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More than just a Disco Album,
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This review is from: Miss Broadway (Audio CD)
(La) Belle Epoque, "Miss Broadway" is a very much overlooked album. More than a one trick pony, it goes beyond the disco cover of their sole UK hit "Black is Black" which more or less takes up the whole of original vinyl side two in a typical segued disco album fashion of the seventies. Broken down into four parts: "Disco Sound, Black is Black, Why Don't you Lay Down & Black is Black Reprise". It's classic seventies floor filler, the thudding bass drum driving from one section to another. Great production and instrumentation, excellent harmonies and clever use of the full epic 14 minutes wasting no time without too much repitition. As it draws to a close, each instrument disappearing one by one and vocals fading leaving just a drum track and bass line. This stops and a strange, squelching sound oozes across the speakers, representative of what - I'm not sure, but fun all the same!
Original side one is a completely different story, being a lot less of a disco sound, more of a jazz ballad and punk meets disco style title track where lead singer Evelyn Lenton showcases her awesome gritty, gravelesque vocals as she aggressively shouts the spoken intro to a hypnotic driven and much sampled dance beat. "Miss Broadway" is about the yearnings of a street prostitute who craves stardom, a bath, some dresses and a fancy car. Scary miss Lenton deivers this brilliant 7 minute epic with great musical theatrics as the oddest combination of instruments including folk style strings and orchestral summersaults. It's brilliantly delivered with a force of a simple hypnotic baseline and stomping rhythms. A million miles from "Black is Black", a risk that pays off brilliantly. Played several times it just invades the brain and gets better and better. The remaining two tracks, "Me and You" and "Losing You" are even bigger shocks! Stripped down, lounge-bar sultry torch-songs with jazz/blues flourishes, these two songs give Miss Lenton even more scope to shine and display her fascinating smokey vocals. Again musically brilliant, sometimes tender, sometimes full-on, Lenton conjures images of a smoke filled french bar, the singer draped over the piano singing the tails of bad love and cheating lovers. It's theatrical, it's tense and utterly compelling.
Their only album release in the UK unfortunately. However the follow up released in France and other Territories "Bamalama" was even better, harder and darker, tracks like "Taste of Chains, Taste of Violence" displaying a more Rock/Disco sound: similar format one side, the title track slipping in and out of similar themes. I had this on the original french Carerre label, now nearly worn and needing CD replacement.
Kudos to Wounded Bird for this new CD release, clear and clean transfer without too much overpowering bass. My only gripe is the sparse packaging and lack of attention to detail on the track list. A word missing on one and a complete track, (B is B reprise) not listed at all!!
But I'm not dropping a star for this as the quality of the music, production, singing and remastering is so good it would be petty.
So dance madly to the disco suite and be amazed by the rest. Buy this album for nostalgia, appreciation of great innovative music and prepare to be impressed by the range of styles.