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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 13 August 2002
So, Bernard and David are back together. After two fantastic singles back in the mid-nineties ('Yes' and 'You Do'), it all fell apart, with the two releasing a half-formed album made up of the singles and associated B-sides. Thankfully they've made up, and produced this wonderful album.
This album starts with a belter - 'Theme From McAlmont And Butler' is a fantastic track - drums getting down a groove coupled with a dirty guitar from Bernard and wailing vocals from David go into a similar sounding chorus before going into yet another glorious chorus, this time with sweeping strings and a choir - what an opener.
Track 2 is the lead single, 'Falling'. Slightly reminiscent of 'Yes', this is a real grower, sure to produce many embarrassing attempts to match McAlmont's falsetto!
'Different Strokes' is a jaunty pop-soul song with added harmonica, strings, and a choir. This is a real summery, feel-good song.
'Can We Make It' - like the previous track, this is another feel-good song, this time with brass stabs.
'Blue' - Excellent acoustic guitar work on this slightly melancholy song.
'Bring It Back' - a funky electric guitar heralds another bright and breezy track.
'Where R U Now?'- Driven throughout by a head-nodding drum beat, this has a beautiful chorus melody.
'Sunny Boy' - nice enough when it's on, but a bit forgettable.
'Make It Right' - Another gorgeous track, laid back guitar licks swathed in strings and amazing vocals.
'Beat' - an 'epic' track, slow burning to a climax of gentle strings, glad to be alive vocals, and a guitar solo, before ebbing away with swooshes and a brief piano solo.
Overall this album is the very much the sum of it's parts - incredible guitar playing, producing and music from Bernard, coupled with David's outstanding, unique vocals. As this was recorded as a whole album (rather than the collection mentioned earlier), it is much more coherent than the previous record, with a gorgeous rich, warm sound throughout. I guess if I had to sum the album up in one word, it would be blissful.
In this age where the music business focuses more on the 'business' aspect, it's refreshing to hear an album made by people who want to make music for the sheer joy of it.
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on 11 August 2002
"Bring It Back" is a superb blend of classic soul with a big production, complete with Bernard Butler's distinctive guitar. The first 4 tracks are awesome; 'Theme From' with its funky guitar (Stone Roses "Second Coming" style) and McAlmont's soulful falsetto vocal, the epic single 'Falling' complete with surf guitar and a soaring chorus evoking memories of their earlier 'Yes' single, the classic Motown soul feel of 'Different Strokes', and 'Can We Make It?' which is possibly the best track on the album. The mood then changes momentarily courtesy of the acoustic track 'Blue' before returning to form with the funky title track 'Bring It Back'. The last four tracks don't quite have the same appeal as the first four, the acoustic closer 'Beat' being the pick of the bunch. The album could possibly have been sequenced better but overall is a very strong comeback album with a 'classic' feel.
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VINE VOICEon 21 October 2002
Time the great healer has sprung a surprise on us. Who'd have thought that David McAlmont and Bernard Butler would ever set foot inside a recording studio together again in light of their acrimonious and very public bust-up, shortly after the release of "The Sound of McAlmont and Butler"? But seven years on they have done just that and now offer us a second helping of their widescreen pop magic.
M&B (that's McAlmont and Butler, by the way, not Mitchell and Butler the midland-based brewers) open proceedings with "Theme from McAlmont and Butler", a manifesto that builds to a grand scale with guitars, strings and vocal acrobatics before launching you headlong into "Falling", another epic production with an irresistible melody, a sort of "Yes" part two. They diversify as the album progresses through infectious soul-tinged pop and an interlude in the form of delicate acoustic number "Blue", which Jeff Buckley might have been proud of. The serried ranks of guitars and strings return for a rousing finale on "Beat" that leaves you wanting more. Pop music hasn't been much fun in recent years but M&B clearly aren't another assembly line product. Their recent tour, eschewing the orchestral backing and pumping up the guitar, showed us a more rock interpretation of their sound. McAlmont swooped and soared while Butler tumbled about the stage, riffing away like an indie Angus Young. Blimey! It was an exciting performance, although two girls in front of us wouldn't have known as they spent the whole evening texting their mates. And I must confess to being a tiny bit disappointed that M&B did not finish with an onstage punch-up. They really do seem to like each other again! That's OK, we may well get a third instalment of their theatrical pop-rock. Don't keep us waiting another seven years for it.
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on 20 August 2002
I am reviewing this album having only heard it a couple of times. But, I am that immediately affected by how amazing it is.
The first three tracks are pure musical bliss. The powerful opener The Theme From McAlmont and Butler sets up for sweeping tracks to follow such as cracking single Falling which is this albums 'Yes' followed in contrast by the empowering Different Strokes which has that typifies the Motown sound that people have been talking about on this album.
The album continues and what instantly hits me is how uplifting this album is. This sounds like the album I have wanted to hear since 1995, and does not disappoint at all.
The combination of Davids emotive vocals combined with the anthemic guitar of Bernard makes for one of the best albums you will hear this year.
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on 8 August 2002
If you liked the bombastic epic orchestral overproduction of the single "Falling", you may be expecting more of the same on this album. You will be disappointed. Apart from a couple of quirky numbers, all other tracks are located somewhere between Otis Redding and The Lighthouse Family. This is fine if that is what you like, but please dont buy this expecting ten more songs along the lines of "Falling", or "Yes" and "You do" from the first album. In my opinion, "Bring it Back" is not as good as "The Sound Of", which is a shame, as the first album was only cobbled together from a couple of singles and their numerous B sides. An opportunity missed.
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on 16 August 2002
Ok, so I buy a couple hundred albums every year, some I listen to a lot, some a little, but every once in a while an album comes along that just grabs me and refuses to let go... "Bring it Back" is such an album. It's like a soul album on steroids... there's some serious 70's styles grooves, but with David's incredible vocal talents, Bernard's trademark guitar heroics, string arrangements, and even mellotrons! As a musician (of sorts) myself, and as a fan of all genres of music, I can't even describe how much I'm loving everything that I hear; the instrumentation and production on this album is just nuts! Every track on this album is great, full of energy and creativity; of course you all know "Falling" is great, a sort of "Yes" v.2002, "Theme From" is a ballsy rocker with some classic wah-wah action, and is a fantastic album opener, "Different Strokes" and "Bring It Back" (the next single I believe) are incredibly infectious, "Can We Make It?" totally uplifts your spirits (crazy energy in this one), "Where R U Now?" has got such a great heavy groove you can't help but shake your hips to it, and "Blue" sounds like the greatest 70's singer-songwriter song that was never written in the 70's. Erm, I wasn't meaning to describe nearly every track on the album, it just kind of happened =) That's the power of this CD; there's so many great things going on in every song, you can't help but want to share your joy with the rest of the world. This album completely reaffirms the importance of both of these artists, and it will be nigh impossible to beat this album for title of 2002's album of the year. Essential listening for any true music fan!
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on 1 October 2002
and realise how good this sounds, certainly has the timeless factor. Being a fan of Yes, You Do and McAlmont's "A Little Communication" (well worth checking out btw) I was always going to give this a go.
Go the album 6 weeks ago and it's still in my cd player. Unlike the b-sides that filled "Sound of..." this is an album that I don't skip tracks on. There's enough of a change in each track to ensure you don't feel like you are listening to a 50 minute song, the singer can - shock, horror - sing! Such an inovation and you almost forget how few lead singers actually have a vocal range.
This will sound great in five years time, it sounds great accoustically and having seen them on Sept 28th 2002 in Dublin I can say it sounds stunning live where a small intimate venue and the old back catalogue number makes for an exhilerating experience.
Go, buy, listen, then see. And aptly they are covering "Back for Good" for warchild... let's hope they heed the message and get good radio & commercial success
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VINE VOICEon 23 October 2002
Unlike most reunions, this one one has produced a truly superb album - one we may be calling a classic in 5 years time. The songwriting is first rate and if no track quite matches up to 'Yes' at least this album is more consistent than the first. Hooks abound as does the feeling of familiarity of most of the tracks - echoes of Motown, Bowie, Mayfield and seventies era Isley Brothers only serve to enrich this album, rather than, as with say Oasis, to distract the listener. Highlights: 'Bring It Back','Falling', 'Sunny Boy' and the delicate 'Blue'. But my list of favourites will be different tomorrow. Give it a listen - because you're worth it.
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on 17 August 2002
This is just a superb album. Great soulful poptunes with a nice catch to them. Try listening to this album in good headphones and you recognize how well it is produced. The Butler guitar is as good as ever and McAlmont's voice suits the songs perfectly.
All songs have a very high quality but the closing song - "Beat" is really great stuff. But hey.. the same is the rest of the album and it has a good flow.
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on 23 July 2003
WOW! I was hooked within minutes by these guys who make music so very different to all the other stuff around at the moment. First heard tracks from the album on Radio 2 and was immediately struck by how timeless their tunes were. OK it's Soul and it is very Mowtown-like, but I think it's great and it lifts my mood every time I hear it - which is all the time as I can't stop playing it.
Played a couple of tracks for a friend and, like me they too were hooked within minutes and rushed out to buy it.
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