Adrian Snell,, Phil Thomson - Beautiful Or What?

Tuesday 1st June 1993
Adrian Snell,, Phil Thomson - Beautiful Or What?
Adrian Snell,, Phil Thomson - Beautiful Or What?

RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Myrrh MYRCD 1295

Reviewed by Tony Cummings

Anyone scanning the last issue of Cross Rhythms will have picked up the theme behind this album - a thematic pop/rock opera which uses the allegorical tale of a girl and her rag doll to bring a profound message about handicapped children and our attitude towards them. All this can sound a pretty heavy load for any CD to carry. In fact 'Beautiful...Or What?!' is Adrian's most immediate and accessible album for years and contains within it several gems and, in the opinion of CR's editor at least, one song - a duet between 'the girl' Caroline Bonnett and 'the rag doll' Adrian Snell - with the potential to become a hit single. Whether that song, the quite lovely ballad "Beautiful" ever emerges into the mainstream as a single is another matter of course, but I too can vouch for its excellence. From the first delicate chord on the keyboards to the brilliant Raul D'Oliveira trumpet solo, this is a superlative performance with Phil Thomson's poignant lyrics surely amongst the finest he has ever penned. There are other tracks here which deserve every, music buff's attention. The Caroline Bonnett solo "Watch This Space In The Human Race" is a deliciously catchy piece of synth-pop, the ultimate show stopping tongue twister "Homocystinuria Aria" has the Bath Abbey Boys' Choir going into overdrive while Adrian's instrumental pieces are all exceptionally lovely. The trained operatic tones of Jonathan Veira are certainly not to my taste and the theatric bonhomie engendered by "The Toast" or "We're Normal" or the argument on "Handicap" are effective as pieces of theatre but don't make for an easy musical experience. Also the climactic build of the work means that some of the most effective works have to be teased out deep into the 70 odd minutes of music CD. But finding them is well worth the effort.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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