John Greaves

Parrot Fashions

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Only released in France in 1984 and only available on CD in 1998, John Greaves' Parrot Fashions finds the former Henry Cow bassist in a similar position that his old bandmate and regular creative partner, Peter Blegvad, did around the time of his very similar The Naked Shakespeare: after new wave (in some ways just prog rock in trendier clothes) allowed a certain level of experimentation back into mainstream pop music, Greaves adapted some of the new wave tendencies -- glossy production, more synthesizers, shorter and more concise songs -- into his usual artistic m.o. and came up with one of his finest albums. The opening "Always Be New to Me" is downright poppy, the closest Greaves ever came to a conceivable radio tune, and although things get progressively weirder from there on out ("How Beautiful You Are" is based on a woozy duet for cello and trumpet, and "The Bee Dream" returns to Greaves' usual surreal lyrical conceits), the album as a whole is engagingly accessible and completely listenable. Though not John Greaves' best work -- his collaboration with Blegvad and Lisa Herman, Kew. Rhone., is tough to beat -- Parrot Fashions is easily his most immediate album, and one of his most enjoyable.

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