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Sharleen Spiteri - The Movie Songbook

2010-07-09 12:02
The Movie Songbook

As the sleeve notes exalt, Spiteri's connection to films seems permanent. Her band Texas is, after all, named for Wim Wenders' film Paris, Texas. And fine, if you like movies and movie music, why not make a record of your favourites? Because it won't work as an album, unless you concept it into a consistent "sound" or "theme", which The Movie Songbook certainly does not.

The collection opens with big-ass pop and disco arrangements "Xanadu" and "If I Can't Have You", dropping suddenly into a jazz-combo version of "God Bless the Child", and then onto a classical pop-bent with "Sounds of Silence". What follows is a smorgasbord of variously-approached "classics" that vacillate between "mildly disappointing" and "rage-inducing sacrilege".

"What's new, Pussycat?" Here's what's new – a trip to the vet, who has a nice needle to show you! Oscar-winning "Windmills of Your Mind" is likewise blown away... in a bad way.

It's probably a testament to Jeff Lynne's songwriting talents that neither Olivia Newton John nor Sharleen Spiteri can destroy "Xanadu" - there seems to be no other way to arrange the song, and just as well. And although Sharleen doesn’t have the soulful delivery of Yvonne Elliman, "If I Can't Have You" does have its nostalgic charm.

But really, legendary producer Phil Ramone, Texas bandmate Johnny McElhone, and Sharleen should have given this more direction. Separately, a few tracks threaten to offer flashes of listenability – together it's like all the elements of your TV dinner ran together. It's still the same food, but it's just too hard a mix-up to swallow.

Some artists earn the right to record and release whatever they want. Sharleen Spiteri seems to have over-extended her credit with this collection of spectacularly disconnected movie soundtrack songs.


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