Steeped in film noir and styles borrowed from cool cats spanning
recent decades, it's no surprise that Adamson's compositions
show up in movies (Natural Born Killers, Lost Highway)
and TV soundtracks (Nip/Tuck). The sought-after composer
spent his formative years in Howard Devoto's post-punk
band Magazine, followed by a stint with Nick Cave And
The Bad Seeds (and let's not forget Visage). As Adamson
tells it in his song "Civilization", "I must've
broke the heartstrings of a thousand bass guitars." Back
To The Cat is an energizing mix of Rat Pack smarm and seductive
soul with superb organ throughout. The sinister bent is very thinly
veiled by cabaret showmanship and modernized rhythms. Adamson's
impeccable phrasing, acidic delivery and tone compliment his masterful
Played like a midnight run in the naked city, "The Beaten
Side of Town" is like the best case sexual scenario, starting
in with whispers and moans, building up to a pounding, almost
violent crescendo, and dropping suddenly to a satisfied growl.
The mind-blowing peak of this guy-on-the-lam tale has the vocals
dancing dangerously through the traffic of the honking horn section,
neon lights a-blinking. A bassline is all sneaking footsteps,
eerie flute and burlesque drum rhythms make it all real seedy.
"Straight Til' Sunrise" is cute in a Robbie Williams
way the first couple of times, but ends up being skipped ever
after on account of schmaltz. The prancing Todd Rundgren
rhythm never lets up, and the sixties pop orchestra overrides
the hidden dark message. "Spend a Little Time" is a
sick piece of beauty, thrilling first by its Georgie Fame
dance party feel, it ups the ante when the twisted story plays
out. Tucked away neatly amongst the handclaps and sax is the happiest
song ever about killing a guy. Aside from the first ever reference
to Schopenhauer in song, Adamson sneaks a triple entendre
in, "Killing my neighbor just an hour ago/ he mentioned something
'bout a spade and a hoe."
South Park's former Chef Isaac Hayes can now regret
not only his Scientological hypocrisy, but also that Adamson's
melded his badass soundtrack funk with Peter Gunn/Spyhunter
coolness. "Shadow of Death Hotel" should be the next
Bond theme, though it's far too hip for that franchise.
The slow dancer "I Could Love You" comes in with a dead-on
Bowie whisper, shifting into hiccupped phrasing from Adamson's
old pal Nick Cave before breaking down in a Blixa Bargeld
screech. "Walk on Fire" fits in nicely with the Austin
Powers, Aston-Martin and martini set. As usual, there's a
subtle punchline, "I'm just a pretty man who can't say no/
yeah ask my social workers and they'll tell you so." There's
an updated gospel tinge to "Civilization," and while
it's the most upbeat number, cynicism shows Adamson is thankfully
not without sin. On "People" he shares Nick Cave's sentiment
"People they ain't no good." But in his telling, Adamson
implicates himself in a Scott Walker meets Lou Reed
tryst. "Psycho_Sexual" sums up the drama, night club
jazz and sonic aphrodisiacs in one slow-burning torch-song. It
even makes lyrical reference to track 1, in preparation for the
presumed repeat performance.
Back To The Cat is back to Adamson's initial solo effort,
Moss Side Story. No trip-hop silliness, though the avant-garde
instrumental "Flight" left me as cold as Miles Davis'
later work. Minor dispersions are dwarfed by stylized forays into
genre sub-genus. The pristine arrangements and production are
startling. Honestly, with this sort of mood-altering substance,
who needs Viagra?
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