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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Brighter Day - Keith Christmas

posted by on April 3 at 10:14 AM

Keith Christmas’ career really took off when he was chosen by friend David Bowie to play guitar and sing back-up on Bowie’s first big single, Space Oddity. Through the following years Christmas would work some some of the top producers and arrangers in the British folk scene.

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Brighter Day was Keith’s 4th album and the second on Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s Manticore label. Greg Lake and Pete Sinfield produced so as you can imagine some of the tracks veer away from traditional folk styles and into a little more Prog-ish territory.

I think the most surprising element on this album is the bold and funky horn section on the opening track! Let’s just face it and say Keith does not have the greatest voice in folk music. In fact sometimes it strays to whining, much like Mike Heron of the Incredible String Band. But there’s something about this track that uses those strong horns and pushes forward the frustration int the lyrics:

The politicians throw up their hands in dismay

“The people don’t believe a word we say”

Come the next Election it’s just like a game

Where they lie and they bullshit without any shame.

Strong stuff backed by an impressivly strong brass section. (And might I add, quite pertinent to today!)

One song, left off the American issue of the album was a strong denouncement of religion. In it’s place was added a sweet version of The Temptations classic, My Girl. (Possibly in a nod to Manticore’s U.S. distributor, Motown.) The second track on the album, Foothills has some of Greg Lake’s proggy production values with the addition of moog and electric piano. I find it quite effective.

I guess it’s not for all fans of British folk music, though, because the album has been called “fake” by some, and “trying to be too ‘jazzy’” by others. I think with hind-sight though this album should be seen as the highly creative effort by one of folks least domineering singer-songwriters.

It works for me.

Check it out at my blog here!

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