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ADRIAN THRILLS: Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s recipe to show your kitchen right into a dancefloor 

SOPHIE ELLIS-BEXTOR: Kitchen Disco: Reside At The London Palladium (Cooking Vinyl)

Ranking: *** 

Verdict: Quarantine Queen comes alive 

ELVIS COSTELLO & THE IMPOSTERS: The Boy Named If (Alive At Memphis Magnetic) (EMI) 

Ranking: *** 

Verdict: Uncooked revamps and stylish covers

WEYES BLOOD: And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow (Sub Pop)

Ranking: ****

Verdict: Lavish torch songs 

Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s live-streamed kitchen discos added some much-needed cheer to the 2020 lockdown.

Helped by her musician husband Richard Jones, who filmed the chaotic Friday evening home events on his cellphone, she donned a sequined catsuit and sang her coronary heart out because the couple’s 5 younger sons wandered out and in of the scene. She has since turned the idea right into a model — and introduced the identical populist contact to the stage when she swapped the consolation of her London house for the commotion of the reside area on this yr’s Kitchen Disco tour. Her first reside album, out immediately on double CD and digitally, recaptures the feel-good spirit.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s persona, half prim Sunday College trainer, half saucy Butlin’s Redcoat, is infectious

‘Did anyone else impulse purchase a horse throughout lockdown? Nah? Simply me,’ she says initially of a Palladium gig from which the majority of those 24 songs are drawn. The trusty steed, it seems, is a life-sized plastic horse that doubles as a stage prop, but it surely’s nonetheless an uncommon buy.

Her persona, half prim Sunday College trainer, half saucy Butlin’s Redcoat, is infectious. ‘Possibly I will loosen up my dressing robe,’ she quips. ‘Who is aware of the place the evening will take us?’ The place it takes us is on a career-spanning journey that runs from her superb early solo hits Homicide On The Dancefloor and Take Me House (A Woman Like Me) via to this summer time’s Hypnotized, a single made with electro artist Wuh Oh. Extra importantly, it additionally features a romp via such floor-filling classics as Abba’s Dancing Queen and Chaka Khan’s Ain’t No one.

In a bid to recreate the free-for-all essence of her live-streams, the tour noticed her accompanied by a wheel of fortune, spun to determine the subsequent quantity. A stunt as soon as employed by Elvis Costello — his was the Spectacular Spinning Songbook — it throws up variations of Lionel Richie’s All Evening Lengthy and Insanity’s Our Home.

The present typically verges on mirrorball karaoke, however there are moments the place Sophie underlines her strong clubland credentials: a mid-concert medley of hits from the late Nineties and early 2000s features a cowl of Moloko’s Sing It Again and her personal Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love), the tune that famously pipped Victoria Beckham to No.1 in 2000.

She’s additionally daring sufficient to tackle one in every of Madonna’s mightiest songs, Like A Prayer, and get away with it… simply. Braver nonetheless, she brings her kids out for Homicide On The Dancefloor. Along with her husband on bass, it’s a correct household affair. Excessive-spirited and frivolous, it might be a great Christmas occasion playlist.

Bringing a lockdown enterprise to vibrant life can also be the premise for Elvis Costello’s newest. His final album, January’s The Boy Named If, was filled with noisy rock and roll tunes, though it suffered from being recorded remotely — through ‘electrical wire’ as he places it — somewhat than by musicians collectively in a room.

He is since returned to the studio, this time face-to-face with backing band The Imposters, to revisit 4 tracks from The Boy Named If plus a handful of covers, a forgotten gem from 1983, and an surprising, but satisfying, collaboration with Japanese feminine rap duo Chelmico.

Bringing a lockdown venture to vibrant life is also the basis for Elvis Costello's latest

Bringing a lockdown enterprise to vibrant life can also be the premise for Elvis Costello’s newest

The undertaking is billed as an ‘alive’ album versus a reside one made on the street. In binding collectively so many various strands, it is typically a hodgepodge, however there’s additionally one thing uncooked and thrilling a few band changing into reacquainted with each other after months aside. The unique Boy Named If was final week shortlisted for greatest rock album on the Grammys, and the punchy remakes right here echo its melodic strengths.

What If I Cannot Give You Something However Love? is performed with better coronary heart and soul. Visitor guitarist Charlie Sexton, a Dylan affiliate, provides muscle and invention to the wall of sound. The covers pay homage to the greats, with McCartney songs that includes twice. Costello’s model of Wings’ Let Me Roll It’s over-sung, however his hushed Right here, There And All over the place is a pleasure.

Elsewhere, there’s a wonderful, Stax-style overhaul of 1983’s Each Day I Write The E book… and that unlikely detour into J-pop. Elvis found Chelmico as he was watching an anime cartoon with one in every of his sons, and the Tokyo duo’s remix of Magnificent Damage provides vigorous, danceable layers to the unique. He can nonetheless spring a shock.

Californian singer Natalie Mering — aka Weyes Blood (pronounced ‘clever blood’) — guested on Lana Del Rey’s cowl of Joni Mitchell’s For Free, and there is a contact of Lana’s lush torch balladry to her newest solo launch. The second a part of a proposed trilogy, it strikes a bittersweet steadiness between the despair of 2019’s Titanic Rising and the extra optimistic third instalment to come back.

Californian singer Natalie Mering ¿ aka Weyes Blood (pronounced 'wise blood') performs at Primavera Sound 2022 in Barcelona

Californian singer Natalie Mering — aka Weyes Blood (pronounced ‘clever blood’) performs at Primavera Sound 2022 in Barcelona

‘Sitting at this occasion questioning if anybody is aware of me, actually sees who I’m,’ she sings on It is Not Simply Me, It is All people. The temper is one in every of isolation, however the musical setting is one in every of poised grandeur, along with her woes backed by strings and the glissando harp of a Disney fairy story theme. The elegant preparations include memorable pop melodies.

There are throwbacks to the pandemic. The Worst Is Completed tells of being locked down alone in LA. Contemplating the topic, it is remarkably upbeat and there is additionally a craving sense of hope to the tender centrepiece Hearts Aglow. Roll on half three.

  • Sophie Ellis-Bextor performs Princes Road Gardens, Edinburgh, on December 30 (ticketmaster.co.uk). Weyes Blood begins a UK tour on February 8, on the Roundhouse, London (weyesblood.com).

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