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A Kween's World – December Album Reviews with Terry Larder

Celine Dion – Taking Chances – Sony

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Twenty years since winning the Eurovision Song Contest, Celine Dion is still a household name. Her latest release, Taking Chances, has the nearly 40 year-old singer looking her sexy best. While hair extensions and Photoshop helped the image immensely, there is no denying the au naturale power of her voice, including Celine’s lower register, which has been polished by singing nightly for five years at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Opening title track ‘Taking Chances’ builds from a simple steel-strung guitar to a full orchestrated piece, while ‘Eyes on Me’ co-penned by Delta Goodrem, has a distinctly Middle-Eastern flavour. However, like a good ham sandwich the best bits are in the middle. The delicious ‘New Dawn’ and ‘Surprise, Surprise’ deliver Celine’s signature soaring vocals, showing this album is not Taking Chances, so much as taking a classy lady to new heights.

Tina Arena – Songs of Love and Loss – EMI

Flash back to the early 80s, when the precocious Miss Tina Arena was strutting her stuff in Young Talent Time. Flash forward to 2007, and Tina, now based in London, is 40 and a doting mum to her two-year old son. Today, she still can do no wrong. Rising star Anthony Callea announced he would love to record with her in a recent OUTinPerth interview. And with Songs of Love and Loss getting a big tick on the Kween meter, it’s clear why. Produced by Paul Guardini and Duck Blackwell (cute name!), it is quite a departure from her previous multi-awarding original albums, as this time she covers great hand-picked favourites. Beautifully recorded with the London Studio Orchestra, the album’s standout tracks include the Carole King classic, ‘So Far Away’ and Kate Bush’s ‘The Man with the Child in His Eyes’.

Deni Hines & James Morrison – The Other Woman – MRA Entertainment/Destra

Golden lips Morrison has crafted one the true jazz gems of 2007. Not only does he electrify the sound waves with his trumpet expertise, but he also must be given top marks for so skilfully arranging all of the 16 tracks. Jazz can only be sung when the heart has bled, so they say. And that’s exactly what Deni Hines’ sultry and seductive voice does, weaving like a spider’s web around the melody. There are some kick-arse swing numbers, some golden jazz torch songs, but the title track, an amazing rendition of Nina Simone’s classic, ‘The Other Woman’, is in my opinion the top of the Christmas tree. This is an album that is perfect for all occasions, be that dinner parties, ipod train rides, or wild rides. No matter what the mood, this timeless music will speak to you.

Spice Girls – Greatest Hits – Virgin

10 years later and here they are again – the ‘Mattel’ gals of manufactured pop, just in time for Christmas. Marketing? what marketing? Still all the fun and infectious numbers are here – ‘Wannabe’, ‘Holler’, ‘2 Become 1’ and ‘Move Over’. I do cringe to think that these are probably the tunes I will be singing in the nursing home in 2042, with the help of some very scary flashbacks! With two new songs added to the play list, it is the catchy ‘Headlines’ (Friendship Never Ends)… or should that read Headlice (Tabloid Trash Never Ends) that helps get this one over the line. If you’re a fan you’ll love both the album and the accompanying DVD (sure to be popular with lesbians in search of eye candy) of the gals doing their thing, as it means you get double the sing-a-longs!

Andrea Bocelli – The Best of Andrea Bocelli – Vivere Universal

I’m a fan, and when this arrived in my clutches it was treated like a special blessing from the CD God. Opera purists may cock a snook at Bocelli, but that hasn’t stopped him becoming a very much loved (and, no doubt, very much wealthier) performer. The Best Of has 16 gorgeous, romantic tracks in all. With opera arias and modern ballads balanced side by side, it’s absolutely flooded with sentiment. Every Bocelli favourite is included, from his earliest hit ‘Romanza’ to the latest ‘Because We Believe’. The added bonus is the Live DVD of the Statute of Liberty Concert. You can expect this CD to be playing in every restaurant in Northbridge – a welcome relief from the constant Kenny G of the naughty 90s that’s still getting played even as we near the end of the naughty noughties! -TL

Kush – Snow White & the Eight Straights – Aztec

The story of Kush revolves around one central character: the waif-like, androgynous, leotard ‘n’ fishnet stocking-clad front man with a wharfie voice – Jeff Duff. He has been in some legendary Melbourne pub bands since 1966 and was the lead singer for the (New) Avengers, which broke up in 1970. Duff joined Kush not long after. Known as a horn-driven, jazz rock/jazz fusion outfit, they were well respected in their hey-day and played some amazing live gigs, most notably the Sunbury Festival (1973-75). This remastered album is one of the most requested of the Aztec reissues and for me it was like listening to Leon Russell meets Chicago meets Blood Sweat and Tears! Their #1 hits, ‘Easy Street’ and ‘MacArthur Park’ are here as well as the great live-in-studio set (1973). The final track is an interview with the man himself, Jeff Duff. -TL

Eagles – Long Road Out of Eden – Universal

Inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, the boys are back (there is a God) with The Long Road Out of Eden, their first full album of new songs in 28 years. It sold an astonishing 700,000 copies in the frist week of release in the US and as expected with those figures it shot to #1 on the Billboard Album Charts. This is a delicious offering laced with some of the most sharply observed lyrics reflecting the America of the now. The opening track of disc two and the title track, the Long Road Out of Eden has the lyric, Moon shining down through the Palms; Shadows moving on the Sand; Somebody whispering the 23rd Psalm; Dusty rifle in a trembling hands; Somebody trying just to stay alive; He got promises to keep; Over the ocean in America; Far away and fast asleep. This sublime 10 minute track is guaranteed to be a classic. The cover design for the double cd is of a stark desolate desert landscape harking memories of Afghanistan and Iraq. Other favourite tracks on this amazing cd are Track 4, Busy Being Famous; Track 2 the instrumental, I Dreamed There Was No War. Expect this album to be a favourite come Grammy award time. This Eagles cd soars!

Sugababes – Change – Universal

Following on from their Overloaded: The Singles Collection, comes the fifth studio album of female supergroup, Sugababes. Change becomes the group’s second UK No 1 album, which chartered straight to No 1 on the UK Album Chart last month. So if dance is your desire, then this cd has everything and more in large doses. This album is pure dance heaven and the 12 track cd has some of the best bum-grinding disco workouts and flawless three-part harmonies put to vinyl. Never Gonna Dance Again (track 2) My Love is Pink (track 4) and Back When (track 6) are already getting lots of dj play as evidenced at Jesse Jaymes’s recent Guinness Book of Records attempt at the iVinyl in Leederville.

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