Sunday, December 10, 2006

Album Reviews - Deirdre Halliwell & Gwen Stefani

Deirdre Halliwell - Twisted Bitch 10/10

Buy "Twisted Bitch" here

My undying love and admiration for all things Deirdre Halliwell is well documented on this Blog. I love Deirdre's filthy re-workings of pop classics and find her hilarious Myspace blog more addictive than heroin. If that wasn't enough to cement Deirdre's place in the "Pop Trash Addicts" hall of fame, Deirdre and her man slave, Eddy, have become semi-regulars at La Toya's Haven and Deirdre has even managed to find the time to post a few comments here despite her international jetset Glasgow.

Needless to say, I have been eagerly anticipating Deirdre's new double CD, "Twisted Bitch". I received the album in the mail on Friday and was instantly smitten by the glamorous cover art as displayed above. Deirdre's minimalist approach to design is so cutting-edge! As usual Deirdre has outdone herself with the song titles, a quick read of the tracklist is worth the price of the CD alone - classics like "You're The Bum That I Want" and "Fist Me Baby...One More Time" line up along side new offerings like "Supermodel (You Better Vomit!)" and "I'm A Filthy Mental Bitch". The fun doesn't stop there, Deirdre has compiled 31 instantly catchy songs about dongs, chuffs and jizz. This is the perfect Christmas gift for the person who has everything!

Disc 1

The first disc kicks off with a cover of The Prodigy's "Firestarter", now called "Firestarter (Lady Bitch)". Deirdre has never sounded scarier, screaming and growling like a true "lady bitch". Personally, I didn't think she had it in her! "Manboobs (I Hate You So Much Right Now)" is a demented cover of Kelis' "Milkshake". Only this time Deirdre's manboobs "bring all the boys to the yard". Classy! The next song, "You Better Move It! (Batty Boy In Yer Back Passage Original)", gives you some appreciation of the intelligence behind the vapid fabulousness of Deirdre's offerings. This songs sends up the likes of Beanie Man and all the other rappers who have publicly made homophobic comments. On the other hand, Deirdre might just be singing about a "straight-acting" Jamaican!

The album really hits its stride with Deirdre's insane take on Britney's "I'm A Slave 4 U", most appropriately re-named "I'm A Filthy Mental Bitch". Perhaps Deirdre should consider an updated version called "I'm A Cunt Flashing Slut". Deirdre's vocals are perfectly matched to the music here, unlike a couple of tracks where the vocals are overpowered by the music. Another highlight is the first Kylie cover, the irresistible "Who Do I Have to Screw?". This is the most tragic Kylie cover since Kelly Marie and Tina Charles joined forces to cover "Your Disco Needs You". It's amazing! As is the next song, a wonderful cover of RuPaul's "Supermodel". This is followed by two of Deirdre's Myspace classics, "You're The Bum That I Want" (which includes the genius lyric "point your dong in my direction, plough your way!") and "Slave To The Jizzum".

The unexpected highlight of disc 1 is "Freaky Like Deirdre", a cover of Adina Howard's slut anthem "Freak Like Me". Deirdre's voice sounds amazing as she literally barks her way through the song. "You Keep Me Hangin' On" is hilarious. Deirdre's Scottish accent gives the melancholic lyrics like "Why do you keep coming about, playing with my arse?" and "Get out, get out of my arse and let me sleep at night" a special poignancy. Pink seriously needs to re-record "Get The Party Started" with Deirdre's lyrics. I'm sure her lesbian fanbase would be dripping at the prospect of "Get Ure (Curtains Parted!)".

The remainder of disc 1 is made up of a classy cover of "Sway", the poptastic "Blanket On The Ground" and the disco sounds of "Young Hearts Run Free (Well Hung Man And Me Original)". The final two songs on the album are real gems. Madonna gets the Deirdre treatment on "Express Yourself (18 Carats In Your Hole And Counting Mix)", while those sluts from Girls Aloud are worked over on "Something Kinda Eeew (Star Whores V: The Ginger One Strikes Back remix)". All in all, over an hour of lyrical brilliance!

Disc 2

The fun doesn't stop there. Deirdre has provided a second disc for the hardcore trash addict. Most listeners might need a rest (or a lobotomy!) after disc 1 but too much Deirdre is never enough for me! Disc 2 begins with the fabulous "Fever (Peggy Lee Gave Me An STD Club Edit)". Deirdre's sultry vocals will have your loins throbbing and your ears aching! I found "I Try (Macey Gay Pass The Strepsils Vocal Mix) side-splittingly funny. Deirdre sings Macy Gray's classic in a croaky voice that sounds like she has terminal laryngitis. A future Deirdre classic, without a doubt! "Private Dancer" has been a favourite of mine for a while and it's nice to finally have it on CD.

The next song, "Sisters Are Doin' It To Themselves", is a lesbian anthem in waiting. Deirdre joins some crazy bitch called Dame Peggy Mitchell for a rousing duet that puts Aretha and Annie to shame. Someone needs to give Dame Peggy a valium before she has an aneurysm! This version of the song is crying out for Hazell Dean and K.D. Lang! Deirdre was born (hatched) to cover "Sweet Transvestite" and she does not disappoint. The songs expertly displays Deirdre's startling vocal range.

Girls Aloud are back again for "Pornography (Beat Me With A Woman's Weekly)" and Deirdre's version surpasses the lame mediocrity of the original with flying colours. "You Better Move It" and "Fist Me Baby... One More Time" are acknowledged Deirdre classics, while "What's Love Got To Do With It?" is another sublime Tina Turner cover. I'm sure Tammy Wynette would be spinning in her grave at the thought of Deirdre's cover of "Stand By Your Man", only because there wouldn't be enough room to square dance.

The album closes with 5 bonus tracks. The classy "Sing It Back" is a reminder of Deirdre's songwriting genius, while "It's Raining Sperm" is an update of Deirdre's own "It's Raining Jizz". The Young Divas should have covered this version of the song, it is the only way their album could have been any gayer! "Save Your Kisses For Me" is a nice change of pace, with Deirdre bringing us back to a simpler time with the pared back melody and harmonies.

The album finishes on a high with Deirdre's take on "Justified And Ancient" and her second Kylie cover, "Out Of My Head (Bla Bla Bla)". "Justified And Ancient" could well be Deirdre's future theme song, while "Out Of My Head" will no doubt have Kylie trembling in her kitten heels. Her rival for the queen of pop title is here and her name is Deirdre!

Gwen Stefani - The Sweet Escape 7.5/10

When did Gwen Stefani become the pop diva that Blogland loves to hate? One usually fabulous Blogger even accused "Hollaback Girl" of being responsible for the onslaught of melody-free tunes that currently litter the mainstream pop scene. What the fuck? Gwen might dabble in R'n'B and collaborate with the occasional rapper but her feet are well and truly planted in the pop world. "L.A.M.B." was one of the defining pop albums of the past few years and despite a couple of seriously questionable singles choices, was a major success in every sense. It was always going to be a hard act to follow and the initial reports of "The Sweet Escape" being made up of "L.A.M.B." leftovers did not exactly inspire confidence. However, I'm glad I kept the faith. "The Sweet Escape" does have its flaws but it is a very good album, with a couple of exceptional tunes.

Here is my track by track review:

Wind It Up - 8/10

This is surely the "love it or hate it" song of the year. As a musicals whore, "Wind It Up" had me at the first strains of "The Lonely Goatherd". Anyone who can mix "The Sound Of Music" with a sparse hip-hop beat deserves mad props! This song has grown on me immensely, yet it is still a seriously strange choice of first single. I'm shocked that it has made the US and Australian top 10. I put it down to the HOT video.

The Sweet Escape - 9/10

"The Sweet Escape" is probably the best pop/rap collaboration since Nelly Furtado and Timbaland threw it down on "Promiscuous". I love the old fashioned instrumentation that opens the song (tambourines!) and the crazy "woahs" and weird bleeps. The lyrics are cute and the "I've been a real bad girl" hook is insanely catchy. I hope this is a single.

Orange County Girl - 6.5/10

This is generic hip-hop/pop. The song talks about Gwen getting back in the studio and is probably one of the more autobiographical songs on the album but the music is bland and the song needs a fucking chorus.

Early Winter - 8.5/10

This has been the most hyped song on the album. "Early Winter" was written by Gwen and one of the dull cunts from Keane. Whatever. I'd rather listen to 50 Cent than those droning fools. Luckily, the song is better than the sum of its parts. "Early Winter" is soft rock ballad with melancholic lyrics and a soaring chorus. Most excitingly, unlike the rest of the album, it displays Gwen's considerable vocal talent. Like No Doubt on valium. I like!

Now That You Got It - 2/10

This song can fuck off. An annoying, dog's breakfast of drum beats and sirens. Stop it, Gwen! You're not Kelis!

4 In The Morning - 8.5/10

Now this is more like it. Gwen wrote this song with Tony Kanal from No Doubt and it would have fit in quite well on "Rock Steady". I love this side of Gwen, the side that lives in a 1980s time warp and sings simple love songs. This reminds me of "The Real Thing" on "L.A.M.B." - only not quite as good.

Yummy - 2/10

Good grief - somebody make it stop!

Fluorescent - 7/10

Oh, how I love those dodgy 80s beats! Another Tony Kanal production that works very nicely indeed. I love the "I didn't think we'd still be rolling" breakdown. My only criticism is the slightly repetitive nature of the verses. A nice album track.

Breakin' Up - 1/10

The Neptunes are Satan. This is a new low - Gwen talks about some ghetto shit against a migraine inducing landscape of shouts and bleeps. Why, Gwen?

Don't Get It Twisted - 6.5/10

"This is the most craziest shit ever" is Gwen's declaration at the beginning of the song. Basically, this is Tony Kanal's attempt to sound like The Neptunes. Thankfully, he fails. The songs is catchy, in spite itself. The "chorus" (I guess you'd call it) crawls into your brain and sets up house. I love the brass in the middle of the song. Nice, "crazy shit" touch.

U Started It - 8/10

The Neptunes redeem themselves somewhat with this track. A 80s drenched, pop number - complete with "woahs" and a melody! Who knew The Neptunes had it in them! I love the chorus, "You know, you win! Even though you started it!" Great stuff.

Wonderful Life - 9/10

The album ends on a high note. This time Nellee Hooper takes over the reigns and comes up with a slightly melancholic pop tune that sounds a bit like Kylie's "Slow" for the first 5 seconds before turning into a more straightforward pop song with a subtle 80s flavour. This would be another good choice for a single.

Bonus Tracks

Wind It Up (Live)
Orange County Girl (Video)

As a whole, I'd give the album 7.5/10 despite the presence of three truly shit tracks. However, once you have deleted those from your Ipod, you are left with an exceptionally fun album. "The Sweet Escape" might be uneven but it is far better than the shit albums served up by Jamelia, Kelis and Lily Allen that have received praise from every queen and his fag hag.

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