Monday, August 09, 2010

Here Lies Love

With an interest in biopics in the film world, I couldn't help but give a listen to the two CD album Here Lies Love, the collaboration by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim about the life of Imelda Marcos and the woman who raised her Estrella Cumpas.

Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of Philippians is an interesting topic for what Byrne and Fatboy Slim have titled "a song cycle." Marcos, who's probably best known for the image of a woman with thousands of shoes in a country that has plenty of poverty and needs.

The songs on this album play in a progression through the story of Imelda Macros, with a variety of women playing the part of Imelda through song.

With over 20 singers on the album, the artist make up includes names like Tori Amos, Cindi Lauper and Natalie Merchant.

This is the type of album that is probably a pretty polarizing album, particularly when it comes to musical reviews.

I think in listening to the album I found myself, particularly after multiple listenings having respect for the creativity, scope, and study that went into the album.

On the other side, I felt like I was listening to 1980s musical theater some of the time, and that I was listening to an unknown musical, or a musical concept that was never made.

But even more than musical theater, I found myself thinking of Baz Luhrmann. Luhrmann, most known for his music for Moulin Rouge!, has a wide range of musical projects from opera to commercials to a variety of concept styles that to me resonated with a project of this nature.

David Byrne (Talking Head member, Oscar winner his score for The Last Emperor) truly demonstrates his musical variety here, and finds an interesting friend in European DJ Fatboy Slim (most famous for his 1999 chart topping songs "Praise You" and "Right Here, Right Now.")

Despite all the female Lilith-Fair style artistry on this album, I think the best song is actually one of the few with a male vocalist and that is the "A Perfect Hand" sung by Steve Earle. This song almost has the potential for radio airplay on country cross-over stations.

Other favorite songs include "Men Will Do Anything" sung by Alice Russell, "Order 1801" sung by Natalie Merchant, and the catchy anthem that title's the album "Here Lies Love," sung by Florence Welch.

I'll be interested to see if this music ever hits the stage, the radio, or film. It seems like it was made for such a purpose, but for now, just seems like a concept project with out the legs to take it anywhere.

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