Kylie Minogue – ‘The Abbey Road Sessions’
Reviewed by Christopher Smith
In 2012 Kylie celebrated another milestone – 25 years as a recording artist. “The Locomotion” had come out in Australia in July 1987 and topped the singles chart for seven weeks, becoming not only the biggest seller of the year, but also the decade ‘down under’! Kylie ‘celebrated’ this achievement with a number of gifts to her fans. The first was the single “Timebomb” released in June 2012 and topping the US dance hot play chart, as well as reaching No.12 in Australia and No.31 in the UK. A “Best Of” was released the following month, bringing together all of her biggest and most popular songs on one CD covering the twenty five years of her incredible success story.
But as a further ‘gift’, Kylie would revisit some old classics as well as some personal favourites, re-record them with the backing of a full orchestra, acoustic style, stripped to the bare bones and polish them off with a massive touch of class and beauty. And if that wasn’t enough, this would all take place at London’s historic Abbey Road Studios, a location familiar to many Parlophone recording artists, not least the legendary Beatles and Sir Cliff Richard. Kylie would add her name to these luminaries and the results were if anything, stunning.
1. All The Lovers
The album opens with her 2010 global smash hit, which begins with guitars. But as we head into chorus territory, the strings come out and things begin to take a very different shape. Superb backing vocals and drums throughout give “All The Lovers” a completely fresh new feel through different eyes.
2. On A Night Like This
“On A Night Like This” from 2000 opens with a very strong jazz feel and style to it and then moves deep into the world of 007 with its power chorus and emotive orchestration. Kylie’s voice grows and grows till the spin-tingling, high note holding finale. And it even ends just as a Bond theme would to go into the movie proper!
3. Better The Devil You Know
Who could ever of imagined Kylie’s unsurpassed 1990 smash hit as a piano ballad? Well, here it is! And it works! One of her greatest and career defining songs as a tender, sweet lullaby, sung against a backdrop of angelic backing vocals and a flood of dreamy mellowness from Kylie herself…oh…
4. Hand On Your Heart
More dreamy, acoustic beauty now as Kylie’s vocal blows like a gentle wind on a Summer’s eve sitting on the beach without a care in the world. And yet another new slant on a pop classic, this time her 1989 number one from her second studio album “Enjoy Yourself“.
5. I Believe In You
The voices of angels push you, twirling, up towards heaven as the first few bars of this 2004 Kylie/Jake Shears masterpiece begin. It was always a work of art, but set against a backdrop of strings and a cushion of breathless vocals, it’s sublime and outstanding.
6. Come Into My World
Another piano recital of a twenty first century pop/dance smash as Kylie and keys effortlessly travel through her 2002 worldwide hit. And like so many of the tracks on this album, it’s as if it was always meant to be this way.
7. Finer Feelings
Something with a very familiar feel to it now as Kylie brings out one of her very best and often overlooked hits from 1992. It’s pretty much the Brothers In Rhythm 7″ remix less the bass and beat. Kylie gives some stunning vocals from the middle-eight onwards that are both haunting and divine.
8. Confide In Me
With a sea of guitars, Kylie’s 1994 post-PWL debut sounds more like a rock song than an orchestral number, but this only adds to the drama of this already established epic. Kylie of course hits those high notes, just as she did 18 years earlier when recording the original, and loses none of the eternal magic of this standard bearer.
Kylie’s version of her 2003 number one sounds more like a track from the “Impossible Princess” album. It’s dark and shrouded in mystery, and akin to her song “Jump” from that album. Kylie’s vocals remain low and you could almost imagine this being performed in a smoke-filled jazz club late at night.
10. The Locomotion
Swing out the 60’s now as Kylie takes her 1987 debut back its origins as a skirt-flinging rhythm and blues number that ends up being a spectacular show tune. Kylie rounds it all off with a big “yea”!
11. Can’t Get You Out Of My Head
Stirring violins begin Kylie’s global 2001 phenomenon and builds to crashing cymbals during the choruses. Kylie performed this song on the UK final of X Factor that Christmas at the Manchester Central Arena to a TV audience of over 10 million.
12. Where The Wild Roses Grow
Kylie’s 1995 duet with Nick Cave was haunting enough when first released, but this guitar and drum backed arrangement adds more drama and spookyness than the original. Just listen to the vulnerability in Kylie’s voice as Cave carries out the murder of Eliza Day with that rock in his fist.
“Flower” was written by Kylie and Steve Anderson for her tenth studio album “X“, but sadly didn’t make the final cut. It was, however, performed by Kylie during her massively successful X2008 world tour and was received with universal acclaim. The song was dusted off and re-recorded along with all the other tracks on this album and was released as a single to support the album in December 2012, reaching No.96 in the UK.
14. I Should Be So Lucky
Torchsong strings and heartfelt, note-perfect vocals are the order of the day on Kylie’s mountain top 1988 signature tune. Yet another new twist on a song everyone knows but executed here as if it had been written new for this album.
15. Love At First Sight
How else could you do “Love At First Sight” as an acoustic or orchestral number, but with joyous guitars and funky drums. Kylie’s magnificent 2002 Summer anthem is always a highlight on a hot sunny day, this version is perfect for chilling with friends on those long afternoon/evenings, and maybe seeing who can remember all the words to this superbly written tune!
16. Never Too Late
Kylie does it once again, turning her 1989 pop classic into a gorgeous piano ballad, complete with spot-on vocals, showcasing just why she has out-survived so many other female singers, to reign for twenty five years at the top of her game.
Sixteen tracks were selected for the final album, those sadly lost included “Breathe”, “Wow” and “In My Arms”. And it seemed logical with all this history swirling around her to call the album “The Abbey Road Sessions”. The final version was released at the end of October 2012 entering the UK album chart at No.2 and going on to sell 180,000 copies there. It charted top 40 across most of Europe, reached a high of No.7 in Australia and achieved an entry at No.120 in the US.
Critics were more than kind towards Kylie’s refreshing look back over her twenty five year, unparalleled career. As part of its promotion, Kylie performed eight tracks at Proms In The Park in London that year as well as performing two songs at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert!
Invigorated and with twenty five years behind her, Kylie began 2013 looking to the future and new material with all the hope of even bigger success through a new relationship with global promotion giants Roc Nation.
Don’t forget to check out our other Kylie reviews.
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