Two Of Diamonds
It would be easy to dismiss Mick Harvey as someone lacking either the ability or the ego to put together an album of all originals. The evidence is there for that claim. His first two solo efforts were Anglicized versions of Serge Gainsbourg classics and the covers outrank the originals on his other two solo works by a wide margin.
That sort of dismissive thinking, though, is simply to ignore the fact that Harvey is a brilliant arranger, producer, and interpreter of songs, talents that would have made him an international star 40 years ago. Just listen to how he takes the once jazzy theme that Elmer Bernstein wrote for the film A Walk on The Wild Side, and, with throbbing double bass and a few bluesy licks (not to mention his loose interpretation of Mack David’s lyrics), turns it into something better suited to a dusty Western than the half-baked melodrama the original accompanied.
Elsewhere, Harvey pays homage to another Harvey — Polly Jean — recording a loving version of “Slow-Motion-Movie-Star” that is the equal of the original number, even if it is stripped of some of its heart wrenching quality due to the absence of PJ’s more striking vocals. In fact, it is Mick’s vocals that are the only minor fault of this album. Although his voice is a nice warm tenor, it tends to stick in one place, carrying certain songs only so far without taking them somewhere new, as on the otherwise buoyant and playful Manu Chao song “Out of Time Man.”
What really holds the album together is its mood, one that is akin to the work of one of Harvey’s idols, Lee Hazelwood. Most of the tracks are darkly recorded with sinister organ and piano sounds bumping up alongside fuzzy guitars and shuffling drums. It is music that seems to echo out from an antechamber in your subconscious. You would do well to listen up and hear what it is saying.
Mick Harvey: www.mickharvey.com