Saturday, October 31, 2009

Amanda Lear - Brief Encounters Review

Now this is a bit confusing, so please bear with me. Way back in January I wrote a post announcing Amanda Lear's comeback album and even provided a tentative tracklist. The good news is that "Brief Encounters" has finally been released. Albeit only in Italy. Now, here's where things get a little complicated. The album will be released in France on the 23rd of November (and subsequently in the rest of the world) as "Brand New Love Affair" - with a completely different tracklisting! The albums also have distinctly different themes. The Italian release is a double CD comprised of an acoustic disc and a dance/remix disc, while the French version is a disco concept album. I haven't heard "Brand New Love Affair" in full yet but it appears that most of the best tracks have ended up on that album. However, that's not to say that the Italian version is a write off. "Brief Encounters" is a great listen and contains several Lear-tastic pop gems. If this is the reject album (so to speak) - the real deal should be amazing!

Disc 1

Despite mainly featuring acoustic/pared back covers, disc 1 kicks off with the album's mid-tempo lead single "Someone Else's Eyes" - an appealing duet with the album's main producer Deadstar. I like the song but I prefer the airbrushed to the point of being animated video clip. Watch a preview above. The next song is more reflective of this half of the album. Amanda shows Amy Winehouse a thing or two about being a real diva on her surprisingly fabulous cover of "Back To Black". The jazzy sound suits Ms Lear perfectly and she was born to sing the line "he left no time to regret, kept his dick wet"! "Cupidon", a pretty ballad performed in French, is followed by a sax-tastic version of the Lenny Kravitz hit "I Belong To You". Amanda sounds great but I don't like the musical arrangement. It sounds like elevator music from the 80s. The same could be said for "I Don't Wanna Lose You", which is similarly sleep inducing. Happily, "Fallin' In Love Again" is more lively and stands out as the album's only contemporary pop-rock track.

"Je m'appelle Amanda" is poignant for the clearly autobiographical lyrics, while the jaunty accordion wouldn't sound out of place in a Parisian cafe. Unfortunately, "Let's Love" is another snail paced ballad that sounds like it was stolen from Kenny G circa 1984 but Amanda's smokey cover of Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" is touching despite being marred by excessive lashings of saxophone. The covers continue unabated with a cute version of Françoise Hardy's "Comment Te Dire Adieu", which has more than a touch of Austin Powers about it. The Queen of Chinatown's take on David Bowie's "Sorrow" is a real highlight. The arrangement is relatively faithful to the original and the song choice is sentimental given that the great diva appeared in the original video clip (below). I was really concerned about the next song but "Suicide Is Painless" (better known as the MASH theme song) is a minor triumph. Amanda brings real gravitas to the proceedings and the result is tender and real. Disc 1 finishes on a rather insipid note with "Secret Lover" but there is a lot to enjoy on the first half of "Brief Encounters".

Disc 2

I suspect that most fans will be far more interested in the trashtastic second disc, which returns Amanda to dancefloor. The disc opens with an unexpected cover of Peter Wilson's "Doin' Fine". Peter is a friend of mine - so I'm probably a bit biased - but I prefer his version. The production on this is just lazy. It's exactly the same backing track as Peter's version! Rather more appealing is the dance remix of "Someone Else's Eyes", which is pure Hi-NRG cheese. I love the floaty Euro beats and really think this should have been the single version. Next up is the first of three versions of "This Is Not America" (not a David Bowie cover as first reported). The song is a surprisingly dark dance anthem with political lyrics and it works quite well. However, I think three remixes is a bit of overkill. Disco fans will be more interested in Amanda's interpretation of Giorgio Moroder's "Let The Music Play". I love this. The production is a bit kooky at times but a talented DJ could work wonders with it. However, the album's best cover version is yet to come. As far as I'm concerned "Brief Encounters" is worth tracking down for Ms Lear's stunning cover of "Always On My Mind" alone. This is the only T1 production (Peter Wilson and Chris Richards) on the Italian release and it's a winner. Think the Pet Shop Boys meet Kate Ryan (if she could sing) and you have some idea of what this achingly pretty, synth drenched treat sounds like. The boys also deliver a fantastic club mix. The last notable track on Disc 2 is "For What I Am". Amusingly, the song comes with an R'n'B remix but it's pretty dull by Amanda's lofty standards and brings down what is a highly enjoyable collection of dance tunes and remixes.

"Brief Encounters" is available to order from FNAC Italy but they don't ship to Australia (or America by the look of it), so your best bet is Ebay. Amanda's Italian opus is a lot of fun and essential for fans of disco's most fabulous diva but it's very uneven. There are some great moments but the album has clearly been padded with filler and unnecessary remixes - probably because most of the quality tracks ended up on the French release if the buzz on Myspace and Facebook is any indication. Speaking of which, check out a preview of the title track and lead single from "Brand New Love Affair" (below). I'll post more details about that release very soon.


Scarlett said...

Ahhh! I've been out of commission for so long, and I've missed reading and commenting here. But now I'm back, and you can't get rid of me. ;) :D

I didn't know about Brand New Love Affair - it sounds like it'll be fantastic! I have Brief Encounters but haven't given it a good listen yet. I already love "Someone Else's Eyes" (mainly the remixed version) and now I think I'll go give the whole album a listen! :)

Hope all is well with you! :D

tommie said...

Gosh, I love some of Amanda's older stuff and most of all, I love the idea of of Amanda Lear, but I don't know if I can be arsed importing this.

Paul said...

So.... you like it more than Cheryl then :P :)

Anonymous said...

so basically they split the album in 2 and we are left with two shoddy releases instead of one good 1?


Mike said...

I think there's enough good stuff on both albums. I just prefer the sound of "Brand New Love Affair" because the jazzy ballads on "Brief Encounters" get a bit annoying after a while. That said the dance/remix cd is fabulous.

Anonymous said...

'Brand New Love Affair' is a completely different album, as the producer of 'Brief Encounters' himself has recently stated, so it won't be a French release of the Italian album, but a (brand new) album... I love 'Brief Encounters', but I agree with you that some titles could have been left out with no damage at all. I am looking forward to 'Brand New Love Affair', but I'm already a bit disappointed, as I really dislike the horrible cover!

Anonymous said...

The album is produced by Peter Wilson, who produced "Always On My Mind" on "Brief Encounters", and has 8 tracks on it. Think a dance concept album, much like alot of 70s disco albums at the time.

discodevil said...

She should become the third member of The Pet Shop Boys, she is so camp, no not so gay, Camp! lol.

Anonymous said...

you should really learn to know the true facts before writing the kind of rubbish thats been put in this review brief encounters is the new album of lear and will be publishd in francis on major record label spring 2010. The left over songs that were not used for this album has been put on to cheap album in by the french producer to take money from fans mixed with old lear songs and some from brief encounters. the songs were not on breif encounters as they had not good response frm intrnet. so you see your review does not talk of truth or facts so please do not write such waste of time rubbish.

Anonymous said...

And how is it that you are so well informed? But I think you are right.

Anonymous said...

I am very suprised about Enrico Petrelli's attitude , the producer/singer ( as "Deadstar") ! As a producer/singer he has tried to turn "Brief encounters" as an album to launch his own career !!!! He has at the same time of the album release in Italy, released his own single " huh" . I am absolutely sure he's only interested by his career and not one second about Amanda.On ebay he sells through his label " Just goodmusicforyourears" single promos at 69 Euros !!!! A rip off for the fans . He acts totally foolisly and I am sure that's why Amanda has decided not to promote album in France and obliged Edina to react. I know for sure from and Italian friend that the boss of Universo himself no longer wants to work anymore with him . So you can guess Amanda !I have read in one post that she had complained all around the Theatre de la Renaissance that she received from Petrelli her copy on the album.... mid november !!!!!! and she had to do this radiopromotion with not having one copy in hands !!!!Don't look further why Briefs encounters will never be released anywhere and Amanda does not want to work with somebody like this. I am very happy Amanda has recorded Brand New Love affair which was stated BEFORE Brief encounters . I know very well Pete and he had said to have sent this new song "Brand New love affair" in 2007 to Amanda on his myspace page. Same for "Doin fine" Prolific media announced produced by Edina and not Petrelli !!!!!! . I don't know exactly what happened behind the door but I really suspect this petrelli not to be a nice person at all .

Peter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter said...

Hello everyone,
Peter Wilson here, and I think I should clarify things to sqaush a few rediculous claims out there.
"Brand New Love Affair" was written and produced by myself and Chris Richards, and was the first new song submitted to her label Edina Music in France in mid 2007. It was submitted with the help of PMG music, and thankfully Amanda and the great people at Edina music loved the song. I did not write it specifically for the "Brief Encounters" album at all, and any claims to the contrary are 100% false. The same goes for "C'est La Vie" and the other tracks we completed which appear on "Brand New Love Affair" the album.
I don't know why, or how people could claim anything other than the truth, but that is totally fine. The reaction so far of "Brand New Love Affair The Album" speaks for itself, as do the pre-sales.
This same reaction to our tracks will also squash the false claims that the songs were removed from "Brief Encounters" due to poor reactions.
The only song we did produce for "Brief Encounters" was "Always On My Mind", and despite being refused a copy of the album, and being the only people not to receive thanks in the credits, we are proud to be part of "Brief Encounters".
I am not going to lower myself to the kind of comments others may like to make, I in fact wish them all the best, and would like to compliment them on the great work on "Brief Encounters".
However, let me make it clear, that myself, and Chris Richards wrote and produced "Brand New Love Affair" and "C'est La Vie", nobody else. They were produced for Edina Music, nobody else. They were not written especially for "Brief Encounters".
For me, this is a time to celebrate a new album and being able to work with a great legend, not to make false and unnecesarry comments.

Thanks all,
Peter Wilson

Anonymous said...

The "anonymous" person posting the comments about "waste of time rubbish" just sounds a little more than bitter. Is this the Petrelli person another post has said? If so, what a nasty peice of work he is, and what i like about PeterWilsons response is tht it acted with class, and didn't fire cheap shots like a spoilt and bitter person. As for me I will looking forward to "Brand new Love Affair" abum, it seems Peter WIlson has a much better idea of what the fans want from Amanda Lear, And the sound clips sound incredible. "Brief Encounter" is a really boring album, too much fake vocal fixing and it's obvious. As a big fan I love Amanda's dragging notes, it tells a story with warmth instead of robotic rubbish the way Encounters sounds. The only good one on that album "Always On My Mind" is a Peter Wilson production, what does that tell you.
Jelousy and greed is not nice.

Andy said...

U know what? Take a look on Amanda Lear's Myspace page and "Brand New Love Affair" has had close to 18,000 plays and it's only been online for 2 weeks.

The slower song was lucky to get 1/10 of that attention.

End of story, bring on this album. I'll be buying a copy.

Max said...

I'll be buying a copy of BNLA too, (actually I've already pre-ordered it), and I'm really happy to have two albums (Brief Encounters and BNLA) to listen to. What I don't understand is all this silly polemic against Brief Encounters by the 'supporters' of BNLA... Does it make any sense to be a supporter of BNLA and an adversary of BE?? That's ridiculuos! As for the criticism of some of the people here, let me tell you what I think: all personal opinions are legitimate (BE is a 'really boring album'), but a criticism to be considered as such needs some substance. Now, how can you say that you don't like Amanda's voice in BE because it sounds 'fake' and 'robotic' and at the same time that 'Always on my mind' is the only good thing in the album? It is the song where Amanda's voice has been altered most, or so it sounds! Or is it the best one only because it was produced by Peter? Personally, I love 'Always on my mind' and 'Brand New Love Affair' (and I should add 'Doin' fine', which I also have in Peter's original version), and I think Brief Encounters is a fantastic album. I suspend my judgement on 'Brand New Love Affair' (I mean the album, the single is great, and on sale from today!!) until I've listened to it (after November 30th).

Anonymous said...

pop trash addict make me laugh here. is saying i am close friend of peter wilson in one place then writes this slagging off everything but peter wilson. maybe its peter wilson who writes this it wont be first time peter has wrote his own interent review lol. its the same on brAnd ne wlove affair aklbum. peter is so good and t1 but anything else is rubbish. i wont look at pop trash addicts review no more. its not fair reveiw to me.

Jay said...

Ooh somebody really sounds bitter.
Obviously English is not your first language judging by your poor grammar, and the fact that if you actually understood the "Brief Encounters" review, you would see that the review says many nice things about the first CD, which is nothing to do with Peter Wilson.
I would say you are taking this rather personally, maybe you are involved in the Italian alabum. Whatever the case, it's pretty pathetic!