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CD Review: The Real Tuesday Weld - "The London Book of the Dead"

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Artist: The Real Tuesday Weld
Album: The London Book of the Dead
Label: Six Degrees Records
Release Date: Fall '07

Listen to the track "Last Words":

The Real Tuesday Weld
is the recording project of Stephen Coates and The London Book of the Dead is his third release under the name and his second with the Six Degrees label. The name itself is very interesting because at the Six Degrees website refers to "the late actress Tuesday Weld" but I can't find any evidence that she has died despite being quite the wild child for the first few decades of her life.

My first impression as the album started was that The Real Tuesday Weld was a more organic sounding Lemon Jelly because of the gentle and playful loops, witty intros to songs, and hypnotic melodies. But this feeling passed as soon as I heard the first few songs because the lyrics are much more comprehensive and complicated than Lemon Jelly ever gets into - not a slam on either group, they clearly have different priorities and are experts at them.

[finish reading the review after the jump...]

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What one hears in The Real Tuesday Weld is carefully orchestrated violins and (beautiful) clarinet anchored by quirky banjos, guitars, and a brush-stroked ramshackle drum kit (with a nice synthy bass for added punch). The tunes range from introspective ("Blood Sugar Love" or "Last Words"), hilarious ("Cloud Cuckooland") to the anthematic "I Believe" ("I believe in stoners... saints... sarcomas... opiates... I believe in Love"). Because of these themes and lyrics I'm reminded more of tunes "from the American Songbook" than from anything in the world of electronica. Coates isn't Irving Berlin but what's wrong with being inspired to achieve such a high status? The tone of the music, despite the synth and electronic embelishments, is vintage tin pan alley, perhaps even that of jazz standards - updated music of a forgotten era that is fun, funny, relaxing, thoughtful and generally brilliant.

This was an interesting album to come out of Six Degrees (I hadn't heard his previous release with them) as it's not trance/electronica or world music and I applaud Six Degrees for not pigeonholing itself. The album was inspired by Coates' fatherhood and the death of his father so it's not all happy stuff which is just fine as the epitaph on the inside of the cover reads "Born, Loved, Dreamt, Died" which is a brief but accurate summary of what it might all come down to.

As always, buy your music if you like it.