John Howard

Technicolour Biography

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It was all going so swimmingly. In its first fortnight of release, John Howard's debut Kid in a Big World album was selling like hotcakes, and the singer/songwriter already had enough songs in the can for its follow-up. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. Inexplicably, Kid's sales suddenly plummeted to nil, never to rise again, and Howard's second projected set followed the first into oblivion. Until now. Kid's 2003 reissue was met with paeans from the press, and so RPM dusted off the master tapes for the unreleased second set, and now, almost two decades on, have finally given it the release it so richly deserves. Howard tells his own story in the sleeve notes, and then proceeds to helpfully annotate each of Technicolour Biography's tracks as well. Unlike the more sophisticated Kid, Technicolour is a simpler affair, just Howard and his piano, sprinkled with a dusting of overdubbed strings. This may imply sparseness, but in fact the excellent production creates a wonderfully full sound laden with rich atmospheres, an equal tribute to Howard's songwriting, musicianship, and eloquent vocals. Slotting beautifully into its time, somewhere between the likes of Cockney Rebel, a far less gauche Elton John, and The Man Who Sold the World David Bowie, Howard should have been a star; instead, he barely had 15 seconds of fame. That now seems about to change, and not a moment too soon. Technicolour Biography stands on its own, and the four bonus tracks -- including his debut single, a pair of outtakes from Kid, and an alternate, orchestral-backed version of "Kid in a Big World" -- complete the story. But it's not over yet, as Howard has a new album already in the works.

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