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Compared to his debut, Paul Young is sounding much more natural on Other Voices, though there are still some gated drums hounding him.

Overall, the production has a largely acoustic feel, with lots of real drums and guitars, making for a much better fit for his vocal style. He does a bang-up job on the two old soul covers here, "Oh Girl" and "Stop On By", even if the latter runs a bit long.

The most interesting song choice is Free's "A Little Bit of Love" - for anyone who found Paul Rodgers' white-soul emoting a bit much, the minimalist songwriting benefits from this more restrained interpretation from Young.

Of course, Young did enjoy the middle-of-the-road, and he spends time there as well. "Our Time Has Come" may be the worst offender, what with its schmaltzy lyric and bombastic orchestration, and "Heaven Can Wait" and "Together" don't stray too far toward actually meaning anything either.

The closing track is a whopper though. "Calling You" has an outlandish melody styled after a coyote's howl, and Young delivers it with his raspiest voice. It's totally unexpected, and sends chills up my spine - that's the beauty of a fine vocal stylist working in new territory - when challenged, Young could always come through with some awesome vocals, despite being surrounded by machines.

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Posted: Saturday 10th Sep 2016 4:20 PM

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album review
Listening to this album is like talking to my wife about her work - I’m sure it’s meaningful and important, but I don’t understand it. But seeing as Frank Zappa had a reputation as one of the finest musical minds in rock and roll (a list of musicians who played in his bands reads like a Who’s Who of Rock virtuosity), there’s clearly something going on in this music that I’m just not getting.

Consequently, a lot of this album sounds like crap to me. The bridge of “Goblin Girl”, taken at a different tempo and key from the rhythm track? Ugh; lame white blues of “In France”? Boring; a riff stolen from Bad Company? Sounds like Bad Company; spastic lurching between grooves on numerous tracks? Disjointed.

On the other hand, the sound quality is fantastic, with crisp bass, rich midrange and undistorted treble.

Zappa was famous as a social critic too, but I guess I know enough about words to not feel embarrassed by his reputation on that score. As humor, the songs don’t have enough laughs to play a second time; as satire, they completely misunderstand the concept ...

For example, if you think The bigger the cushion, the sweeter the pushin’ is an odious remark, how does repeating it numerous times make a point? If you think "Valley Girl"s are ridiculous, why subject the listener to four minutes of their chatter? If you think Devo and Culture Club make bad music (and, as targets within the early-80’s music scene, I think Zappa could've found far worse), why put snippets of it into a song?

As far as being subversive goes, I think the aforementioned Devo and Culture Club did more to change minds than any of these songs did.

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Posted: Wednesday 14th Sep 2016 8:03 PM

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