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"ELVIS IN CHIP SHOP SHOCKER!" - KIRSTY MACCOLL ANTHOLOGY
'All I Ever Wanted - The Anthology' out April 7th 2014 on SalvoListening to this massive anthology, I couldn’t help but remember a couple lines of dialogue from Daria, The Beavis and Butthead spinoff: “You can’t judge art outside the context of its time.” “You can if it’s good.” Or something like that. Because quite a lot of this music screams 80s; The kind of guitar sound that makes you think of shoulder pads and big hair. Some of it is fun. 'Keep Your Hands Off My Baby' is cute, pink, and fluffy. If that doesn’t float your boat, you might wince every so often but Kirsty MacColl’s voice could redeem almost anything regardless of kitsch level. It is simply and unarguably stunning and as distinctive as any artist since Dylan. Parts of the collection were also recorded before their time. 'England 2, Columbia 0' is a fantastic example of the kind of cross-genre songwriting that is really just only now coming into its own. And a cracking good tune to boot. There are also quite a few with a country and western feel. Make of that what you will, Sonny Jim. There is also plenty that will be familiar. Kirsty MacColl is best known as "that woman from 'Fairytale of New York'", and a lot of people will also remember 'A New England'. 'All I Ever Wanted' has a particularly nice version recorded live at the BBC with Billy Bragg. It is the pure folk tracks that really stand out, maybe because good folk hasn’t changed in a long, long time. There is nowhere to hide in music that is nothing with a beautiful voice and intelligent songwriting, and for Ms MacColl, it’s hard to find fault with either. 'Us Amazonians', 'They Don’t Know', 'Free World'- these are great songs and always will be. Thoughtful, flawlessly delivered, heartfelt songs. In fact, there should be more of this kind of thing in the world. It’s no secret that Kirsty MacColl suffered from depression. The picture that emerges over the course of the anthology is one of a real human being who does not pretend to be perfect and is all the more... socially useful, for want of better phrasing. Almost all the time, female artists are either girl-power-invincible-nothing-bothers-me or make a selling point of their vulnerability. An alien (or a 12 year old girl) listening to All I Ever Wanted might get the impression that being a strong and independent woman is a good thing, but does not mean you’ll never be hurt or love unwisely. Being hurt or loving unwisely does not mean you cannot or are not a strong and independent human being. Not such a bad message when you weight it against the endless legions of stick figure people making fuck-me eyes at the camera, that the music industry attempts to pass off as role models for teenage girls. The final verdict is that your record collection is not complete without at least one Kirsty MacColl album. If you don’t already have one (or two or more) buy this and listen to it in the car where you can safely sing along to Caroline and Soho Square without anyone hearing.
Rating: 8 out of 10