Sunday, 20 April 2014

CD Review: Weird and Wonderful

“You seemed uplifted but a little upset”

Alexander S Bermange is a composer and lyricist who has been working away for over a decade without ever really breaking through into the mainstream here in the UK. He had a show – The Route to Happiness - at the new musical theatre writing festival at the Landor last year but he has generally had more success in Germany though his contact list is top rate, as the roll call on his most recent CD Act One certainly attests.

Predating that collection though is 2004’s Weird and Wonderful which again boasts a fine collection of interesting performers – Anna Francolini, John Barr, and Richard Dempsey to name but a few – perhaps not as starry as some, but catnip to a theatre nerd like me. The focus here is on Bermange’s comic writing which gives a weird balance to the CD over its 19 tracks which can get a little bit wearing. 

Undoubtedly, there’s a comic oddness to the collection that is evident from the off. Tales of misguided love come with from David Kernan’s 'Wedding Night' surprise, a forlorn Jessica Martin in 'He Left Me For My Granny' and Liza Sadovy’s self-explanatory 'I’ve Fallen In Love With A Sheep'. Patter songs abound like Stefan Bednarczyk’s 'Easy As A-PC', Myra Sands’ 'Moaning about Phoning' and Richard Dempsey’s 'A Trainspotter’s Tale' rattling through many a station – impressive but ultimately feeling like a bit of a retread. 

Rosie Ashe’s 'I Love To Sing', reminiscent of Stiles & Drewe’s 'Diva', is good fun, and the swinging trio of David Firth, Valda Aviks and Richard Dempsey make 'You Are The One' a delight. And even if the comic aspect may begin to pale after a while, the music often finds a melodic groove that is most listenable. 'Saturday Morning Prayer' is a particularly good tune as is 'The Man Who I Long For' which is blessed by the glorious vocals of Anna Francolini. 

So an interesting collection but one to dip into than listen all the way through in my experience. You’d be better off going for Act One for a more varied and solid compilation of tracks to demonstrate one of our more undersold composing talents.

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