review - 13.10.2011 11:01

Imaginative reworkings in a tour through a fruitful career.

Pop artist BONNIE PINK celebrated her 15th anniversary in the music business last September. It isn't a bad idea to take a step back and look at what's come before, but instead of releasing another best-of collection — her last one was released in 2006 — she has decided to re-imagine some of her previous works in her first self-cover album Back Room -BONNIE PINK Remakes-, released 21st September.

The 10 track album spans her entire career and features songs from her second to latest album. It comes across as a pick'n'mix of the whole spectrum of musical genres. Opener Heaven's Kitchen, one of her earliest singles, has been mellowed out for 2011. Rather than a classic pop-rock track, it is now a chilled out piece of lounge and is a nice remix. Ring A Bell has been equally toned down, but this time to a gentle acoustic, blue-sy rock. The arrangement would go down well in an intimate live set.

There are some tracks where BONNIE and crew have obviously had some fun and let their imaginations run wild. An early '90's reworking of dance single A Perfect Sky sees it slowing in pace and getting a nostalgic electro groove on. Burning Inside loses its fire and is played as super cool reggae instead, which makes good use of the laidback melody, although not quite matching the lyrics in intensity. A cute barbershop quartet Paradiddle-free is absolutely perfect, consisting just of layers of BONNIE's voice for each harmony and charming "do do"'s, except for a double bass which provides the lowest strand of harmony. The beauty of this remake is that it sounds as if it were the way it was meant to be performed, rather than the perky pop original.

Some of the tracks have been given a simpler reworking. Last Kiss has been moved to a fairytale setting, with the drums and electric guitar of the original removed in favour of harps and strings. While it comes across as something that might be heard in a stereotypical posh garden party, it was the right song to receive this treatment. The feisty Do You Crash? has been stripped back and toned down for more of a downbeat blues rock sound. The dynamic has changed, with each line of the verse played through alternating speakers as if BONNIE was conversing with herself. The more mature version gives a good perspective of her journey from then until now.

The makeover doesn't always fit so well, however. Present has been given a Hispanic treatment: a couple of guitars, a bass and some hand claps are the only accompanying instruments, providing a dramatic flamenco backdrop to what was a subtle and thoughtful pop affair. It has been carefully arranged and the instruments are masterfully played, but they overpower BONNIE's soft vocals and turn the quiet despair into melodrama instead. If it was another song, it would be a great composition, but as Present it isn't quite right. The new disco-funk Tonight, the Night is fantastically groovy but lacks the party factor that the original had, which seemed to be the point of it. While its predecessor wanted you to get up and dance, this version invites you to sit down and enjoy a drink.

One new track is included amongst the self-covers: the cheerful number Look Me In The Eyes. It isn't anything exceptional but it is a catchy piece of pop-rock with a little Country and Western in the mix.

The limited edition of the album also comes with a bonus DVD entitled Back Room Story, featuring making of footage.

This nostalgia trip is full of the creativity that BONNIE has always used when writing original compositions, and would be a great introduction for the uninitiated as well as loyal followers. It's obvious that the passion for music she had at the beginning of her career is still as strong as ever, and it would be interesting to see what else she could come up with if she ever fancied a second go at a self-cover album.
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