Tracey Ullman

You Broke My Heart in 17 Places

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Although comic actress Tracey Ullman is these days entirely dismissive of her early-'80s sideline career as a chart-topping pop singer, that's an unfair assessment. There is nothing much of lasting import on Ullman's 1983 debut, You Broke My Heart in 17 Places, but it's kitschy pop fluff at its best. The twin highlights are the title track and "They Don't Know," both written by the indescribably talented Kirsty MacColl. (Indeed, Ullman's "They Don't Know" is merely the backing track of MacColl's original 1979 single with Ullman's voice on top, with MacColl's Spector-like multiply-overdubbed harmonies actually mixed higher than Ullman's lead vocal. That's MacColl singing the climactic "BAY-bee!," too.) However, the other tracks, almost all covers of '60s and '70s pop classics, are pretty terrific as well. Jackie DeShannon's "Breakway," Doris Day's "Move Over Darling," and Blondie's brilliant new wave torch song "I'm Always Touched by Your Presence Dear" are great songs given good to great readings, and even the lesser material, like Reunion's horrid "Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)," is delivered with a nod and a wink that makes it palatable. This is highly recommended to bubblegum fans.

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