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Eurythmics: Peace(BMG)

Eurythmics: Peace(BMG)

What with Annie Lennox's scant output and Dave Stewart's attention-seeking schemes, each half of the Eurythmics has looked badly in need of a collaborator for the past few years. Their reunion seems like the most natural thing in the world. Perhaps too natural, in fact. Peace, their first album in almost exactly a decade, has little of their early cyborg strangeness about it, but is a consistent collection of mid-tempo, guitar-heavy, grown-up pop songs with swollen choruses. Still, it's dignified, well made, powerfully sung and better than what they've been doing separately.

Kevin Rowland: My Beauty(Creation)

True, it sounds like someone bawling karaoke standards backed by a ridiculously schmaltzy wedding band. But this is no ordinary middle-aged pub crooner. This is the leader of Dexy's Midnight Runners, making a comeback of sorts after years of crippling paranoia, cocaine addiction and bankruptcy. I say "of sorts" because Rowland is by all accounts still in an emotionally fragile state. He also goes on stage wearing a mini-dress and accompanied by a pair of strippers, which must raise doubts about his taste, if nothing else. His gruesome renditions of "The Greatest Love Of All", "Daydream Believer", "The Long And Winding road" and "You'll Never Walk Alone" raise those doubts even higher. As he encourages himself with muttered asides, like a pop David Helfgott, you wonder why anyone would listen to My Beauty if it weren't for Rowland's name on the front cover and his sad story in the back of their mind. For that matter, why would anyone listen to My Beauty, full stop?

Charlatans: US and Only Us (Universal)

They may not have had the shattering impact of, say, Oasis or the Stone Roses, but the Charlatans have never stopped improving, step by stumbling step. True to form, their sixth album is their most likeable so far. It's also the first one they've produced themselves (hence the title). Instead of relying on their trademark, beatific-grinned funk-rock jams, the Charlies have experimented with different moods and time signatures, hitting on a rootsier, grainier texture than usual: saloon bar pianos and acoustic guitars rattle along in appealingly loose, rough-and-ready fashion. There are times when you wonder if the band have heard any records apart from the Rolling Stones' and Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone". But the creepy keyboards on "My Beautiful Friend" hint at a Portishead influence and "Good Witch Bad Witch" could be Beck crawling through a Deep Southern, whiskey-sodden, voodoo blues. Only the lack of obvious hit singles keeps the Charlatans from the greatness they've always promised.

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