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ME MYSELF I, Joan Armqtrading, A and M, distributed in Australia by Festival, supplied by Im pact Records.
by LUIS FELIU
F O R M I N G a
favourable impression of Joan Armatrading's latest offering was easy: she's just a natural at writing, singing and playing en dearing songs and generally making listening a pleasure. .
Having watched her progress from obscure, cultish artist (Joan ..Armawho?) to worldwide acclaim over the past few years, one does look for. obvious changes brought on by the change in status and the necessity to maintain that
! was tipped off to Armatrading's music several years ago by a friend's jazz buff dad and was immediately moved by the intense, soulful songs from, this singer-song writer from Birmingham, UK. Whereas her first two albums, a self-titled one made in collaboration with lyricist Pam Nestor, and 'Back to the Night', were prc-dominantly composed of songs blending folk, jazz, soul and West Indi an influcnccs and to a minor degree, rock, her later work in 'Snow Some Emotion' (her biggest seller to date), and now 'Me Myself I' have tended to highlight and punctuate the rock or reggae beat, probably to cater for the
mass audience she has ac quired. I'm not at all sneering
at- this subtle musical tailor ing, just that it is more obvious to those who still take time to play her "old" stuff. In fact 'Me Myself r has the besfof
The tailor, er, producer, for this album was Richard Got therer, a New York pop pro
ducer noted for his work on the first two Blondie albums. With the songs where style permits, e.g. the title track or the ones with a 12-bar format, Gottherer gives us a nice jutcy round rock sound by mixing the percussion and bass right up and gives guitarist Chris Spedding plenty of harness. •Ten tracks in all and variety sees that velvet and sandpaper voice in its true colours. The themes of most numbers are
possibly clichecd by now —' Armatrading has always sung a lot about love, lost love, longing for love, loneliness, etc, the usual stuff ballads are made of. There are a few things which irritated though; the repetitive chorus in 'AH the Way from America', that one line is all I remember of
the song; the intro chorus line
to the tttle track sounds like a Gregorian chant; the KC and Sunshine Band-style rhythm on 'Is it Tomorrow Yet'. Then there's the usual brilliant touches: the bluesy 'Friends' is a standout and vintage J.A.; the reggae trucks, 'Feeling in my Heart' and 'Simon' bounce
along nicely; the "quieter" ballads, 'Turn Out the Light' and 'I Need You', give the cosiness of log-fire warmth; and; 'Ma-Me-O-Beach' and 'When Vou Kisses Me' throw the effervescence in.
HOT SPEU, kyin Rock/Rod Rock records,' distributed by
1 AGREE with the sym pathies already expressed about this album, that it is ' a shame Ayers Rock didn't get an album like this to gether several years ago, when funky, jazz-rock was , selling heaps.
The popular climate for that sort of progressive music has given way to the 60s beat and three-minute hit sound. Iron ically, five of the 11 songs on 'Hot Spell' clock in around the three-minute mark but have that distinct mid-70s silky
Once Australia's hottest progressive rock bands, the Rock has, through two of its founding members, guitarists Chris Brown and Jimmy Doyle, worked to develop its musicianship and skill diligently and has avoided any commercial pressure which may alter tne direction it chose to pursue years ago. I know it could easily cash in on
the skills,- roughen the act up, forget all those jazzy chords and extended instrumental, get back to the basics, maybe even don black leather pants and white sneakers and blow quite a few bands today back to their suburban garages
but.. , .
I caught the band live last week supporting Rory Gallagher's second sold-out Sydney concert and had the
advantage that I'd already heard 'Hot Spell' several times so could appreciate the live performance a wee bit more. The capacity audience showed hearty approval during and after the set, probably old al legiance, and only a few com ments of dissatisfaction, like "boring", were heard, then that was at the bar up the back. Surprisingly, Chris Brown played bass and left the
lead and rhythm work to Doyle. The "new-sounding" Avers Rock reminded a friend of Weather Report, Return to Forever, a bit of Steely Dan,
Yes, you need a lot of class to sound like those acts, and this album has it, however the power pop-oriented sounds of today eclipse this laid-back style into commercial obscuri ty in Australia.