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Home > Music

Review: No Angels

Channel 4 Recordings

19 March 2004

The most awful films and programmes can have the most exciting soundtracks.
Natural Born Killers is the best example: two hours of boredom with a soundtrack so good you even start to like the excerpts of dialogue after the first hundred or so listens.

So it is with No Angels. It’s a cheering thought that the same office busy bringing to life a miserable disparagement of nurses also had someone in the corner compiling old-school soul that doesn’t make you want to kill your television.

The CD has that balance of Songs You Already Like (Chain of Fools, Mr. Big Stuff) and Songs You Know You’re Going To Like Soon (fine work, Rose Batiste and Brenda Holloway). It’s comforting yet exciting, like a vanilla ice cream with some provocative ginger chunks in it.

Much of it is from the Motown vaults. The folks in Detroit recently realised their vaults were full of “sides” that were danceable, had many fans and, most importantly, weren’t making any money. Time for The Elgins and The Contours to show a wider audience what the soul boys had known all along.

It’s best to avoid thinking about the Motown artists themselves while you’re listening. It’s not a good time for the children of Tamla. Diana Ross (represented by Baby Love and You Can’t Hurry Love) just failed to convince the court that her diary proved she’d served time for drink-driving, whatever the prison records said. Two of Martha Reeves’ Vandellas (Heatwave, Nowhere to Run) successfully sued Motown, only to realise their lawyers had arranged for half the royalty cheque to be payable to themselves.

Worst of all, The Velvelettes (Needle in a Haystack, A Bird in the Hand), are currently suffering the ignominy of being championed by Nick Hornby.

Towards the end, the CD starts to swing (Peggy Lee), ooze (Dusty Springfield) and funk out (The Meters), which is good. Including Marlena Shaw’s tough and political Woman of the Ghetto in a piece of soapy, saucy fluff was probably a mistake, but it works fine when the TV’s off and the CD player is turned up loud.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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