Saturday, 29 May 2010

A Bit of Ambition - Duke Special



You can't beat a bit of ambition in pop music. After 2 lps of critical acclaim but patchy sales. Duke Special has pulled all the rabbits from his hat for his latest release, "The Stage, a Book and the Silver Screen".




Spread across 3 cds the songwriting and instrumentation harks back to the time of tin pan alley and vaudeville. Although each cd is a unique project, they fit together so well




The Huckleberry Finn ep contains 5 songs that are from an unfinished musical written by Kurt Weill and they do have a very theatrical feel about them. On the whole this is the most straightforward of the discs with the songs a mixture of the breezy and slower ballads that have echoes of the deep American south in them.



"Mother Courage and Her Children" collects together 12 songs that Duke Special wrote for a recent performance of Brecht's play at the National Theatre. The lp is strong enough to stand alone from the stage production. The songs and the instrumentation gives the whole thing a timeless feel .



The third disc and my favourite is called "The Silent World of Hector Mann". Hector Mann is a character from Paul Auster's great book "Book of Illusions". In the book he is a director of silent movies who made 12 silent era films. having been so taken with the book , Duke Special recorded a song inspired by one of the film titles and the idea of a project took hold. He sent Auster's book and a film title to 11 other songwriters (among them Neil Hannon and Ed Hardcourt), the only criteria being that the song had to be based on the given film title and "written in a pre-rock and roll style"



Perhaps the strangest thing of all is that the lp is recorded by Steve Albini.



I've posted one track from the Hector Mann disc



Scandal - Duke Special



If you like ambition in your pop music then you can buy "The Stage, a Book and the Silver Screen" here

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