Murray Head

Pipe Dreams

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AllMusic Review by

For Pipe Dreams, singer Murray Head let go of the mainstream pop approach he tried in his early-'90s releases to try a lusher, more varied sound. This album was fueled by his concern with the possible extinction of many ancient cultures. It translated into the music, producing Oriental, Indian, Arabic, and African textures here and there. The challenge was to unify them enough so they fit together on the same CD. Head managed to produce a coherent record, but the ethnic traits he was aiming at got buried in the process and finally play a very minor role. Pipe Dreams is a strong album, maybe his strongest since 1981's Voices. The supporting cast includes Ian Maidman (who co-produced the CD), Annie Whitehead, Geoff Richardson, and Steve Fletcher. But once again the singer was trying to revamp his sound and some experiments land very close, almost too close, to their patrons. "Prison Wall Blues" sounds like late-'60s John Mayall; "Si Tu Veux Être un Homme" (André Maurois' French adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's poem "You Will Be a Man, My Son") has the distinctive Caribbean touch of Henri Salvador; finally, "Over the Hill" shares an uncanny resemblance with Peter Gabriel's "Secret World." The best moments are found in the traditional song "Fair and Tender Ladies," the funny "Is That All There Is" (also included in French in a different recording), and "India Song," on a text by writer Marguerite Duras. Head, still in great vocal shape, delivered a good, if not striking, album of intelligent adult pop.

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