Away

The Birmingham Post (England), August 17, 2002 | Go to article overview

Culture: CD Reviews: Linda's Back and It's like She's Never Been Away


Byline: Reviews by Andrew Cowen

Seventeen years is a long time in showbusiness, though probably just a blink of the eye in folk circles. Whatever, Linda Thompson's back with an album so strong it's like she's never been away.

Aptly titled, Fashionably Late is packed full of strong songs, great performances and it should see you through the long winter nights comfortably.

Linda's kept her head down since her acrimonious split from legendary guitarist Richard Thompson, opting for childcare rather than treading the boards. To say she has been missed is an understatement. Her beautiful and expressive voice has no equal and she's always had her pick of quality material.

This time around, the covers are few and there's nothing by Mr Trad Arr. Rather, Linda's collaborated with her son, Teddy on several tracks and others are hers alone. Starting as she means to go on, Dear Mary is a whooping family affair. With Teddy and daughter Kamila supporting, it's an exuberant folk rocker. Only when the distinctive lead guitar comes in does the smile become a laugh. Yes, it's Richard Thompson in fine fettle, a victory for either marriage guidance or time's healing.

Nine Stone Rig sounds like an old sea shanty, but it's a clever pastiche with a great bass drive by Danny Thompson. She pulls off the same trick with The Banks of the Clyde, a beautiful self-penned number featuring Kathryn Tickell on Northumbrian pipes.

Other guests include Kate Rusby who pops up a couple of times adding her distinctive voice.

Evona Darling is a bit special. A song by the late Lal Waterson, it's a catchy skiffle moment with Van Dyke Parks on accordion and Hammond B3. The doleful Weary Life has Eliza Carthy on fiddle and supporting vocals, Philip Pickett on crumhorns and Chris Cutler on drums.

For the real stand-out, go to track nine, Paint and Powder Beauty, co-written with Rufus Wainwright. Martin Carthy plays acoustic guitar in his inimitable style while Robert Kirby is lured from semi-retirement to write a string part for this beautiful song.

A triumph on all counts.

A lso a winner is the second album by Sugababes. Although the title, Angels with Dirty Faces is awful, the music within is state-of-theart pop soul. Sugababes are so feisty you just know that if they came round to your place they'd put their feet up on the furniture.

The album's proof that Britain can do this R&B malarkey as well as America, It's packed with strong grooves, technological gee-gaws and the sort of girlpower fizz that went out of style with Mel C's solo album. Every track sounds like a hit single and there have been few concessions made to the teeny market.

Most of these tracks would sound great on a club floor where the booming kick drums and well tempered breakdowns would inspire euphoria.

The singles you know: Freak Like Me and Round Round, but wait till you hear the defiant Stronger and strangely moral Virgin Sexy. It's not the 24 carat classic early reports have suggested. Shape is a horrible ballad featuring a prominent Sting sample: not big or clever.

The girls fail to misunderstand Bob Marley's No Woman No Cry in their riposte No Man No Cry. Marley was pleading for tolerance, saying that women should not be subjugated. The 'Babes are preaching independence.

More Than A Million Miles has the same clipped guitar technique that Madonna perfected on her last album. Despite these shortcomings, the sheer joie de vivre of this album is irresistible and you aren't going to be able to escape it for the next year. …

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