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Pop - Released January 1, 1989 | Virgin Catalogue

CD$11.49
Sue

Pop - Released January 1, 1989 | Virgin Catalogue

Frazier Chorus aren't what they seem. On Sue, the band's debut album, the group utilizes synthesizers, trumpets, flutes, and clarinets to paint evocative mental images. Most often the music and Tim Freeman's soft, heavily accented vocals paint postcards of England in the summertime. But Frazier Chorus' coyness is deceptive, as the sarcastic wit and sometimes nasty observations of Freeman are often buried underneath the LP's sunny surface. In the otherwise genial "Dream Kitchen," for example, Freeman confesses, "Your life is too good to be true/I think I'll ruin it for you." Usually hailed by fans of '80s electro-pop, Frazier Chorus are refreshingly different from many of their contemporaries, namely due to Freeman's talk-singing style and the incorporation of classical instruments. They have a jazzy side as well, best heard in "Forty Winks." The band could be viewed as forerunners of Pulp, but Pulp already existed -- albeit they were completely obscure -- when Sue was released in the late '80s. Nevertheless, "Sloppy Heart" has graphic yet poetic lyrics about premature ejaculation that would fit perfectly in Pulp's '90s discography. With its beautifully soaring flutes, it's easy to just listen to "Sloppy Heart" and be carried away, completely oblivious to Freeman's erotic story line. However, deciphering Freeman's words is a large part of the fun. Sue may be too subtle for some; the tracks are usually slow and quiet, but they grow on you, especially the breathtaking "Storm." "Dream Kitchen" and "Typical" landed on a few new wave radio stations in the late '80s, but it's the lesser-known songs such as "Sloppy Heart" and "Living Room" where Frazier Chorus create long-term appeal. © Michael Sutton /TiVo
CD$11.49
Ray

Pop - Released January 1, 1991 | Virgin Catalogue

By the time of Ray's release, Frazier Chorus had gone from relatively edgier work on 4AD to a crisper, cleaner sound via Virgin, something emphasized further by Ian Broudie's typically to-the-point production on the album (it's not hard to imagine Broudie immediately doing this on the heels of the first Lightning Seeds effort). Reducing the group to a trio meant an increasing reliance on outside performers, and indeed the supporting cast reads like a hit list of in-demand session workers, early-'90s U.K. style. Kick Horns member Roddy Lorimer, percussionist Louis Jardim, harmonica player Mark Feltham, and strings courtesy of the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra could threaten to overwhelm many bands, but to the trio's credit the general feel of the band's sound remains intact throughout. That said, the flip side is that said sound isn't as spectacular as it could have been. Part of the problem was contextual -- in a year when Massive Attack's Blue Lines dramatically demonstrated what a new, complex style of uniquely British music could sound like, Ray is more often than not stylishly tasteful and not much more, a smooth sheen with little bite. Kate Holmes' woodwinds add a distinct elegance to the proceedings, to be sure, and Tim Freeman's singing balances carefully being evanescence and a subtle, sly whisper, a bit like a gauzier Momus. But Ray isn't all pure float without anchor -- every so often there's a gently strange dissonance in the arrangements (the at-once doom-laden but strangely fragile "Here He Comes Again" is particularly grand), usually courtesy of guitarist Chris Taplin. Check out his mournful additions in the background of "We Love You" (lyrically one of the sharpest anti-romance numbers around) or his strong stinging shimmer on "The Telephone," a very Cocteau Twins-reminiscent track. Ray isn't quite what it could be, but an open-eared listener will find more to enjoy than might be guessed via a casual exposure. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
CD$8.99

Pop - Released January 1, 1989 | Virgin Catalogue

CD$8.99

Pop - Released January 1, 1990 | Virgin Catalogue

A CD single made gloriously oddball by its fifth-track left turn -- a swirling, ambient cover of the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the U.K." that represents a moment of truly mad inspiration right down to the vibraphone solo and sliding fretless bassline. Of the other four cuts, the two mixes of "Cloud 8" are nice enough, with the jazz elements scattered throughout, while "Dream Kitchen" and "Typical" seem like little more than throwaway synth-pop. Worth finding, though, for that cover. © Steven McDonald /TiVo
CD$12.99

Pop - Released January 1, 1990 | Virgin Catalogue

CD$7.49

Electronic - Released January 1, 1989 | Virgin Catalogue

CD$8.99

Pop - Released January 1, 1991 | Virgin Catalogue

CD$6.49

Pop - Released January 1, 1991 | Virgin Catalogue