Swing Out Sister

Live at the Jazz Cafe

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Swing out Sister was originally a studio-bound project who released a couple of albums before they ever played in concert, so it's surprising what an invigorating live set this is. The band throws away the glossy, synth-heavy arrangements so many of their early recordings have and let their classic soft pop, soul, and jazz influences show through. For a band who's known for loving old Burt Bacharach and 5th Dimension albums, what's surprising is how funky and earthy the band can be live. So while Swing out Sister's songwriting features the marked influence of 1960s soft rock and pop, this album combines that love with a vibrant '70s soul and funky jazz-rock sound -- a very nice combination that makes for organic music that shows that the band was ahead of both the soft rock and acid jazz revivals in Britain. The songs all feature extended instrumental solos, and the band immeasurably improves on such studio hits as "Breakout" and "Am I the Same Girl." Vocalist Corinne Drewery is often associated with such underwhelming singers as Basia, but this set proves conclusively that even outside of a studio she has a fine set of pipes; Drewery's a much better vocalist than she's given credit for and the arrangements here spotlight her voice better than the band's albums did. Indeed, Swing out Sister was so happy with this release that they decided to combine the organic instrumentation heard here with their next couple of studio releases.

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