Friday, 23 November 2012

Kylie Minogue - The Abbey Road Sessions : Album Review, Song Previews

The culmination of Kylie Minogue's celebration for her astounding 25 years in music was the release of her re-worked hits collection The Abbey Road Sessions in October 2012.

Normally, artists would just put out a greatest hits package when hitting a career milestone and then throw a random single to carry them all to the mainstream. Kylie did follow that formula by releasing a GH in June 2012 and Flower as a single; even sacrificing the latter as a freebie for The Abbey Road Sessions pre-orders in certain territories! But she gave her 12th hits compilation a new flavour by giving the songs that standard and polished-vintage approach. For this task, she turned to her 90s collaborator Steve Anderson of Brothers In Rhythm and Collin Elliot to turn her pop gems into orchestral showcases. The result is a mixed bag of triumphs and stumbles. Now who would have thought that the fabulous Adele-looking album (cover art that is!) contains some dreary surplus? I have specially eliminated the underwhelming tracks and just narrowed down the majority of stand-out pieces in an amended tracklisting that is sure to win points than yawns.

Preview the Tracklisting:

Great arrangement! On A Night Like This becomes a hands-down philharmonic masterpiece. Kylie worked the vocals expertly and hit the high notes in new sections different to that in the original pop ditty. She nailed it on the bridge part, "Feels like I've always known youuuu...!" Very worthy as the chosen 2nd single. More on this after it's release.

I still can't forget that Broadway-inspired tap dance version of this song way back in 2001 when Kylie performed with Adam Garcia on TV. Now, a new level is reached as Better The Devil You Know transforms into a lonely and very felt piano ballad. The vocals are so crisp that you can "hear" Kylie's emotions.

Hand On Your Heart is made as a plectral ballad with keyboards on the background. It's so good that the guitars weren't allowed to monopolize the sound totality; an accurately balanced production.

Come Into My World is breathtaking in it's wistfulness. The wonders keyboards can do! Seems like the world practically stops for 3 minutes and 30 seconds!

Finer Feelings rivals On A Night Like This as a strong single contender. This 1992 song gets an amazing overhaul that has a sort of cinematic score effect. The vocals melt with the strings so well and become part of the music as Kylie hollers passionately at 2:45. Perfection!

Confide In Me is given a dark and ominous twist by the dominant bass & percussion that seem to race with every heartbeat. Kylie's belting prowess is at work once more; extending the notes on the last repetition of  "the problem should be shaaared..."

Very sensual with a hint of danger, Slow changed into a triphop number that's even better than the original. Just like in Confide In Me, the bass & percussion win again.

My least liked is Can't Get You Out Of My Head knowing that it could have been better had the beat been completely eliminated. The strings and synths alone would have made it ethereal. The percussion make it sound like a desperate attempt at dance by a brass band on parade. A pseudo-dance track gone haywire.

The first song off this album, Flower, is a grower. It has become more and more endearing with every listen. Read The Single Review 

A triumph with the strings, I Should Be So Lucky has that Disney-soundtrack feel; something an animated female character would likely perform. Ariel, The Little Mermaid, should have sung this while longing for that mortal to be hers!

I absolutely dislike guitar-y remakes. Love At First Sight mutates into something you hear on MTV Unplugged. Perhaps, I was just expecting for an operatic take to trump the superiorly divine Ruff & Jam Lounge Mix. Sadly this rendition failed to even come close.

Piano ballads really do magic. Never Too Late's gorgeous final draw melancholically glitters in its suitability to the lyrics. "And even if it takes forever, your love's better late than never.." The despair is so undeniably felt.

The intro for In My Arms has got me enchanted instantly. I can't believe how the acoustic guitars have become bearable this time. This rendering is just marvelous! I'm so grateful for the strings taking prominence throughout the piece and relegating the guitars to the background at least on the first two thirds of the whole duration.

Wow is another bearable guitar number. This time, the bass & percussions positively drowned the guitars. Gospel Kylie is fantastically soulful with a choir behind her as this becomes her very own Nothing Fails.

Where The Wild Roses Grow. I can't imagine how it made the cut but there has to be a significant reason why it did. (Nick Cave perhaps.) The original is still better despite this production being basically stripped down. Kylie's vocals here though are much clearer and intelligible.

The Surplus Listing :

All The Lovers    --  Boringly dreary.
I Believe In You  --  No, just no.
Locomotion         --  Dreadful.   

The verdict on music:       Very Satisfactory.    (7.5/10)

As a gift to loyal fans, The Abbey Road Sessions, surely got the majority loyalists impressed with how the music turned out. Only haters wouldn't find love for the dulcet assortment. While many critics thought this was just another cash-cow release to piggy-back on Kylie's Silver year celebration (a GH was also released in June!), the album's exposure exceeded expectations in terms of quality output and adequate promotion. The tracks have been well performed in key events and TV shows in the UK, Europe and America which go to show that Terry Blamey & Parlophone care for this project as much as the singer does. Satisfactory results speak for themselves as the collection charted at #2 in the UK Album Charts, Kylie's 2nd highest peak for a compilation since Ultimate Kylie placed #4 in 2004. This also marked her 6th compilation to chart out of the 12 total. In Australia, it ranked #7 on the ARIA Album Charts making it her 4th non-album set to do so out of the same 12 released. Despite her devotion to promote in America, she scored a small victory at #120 on the US Billboard 200.

Chart Performance Peaks of The Abbey Road Sessions in Major Music Markets

US                            # 120
Japan                       # 110
Germany                 # 31
UK                           # 2
France                     # 24
Australia                 # 7
Canada                    -
Brazil                       -
Netherlands             # 24
Italy                          # 23
Spain                        # 19

Watch Kylie's Performances of some of The Abbey Road Sessions Songs:

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