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ANTHONY REYNOLDS: British Ballads (Spinney, 2007)

I can't say I was disappointed when I heard Anthony's first solo album "Neu York", but this was definitely not what I expected from him, especially after few brilliant albums issued under JACK and JACQUES.
Let me remind the ones who forgot or came in too late; Anthony Reynolds was a leader of bands JACK and JACQUES in 90ties with which he continuously delivered mostly hard life experiences packed into more orchestral (JACK) or more rough (JACQUES) packages. On first singles "Biography Of A First Son" or "Wintercomessummer", which I heard thanks to specialized shows of the croatian Radio 101, I fell in love with the music of this, for me, totally unknown man at the time. This love still lasts in spite of uphills and downhills in our relationship.

Even though I do not understand why "British Ballads" were announced as Anthony's first solo album, because as I already mentioned, "Neu York" was there beforehand, when I started listening to it everything became much clearer. It starts with "I Know You Know", which brings the atmosphere from early JACK works. Slow introduction and song development with orchestral parts towards the end with the assistance of Dot Allison, his constant co-worker, gives one mystical and superior feeling. "Those Kind of Songs" is rather intimate confession and on one hand continuing of the song "I didn't Mean it Marie", from the genius Pioneer Soundtracks, both textually and melodically.

The song for which I even after numerous listening do not understand why it came to the album is "Bread & Wine". In spite of great lyrics, this song simply does not satisfy Anthony's level. But there is also a "Country Girl" which again brings me back to reality. With help of violins and Vashti Bunyan, a British folk singer, he again creates the atmosphere from the beginning of the album, which luckily remains until the end of these "British ballads". "A Quiet Life" is more calm version of "Lush Life" from the earlier album New York, whereas "Where the Dead Live" with John Howard on piano and a quire verse "Raise the Glass and let it Fall" is pretty frightening.

This is where the album is breaking and moving towards the end. "The Hill" is "spoken word" poetry. Better said Rupert Brooke poetry read by the philosopher and writer Colin Wilson, under Anthony's surveillance. "Just So You Know", might be continuing of the first song "I Know You Know", and once again strong lyrics keep this beautiful ballad on level. In "It's a fight we can't win but we've lost if we give in" Vashti is joining them again, and on this song the legendary "Cocteau" Simon Raymonde also provides his support.

The album British Ballads is closed by "Song of Leaving", probably the most cheerful song Anthony wrote after "Disco-Cafe Society", even though you wouldn't guess that only by the title and the first lyric "I'm Leaving now I won't be Back". Excellent closing of the album which calls for more.

This is one brilliant album of a brilliant Anthony.

grade [1-10]: 9

pedja // 12/12/2007

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cover: ANTHONY REYNOLDS: British Ballads (Spinney, 2007)
  • JACK Pioneer Soundtracks (1996)
  • JACQUES How To Make Love Vol.1 (1997)
  • JACK The Jazz Age (1998)
  • JACQUES To Stars (2000)
  • JACK The End Of The Way It's Always Been (2002)
  • ANTHONY Neu York (2004)
  • ANTHONY REYNOLDS British Ballads (2007)

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