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Reviews CD Reviews Gothic Revue Noir- Anthology Archive


ARTIST: Revue Noir

ALBUM: Anthology Archive

LABEL: Projekt

REVIEWER: Matthew J.

DATE: 2-25-09

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At long last, and three years after the duo stopped performing, we finally get a full-length release from this inspired collaboration between Black Tape for a Blue Girl founder (and Projekt label owner) Sam Rosenthal and dark cabaret performer Nicki Jaine. Assembling all five of their official studio recordings plus a smattering of demos, live performances, and two previously unreleased tracks, this collection is worth the long wait fans had to endure. Revue Noir's work definitely leans toward the cabaret end of things, with Jaine's stage charisma looming first and foremost while Rosenthal's keyboard and production work fills out the sound with sustain-soaked piano and understated synthesizer. Of the previously released tracks, "A Girl, a Smoke" is perhaps the most emotionally powerful, building from a languid beginning into a staccato charge of bitter vocals and knife-sharp pianos. "Amsterdam" is a pure cabaret offering in the tradition of Kurt Weill, with Jaine doing some of her most inspired vocal work over strings-backed pianos, while "The Gravediggers" emphasizes the pair's more outright gothic influences with its wailing violin and gloomy vocals. It's the previously unreleased archival material that will most interest fans, of course, and the two brand new tracks here are both solid. "Strange Little Show" is intimate but jaunty, Jaine's deep smoky voice paired with a bouncing piano melody, while "She Is the Madman" is moody and slow, with minor-key guitar filled out by gloomy keyboards and orchestral synthesizers, and ends the collection on a rather quiet note. We also get a rehearsal version of "A Girl, a Smoke," cabaret renditions of songs originally performed by Black Tape for a Blue Girl, and a smattering of other covers that provide some of the album's most interesting moments. Kurt Weill's classic "Alabama Song" would seem a perfect choice for a modern cabaret project, but Revue Noir's version offers too much melodrama and too little menace, especially compared to the version recorded a decade ago by New York Dolls singer David Johansen for the Weill tribute album. On the other hand, Rosenthal and Jaine's rendition of the Velvet Underground's "All Tomorrow's Parties" is simply brilliant; Jaine's voice is as deep as original performer Nico's, but far more expressive, and she puts a new spin on the vocal melody, adding her own flourishes and taking the song in fascinating new directions. David Bowie's "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide," which was previously released on Revue Noir's studio single, falls somewhere in between; it starts off so slow that the song loses some of its glamor, but as it builds to its climax, Jaine fills the refrain of "You're not alone" with a tender power that works well with subtle arrangement of strings and percussion. All things considered, this is an excellent release, and long overdue; fans of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Nicki Jaine, and dark cabaret in general would do well to add this to their collection.

Visit the project's home on the Web at www.revuenoir.com.


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