Nina Hagen / Leipzig Big Band

Big Band Explosion

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A big-band album from a Teutonic dominatrix that used to be pictured dressed in PVC and restraining ropes? Sure, why not? Just don't fall for the pretty bindi wear and butterflies flying out of her mouth on the cover. Nina Hagen is still Nina Hagen and time has made her gritty voice even grittier. The lady was born to entertain, and if you're warm to her in-your-face absurdity, Big Band Explosion is a heck of a lot of fun. You'll be on the edge of your seat as the singer delivers the tunes straight-faced, but you just know that any moment she's going to bust out the brash Nina of old. That's the way the most of the songs go -- almost to the point of being formulaic -- but if anyone is going to pull it off it's Nina. Her greatest moment -- or most grating, depending on your tolerance -- comes at the end of "I Want to Be Happy" when her guttural scatting ends in a cough and an "oh my God!" She's Betty Boop one minute and Godzilla the next, which is why her fans love her. The Leipzig Big Band does a fine job with the accompaniment, but they could have been pushed up a little higher in the mix, and you just have to wonder what the look on their faces was like. Wonder if naughty Nina's untied them yet.

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