Various Artists

Twentieth-Century Blues: The Songs of Noël Coward [Ichiban]

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Twentieth-Century Blues: The Songs of Noël Coward pays tribute to one of the 20th century's finest songwriters, with performances by contemporary and classic British artists, including Vic Reeves, Space, Sting, and Damon Albarn and Michael Nyman. Texas and the Divine Comedy provide entertaining but slightly misguided updates on "Parisian Pierrot" and "I've Been to a Marvelous Party," which respectively try to fuse trip-hop and Hi-NRG dance rhythms to Coward's literate lyrics. The Pet Shop Boys' air-conditioned, synth-pop version of "Sail Away" fares better, as does Suede's glam, moody rendition of "Poor Little Rich Girl." Marianne Faithfull's sardonic "Mad About the Boy," Bryan Ferry's "I'll See You Again," and Elton John's version of the title track are among the other high points of this well-intentioned tribute, which also features Paul McCartney's ultra-traditional cover of "A Room With a View." In all, Twentieth-Century Blues is an enjoyable, if not entirely successful, homage to Noel Coward.

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