Though Kirsty MacColl has appeared as a guest vocalist and backing singer with pretty much every musical act in Britain bar Wolfsbane and the Marching Band of Her Majesty's Coldstream Guards, she has been oddly reticent about recording her own material. Kite
, the first of her two solo albums, confirms what a shame that is. The songs on Kite
were written alone or with collaborator Pete Glenister and betray the musical influences that might be expected, given her guest appearances, with particular reference to The Smiths (by way of acknowledgement, Johnny Marr co-writes one song here and plays on several). The vocals, too, are unsurprisingly immaculate--MacColl has a rare knack of sounding like nobody else on earth while never parting company with the tune. However, it's MacColl's words that are the real revelation--she's funny, sharp and clever, with a fondness for puns and wordplay that never quite runs away with itself. This rereleased version includes 10 rare bonus tracks. --Andrew Mueller
Start saving up: a series of albums from the legacy of the late and undoubtedly great singer / songwriter Kirsty MacColl is being released at last, in an unabashed and very welcome celebration of the artist.
MacColl, the maverick performer much loved by the Brit rock illuminati, has been described as 'a great British artist' by Bono, a 'genius' by Holly Johnson, and the forthcoming release From Croydon To Cuba...An Anthology has been described as a 'work of art' by art-rockers Talking Heads. Praise indeed and utterly deserved.
Here we have Kite, first released fifteen years ago. Kite is full of the honest purity and humour that was synonymous with MacColl, and is packed with hits, bonus tracks and remixes. That's before you even get to the mammoth box set From Croydon To Cuba or the eclectic explosion that is Electric Landlady, also released imminently (featuring the work of Billy Bragg and Johnny Marr). Make no mistake, this special lady left a mighty legacy.
Kite features her hit single, "Days", brimming with beautiful simplicity, and all the more poignant since her tragic death in 2000. Age has not withered this sweet song, it retains every ounce of uncynical magic that made it a hit in the first place.
"Free World" is a high octane track dominated by a distinctly U2-esque rhythm guitar. You can hear bands like The Cranberries have clearly taken note of every strata of her style in tracks such as this.
"No Victims", an unsugary ode to love gone wrong bursts with blatant truth but without bitterness. A similar feel is conjured by the trad jazz-infused stomp "Fifteen Minutes", where Kirstyplainly speaks out against hypocrisy and 'bozos'. But there is never a sting in the tail, just eyes-wide-open honesty and integrity: a quality particular to the likes of MacColl and punk poet Billy Bragg.
MacColl's trademark harmonies are wrapped around "The End Of A Perfect Day", a vibrant, complex song that I defy you not to bounce up and down to. This is followed by the shimmering ballad "You And Me Baby", sure to calm you down if all that bouncing gets a bit much...
A thing of simple beauty from a much missed troubadour. --Zoe Street
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