Kirsty MacColl - The Best of Kirsty MacColl
Like the rest of the nation upon hearing of the sudden death of Kirsty MacColl I was left in a state of shock. To think we'd lost such a wonderful woman whose music, personality and versatility had enraptured us all was deeply hard to come to terms with. Known primarily for her covers, The Kinks "Days" and Billy Bragg's "New England", Kirsty worked with the Pogues, The Smiths, The Wonderstuff and Evan Dando. While her own extensive body of work as a performer hardly bothered the charts it's a legacy that resulted in some superbly crafted albums like "Kite" and her swansong "Tropical Brainstorm". An appreciation of Latin American music resulted in a love affair with the culture of Brazil and Mexico which made her last album such a diverse, rich and enjoyable experience.
"Best Of" has the songs you know and love like the novelty-esque country pastiche of "There's a Guy Who Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis" and "They Don't Know" written by Kirsty with her version on the collection, but was actually only a hit when Tracy Ullman recorded her interpretation. This doesn't just catalogue the singles, it also includes less well known tracks which makes listening to this album a joy from beginning to end.
"Terry" is an extremely poppy, summery, light hearted love song which is ever so slightly throwaway, but irresistibly adorable. The use of piano is well realized with a guitar solo, subtle but memorable. When Kirsty sings "Terry is as tough as Marlon Brando" you're reminded yet again why this flame haired singer is so cherished. "Still Life" couldn't be anymore simply arranged with just vocal and acoustic guitar. It's sombre in tone but never depressing with lyrics that are brutally honest. "Like The Love We Used To Know" is a sorrowful lament, but there's the odd witty riposte on this stripped down song.
"Soho Square" has the feel of a grandiose production number not a million miles away from the George Martin Beatles era. The strings are arranged in a shimmeringly delightful fashion with a chorus which is jubilant, confident and bold as brass. "Kiss Me Quick It's My Birthday" demands Kirsty. Who could possibly refuse such a tantalizing offer? Previously unreleased until now "Sun On The Water" is one of the last songs Kirsty MacColl ever recorded. Perhaps more conventional than we've come to expect this song features banjo, guitar and heavy bass with the sound of seagulls in the distance.
We'll never forget Kirsty MacColl. She's one of a kind. This album is proof of that.
Nicholas Paul Godkin
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