Friday, June 05, 2009

FDF Volume 2: Issue 142 **Restore** - Paul Young : No Parlez

By: March

This is a re post of the article with NO Music. I was "spoken to"

Album - No Parlez
Artist - Paul Young
Key Players - Paul Young - vocals. (various players on all other tracks)
Produced By - Laurie Latham

Release Date - 1983

What caused me to blow off the dust?
- I bought this record for 1-2 singles on cassette tape, and then saw the cd in a 2.99 or less bin one day and figured why not have it on cd. I think the day I got it was the last time I listened to just the singles..its been forever, if EVER since I've listen to this whole album.

Overview - This is the debut album from Paul Young. The singer, labeled as a "blue-eyed soul singer" would crack the UK charts with three singles of this debut record. He'd hit the road and on his US tour he'd wear out his vocals so badly he'd need to take over a year off. Paul would keep in Americas psyche as one of the singers on the charity single "Do they Know It's Christmas?". Paul would only garner light success in the US on his next record and would continue to release solo records with his last being in 1997.

FDF Comments (aka the songs)
- Before we begin, just want to say we'll review the US version of the cd. Not only is the cover art different but tracks, at times, are shorter on this version. For example the UK version, the first track is over 7 minutes long, the US its under 4:30. With that said, here we go. The first track and one of the singles from the record "Come Back and Stay" begins with bass and full sounding keyboards. The bass has a slap to it before a second keyboard plays a series of notes and a bass fill comes over that. Young croons, very smoothly but with a hint of grit in his voice. He pushes himself in octave range and is complimented by a few female backup singers. The song has sort of the same full sound throughout, but it seems to feel sparse at times. The female vocalists do a little "over singing" and Young brings the focus back on a later verse. They work on some alternate timings as well but the song retains its feel on through to the end. Treading some perhaps "sacred ground" Young tackles the Joy Division classic "Love Will Tear Us Apart". Young does make the song his own, (think American Idol for better or worse). A once dark song suddenly is a little more bubbly for one reason or another. Musically it doesn't stray from the original too much, but as a long standing fan of the original, this really is almost uncomfortable. Following suit, Young does a cover of Marvin Gaye's "Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)". Again, treading some perhaps sacred ground he does a pretty good version of the song. At the outset he doesn't over sign and lets the vibrato in his voice carry some. The instruments feel a little canned and the bass has a lot of swooping, long slides at times that stand out and take the focus off the vocals. Strings fill out the final verses and Young tries the soulful howl, and it works, a little at least. "Ku Ku Kurama" opens with that deep 80's synth bass sound. There is some female chanting and noise making going on in the back before Young comes in with a heavily compressed vocal track. He sings in a deep voice and the song is a mid tempo affair but gets a little more bounce to it as it progresses. The title track "No Parlez" is another slice of 80's pop. With the synths and bass guitar that sounds a little too "bottled". The back beat has a hand clap feel but Young doesn't seem to want to pick up the tempo. There is the obligatory solo in this track, really for the first time, with a midi sounding guitar solo, not really a chime to the strings, more a computer based solo. The bass is up in the mix and it feels really in place with music of the time. The track that got me to buy the cd "Love of the Common People" is next, and comes at just the right time honestly. If the record had this feel throughout I think it would have done a lot better. It still has a very synth based sound, with a very electric feel to it, but Young sings clear, strong and the female singers in the background are utilized perfectly. Its almost refreshing, if you really listen, to hear Young sound a little out of breath on the chorus. There is a trombone! solo before the final verse begins, and it has a cool calypso back beat as well. He repeats the chorus a few times at the outtro and pushes his vocal range but doesn't sound strained. It begins the slow fade, the gem of the record. "Oh Women" opens up at a fever pitch. We get that bass sound, and an electric drum feel. The first verse is really the bass, drums and Young. The bass is very punchy and up in the mix, and as the chorus comes up there is a much more "airy" keyboard. It gets very syncopated at times, but fits right in. This is the fastest song on the record and is sort of a welcome change. "Iron Out the Rough Spots" has female vocalists on a delay and the keyboard line is simple before Young comes in. The keyboard at times sounds like a wooden trail whistle, and Young once more pushes himself. There is a marimba that is brought up in the mix before Young begins the second verse and it returns each time before the chorus. There is a dual piano section before the percussion instruments get a work out. It quickly falls back into the tempo/vibe it had at the outset. There is an extensive instrumental breakdown before Young comes back in singing in a very low octave. The female vocalists continually call out "the rough spots" as the song fades. Strings open and accompany Young on "Broken Man". Young sings with just the strings for the song, with piano a little later. He hits a few notes that are a little out of his range, but its charming at the same time. "Tender Trap" also begins with keyboards and strong back beat. Young starts singing quickly and doesn't the the band to plod along. The verse/chorus transition is a little odd, almost like they were changing speeds but they are quick to correct the interlude. The female vocalists return as well on the track. The album closes with "Sex" a track that has a very chaotic intro. The vocals almost don't even seem like Young at first, and he sings at a rapid pace with the female vocalists single along with him.

Where are they now? - According to various Internet sources Paul still sings from time to time, but has taking a liking to cooking, and cooking shows. In 2006 he appeared on a BBC1 show "Celebrity Masterchef" and he won the show. He was also a contestant on "Hells Kitchen" before it came to the US.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience)
- I never have seen Paul Young live.

FDF Overall Take - Admit tingly I bought this cd for 1 or 2 songs to begin with. The singles are not terrible by any means, but the bulk of the record didn't wow me back into a constant rotation (or even adding a lot of it to my ipod). It is not that he is not a strong singer, it just didn't hit me as a collective whole. If you are curious there is a best of collection you may want to begin with.

Official Site

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!
There are no mp3s.

All the tracks taken from No Parlez which you can buy here

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


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