Thursday, 12 January 2012

CD Column in The Daily Yomiuri on 21st October 2006

By Stephen Taylor / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer

Universal International, 1,980 yen

Ta-dah, the eagerly awaited second album from New York's kings and queens of camp, the Scissor Sisters, is a collection of catchy pop tunes that draws on a wide range of musical influences.

The opening number, "I Don't Like Dancin'," is already a British No. 1 hit and a classic example of the group's preoccupation with the 1970s. Cowritten by and featuring Elton John on piano to add an authentic touch of the decade, its disco beat drives the song along like a Ford Mustang and there's even some "cooing pigeon" syn drums thrown in for good measure.

Elton doesn't feature on the next track, "She's My Man", but he's definitely there in spirit with the song's uncanny similarity to his 1980s hit "I'm Still Standing."

There are so many allusions to tracks from back in the day on the album that part of the fun of listening to it is spotting what they are. The introductions alone will have you shouting, "That's 'Chain Reaction' by Diana Ross," "This one's David Bowie's 'Let's Dance'" and "Here's another Abba riff."

Yet unlike some bands who have forged their sound on 1970s, the Scissor Sisters take their influences and create a new sound that has fresh impetus.

It's a sound that cuts across a slew of genres, whether it's dance, pop, rock or electronic.

Ta-dah is a very accessible collection of songs that will force its way into your head after only a couple of listens, particularly "The Other Side," a tune that Duran Duran would kill for.

The domestic release of the CD has two bonus tracks. "Transistor," featuring one-time David Bowie guitarist Carlos Alomar, and "Ambition," both of which are more than merely fillers.

Universal International, 1,980 yen

Some names in rock have become almost legendary. The Doors, Them and the Velvet Underground giving us Jim, Van and Sterling Morrison, respectively.

So when a young Englishman chooses to go by the name of James Morrison, one's reaction is that of admiration for a decision that could so easily blow up in his face.

But this native of the midlands town of Rugby is clearly not short on confidence and the opening line of his debut album, Undiscovered, backs this up when he says, "I was sure, I was born and raised to be my own man." His faith in his ability is unequivocal, and by the close of the album I tended to agree that it is not misplaced.

Swedish producer Martin Terefe helps Morrison achieve a rich texture and maturity way beyond most 22-year-olds.

One look at the influences on the album sleeve reveals where his sound is coming from. His love of soul music, particularly Al Green and Marvin Gaye, is reinforced by hints of Van Morrison and Stevie Wonder that results in sublime vocals throughout this album.

Comparisons could be made with James Blunt, another British singer/songwriter to emerge recently, but Morrison's soulful treatment of his lyrics blows away Blunt's efforts.

Morrison may sing on the title track, "I'm not lost; not lost, just undiscovered," but on the strength of this fine set of passionate pop songs he's not going to remain undiscovered for very long.

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