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David Byrne & Fatboy Slim - Here Lies Love

By Russell Baillie

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Rating: * * *
Verdict: Concept LP about Imelda Marcos. Extra dancing shoes, attention span required.

David Byrne has long been quite the collaborator whether as a guest vocalist or fellow beat boffin. Here he's surely outdone himself, on his 22-track multi-singer disco-opera based on the life of the shoe-hoarding Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos, jointly composed with Brit dance-don Fatboy Slim.

Apparently Byrne wanted to tell the story of Mrs Marcos' rise and fall with songs on which the dancefloor euphoria also suggest her heady power-trip. After all, Imelda was a regular at New York's Studio 54 in her international jet-setting day.

The characters of Imelda and Estrella Cumpas - the family housekeeper who raised her - are sung by various voices (Florence Welch, Tori Amos, Cyndi Lauper, Martha Wainwright among others), making each narrative hard to follow. And as Ferdinand Marcos, Steve Earle (yes really) swaggers in for one song. Song-wise, it has its moments, especially Roisin Murphy's Eurythmics-like Don't You Agree, or Santigold's Talking Heads-ish Please Don't.

But it still feels like a disjointed cast recording, albeit a intriguingly quirky one which, with its references to the politics of the Marcos era, feels like Glee for Guardian Weekly readers.

And it must be said: a musical about a misunderstood first lady to a despot president over NY club beats? Where is that Madonna woman when you need her?

- NZ Herald

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