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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 June 2016
This is Kirsty MacColl's final studio album and it's one of my favourites. There's a strong Latin American theme running through both the vocals, the instruments and the arrangements. It's very easy to listen to and almost sounds familiar, but it's worth closer attention; it's surprisingly dark despite the upbeat arrangements.

I bought it on cd not long after release and I've enjoyed revisiting this again on MP3; some 16 years on, it's a lasting tribute to a talented young lady with a distinctive voice and a long musical career ahead of her. It's a classic.
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on 11 March 2017
The best album I ever bought. Kirsty MacColl is a true wordsmith and wonderful storyteller. The music is so uplifting and all I wanted to do, straight off, was learn the lyrics, like a music sick teenager. I miss her music and breathtaking creativity so much.
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on 1 February 2017
An essential album. A great songwriter at the peak of their powers. Witty, and uplifting even in its more reflective moments.
No record collection is compete without it.
A great memory of a life lost so unnecessarI'll.
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on 13 August 2017
good buy
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on 2 May 2017
All good
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on 19 May 2000
I've enjoyed singles by Kirsty over the years but never been moved to buy an album. Something about "In These Shoes?" gave me a good feeling about buying Tropical Brainstorm and I acted on the impulse (after reading the above reviews, I might add). I have barely stopped listening to it since. Despite the hesitancy of the weak opening track, events pick up immediately with "In These Shoes?" then progress through two irresistable slices of pop in "Treachery" and "Here Comes That Man Again" (by no means the poorest song on the album). "AutumngirlSoup" is a more serious ballad, down to earth lyrics about the downtrodden aspects of failed love affairs. Then come five songs in a row that simply dazzle: "Celestine" is, in my opinion, Kirty's finest moment to date and nobody could have done it better. "England 2 Columbia 0" is irresistable and hilarious. "Nos Esperando" flows straight into "Alegria": a shimmering fiesta of brazillian beats that'll have your hips swaying, and which itself flows stright into "Us Amazonians", another strong pop song with wry lyrics. "Wrong Again" seems incongruous and stands out as the least appealing track on the album, being a faltering paen to the way it feels to have been double-crossed in love. The lyrics seem corny and uninspired and the vocal performance lacks conviction. "Designer Life" gets things back on track, and "Head" finishes off the album on a slower note, leaving the listener reaching for the 'repeat' button to take it all back to track 1 again. Kirsty will never make a stronger album than this. Her wit and sense of melody are unique in the world of pop, and it's a shame she is so persistantly and consistently overlooked. God knows what America makes of her.
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on 27 March 2000
In a recent radio interview, Kirsty Maccoll said her new album "Tropical Brainstorms" was an attempt to produce something more "uplifting" in comparison to her previous two solo works. For people like me, who consider her first album "Kite" to be her finest to date, this is something of a relief after two albums which barely scratch the surface of her considerable writing and singing talents. Happily the attempt has proved successful, and Tropical Brainstorms proves that she can still cut it.
The musical theme of the album is unashamedly Latin but not overtly so in a Ricky Martin kind of way, drawing on her heavy Brazilian and Cuban influences, but done from her unique perspective. The lyrics are, with few exceptions (Mambo de la luna springs to mind here) outstanding, being sharp, witty and thought provoking simultaneously - no mean feat. Kirsty Maccoll is right up there with the best when it comes to writing lyrics which are accessible. Most of the songs are written in the first person, some autobiographical, some not, dealing with the nitty gritty of relationships that are overlooked by lesser songwriters. She writes about life in a way that everyone can relate to - you'll recognise yourself in there somewhere!
The album gets off to a bit of a false start with the competent but uninspiring "Mambo de la luna", followed by "In these shoes" which never really gets started musically, but has the saving grace of a mildly amusing story.
The album really kicks off with "Treachery", which has a powerful vocal performance worthy of anything on "Kite". The subject deals with a former fan of hers who has forsaken her for other artistes "I'm stalking a fan / he's gone to the record store / to buy a CD / by some other girl, not me" - she's not pleased about this - a message to all of us who wondered what happened to her after "Kite" perhaps. The song has an outstanding melody, using Kirsty's vocal range beautifully.
"Here comes that man again" tells of a woman who spends her nights on the internet conversing with "an anonymous dutchman", giving a fairly frank and graphic description of what goes on. "Autumngirlsoup" has a surreal, dreamy quality to it, superbly sung high, in a style unlike anything else she has done before or since.
"Celestine" is Kirsty's alter ego, a "wild and wicked slut" - good lyrics, and a catchy melody. "England 2 Columbia 0" is about a date with a man who turns out to be married with children. The lyrics are reminiscent of "There's a guy works down the chip shop" in their stark power and black humour "Ok so I didn't mention my kids / I thought I'd wait a bit / but I am free and single / and he's a lying git".
"Us Amazonians" is the most anthemic piece on the album, big and loud and powerful in the same way that "Freeworld" was on "Kite". One of the highpoints on the album - play it loud. "Head" is the nearest the album comes to a ballad, and is another beautifully crafted song.
In summary this is an exceptional album, and one that you will play over and over. The first track "Mambo" and the single "In these shoes?" seem to be getting the radio airplay, but they are not really representative of the album as a whole, which is a shame, because this is one of the albums you will still be listening to in 10 years.
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on 4 October 2006
When a well established British pop singer, producer and writer releases an album, mixing lyricaly strong songs with pop rhymes rumba, bossa nova, and salsa to name a few you know it is going to be interesting. Add all that to her pedigree, daughter of folk singer Ewan MacColl famous for his working class movement. And just the fact that this album tropical brain storm released in march 2000, turned out to be MacColls answer to Janis Joplins Pearl for just nine months later she was tragically killed in front of her children in a boating accident Mexico in Dec 2000.

You cant compare MacColl's last album Titanic days to this as it sounds like another artist. MacColl in her last years grew to love and to become inspired by Latin American music.
Stand out tracks are plenty on this album, for example the commercially successful, in these shoes which has since featured on films adverts and the TV comedy serious bbc2 Catherine tate show every body must know this song that she co wrote.

The opening track Mambo De La Luna left me scratching my head, was this woman really from Croydon. The album boasts some MacColls most clever, mature lyrics Autumngirlsoup is a world away from there's a guy works down the chip shop swears he is elvis ,but it is just as clever and touching lyrically and musically when you play autumngirlsoup read the lyrics from the inlay card, it is so heart wrenchingly brilliant. Other stand out tracks are England 2 Colombia 0, Treachery, and Celestine. This album is a must for anybody serious about harmony, lyrics and Britain's very own the late great Kirsty Maccoll.
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on 3 February 2004
A musician and songwriter as talented and versatile as Kirsty was too often discussed in relation to other people, as Ewan MacColl's daughter, producer Steve Lillywhite's ex-wife, as backing vocalist to an a-list of Brit stars including Morrissey, the Happy Mondays and Alison Moyet, even as the girl who put the album tracks in order on U2's the Joshua Tree. It's about time she was recognised in her own right for the fine legacy of solo work she left behind her. While few longstanding Kirsty fans will prefer Tropical Brainstorm to her career-defining Kite, it's the work of a mature artist developing and redefining her sound. Not everyone will love the Cuban flavour - it can on a couple of occasions sound mannered - but who could fail to laugh at the wit of a track like In These Shoes? I last saw Kirsty performing England 2, Columbia 0 on Later... a few months before her death - a superb tale of wronged love and wounded pride. The other stand out is Treachery, a very English take on the stalking fan that could almost be a riposte to Eminem's Stan - and a fitting epitaph to an unconventional talent taken away years too early.
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on 21 February 2002
I don't know what sort of miserable uptight person your 'official reviewer' is, but boy he/she is obviously tone deaf. This is a gloriously happy piece of music composed and arranged by someone who had found their place in the world. 'Us Amazonians' and 'England 2 Colombia 0' are right up there with the best dance music, and I mean dance. This is the first time I have bought Kirsty's music and was inspired to buy after hearing 'In These Shoes'. Whenever I'm down or after a hard day's slog, this is the music I play to lift my spirits. What a loss, but what a great epitaph.
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