It took me the best part of a year to get my hands on this quite superb recording. In fact, since a rather more basic version was originally released on Siobhan Fahey's website in 2005, my shilly-shallying has actually seen me wait even longer than that. The real reason I waited is probably a mark of just how secretly pathetic I am, because it was the idea that this is perhaps her 'darkest work to date' that made me really very reluctant to send for it. In my mind, she and I have had an entirely one-sided relationship for over thirty years and the thought of introducing any 'darkness' into that didn't seem particularly appealing. But life is about darkness. And, judging by the intensity of some of the lyrics on this album, nobody is more aware of that fact than Siobhan Fahey.
If ever a 'Bonus' was worthy of that name, then the 'Commentary' from the lady herself at the end of this disc has to be it. My goodness me. In just two and a half rather breathless minutes (that's just what the sound of her voice does to me, never mind her) she provides additional background information about how this collection of songs originally came to be. It sounds as though she was standing on a traffic island somewhere in the middle of London while she was being interviewed during the whole of those two and a half minutes but even the bleeping of pedestrian crossings cannot distract the listener from that amazingly sultry voice for too long.
'The MGA Sessions' was the product of the collaboration between Siobhan and a music video director by the name of Sophie Muller way back in 1993. This was around about the time that 'Shakespears Sister' (in its original form) was reaching the end of the line and it seems to have been something of a dark time for Siobhan Fahey personally; indeed, she has said in interviews elsewhere that she was battling severe depression in 1993. 'The MGA Sessions' began as 'musical brainstorming' between the two women, with the intention of smoking out some sort of central character who might then have formed the inspiration for a film, for which this would have been the soundtrack. Unfortunately, the film was never made and the album was never finished, meaning that these demo recordings were all that remained to show for their efforts. Siobhan herself calls it an 'unpolished diamond'. Thankfully, someone somewhere has seen fit to digitally remaster the songs and send them off into the welcoming arms of people who are ready and willing to look beyond any recording flaws and to see that unpolished diamond for precisely what it is.
I was listening to this for almost a week before I actually got the disc, thanks to that 'AutoRip' gizmo. And, putting my totally impartial 'reviewing' head on here, I was utterly blown away by it. The music alone is impressive. I'm sure Siobhan is completely right in what she says about the production being 'flawed' (that lady could tell me the moon is made of ice-cream and I daresay I'd believe her) but I am obviously a musical philistine, because when I listen to this I simply do not notice. And that's just the music. When I finally got my hands on the CD itself and pored over the actual lyrics to these songs, I was beyond impressed. This is all with my serious 'reviewing' head on, remember. It's the only part of me that can come up with any coherent thoughts at all when I'm listening to this. I may as well be a teenager again, quite frankly.
For some reason I finally made the decision to send for this at about eleven o'clock in the evening. With all that dithering out of the way, I was feeling rather pleased with myself and just pondering the riddle of why my love of Siobhan had not inspired me to spend that little bit extra in order to get my hands on her by 1PM the-day-after-tomorrow when I realised the MP3 version was right there waiting for me! Well, suddenly sleep seemed rather unimportant. I was still sitting there three hours later and, having suffered a fitful sleep and a rather nasty little nightmare (in which Siobhan wanted answers as to why I had only deemed her worthy of 'Super Saver Delivery', and I simply could not explain it), I awoke the next morning with Track 1 STILL going round in my head!
That opening track, 'Was It Something That I Said?' grabs you right from the outset. I'm still a musical philistine, but it did remind me rather a lot of Michael Nyman's 'Water Dances' - in the most complimentary way possible. It's an incredibly powerful arrangement, the sort of tune that gets in your head and cannot be dislodged by any conventional means. It makes a reappearance, in a slightly different form, as a bonus track later on. I just love the crazy 'off-key' aspect to the whole thing.
'The Suppressed Trilogy' is possibly my favourite track on here (God, that's like being forced to choose which brand of chocolate bar is your favourite... I love them all, damn it!). It combines utterly compelling and enormously clever lyrics with a whole range of different musical styles, all in the one track. How on earth can two people have so much combined musical talent and yet not have their work available to a wider audience for so many years? It sure beats me.
This is one review that I almost didn't want to write, because I knew that a few lines from me would never be able to do this amazing piece of work justice. If only I had just a fraction of Siobhan Fahey's talent for expressing herself with words then I might have been in with a chance... I tell you what; why don't I belt up now and let you go and see how amazing she is for yourself? Because, if you've made it this far, then you really DO need to buy this!
on 27 February 2016
An absolute gem of an album! As a massive fan of La Fahey and Shakespeare Sister I was very pleased that this collection of demos from 1993 is all KILLER and no filler. Dark subject matters, intriguing lyrics, masterful melodies and killer hooks! Here, one of the UK's greatest and most underrated diva's successfully combines avant garde and pop. Highlights are the breathtakingly epic masterpiece, "The Suppressed Trilogy", the sinister psycho pop of " Was It Something I Said", the dirty rocker "Where's The Party" and the shimmeringly catchy, "A Christmas Number One", which, had it been released, probably would have performed as it's title suggests. This album is dark and edgy, but has a glorious pop sensibility and such intriguing, entertaining lyrics that it never fails to keep you guessing and leave you wanting more! Never a dull moment. Essential for Siobhan fans! Its cult classic status is truly deserved. Long live the Queen...