Monday, 19 September 2011

Three career-reviving pop collaborations

1. Tina Turner and British Electric Foundation
The one-time Anna Mae Bullock had already recorded on her own before she left abusive husband Ike in the mid-1970s, but it was an electro cover of The Temptations' Ball of Confusion produced by Heaven 17 offshoot BEF that confirmed her solo career. The track appeared on 1982 album Music of Quality and Distinction - Volume One, and BEF's Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh were drafted in to produce a soulful cover of Al Green's Let's Stay Together, which heralded Turner's reinvention as a rock diva. (The BEF album also includes a great version of Suspicious Minds with Gary Glitter, but don't expect any miracles.)

2. Tom Jones and the Art of Noise
When success deserted the Welsh star through the late '70s and early '80s, salvation came from an unlikely source: Dadaist synth supergroup the Art of Noise. By 1987, the group's mainstays - producer Trevor Horn and co-conspirator Paul Morley - had left, and the remaining bandmembers, programmer JJ Jeczalik and arranger Anne Dudley, were making their way covering the Peter Gunn and Dragnet themes. Taking the guitar and horn breaks from those tracks, the band collaborated with Jones on a cover of Prince's Kiss, which remains a highlight of the performer's live show.

3. Dusty Springfield and Pet Shop Boys
Another '60s star, the British soul icon had a quiet 1980s until Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, recently successful with singles West End Girls, Love Comes Quickly and Opportunities, asked Springfield to duet on track What Have I Done to Deserve This?, written with American Allee Willis (who also wrote the theme to Friends). Pet Shop Boys went on to write and record tracks In Private and Nothing Has Been Proved (from the film Scandal) for Springfield's 1990 album Reputation, which the duo have hinted they had more to do with than the credits allow. Pet Shop Boys recorded a great album, Results, with another gay icon, Liza Minnelli, and have also written for Tina Turner, Shirley Bassey, Kylie Minogue and Girls Aloud.

and some that didn't work out, for Gary Numan and...
When the hits fell away for the synth-pop pioneer in the early 1980s, he joined forces with his former backing band to record Love Needs No Disguise as Dramatis. He made a more dramatic decision to team up with Bill Sharpe (pictured) of jazz-funkers Shakatak but singles Change Your Mind and No More Lies had little more effect on the charts. More bizarre was a desperate pairing with Hugh Nicholson for the nonetheless tuneful singles Radio Heart and London Times, plus the woeful Like a Refugee (I Won't Cry). This year, Numan appeared on Battles track My Machines and seems happy working with Ade Fenton, who's produced Numan's new album, Dead Son Rising.

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