Saturday, April 3, 2010

David Byrne & Fatboy Slim album review

David Byrne & Fatboy Slim
Here Lies Love

The prospect of a song cycle about Imelda Marcos, controversial former First Lady of The Philippines, might lead to the assumption that Here Lies Love is another obscure music excursion from David Byrne. Yet this eclectic 22-track collection is very accessible.

Starting in 2004, the former Talking Heads leader researched Marcos’ life, traveled to Manila and approached Fatboy Slim about doing a collaboration. The pair worked on it sporadically between other projects. Concentrating on club oriented music - Marcos was a regular at NYC’s famed Studio 54 and built a mirror ball-lighted dance floor in her New York townhouse - Byrne incorporated Marcos’ interview quotes into several lyrics.

Then he rounded up an impressive crop of female guest artists to sing from her’s and childhood nanny Estrella Cumpas’ perspectives, including Tori Amos, Cyndi Lauper, Sharon Jones, St. Vincent, Allison Moorer and the leaders of Florence & the Machine and My Brightest Diamond. Steve Earle and Byrne provide the occasional male viewpoint of Marcos’ late husband/dictator Ferdinand.

The results are varied, infectious and often sound like they could’ve come from Byrne’s world music label Luaka Bop.

Top picks to click: Kate Pierson’s “The Whole Man” (as giddy as something off a B-52s album), Natalie Mechant’s serious minded theatrical meditation “Order 1081,” Santigold’s percolating “Please Don’t” (probably the first time Nixon, Castro, Reagan and Qaddafi have been mentioned together in song), Nellie McKay’s Latin-tinged “How Are You,” Martha Wainwright’s idyllic “Rose of Tacloban,” Sia’s samba-led “Never Too Big,” Earle’s militant shuffle “A Perfect Hand” and Byrne, whose slinky “American Troglodyte” is driven by a Giorgio Moroder inspired synth and contains these lines: “Americans are surfin’ that Internet/Americans are listenin’ to 50 Cent.”

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