I've had this album since it came out and I just don't get tired of it. Kirsty MacColl had a wonderful voice which sung the humourous lyrics with deadpan warmth. The great thing about these songs is that, although there is great humour, they are far from novelty songs - they're just great pop songs.
Brilliant tracks from start to finish, this album rocks along until 67 minutes have literally flown by - I always feel I've been listening for only five minutes and need to rewind to the beginning again.
She has collaborated well with these - Mark E. Nevin and Johnny Marr to name two, whilst interpreting songs by Cole Porter, Billy Bragg, Ray Davis and Morrissey brilliantly. This is just perfection.
There are some nice notes inside from her friends and admirers and a poignant line from Kirsty in which she writes "Special thanks to my friends who contributed liner notes and made it possible for me to revel in the glory without the inconvenience of actually dying".
We still love you, Glorious Kirsty, even if you did die much too early! We treasure your memory.
If all you know of Kirsty MacColl is her cover of the Kinks' 'Days' and her recent, tragic death then for God's sake listen to this compilation. Her clear and sunny vocals coupled with witty, sarky lyrics (often her own) define the term 'bittersweet' and make for consistently excellent music. Her takes on Billy Bragg ('A New England'), Morrissey & Marr ('You Just Haven't Earned It Yet Baby') and Cole Porter ('Miss Otis Regrets') add to, rather than detract from, the originals. However it is her own writing she performs best and which leaves the lasting impression.
Kirsty McColl had one of the most distinctive, and at its best, most thrilling voices in pop. Add to that a talent for writing melodic, intelligent and often sardonic songs and you have the ingredients for sure fire success. Except that it didn't happen. A lack of self confidence perhaps, or simply a mature sense of priorities. Who knows? Her work has attracted a wider public since her death, but she will be perhaps always be a footnote in the history of pop. But there is nothing marginal about her recordings as this compilation shows convincingly. From the girlgroup pastiche of 'They Don't Know' through the country flavoured 'There's A Guy Works Down The Chipshop Swears He's Elvis' to the political edge of 'Free World' the latin tinged 'My Affair' and the urban groove of 'Walking Down Madison' (co-written with Johnny Marr) her songwriting shows a remarkable quality and variety. All of these are bathed in her trademark harmonies making the listening experience particularly delightful. She cut a mean cover too. 'New England' is easily as good as the original, though very different in tone. Her version of the Kinks 'Days' is simply stunning, and Cole Porter's 'Miss Otis Regrets' is delivered with great wit. She duets with Shane McGowan on his 'Fairytale Of New York' thereby creating that rarity, a listenable Christmas song. The selection of tracks for this album is unimpeachable. With this and her later 'Tropical Brainstorm' you will have the essential Kirsty McColl.
The sleeve notes to this superb compilation contain a few words from Kirsty MacColl that are now as poignant as they were prophetic. Referring to some scribbled tributes to her from the likes of Bono, Morrissey, and Billy Bragg, Kirsty wrote: "Special thanks to my friends who contributed liner notes and made it possible for me to revel in the glory without the inconvenience of actually dying." Sadly, it took the untimeliness of her death to bring the breadth and variety of Kirsty's work to the attention of people like me who knew her name and most of her songs but never quite connected the two. A recent TV tribute helped put that right, and it was quite a surprise to discover that she had written They Don't Know, the opening track on this CD (which most people knew as a Tracey Ullman song) as well as one of the most memoraby-titled songs of all time, There's A Guy Works Down Our Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis. Perhaps, if there is an afterlife, the King will have a chance to tell Kirsty what he thinks of that one... This collection is a cracking tribute to Kirsty's work, even though it was released before she died - and it will consolidate her reputation as well as proving a primer for the ignoramuses like me who were unaware of how special she was until it was all too late. Having played the CD since it arrived this morning, I can only thank Kirsty, posthumously, for making this a Perfect Day.
Kirsty MacColl had her first hit in 1981 with the humorous There's A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop ... and in 1984 she scored with her interpretation of Billy Bragg's A New England. In 1987 she had a UK number 2 with Fairytale Of New York, the duet with Shane MacGowan, in 1989 she placed her version of Thank You For The Days on the charts and in 1991 she scored big again with the haunting Walking Down Madison. Throughout the 1980s Kirsty also provided backing vocals on recordings for Talking Heads, the Smiths, Rolling Stoners, Simple Minds and Van Morrison amongst others, while comedienne Tracey Ullman had a hit with MacColl's They Don't Know. This brilliant album showcases her considerable talent as composer and singer. Besides the aforementioned highlights, it includes a stirring version of Lou Reed's Perfect Day, her own version of They Don't Know and the poignant Don't Come The Cowboy with Me Sonny Jim. Kirsty had a distinctive voice with a natural country flavour, very special and recognizable. Other great tracks on Galore include Miss Otis Regrets, You Just Haven't Earned It Yet Baby, Caroline and Angel. Galore is the best album for exploring this obscure but highly talented singer, although her solo albums like Kite and Electric Landlady should not be neglected.
Kirsty was a daughter of the great folk singer Ewan MacColl and his influence inevitably shows in her music, but she was very much of her time. Kirsty was always keen to experiment and the results were not always brilliant, but the best of her music is to be found on this outstanding collection. Apart from experimentation, Kirsty's success was limited by her desire to lead life to the full and raise a family as well. She died in a high-speed boating accident while still in her early forties. Most of the songs on this collection were written by Kirsty, often but not always on her own, including They don't know (a song which provided Tracey Ullman with her first hit), There's a guy works down the chip shop swears he's Elvis, He's on the beach, Free world, Don't come the cowboy with me Sonny Jim (a song covered by Kelly Willis on her Easy album) and Walking down Madison. Kirsty was also well capable of recording distinctive covers of other people's songs. Their diverse sources show that Kirsty was not a lady that anybody could typecast. They include A new England (Billy Bragg), Miss Otis Regrets (Cole Porter - one of two duets with Irish rockers The Pogues), You just haven't earned it yet baby (The Smiths), Days (The Kinks) and Perfect Day (Lou Reed - a duet with Evan Dando of the Lemonheads). Her biggest UK hit was the other duet with the Pogues - a Christmas song titled Fairytale of New York. It can be found on several British Christmas compilations and is not really typical of Kirsty's music. I would describe Kirsty's music as sixties pop rock updated for the eighties with a little folk and country added into the mix. If Kirsty had pursued her career with single-minded dedication, some say she could have been a world megastar. Maybe, but she wanted a life outside music. As a consequence, her musical legacy is limited, but the quality more than makes up for that.