Pinups: Marc Almond – ‘Shadows and Reflections’ reviewed

❉ Marc Almond brings ’60s orchestral pop out of the darkness and into the light.

Following the success of his recent hit single A Kind of Love, and the subsequent Top 10 album Hits and Pieces, Marc Almond returns this Autumn with a de facto extension of 2007’s Stardom Road album, in which he delivered a volume of back-to-back sixties gems, from songbook standards originally recorded by Charles Aznavour, Dusty Springfield, Andy Williams and Bobby Darin to cult gems such as Barry (Eloise) Ryan’s Kitsch, Dana Gillespie’s Stardom Road and David Bowie’s 1966 mod anthem London Boys.

Shadows and Reflections seems to pick up where Stardom Road left off. It’s essentially a covers album, including the catchily fabulous title track, and filled to the brim with orchestral pop featuring songs from the likes of Dusty Springfield, The Yardbirds, and Julie Driscoll purposefully produced with a yesteryear feel in mind.

Marc Almond die-hards will have heard some of the featured songs performed live before, but they have not been committed to formal recordings in a collection like this until now, such as the wonderful Burt Bacharach’s Blue on Blue, which was performed at the Palladium as part of a special evening and duetted with Burt himself. Marc is a big fan of Bacharach having also performed and recorded Please Stay in the past.

His general love of the music of that era also extended to being a special guest at Mari Wilson’s 35th anniversary concert held earlier this year at Bush Hall in London.

Hail Mari!

Marc has always been highly influenced by the sounds of the sixties, right from the beginning of his career with Soft Cell’s reworking of Northern Soul stomper Tainted Love, through to Jacky, The Days of Pearly Spencer and Something’s Gotten Hold of my Heart as a solo artist, and they have yielded his most successful hits, with Tainted Love and Something’s Gotten Hold of my Heart both scoring Number One.

“I particularly like the strangeness of many of those ’60s records. The oddness about them is sometimes unsettling,” Marc is quoted as saying.

As always, the songs possess their own unique Marc Almond twist which brings the compositions up-to-date in a cool, retro kind of way. I’ve never personally understood the kind of artists who faithfully reproduce songs into a facsimile version. Covers need to have an element of the artist singing them, and part of their personality thrown into the mix – otherwise what’s the point? Marc brings old songs into the modern world, some of which may be familiar, some of which may be forgotten and some of which are lesser gems, reintroduced to the music-listening public of the new millennium.

However, with authenticity in mind, many of the songs still retain their sixties vibe such as Timi Yuri’s Something Bad On My Mind, as Marc considered the original arrangements to be so thought-out, and just so good! In the days when songs were ‘composed’ and every note, every lyric had to fit perfectly, this new collection titled Shadows and Reflections brings the old songs out of the darkness and into the light, from big band sounds like Julie Driscoll’s I Know You Love Me Not, to those melancholic bittersweet melodies which Marc Almond delivers so well, such as Frank Sinatra’s The Shadow of Your Smile, and the track Not For Me, originally recorded by Bobby Darin.

This album will take you to the highest highs to the bitterest lows and this is where the album ends, on a self-indulgent track No-one to Say Goodnight To, in which the listener will wallow in pure melancholy.

‘Shadows and Reflections’: Track listing

1. Overture
2. Shadows and Reflections
3. I’m Lost without You
4. How Can I Be Sure
5. Something Bad on my Mind
6. Blue on Blue
7. I Know You Love me Not
8. Interlude
9. From the Underworld
10. Still I’m Sad
11. Embers
12. Not For Me
13. All Thoughts of Time
14. The Shadow of Your Smile
15. No-one to Say Goodnight To

❉ ‘Shadows and Reflections’ is released on 22 September 2017 via BMG.

❉ Marc is touring the UK with this album and starts at the Royal Festival Hall in London. The other 17 dates are available via his website as well as being able to pre-order the album Shadows and Reflections in many formats and special edition packs:

❉ Ange Chan is a poet and novelist. Her fourth poetry collection “Fame; What’s Your Name?” and her second novel “Baby, Can You Hear Me?” were both published in paperback and Kindle in 2016. Her third novel will be published in 2017.

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