PJ PROBY: Legend

EMI premier PRMDCD 27
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The Independent Culture
It would be a shame if Legend were lost in the flood of largely pathetic comebacks currently afflicting the pop scene; for compared to, say, the new ABC LP, it's a work of vaulting ambition and inspiration. Gloriously mindful of his reputation, it's high camp on a spectacular scale, with the Sixties trouser-splitter guided mostly by Marc Almond and former Sigue Sigue Sputnik guitarist Neal X, with St Etienne's Pete Wiggs and Bob Stanley chipping in a couple of the more unusual productions. Restraint is not on the menu.

The album opens with due ceremony, courtesy of a roll of timpani and a suitably grandiloquent overture, before the prancing techno twitch of "I'm Coming Back" heralds PJ's perhaps ill-advised new disco direction; but a heartfelt duet with Almond on the old Cupid's Inspiration hit "Yesterday Has Gone" puts things firmly back on course, while St Etienne's ensuing piano blues "Pain in My Heart" gives him the chance to show his more gentle, soulful side. Proby's classic pop-operatic style lends itself well to camp exercises like "Devil in Red Velvet" - "I'm the satin assassin! The killer in chinchilla!" - and though he's still prey to fulsome Presleyising on tracks like "If I Can Dream", the only time that imperious tenor really comes dangerously close to the absurd is when the old Lieber-Stoller song "Don't" is given the full club-singer treatment, Vic Reeves style. That aside, Legend is a surprisingly effective blend of mood and melodrama. A welcome return, trouser-seams permitting