Hooking up with regular Madonna collaborator Patrick Leonard as the co-producer of this album proved to be just the trick for Ferry. Bete Noire sparkles as the highlight of Ferry's post-Roxy solo career, adding enough energy to make it more than Boys and Girls part two. Here, his trademark well-polished heartache strikes a fine balance between mysterious moodiness and dancefloor energy, and Leonard adds more than a few tricks that keep the pep up. Five out of the nine songs are Ferry/Leonard collaborations; all succeed, from "Limbo"'s opening punch and flow to the cinematic (and unsurprisingly French-tinged) feeling of the title track. The atmospheric, almost chilling "Zamba"'s minimal, buried drums, soft synths and doomy piano, make it the best of that bunch. Ferry's best moment here is all his own, though – the great single "Kiss and Tell," with a steady, bold bassline leading the way for his slightly dissolute portrayal of mating rituals and all they entail. Like Boys and Girls, the album's supporting cast mixes a lengthy list of session pros with a few guest stars.
If The Human Menagerie, Cockney Rebel's debut album, was a journey into the bowels of decadent cabaret, The Psychomodo, their second, is like a trip to the circus. Except the clowns were more sickly perverted than clowns normally are, and the fun house was filled with rattlesnakes and spiders. Such twists on innocent childhood imagery have transfixed authors from Ray Bradbury to Stephen King, but Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel were the first band to set that same dread to music, and the only ones to make it work. The Psychomodo was also the band's breakthrough album. The Human Menagerie drew wild reviews and curious sales, but it existed as a cult album even after "Judy Teen" swung out of nowhere to give the band a hit single in spring 1974. Then "Mr Soft" rode his bloodied big top themes into town and Rebelmania erupted. The Psychomodo, still possessing one of the most elegantly threatening jackets of any album ever, had no alternative but to clean up. Harley's themes remained essentially the same as last time out – fey, fractured alienation; studied, splintered melancholia, and shattered shards of imagery which mean more in the mind than they ever could on paper.
Before Depeche Mode inherited the techno-pop crown, Ultravox reigned over the electronic landscape. Pseudo Echo were one of Ultravox's most loyal fans, and their affection for the pioneering new romantics gushes from every synthethic groove on Love an Adventure. Thankfully, being a facsimile wasn't enough for Pseudo Echo. The cover of Lipps Inc.'s disco classic "Funkytown" was their only U.S. hit from Love an Adventure, and it was sadly misrepresentative of the album's stylish, hook-loaded dance rock. On "A Beat for You," driving hard rock riffs puncture Pierre Gigliotti and James Leigh's wall of synthesizers. Vocalist Brian Canham has a darkly erotic voice that only new wave groups seem to breed – imagine a cross between Jim Kerr of Simple Minds and Midge Ure of, no surprise, Ultravox. Pseudo Echo want people to move their feet, and this album is stocked with dancefloor scorchers such as "Living in a Dream", "Listening", and the funky "Try". "Funkytown" may have given Pseudo Echo a glimpse of commercial success, but the rest of Love an Adventure proved that they were capable of more.
In 1973, Mike Oldfield burst onto the British music scene with his debut album Tubular Bells, two long instrumental suites in which Oldfield stitched together a series of melodies into a grandly scaled work in which he played the many instruments himself. The album was an audacious beginning to a career than saw him become one of the most respected artists in progressive rock, as well as a successful film composer. The Complete Mike Oldfield is a collection released in 1985 which features selections from his first ten solo albums, as well as highlights from his score for the film The Killing Fields.
Falling halfway between the modern R&B of Introducing the Hardline and the extravagant Neither Fish nor Flesh, Symphony or Damn is Terence Trent D'Arby's most ambitious album yet. It's also his best, because it takes the fine songwriting of his debut and melds it to the sonic excesses of Fish. Sure, some of it is embarrassing (it's hard not to cringe during the "Welcome to My Monasteryo" declaration at the beginning of the album), but more often than not, D'Arby's experimentations succeed, and succeed grandly, at that.
Harry Nilsson worked at a bank and wrote songs on the side, mostly jingles and pop tunes in the mid-1960s. Under contract with RCA, his first record was a flop, but it yielded hits for The Monkees and Three Dog Night. In the late 1960s Nilsson was everywhere: pal to the Beatles (especially John and Ringo); singer of "Everybody's Talkin'," the theme to the movie Midnight Cowboy (1969); singer of the theme to the TV show The Courtship of Eddie's Father; composer of the soundtrack to the animated movie The Point (with its hit single "Me and My Arrow"); and singer of the number one hit, "Without You." …
A double-disc set that draws from all of the phases of Joe Walsh's career, with the notable exception of The Eagles, Look What I Did! features almost every worthwhile song the guitarist ever recorded, even though it does contain pure dreck like "I.L.B.T.s," which is also known as "I Like Big Tits".