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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Kevin Rowland - "My Beauty" CD, Album, UK, 1999, (Creation)


The very strange Kevin Rowland solo album.  "My Beauty" when it came out, was quite controversial in the U.K.   Eleven covers (no originals) of Rowland twisting rock n' roll standards (of sorts) and pop oddities (of sorts).   I was never a fan of Dexy's Midnight Runners, but I was amused by reading interviews with Rowland, who in fashion, reminds me a bit of a  classic Morrissey.  Not musically, but a great individuality expressed through his image and words.  And of course, there's the music.  I bought this CD in Tokyo because it was the only place on this planet that one can find it.  Rumor is that it was the worst selling title put out by Creation.  I didn't believe the hype because anyone who does a cover of Unit 4 + 2's "Concrete and Clay" and "You'll Never Walk Alone" on one album, had at the very least has a sense of genius. 

And this is a work of genius.  "My Beauty" is a very personal statement by Rowland.  It is like he is coming up from an emotional storm and these songs are the only things in his life that mean something to his life.   Fully orchestrated and no irony even doing a Whitney Houston song ("The Greatest Love of All," this is a man on a mission to get himself better.  The beauty of "Concrete and Clay" is that he adds his own lyrics into the mix as well as on others. There is a self-help aspect to "My Beauty" that is unnerving, and it's not really a comfortable listening experience.  It's music that gets into your face. 

The cross-dressing of Rowland is just eccentric.  Always a dandy he's a guy who pays close attention to his image.  There is something cinematic about Rowland's approach to music.   On songs like "Daydream Believer" it sounds like Karaoke, but with Rowland losing it in the middle of the song.  The thing is he is consistently sincere throughout the album.   His version "You'll Never Walk Alone" is a tear breaker.  Then again, my eyes tear up when I hear this song whoever sings it.  "My Beauty" needs to be reissued.  Or be available for streaming services.