Chaz Jankel

Chas Jankel

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AllMusic Review by

Ian Dury & the Blockheads were at their height when songwriting keyboardist Chas Jankel inked a deal for a solo album with A&M. With a winner on their hands, the label gave the artist total control, and all on the strength of two demos -- "Ai No Corrida" and "Am I Honest with Myself Really?" The former was to become a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic, just not for Jankel; instead his song stormed into the chart via a cover by Quincy Jones. That bares little resemblance to Jankel's own version, an extended get-in-the-groove club extravaganza that bounces gaily along, signposting the way to Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax," early Wham!, the Pet Shop Boys, and every subsequent Euro-trash hit you can name. Yeah, it really is that good. "Honest" is the flip of the same coin, a 15-minute-plus excursion down a jazzier groove that flares up with intense flashes of funk and flips into dramatic guitar solos and white-hot brass passages while Jankel's shimmering keyboard work subtly shifts the moods and styles around and while the supple rhythm keeps you dancing on and on and on. A quarter of a century on, you'd be forgiven for confusing it with any of the latest club hit remixes currently taking the Europe by storm. Beyond those two blistering numbers comes a clutch of softer, moodier pieces, all understated in intend, each supple in composition, style, and atmosphere, every one lovely and limpid in its own unique way, but all quite overwhelmed by the smoldering power and rousing originality of "Corrida" and "Honest." In that respect, the album was sure to disappoint, although better sequencing would have helped. As that pair take up almost half the album (throw in "Fuse" as well, since it's merely a short intro to "Honest"), it would have worked better to place them on the A-side, and the rest on the flip. That flaw aside, this is an intriguing set to say the least, with the CD reissue adding the Dury/Jankel-composed "Little Eva," which is given a fine funk workout in a new wave context, the only track within that overtly hints at the keyboardist's Blockhead background.

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