Tony Christie

Now's the Time!

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Apart from a random appearance on the All Seeing I's 1999 Top Ten hit "Walk Like a Panther," crooner Tony Christie's U.K. career seemed consigned to '70s nostalgia tours until the colossal success of 2005's Peter Kay-supported "Is This the Way to Amarillo?" gave him an unexpected second wind. Christie hasn't wasted his reprieve, having released a chart-topping Greatest Hits and a brace of novelty singles, in addition to receiving the unlikely backing of some of the alternative scene's most illustrious figures. Following on from 2009's Richard Hawley-produced Made in Sheffield, which featured songs written by Arctic Monkeys, Pulp, and Human League, follow-up Now's the Time also boasts some impressive indie credentials, with contributions from Jarvis Cocker and Roisin Murphy, which only further cements Christie's newfound iconic status. But whereas his last release showcased a previously unheard restrained and introspective side, Now's the Time reverts back to the bombastic lounge pop of his heyday. Produced by the All Seeing I's Richard Barrett, its 12 tracks, which encompass stomping Northern soul ("Nobody in the World"), swinging boss nova (the title track), and Burt Bacharach-style easy listening ("I Thank You") might not be as credibility-chasing as his previous effort, there's no doubt that Christie is having more fun than he has in years. Indeed, on the Cocker-penned "Get Christie," he playfully riffs on the Get Carter theme, with delightfully tongue-in-cheek lyrics like "I'm at the top of the list, see, so take a lesson from history, Get Christie," while on "Longing for You Baby" he casts himself as a Clint Eastwood figure in an audacious attempt at an Ennio Morricone-style Spaghetti Western score. The autobiographical, jazz-inflected "Too Much of the Sun," and the melancholic, piano-led "Steal the Sun" offer a little respite from the brassy pop proceedings for those who were expecting another late Johnny Cash-style makeover, but Now's the Time's strengths undoubtedly lie in its more carefree and upbeat numbers. Approaching his 50th anniversary in the music industry, Tony Christie could possibly have made one of the best albums of his career.

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