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Yeongene - Bonnie Gene

  by John Clarkson

published: 14 / 2 / 2010

Yeongene - Bonnie Gene
Label: Poppydisc
Format: CD


Flawed, but mature and elegant album of Burt Bacharach covers and other songs from Soouth Korean singer Yeongene, recorded with the BMX Bandits' Duglas T. Stewart

“Mature” is not a word usually associated with Duglas T. Stewart. One of the pioneers of the original C86/twee movement, Stewart’s band the BMX Bandits have since they formed in 1986 garnered a reputation for adolescent in-jokes and their ramshackle and childish-sounding tunes. Yet “mature” surprisingly is what Yeongene’s European debut album, ‘Bonnie Gene’,is. Stewart discovered the South Korean singer when on a visit to Seoul he saw her sing one night at a party, and then the next evening the BMX Bandits played on the same bill as her band, Linus’ Blanket. Vowing that he must work with her, Stewart brought Yeongene over to his native Glasgow for a month long visit, in which they recorded both a collection of Burt Bacharach covers, and then in a separate set of sessions six recordings with the BMX Bandits. The Bacharach and BMX Bandits sessions have been released on two different mini-albums in Asia, but Stewart, who co-produced both sessions with recent BMX Bandits’ member and former Pearlfishers’ front man David Scott, has chosen to release ‘Bonnie Gene’ on one package in the UK. The album has come out on Poppydisc, the label that Stewart co-runs with Creation Records co-founder, Joe Foster. ‘Bonnie Gene’ might have been more effective if Stewart and Foster had done as the Asians had done and brought out two different albums. At nearly an hour in length, and with twenty tracks, many sounding much the same, ‘Bonnie Gene’ is too much of a good thing. The careful, slow-paced 60s-inspired arrangements and harmonies are, however, crisp and sleek. Yeongene’s choice of Bacharach covers is inspired, relying as much on obscurities (‘Lost Horizon’, ‘Me, Japanese Boy, I Know I Love You’ and ‘Promise Her Anything’) as his best known songs (‘I’ll Never Fall in Love Again’, ‘Tower of Strength’ and ‘Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head’). The Vaselines’ Eugene Kelly and Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake give the album an additional colouring by sharing duets with Yeongene, and, just as the album seems set to drift into monotony, a jangling cover of Daniel Johnston’s ‘Do You Really Love Me?’ towards its end , gives it a much needed boost. Yeongene herself is meanwhile a revelation, adopting with the Bacharach songs the best course with covers of remaining true enough to source so as not to spoil them, but just different enough to give them a freshness. On both the Bacharach songs and the BMX Bandits originals, Yeongene, with her crystallised vocals, strikes a firm balance between cute innocence and more worldly wisdom. While flawed and over long, ‘Bonnie Gene’ is nevertheless a fine offering from a singer of both style and elegance.

Track Listing:-
1 Lost Horizon
2 Paper Mache
3 Tower Of Strength
4 Me, Japanese Boy, I Love You
5 Wives And Lovers
6 I'll Never Fall In Love Again
7 It Doesn't Matter Anymore
8 Try To See It My Way
9 Reflections
10 Promise Her Anything
11 The Bell That Couldn't Jingle
12 Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head
13 Jean (Theme From 'Bonnie Gene')
14 Saveoursmiles
15 Do You Really Love Me
16 Ally Ally Oxen Free
17 Primitive
18 Love, Look At Me
19 Come Out And Play
20 I'll Never Fall In Love Again (Again)

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