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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The outstanding album of 2005
It's not often that new music in 2005 can stop you in your tracks, but it was only those made of granite that weren't hushed into an awed silence the first time they heard Antony sing. "Hope there's someone who'll take care of me when I die", the opening words to the best album of the year.
From the Peter Hujar photo, Candy Darling On Her...
Published on 13 Feb 2006 by J. W. Bassett

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3.0 out of 5 stars The songs that are well know are the best ones. Generally disappointed by how depressing all the ...
The songs that are well know are the best ones. Generally disappointed by how depressing all the songs are and how they all sound so similar.
Published 17 days ago by John Latham


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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The outstanding album of 2005, 13 Feb 2006
By 
J. W. Bassett (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: I Am A Bird Now (Audio CD)
It's not often that new music in 2005 can stop you in your tracks, but it was only those made of granite that weren't hushed into an awed silence the first time they heard Antony sing. "Hope there's someone who'll take care of me when I die", the opening words to the best album of the year.
From the Peter Hujar photo, Candy Darling On Her Deathbead, that adorns the sleeve, to some of the subject matter - breast amputation (My Lady Story), domestic violence (Fistful Of Love) and gender confusion (For Today I Am A Boy) - it might appear to be a hard shell to crack, but what makes I Am A Bird Now all the more compelling is that Antony is able to take what are profoundly personal words and transform them into something highly ambiguous and hugely accessible.
Nonetheless, it is Antony's voice that, for many, is the main draw. Equal parts Nina Simone, Labi Siffre, Billie Holiday and Jimmy Scott, Antony sings with such sadness, such belief, such frailty and such authority that he could be singing about anything and it wouldn't matter. Even better then, that the lyrics should be so affecting and challenging.
It's somewhat fitting an album which, more than anything, draws on feelings of isolation and loneliness should have such a stellar cast of supporting players. Long-time Antony champion, Lou Reed, adds an unpretentious and almost terse spoken word intro to Fistful Of Love, before Antony delivers a heartbreaking account of domestic abuse ("I feel your fist and I know it's out of love"). Immediately afterwards, Devendra Banhart adds some disturbing incantations to the beginning of the staggering Spiralling.
Just preceding those two songs is What Can I Do? Here, Antony relinquishes the lead vocal role and allows Rufus Wainwright to take centre stage. Wainwright, a highly accomplished singer himself is, despite his best efforts, ultimately upstaged by Antony's supreme backing vocals.
Of the collaborations though, it is, perhaps surprisingly, Antony's duet with Boy George on You Are My Sister than works best. George, who offers his best vocal perfomance since The Crying Game, holds Antony's hand through a paean to broken friendship that is one of the album's most poignant moments.
But, in the end, I Am A Bird Now is not about the special guests; it's about the beauty of Antony's voice, the power of his delivery and the bravery of his words. After Antony has found his wings and completed his metamorphosis on the concluding track, the beauteous Bird Gerhl, the listener is left to reflect on an album of transformation and transcendence, an album that is life affirming and tragic at the same time, an album that is immeasurable in scope and, at times, uncomfortably confessional. An album that has quite literally nothing in common with the rest of the musical output of 2005.
And that, if nothing else, is worth celebrating.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply The Year's Best Album, 21 Nov 2005
This review is from: I Am A Bird Now (Audio CD)
If you can coax empathy from the average stranger by singing about the pains of being a 6ft 5 plus transvestite, you must have a way about you. If you can do it while wrapping your vocals in a quivering mixture of Brian Ferry and Nina Simone, delivering delicate torch paeans to confusion, fear and eventual release then you're a rare talent.

This is simply the finest album of the year. It's just devastating, to be honest it's sometimes a little too much to take...the way he sings 'I tell you I love you, and I always will...I know you can't tell me' during 'Fistful Of Love' kills me everytime I hear it...easily one of the finest soul songs of the last ten years, you can just feel the fragile desperation and need seep from every word. It's heartbreaking.

Like I said, it's not easy to place someone in your position and make them feel your particular pain through a collection of four minute songs, but this album has the honesty and beauty to do just that...it aches for your attention.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars stunning, 27 Nov 2005
By 
This review is from: I Am A Bird Now (Audio CD)
WOW, listening to this for the first time was the audio equivalent of driving past a traffic accident, I didn't think I wanted to listen but couldn't stop myself. I can't think of anything to compare this to. I'm not especially fond of piano ballads, certainly have nothing in common with an emotionally tortured 7 foot tall transvestite and can't say that I related to any of the lyrics at all. So when I say that this album is a masterpiece and is one of the most original albums I have ever heard, you may get an idea of just what genius this is.
If you are looking for something mainstream, or think you're musically cultured because you like Coldplay, this album may go right over your head or even upset you.
If you want something different this is it!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique beauty, 13 Nov 2006
By 
This review is from: I Am A Bird Now (Audio CD)
It's been said before, but Antony has the most amazing voice. Completely original which is why it is such a love/hate sound. To be honest on my first listen i thought the voice ruined it, but then the more i listened to it the more i loved it. The subject matter of the album is particularly moving as it comes across as completely heartfelt and sincere, each song filled with a mixture of pain and hope as Antony struggles to come to terms with what he is and what he wants to become.

The instrumental backing throughout the album is sparse and simplistic, mainly centred around piano and strings. This type of instrumentation compliments Antonys style of singing perfectly as it does not draw attention away from his voice.

Overall I'd definately reccommend this album, although it will have to 'grow' on some people.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Compelling! 22.1.06, 22 Jan 2006
By 
Denis (Derby, Derbyshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I Am A Bird Now (Audio CD)
I saw Anthony and the Johnsons perform on a T.V. chat show- only one song but they sounded interesting. I am 56 and have what you would call mainstream tastes but I just can't stop playing this album. It's the combination of his voice and the quality of the songs- only one dud in my opinion ( Free at Last). It's just brilliant- buy it , play it and , for all the right reasons, you won't be able to get it out of your head. Anthony sounds a tortured soul but artists often produce their best material when they're unhappy- Van Morrison for example
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A voice that speaks to me., 19 Dec 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: I Am A Bird Now (Audio CD)
I see that this album is creating many different reactions, from rave reviews to outright ridicule. Great! Any artist that polarises opinion must have something going on. Look at Elvis, the Rolling Stones, and the Sex Pistols. I remember my dad being outraged at a painted David Bowie in the 70’s…”Is that a boy or a girl!” If you only ever had artists that lots of people like, you end up with a world full of Robbie Williams.
Antony and the Johnsons will never appeal to everyone. Like Bjork or Kate Bush, either Antony’s voice will speak to you or it won’t. You will get it or you wont. As it is, this collection of moving songs touched the part of me that knows loneliness and disappointment, the part of me that has experienced triumph despite adversity, the part of me that craved a real singer with something to say. I have listened to this Cd for most of the year, and each time it touches me, and each time I find something new. I hope Antony keeps making these personal yet universal songs for years to come.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHERE DOES HIS VOICE COME FROM, 6 Dec 2005
By 
IAN HALL (PONTELAND, NORTHUMBERLAND United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I Am A Bird Now (Audio CD)
I have been totally blown away by Antony's voice and lyrics. He mesmerises you and I don't know how he does it. I am 50 yr old and this is a singer who you instantly cannot forget or mistake. Jonathan Ross said it, he is someone who we shall hear a lot more about. Brilliant
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars oh my, 6 Mar 2005
By 
Mr. M. Walsh - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: I Am A Bird Now (Audio CD)
antony is a brit based in new york. his voice and genre classification for this music is located somewhere between church gospel and vintage soul...
this is the sophomore lp from antony & the johnsons and needless to say it really has to be heard to be believed...
in terms of style it recalls nina simone and lou reed. 'fistful of love' is the heart of this album and the collaboration with the aforementioned lou reed creates a staggering celebration of the joys of life as the tenor saxophone comes out in true new york blues cabaret style...
the striking thing about antony is his voice that lilts, then fluttres and then finally soars like on the startling 'for today i am a boy' that deserves hymn-like status. it is such a unique falsetto voice that the octaves he covers transcend the guest appearances on this album from rufus wainwright, lou reed, devendra banhart and boy george...
yes boy george! - he delivers a commendable and moving performance when duetting with antony on 'you are my sister', it very much feels like the albums success is against all the odds - but any analysis of end of year polls and such is rendered irrelevant when the beautiful human touches of this art really hit home...
the important thing here is aesthetics then and sonically the album is the greatest palate of emotion to surface since 1997 when spiritualized gave us 'ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space'...
an album of full powered soul overall and the feeling is very much raw and hot blooded. too independent to be grouped in relation to any so-called ''peers'' and certainly too cool for ally mcbeal, please get this, stick it on your stereo and you'll see exactly what is being discussed here...
...astounding
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Album of 2005?, 22 Sep 2005
By 
KPA Lowe (Nottingham) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: I Am A Bird Now (Audio CD)
The winner of the 2005 mercury prize (which is a fairly credible award compared to most). This is actually the second Antony and the Johnsons' album ("Antony and the Johnsons" was released in 1998) and displays a new state of maturity. Indeed Chichester's Antony and his androgynous salon-caberet concept have come a long way since he formulated the idea in 1995 after performing late night caberet sets at New York's Pyramid club. After creating an underground fan-base, Durtro signed him up, meaning he could finally release "Antony and the Johnsons", which has already been known for years by Antony's fan-base as "Blue Angel". There has been a significant gap between "Antony and the Johnsons" and "I Am a Bird Now", but Antony has actually released other music, Eps, and performed a lot during this time. It might be suggested that his true "big break" came in 2003, when he supported a Lou Reed tour. In fact, Reed makes an appearance on "I Am a Bird Now"- as do Devendra Banhart, Rufus Wainwright, and Boy George.
Let's get the obvious out the way: Antony's voice. Yes, Antony has a peculiar quivering voice with a excruciating falsetto, which sometimes results in bad diction. There are some reviews that complain about this and consequently condemn the record. However, it will be suggested here that focussing solely on such an issue as a summary of the aesthetic demerits of an artist or their music is quite simply flagrantly poor music criticism! You all know who you are- now hang your heads in shame!!! Also, not everyone will appreciate the lyrics. The punk-drag world was something that Antony became involved with whilst at New York University, and "I Am a Bird Now" tells the story of the transition from a boy into a woman, and this is accrued in the lyric of 'For Today I Am a Boy' (incidentally arguably the best song on the album):
One day I'll grow up and be a beautiful woman
One day I'll grow up and be a beautiful boy
For today I am a child
For today I am a boy
Within the space of just over two minutes, the song develops texturally to a breathtaking climax. It begins quite sparsely with Antony and a piano, before a harmonised vocal and acoustic guitar is added. This is retained in the second verse as the texture increases via the piano, and the bass becomes more prominent. Additional voices are then added (all Antony's). At the end the last two lines presented above are repeated and a crescendo is created by a repeated phrase of triplets that are punctuated by snare drum, and a crash cymbal creates an explosion at the end of each of these phrases. It is possibly the album's highlight, although there are many more contenders. The opening 'Hope There's Someone' has a wonderfully constructed melody that is quite a rare feature of many contemporary albums. There are also some haunting distant vocals and the song ends on a dischord. The song ably encapsulates Anthony's style. In other words, if you don't like this one, Anthony's probably not for you. The second song introduces the whole band rather than just Antony and his piano, and proves that the ensemble as a whole is a strong unit, and this is not just Antony reliving his caberet days. As the album progresses, even more conspicuous quality is introduced with guest vocalists. The most striking is a duet between Antony and Boy George on 'You Are My Sister'. Also, Lou Reed's spoken dialogue in 'Fistful of Love' is idiosyncratic. This song is another great track featuring brass and woodwind and has a strong jazz ambience in places. It is, in fact, about the closest to a rock track, for the band in general become rather strident and some guitar work from Reed gives the track a faintly electric edge that gives it prominence.
Albums like this, i.e., not orthodox but with strong melodies, declamation, and a perfect equilibrium between monotony, development etc, are few and far between. Antony and the Johnsons are not for everyone, but each should at least make the effort to find out which side of the fence they stand. Was "I Am a Bird Now" the best album of 2005? Debateable. Did it deserve its award? Yes!
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply STUNNING, 13 Oct 2005
By 
H. R. Trigg "howietUK" (Swindon, Wilts United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: I Am A Bird Now (Audio CD)
This is without a doubt, the most moving, the most extraordinary and at first listen, the most bizarre album of the year! It sounds like black slave music, the kind u could imagine being sung in the fields during their oppression, and there are hints of a masculine Nina Simone? There times the vocalist sounds female, other times distinctly male, but always black and has an amazing vibrato in his voice! (I imagine this kind of sexual confusion is deliberate - do some research on the group and you'll see why). They also come from new York and are NOT black at all. Everything you hear on this cd is an illusion!
Bizarre? Yes, at first listen, but once you have heard it a few times, you are sucked right in. The lyrics are extraordinarily moving, the voice beautiful and the duets with Boy George and Rufus Wainwright are wonderful moments.
This years Mercury Award award winner and rightly so, not just because it is 'different' but because it is genius!
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