John Barrowman Another Side Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

The treatment works like Domestos, the songs are killed stone dead.

Eamonn Stack 2007

Another Side, is all-singing, all-dancing (on ice and dry land), Glaswegian-American bidialialectal pansexual and saviour of the Universe (aka prime time TV’s Torchwood), John Barrowman's, new album of covers. Barrowman is a successful and accomplished singer and actor in musical theatre and the track listing has some cracking love songs and power balleds including Air Supply's "All Out Of Love", Carly Simon's "You’re So Vain" and "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper. The tricky thing about covering great songs is that unless you can add something to them or re-interpret them in an interesting way, a la Mark Ronson's Versions, or the Easy Star All Stars' Radiodread, then what's the point?

Inexplicably a lot of great songs, as there's no such thing as the perfect song, are made great to an extent by their flaws. Here they're re-created flawlessly by a piano (that sounds like 'American Electoral Campaign Piano'), and an orchestra that's perfectly in time (but doesn't sound real), produced in a studio that could drive a mission to mars, and re-sung by a competent but featureless (single) vocal. The treatment works like Domestos, the songs are killed stone dead.

It's as if the producers, and there must've been a lot of them, a committee working in different time-zones probably, said 'Right chaps how can we show off John's voice and make all these songs sound perfect?'. Which is odd as a lot of these songs were power ballads. Now they're energy saving ballads. You can't say anything about Barrowman's voice, there's no performance here, there's nothing to criticize.

Guitars are banned. As is any emotional output from the songs. Whether driven vocally or instrumentally, the emotion has been edited out...or voted off. It's karaoke meets The Stepford Wives.

Some of the numbers are rendered into such offensively condescending sonic wallpaper that you can expect to hear them in an Allders lift, or Lidl, or Hallmark card shop sometime soon. But if I was a lift having this pumped into me I'd be sorely tempted to cut my own cables.

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