Friday, November 28, 2003

Swing Out Sister Redux

While at Peter’s house, I was browsing his CD stack and found his copy of Swing Out Sister’s The Living Return. SOS was a staple in my teen years. Peter and I played their records constantly and bought the 12" import mixes whenever we found them. Visually, lead singer Corinne Drewery provided a stylish focal point and was up there with the other fashionistas of the 80s like Sade, Cathy Dennis and Jody Watley. I had brought home the CD along with 3 other of their records intending to make a "greatest hits mixtape" for Peter and me.

While The Living Return ('94) trods the same jazz-pop that is their trademark sound, it lacks a certain vivacity that the other records possessed. The album is mellow, quite nondescript, with no songs really standing out. The lead single "La La (Means I Love You)" is listenable but doesn’t cover any new ground. The best songs open the album: "Better Make it Better" and "Don’t Let Yourself Down." The last half of the album is a snooze—I have to remember to put this record on when I have one of my fits of insomnia. I don’t know if any of the songs in this CD will make it on to my mixtape. Brian’s comment on the album: "It’s not my bag."

The title track to Get In Touch with Yourself ('92) opens the album with a nice groove and then segues into the catchy "notgonnachange" and "Am I the Same Girl?" both of which tout self-esteem in a relationship. "Everyday Crime" is a jazzy, string-laden affair that has some dramatic flourishes. "Who Let the Love Out" is the most upbeat track in the album which follows closely the type of songs SOS is famous for. As in other SOS albums, there are a couple of instrumental songs—probably to show off Andy Connell’s arrangements. They are ok, but I usually skip through those.

Kaleidoscope World ('89) is a little uneven but has some real highlights like the classic "Waiting Game" which gives me chills whenever I listen to it. Another wonderful song is "Precious Words" which is quite heartbreaking. Other songs like "You On My Mind," "Where in the World" and "Masquerade" make this album worth buying. While the album shows its age a little with some 80s arrangements, I think this album will always hold a special place in my musical library.

It’s Better to Travel ('87), their debut album is such a pleasure to listen to. The album starts off with the exhilarating "Break Out," probably their best known hit. This album probably is more uptempo than their follow-up albums with euro hits like "Surrender," "Twilight World,” and "Fooled by a Smile." A couple of slower, moodier songs like "Communion" and "After Hours" fill out the rest of the album. This is a must have CD for any Swing Out Sister fan.

Checking their website, looks like they have released a few more albums including Shapes and Patterns ('97), Filth and Dreams ('99), Somewhere Deep in the Night ('02). Let me know what you think of these albums.

No comments: