Date: 1 April 2013
Originally published in: Classic Pop (UK)
Written by: John Earls
Now essentially the alias of Martyn Ware, since Ian Craig Marsh quit the music business in 2007, BEF’s first album in 22 years isn’t anywhere near as gloomy as its premise of dark cover versions suggests.
While Boy George fnids a beautifully sleazy S&M sadness in ‘I wanna be your dog’, ‘Dark’ excels just as much at playing for high camp, as proved by Russian singer Max Pokrovsky’s take on Abba’s ‘The Day Before You Came’ and Glenn Gregory barking out Frank Sinatra’s ‘It Was A Very Good Year’.
The female vocals on display are generally less successful. Noisette’s Shingai Shoniwa desecrates ‘God Only Knows’, Polly Scattergood doiing Dusty Springfield’s ‘The Look Of Love’ redefines twee. And Sarah Jane Morris is on jazz autopilot as she runs through the anodyne ‘Don’t Wanna Know’. The exception is ex-Long Blondes singer Kate Jackson’s spirited version of Blondie’s ‘Picture This’.
Inevitably, when relying on guest vocalists, the results are mixed, but ‘Dark’ is almost worth the entrance fee alone for Green Gartside’s life-affirming ‘(Didn’t I) Blow Your Mind This Time’. And who couldn’t celebrate Kim Wilde returning to her day job so joyously on Stevie Wonder’s ‘Every Time I See You I Go Wild’?