Saturday, September 6, 2014

Here Comes The Reign Again: The Second British Invasion - Andrew Curry & Friends Rule On This Fabulous Album!

One of the best records I heard last year was executive producer Andrew Curry’s Drink A Toast To Innocence: A Tribute to Lite Rock. A group of indie rock & pop artists like Mike Viola & Lisa Mychols covered mid 70s-early 80s AM radio staples like “Steal Away” & “Don’t Give Up On Us.” It’s a really fun disc – and I still listen to it frequently. Well now Mr. Curry & some friends have returned with an equally enjoyable follow-up, Here Comes The Reign Again: The Second British Invasion. This time out, another group of indie artists tackle songs from the British bands who exploded onto our TV screens during the years when MTV ruled the airwaves. Come on, you remember the Modern Rock/New Wave era, don’t you? Songs like The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me?” and Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax,” whose videos played in heavy rotation when MTV still played music? Well, those songs are on this excellent tribute album, along with a batch of other tunes from the glory days of music video.

The styles range from faithful covers like David Mead’s rendering of Duran Duran’s “Save A Prayer” and Linus of Hollywood’s version of Paul Young’s “Everytime You Go Away” to splendid re-imaginings such as Taylor Locke’s rockabilly rave on “Dancing With Myself” which adds Beach Boys style harmonies to the Billy Idol hit, and Graham Alexander’s clever gender switch reading of Tracey Ullman’s 
“They Don’t Know,” a song written by the late Kirsty MacColl. Other highlights include Eytan Mirsky & Alyson Greenfields' country-esque cover of the Howard Jones track “No One Is to Blame,” People On Vacation rocking out on Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer,” and Cliff Hillis’ gorgeous interpretation of Nik Kershaw’s “Wouldn’t It Be Good.” (Love those horns, mate!) There’s also Chris Collingwood of Fountains of Wayne doing Dream Academy's “Life In A Northern Town,” as well as Minky Starshine with Spandau Ballet’s “True.” And did you know that Soft Cell's hit "Tainted Love" was itself a cover of a 1960s tune by soul singer Gloria Jones? On this album, Eric Barao gets that 80s vibe just right on his version of the song.

Another positive aspect of this marvelous album is the song selection: There are well known hits like rocker Bleu powering up on Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” alongside somewhat lesser known (in the US) numbers like the Yaz song “Only You,” beautifully covered by The Wellingtons, and Ken Stringfellow of The Posies with a masterful rendition of The Blow Monkeys tune “Digging Your Scene.” Kudos to Curry for gathering together another eclectic group of artists, including Freedy Johnston, who offers a jazzy re-do of the Naked Eyes song “Promise, Promises,” Rachel Yamagata, who does an intense, emotional take on Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me” and Tracy Bonham who gives a unique slant to the Eurythmics hit “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” There are also some returning artists from the Drink A Toast To Innocence project, including Kelly Jones, who does a delicate, lovely remake of Level 42’s “Something About You” and the aforementioned Cliff Hillis, Mike Viola, Bleu and Linus of Hollywood. I haven't touched on every track on the album, but they are all amazing.

Whether it’s a dead-on accurate cover or awe-inspiring re-imagining, all the songs here are fantastic, and will take you back to those pre-internet days when we were glued to our TV sets watching all the videos on MTV. Like its predecessor, this disc is going to ignite memories, make you smile, and get you singing along & probably even dancing around the room. Andrew Curry & his team are to be commended for hitting another one out of the park. Here Comes The Reign Again: The Second British Invasion is an awesome record, and one of the best albums of 2014. This isn’t some low rent, hastily thrown together collection or shoddy project. Curry & these artists really care about this music, and it shows; they’re fans, just like we are, and they give these songs the respect they deserve. Here Comes The Reign Again: The Second British Invasion will be available soon; it was originally a Kickstarter funded project, so backers have already begun to receive their music, and an official release should be coming in the near future.

Here’s a link to an old school style ad/trailer for this smashing collection: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xJITekbEs0. There’s also a Facebook page you can check out for more info on the album: https://www.facebook.com/HereComesTheReignAgain. The song list is below, not including a couple of bonus tracks that were Kickstarter only exclusives. I also recommend listening to these talented artists’ own music – they’re all well worth checking out. And if you're interested in my review of Andrew Curry's previous project, Drink a Toast To Innocence: A Tribute To Lite Rock, that article can be found here: http://jveclectic.blogspot.com/2013/07/all-hits-all-songs.html.

Here Comes The Reign Again: The Second British Invasion
Track Listing
Disc One
1. Life In A Northern Town - Chris Collingwood
2. Goody Two Shoes - Jim Boggia & Pete Donnelly
3. Everybody Wants To Rule The World - Mike Viola
4. Kids In America - Big-Box Store
5. West End Girls - Secret Friend
6. True - Minky Starshine
7. Cruel Summer - People On Vacation
8. Everytime You Go Away - Linus Of Hollywood
9. Something About You - Kelly Jones
10. Only You - The Wellingtons
11. Tenderness - TeamMate
12. Don't You Want Me - Chris Price
13. Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) - Tracy Bonham

Disc Two
1. Wouldn't It Be Good - Cliff Hillis
2. Tainted Love - Eric Barao
3. Promises, Promises - Freedy Johnston
4. Do You Really Want To Hurt Me - Rachael Yamagata
5. Save A Prayer - David Mead
6. Relax - Mike Doughty
7. Dancing With Myself - Taylor Locke
8. Digging Your Scene - Ken Stringfellow
9. Freedom - The Davenports
10. They Don't Know - Graham Alexander
11. No One Is To Blame - Eytan Mirsky & Alyson Greenfield
12. Our House - The Corner Laughers
13. Life's What You Make It - The Nines
14. Don't You (Forget About Me) - Bleu

2 comments:

  1. Great review! I'm a Kickstarter supporter of the project, but I haven't heard the album yet. You make it sound like it's well worth waiting for. Like you, I still listen to Drink a Toast to Innocence, and I still love it. Full disclosure: I'm Andrew's mother.

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  2. A fun album all the way. Love the reflective moments too!

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