Del Amitri

A & M Records, 1995

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


One hundred thirty-two seconds have defined Del Amitri's American success.

It is that length of time that "Roll To Me," to date the Scottish band's biggest hit in the States, runs from start to finish. A peppy little number that has been featured on the Flipper soundtrack, if this is what it took to get Americans interested in Justin Currie and crew, so be it.

In retrospect, the fact that Del Amitri isn't massively successful over here confuses me and angers me more. The album from which "Roll To Me" comes from, 1995's Twisted, featured Currie et al. taking more musical chances than ever before -- and though it does take time for this album to grow on you, it eventually rears its head as one of their best.

With 1992's Change Everything, Del Amitri had gained more of a foothold on the market -- but instead of releasing an album with similar songs, the band turned even more acoustic and introspective. Upon first listen, one may think that the band shot themselves in the foot.

Ah, but on repeat listens the magic of this album quickly appears. "Start With Me" is a rollicking number that has Iain Harvie putting his guitar through a rather brisk workout - and gives Del Amitri their first real opportunity to let it all out in a rock fashion. Just one song later, the introspective mood kicks in with the charmingly pretty "Here And Now," a song which should have been a massive AOR hit... but more on that later. Currie's rolling bass lines mixing with the harmony vocals create a mood that is not often reached in pop music -- but Del Amitri makes it sound almost effortless. Similarly, "Tell Her This" draws its power from the acoustic guitar work of Harvie and Currie's harmony bass lines.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The real "experimentation" on Twisted comes when the band tries to distance itself from the folk-pop numbers that dominated their two previous albums and branch out to straight AOR. Sometimes this is successful, as heard on "One Thing Left To Do" and "It's Never Too Late To Be Alone". Other times, the result is very hit-or-miss, evidenced by "Bring Somebody Else" and "Driving With The Brakes On" -- the latter's weakness being the use of synthesized drum noises (cardinal sin number one).

In the end, the strengths outweigh the weaknesses on Twisted, and the songwriting power of Currie and Harvie comes to the forefront -- and should have been the album to propel this group to superstardom on this side of the Atlantic. Alas - it didn't happen... and I have no doubt as to why this is.

Simply put: The promotions people fumbled the ball worse than the Bears' Rashan Salaam. (This will most likely piss A & M off at me, but I gotta call this as I see it.) Most likely whoever was thrown this project didn't know how to market Twisted -- is it a pop album or a rock album? - and in their infinite "wisdom," chose instead to do next to nothing and let the record sell itself. Then, when the record was dying on the shelves (prior to the "Roll To Me" phenomenon), the record company would tend to place blame on the band. Two words, guys: blame yourselves!!! (By the way, the same stupidity occurred with Del Amitri's latest album, Some Other Sucker's Parade, an album for which I recall seeing next to no publicity.)

So, had the correct push been made with this album (I would have serviced "Here And Now" and "Tell Her This" to AOR stations and released them as singles -- but what do I know, I'm only an 11-year veteran of the music review scene), Twisted could have gone from a cult classic among the diehard Del Amitri fans to a true breakthrough album. Instead, we're left with the question "What if?" Pity someone hasn't learned their lesson yet. (With rumors of a greatest hits album coming out later this year, the promotions department at A & M will have another chance to right this wrong. Take my advice, if anyone from the label is actually reading: "Here And Now" or "Tell Her This" on AOR... you'll thank me later.)

Fans who are looking for a carbon copy of Change Everything will initially be disappointed with Twisted just as I was -- but once you live with the album for a while and let it grow on you, it proves itself to be only a minor step down from its predecessor, and is definitely worth adding to your CD collection.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of A & M Records, and is used for informational purposes only.