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The Abbey Road Sessions - Kylie Minogue

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Artist: Kylie Minogue / Audio CD released 2012-10-29 at Parlophone

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      20.12.2012 16:05
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      A classy and fitting tribute to 25 years as the reigning pop princess. Here's to another 25!

      Over the past 12 months, Kylie Minogue has been doling out free gifts from avatars to video clips to her fans, in the name of celebrating her 25th anniversary in music. It has been slightly longer since Kylie became a tv star in her native Australia, but here in the UK its been 25 years to the month since fans took her Neighbours character "Charlene" to their hearts and her hit song "I Should Be So Lucky" to number 1. A couple of the tracks on this album have already been heard by fans who tweeted frantically back at the beginning of the year as Kylie unleashed an assortment of freebies through twitter and her own website on the 25th of each month. So 12 months in, and with a treat now being revealed through a Kylie-esque advent calendar each day of December, the Abbey Road sessions finally finds its way on to the store shelves.

      Kylie's 25 years in music has been a surprising, eventful and bewildering one. She has gone from her early bubblegum days to reinvent herself as a disco dolly, indie chic, writers muse, and futuristic barbarella to her current guise as one of pop's most mature glamour girls. Rumours of botox and surgical enhancements dim in comparison to her love-in with the world's media who seem to have adopted her as some kind of barometer of the standards that every female pop idol should aim to achieve. Her voice has never been her strongest asset, and in turn, rarely merits a mention in most of what is written about her. Yet, she's had over 50 Top 40 hits, 14 Top 10 albums (if you count this album's recent debut at number 2), and 10 sell out tours in her career, so its anybody's guess why Kylie's music is yet to prove itself to anybody outwith her enduring fanbase.

      Abbey Road sessions takes 15 Kylie classics and reworks them into a variance of torch song melodrama, country-flavoured balladry and dramatic orchestral swirl. Here lies an assortment of the best Bond songs that never were, paired with some of the most melancholy takes on pop records you'll hear all year. Did you ever know that Kylie's 1989 hit Never Too Late, where she dressed up as a cowgirl and bounced around on an invisible toy horse, would turn into one of the most touching ballads she has ever recorded. That comes quite late into the album though, long after I Should Be So Lucky and Better The Devil You Know get a similar re-awakening. Devil is a hard one to re-invent, given its iconic status among her fans, whereas Lucky needs all the help it can get.

      Other successful reworkings from the earlier days include Hand On Your Heart, a light summery track that borrows from Jose Gonzales cover version of the song a few years ago. The song wouldn't be the most obvious of songs to cover, but Gonzales did a great job, and Kylie honours that here. Locomotion is given a fun 60s swirl, taking the song away from the mechanical sound of PWL's hit factory version, and straight back to its Motown-esque routes. The best of the early tracks though is the utterly gorgeous Finer Feelings, which leans heavily on the orchestra to bring it back to life, and based on the Brothers in Rhythm remix that originally paired Kylie with her long-time collaborator Steve Anderson.

      If the early material gets the most out of these reworkings, its entirely less necessary to hear a new version of her Nick Cave duet Where The Wild Roses Grow. It's a welcome addition to the album, but doesn't really add anything new to the pot. Vocally, she seems more haunting in this version, but Cave sounds more benevolent than he did on the 1995 hit. Confide In Me is a song that never ever tires of Kylie's endless reworkings. We've heard it as backdrop to a ballet, an electro dance track, a big dramatic ballad and in this new version, where it takes the song right back to its edgier origins.

      Of course, not everything comes out of the mixer in one piece. Cant Get You Out Of My Head suffers greatly from a hamfisted orchestral reworking that doesn't really work without the earworm backing of the original track, Slow is miserable and lifeless and I Believe In You is the greatest Christmas cheesefest ever to grace a Kylie Minogue album. However, not everything from her modern catalogue loses its sparkle with these new arrangements. On A Night Like This is the classy big Bond-style number htat oozes sex appeal whilst proving that a reworking can be everybit as good as the brilliant original, All The Lovers kickstarts the album on an upbeat note and Love At First Sight its taken down a notch or two to deliver a nice breezy number that will stand up for the album in warmer climates.

      The rest of the album consists of the much-sought after Flower, which finally gets an official release after Kylie performed in on her X2008 tour and Come Into My World which is dressed up in similar balladry as the earlier PWL material. As a collection, the album suffers slightly from the downbeat arrangements, but does emphasise a voice that has bubbled under an abundance of production values over the years. I've said it in every Kylie review I might have done. The girl can sing. She's no Judy Garland or Celine Dion. What she offers though is a subtle take on songs that previously bounced infectiously. Lyrically, the most personal of the songs is new song Flower, which touches on the subject of her possible inability to have children. It's a beautiful ballad that proves that Kylie doesn't just do pop well. She does nearly everything she touches well.

      Lyrically and vocally, these songs have been given new life, as if they've been allowed to simmer to life over a long period of time. Songs that used to be infectious current fluff have now become timeless ballads that will still sound as good in ten years time. Kylie has long since proven that she can do this style of music in concert, but until now, they have alluded her on record. This cements her status as a pop icon, whilst not alienating the public or her fans, and celebrates her 25th year in music in a classy and unaffected way. This is a woman who can do sexy without being smutty, fashionable without being tacky, and classy music that doesn't have to prove how relevant she is. None of these versions will catapult her to the top of the singles charts, or be heard blasting out at nighclubs or car speakers. Instead, it gives her another feather in her cap, ensuring that she can go on for another 25 years without shaming herself or her fans.



      The album is available in a single disc format and in a special edition booklet.


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  • Product Details

    Disc #1 Tracklisting
    1 All the Lovers
    2 On a Night Like This
    3 Better the Devil You Know
    4 Hand On Your Heart
    5 I Believe in You
    6 Come Into My World
    7 Finer Feelings
    8 Confide in Me
    9 Slow
    10 Locomotion
    11 Can't Get You Out of My Head
    12 Where the Wild Roses Grow
    13 Flower
    14 I Should Be So Lucky
    15 Love At First Sight
    16 Never Too Late

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