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Stephin Merritt - Showtunes

  by Tommy Gunnarsson

published: 17 / 3 / 2006

Stephin Merritt - Showtunes
Label: Select Label
Format: CD


Difficult, but rewarding debut solo album from Magnetic frontman Stephen Merritt, which contains songs that he was written for three different theatre plays

It has been almost two years since we last heard from The Magnetic Fields, with the release of their great album 'I' back in 2004, and there are many fans around the world that is dying to hear from them again. Until that next release, whenever that will happen, we can enjoy frontman Stephen Merritt's other bands, and now also his solo album 'Showtunes', which contains songs that he has written for three different plays by the Chinese theatre director Chen Shi-Zheng; 'The Orphan of Zhao' (2003), 'Peach Blossom Fan' (2004), and 'My Life As A Fairy Tale' (2005). The songs on this CD are picked from all three plays, with the cast doing all the singing, which is kind of sad, as I like Stephen's voice a lot. But I guess this is the way it should be, as this album is something of an "original soundtrack" record. Musically, the songs are very different from each other, and, while some songs are just around one minute long, the longest is just short of four minutes in duration. The thing that strikes me when I listen to 'Showtunes' is that the songs are quite interesting, but that the lyrics, while being very typical of Merritt, don't really make that much sense, as they are being taken out of context here. It would be better to hear the full plays or maybe even see them being performed on stage. I read that the complete soundtrack to these plays will be available for download from some Internet based music store, and I think that's a good idea from the label. This isn't a record that you will be listening to while doing the dishes or folding your laundry, but it makes for a good listen, and has some great lyrics, as always from Stephen Merritt. Now, if you excuse me , I will continue waiting for the next Magnetic Fields album.

Track Listing:-
1 Theme From "The Orphan Of Zhao"
2 At Madam Plum's
3 The Top And The Ball
4 What A Fucking Lovely Day!
5 Auntie Toothache
6 It's Hard To Be The Emperor
7 Sounds Expensive
8 The Red Shoes
9 Fan Dance Cha-Cha
10 The Little Maiden Of The Sea
11 Ukulele Me!
12 Train Song
13 The Little Hebrew Girl
14 Shall We Sing A Duet?
15 The Song Of The Humble Serf
16 The Collar And The Garter
17 Shall We Sing A Duet? Reprise
18 Sorry, Wrong Show
19 The Storks
20 In The Spring, When I Was Young
21 The Ugly Little Duck
22 And He Would Say...
23 Behold The Lowly Centipede
24 In China, Said The Moon...
25 Hail! Son Of Heaven

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