Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Most Wanted

It was my official birthday last week and, yet again, I have not received the tool kits, driving gloves and gardening equipment that I crave; a selection of those new-fangled compact discs and popular fiction and non-fiction books were proffered instead. I’ll cope. None of my new long playing albums are contemporary ones. I received a gorgeous Brazilian Funk compilation featuring up-tempo gems and riddims from the 1970s, At My Age by Nick Lowe which is a sumptuous collection of mellow slices of pop perfection, North Marine Drive, Ben Watt’s monochrome and maudlin masterpiece from 1983 and (look at the picture above) Fed by Plush.

I had heard of neither Plush nor the recording Fed until a week or three ago and, for the life of me, I can’t recall where I read about them. Plush is really the Illinoisan hepcat Liam Hayes, a pop perfectionist and purveyor of pristine productions. Fed came out in 2002 and for years had only been available on expensive Japanese import but has recently been rendered available for the masses and I salute its accessibility with warmth and acclaim. I have been playing Fed almost non-stop for the past few days. I note that The Guardian’s reviewer doffs a cap to the songwriting skills of Burt Bacharach and Jimmy Webb when considering these numbers and I’d add a knowing and wistful nod of the head to that shrewd appraisal. Hayes sings plaintively and emotively; it isn’t a perfect voice but it possesses a human quality that I admire. There are many clever melodies here that require a play or two to fully appreciate but when they get under the skin they remain there doggedly. The orchestral arrangements really make the album special and lavish; swathes of glorious strings and elegant horns enhance all the tracks. The sound is dense but fulfilling and one would be correct in thinking the kitchen sink can be detected at times but it works and works beautifully. This may sound pompous but please excuse as I only learnt of Fed myself at the beginning of this month: the album may be the greatest recording you’ve not yet heard of. I recommend. I recommend.

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