Kirsty MacColl

Kite

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Only Kirsty MacColl's second solo album in the tenth year of her career (she took several years off to have children after marrying producer Steve Lillywhite), 1989's Kite is the pinnacle of her achievement. By far her best-sustained work, this lengthy 15-track album features some of the singer/songwriter's best work on both sides of the hyphen. Her always-terrific vocals -- MacColl was quite likely the best female singer of her generation -- are overdubbed several times on most tracks to create thick, lush harmonies, most notably on the gorgeous cover of the Kinks' "Days." Her songwriting is excellent as well, with some of her sharpest and cleverest words and most memorable melodies found here. The piercing "Innocence" and "Free World" are two of MacColl's most combative songs, while "What Do Pretty Girls Do?" and "Fifteen Minutes," for all their tart lines, are MacColl at her most sympathetic. Besides the excellent originals, another pair of terrific covers -- the Smiths' "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby" and Kate and Anna McGarrigle's "Complainte pour Ste. Catherine" (given a rather Cuban rearrangement that foreshadows her later experiments in Latin music) -- show both MacColl's widely varied influences and her immense interpretive powers. [In 2005 EMI reissued Kite with the bonus tracks "Happy," "Am I Right?," "El Paso," "Le Foret de Mimosas," "Complainte Pour Ste Catherine," as well as alternate mixes of "Freeworld," "Innocence," "No Victims [Guitar Heroes Mix]" and "End of a Perfect Day."]

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