Jimmy Somerville

The Very Best of Jimmy Somerville

  • AllMusic Rating
    8
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Scottish-born singer Jimmy Somerville became a surprise success in the mid-'80s. Instead of being Duran Duran-cute, Jimmy Somerville looked like the average boy next door. Instead of belting out his musical repertoire with a self-conscious urgency to prove himself as a singer (like Rick Astley or George Michael), Somerville possessed a dramatic, piercing falsetto that made the Associates' Billy Mackenzie sound like Tom Waits. But what really made Jimmy Somerville distinctive was his openness about his sexuality. The 1980s was the decade of androgyny, with artists like Annie Lennox, Boy George, and Poison emulating the gender-bending approach of 1970s-era David Bowie. Other performers such as Morrissey and the aforementioned George Michael kept their fans guessing about their sexual orientation. Jimmy Somerville, however, already answered the "is he or isn't he" question before anyone had a chance to ask, and he did so without a trace of mascara. Jimmy Somerville's career began as a member and co-founder of the dance-pop group Bronski Beat, and the here-goes-nothing frankness of the group's debut single, "Smalltown Boy," became an instant sensation, reaching the British Top Ten and becoming an MTV staple in America. The homosexual overtones of Bronski Beat's debut album, The Age of Consent, didn't stop it from becoming a major seller, and the follow-up single, "Why?," also secured a place in the upper reaches of the British pop chart and became an American danceclub favorite. After this initial success, however, Jimmy Somerville departed the group, forming the Communards in 1985 with keyboardist Richard Coles. The Communards' sound was basically a variation of Bronski Beat's disco-influenced dance-pop, and the duo recorded two albums (1986's Communards and 1987's Red) before disbanding, after which Somerville embarked on a sporadic solo career. His lyrical approach detailing the feelings of homosexual alienation are evident in several tracks, particularly the classic "Smalltown Boy" and the Communards' self-explanatory "There's More to Love Than Boy Meets Girl." Somerville can be a remarkably intelligent songwriter, but often his talent is wasted with misguided cover tunes. His faux reggae version of the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody" is a bore, as is his watered-down Sylvester remake, "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)." His rendition of "Comment Te Dire Adieu" is the worst by far, as his campy take on the Serge Gainsbourg classic (previously recorded by Fran├žoise Hardy) can provoke uncontrollable snickering. "Don't Leave Me This Way" and the similarly arranged "Never Can Say Goodbye" (both recorded by the Communards) are the best of the covers, updating the exuberance of the Thelma Houston and Gloria Gaynor disco classics while showcasing Somerville's amazing vocal range. Bronski Beat's pulsating version of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" (featuring Soft Cell vocalist Marc Almond) is also effective. Despite Jimmy Somerville's popularity as a member of two different groups, his lackluster 1989 solo release, Read My Lips, failed to match the success of the Communards or Bronski Beat.[In 1990 London Records released the Singles Collection,, which featured the same seventeen tracks as the Very Best of Jimmy Somerville: Bronski Beat and the Communards, only in a different order.]

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
feat: Bronski Beat
5:00
2 4:32
3
feat: Bronski Beat
4:08
4 4:27
5 4:30
6 3:50
7
feat: Bronski Beat
3:57
8 3:57
9 4:48
10 3:52
11 3:37
12 4:16
13 4:37
14 5:47
15 4:41
16 4:48
17 4:09
blue highlight denotes track pick