CD of the week: David Byrne and Fatboy Slim
By Gavin Martin
2 April 2010
Just at the point when the headless chicken faction of the music industry is bemoaning the death of the album in the download era, inspired provocateurs such as Damon Albarn and David Byrne are showing there's plenty of life left in the format.
You'd expect little else from Byrne, the eternally upbeat, adventurous, ever-youthful Cary Grant of pop. His sharp perception, wily sense of humour and rhythmic curiosity have been constants in the many diversions he has pursued and entertained since emerging from New York 70s punk scene with Talking Heads.
Two years after his marvellous reunion with Eno on Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, Byrne has teamed up with fading 90s star Fatboy Slim for a potentially bonkers project - a set of songs inspired by the life and times of former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos. Together with a host of guest singers, they engage with the songs which contrast the lifestyle of the immensely rich Imelda with that of Estrella Cumpas - the impoverished housekeeper/nanny who raised her.
The vivid picture brought to life by musical detail is matched by the likes of Florence Welch, Tori Amos, Cyndi Lauper and French wunderkind Camille.
In such ladylike company, gruff-voiced Steve Earle is a sharp but welcome contrast, his wife Alison Moorer hot on his heels with the deliciously delicate, cantering country dance mash-up When She Passes By.
The message is clear. As long as inventive, thoughtfully generous souls such as David Byrne are at the controls, rumours about the death of the album will remain greatly exaggerated.