Title - 'The Sweetest Illusion: 3CD Deluxe Edition'
Artist - Basia
For those not in the know, Barbara Trzetrzelewska, known simply as Basia is a Polish singer-songwriter and record producer. She established a successful international recording career featuring characteristically Latin-flavoured jazz-pop crossover songs during the late 1980s and early 1990s and the late 2000s and 2010s, particularly in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Japan.
Indeed, she is actually noted for possessing a wide vocal range, approximately three octaves that span from contralto to soprano tessituras, as well as her singular jazz-influenced styling and multi-layered harmonies.
Her third studio album, The Sweetest Illusion, was released in 1994 and was a moderate success in the U.S. market selling over half-million copies, but globally it became another million-seller. Mixed by the then-highly sought after David Bascombe (who had contributed to Oleta Adams' debut effort) the project marked the end of a ten-year working relationship with mixmaster Phil Harding and a step into more sophisticated territory.
The Sweetest Illusion included a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, "Drunk on Love", but if you listen to it again today (especially if you have it on vinyl, like I do), you'll still not understand how at least three other tracks didn't make it onto the high radio airplay lists of the time.
But now, and for the first time ever, The Sweetest Illusion: 3CD Deluxe Edition, the third solo album from Basia, has been digitally remastered and expanded and released via Cherry Red Records.
Following the success of both Time And Tide and London Warsaw New York, Basia's debut and sophomore albums, respectively, this third album was her final major-label release of the 1990s, though a live album and a greatest hits collection followed. The album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America on December 14, 1994 for sales in excess of 500,000 units within the U.S., and earned Basia her first (and so far only) chart-topper on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart with "Drunk on Love".
1. Drunk on Love
2. Third Time Lucky
4. She Deserves It/Rachel's Wedding
5. An Olive Tree
6. The Sweetest Illusion
7. Perfect Mother
8. More Fire Than Flame
9. Simple Pleasures
10. My Cruel Ways
11. The Prayer of a Happy Housewife
12. Drunk on Love (Radio Edit)
13. Third Time Lucky (Radio Edit)
14. Yearning (Edit)
Indeed, it's that very same track that begins our incredible, and comprehensive journey into the world of Basia, for "Drunk In Love" opens this wondrous album. The freeflowing, jazzy pop of the song is infectious from the start, and is backed by the softer mid-tempo "Third Time Lucky", then the delicate "Yearning", the storytelling of "She Deserves It / Rachel's Wedding" and then the Latin flow of "An Olive Tree".
Next up is the album title song, the trippy bounce of "The Sweetest Illusion" and it is one of the finest songs to showcase just how great her vocal range truly is. The highs and lows encountered by Basia here give the track an ebb and flow that transcends a lot of her previous work. "Perfect Mother" slows things down and sounds like a song from the heart here from Basia, and that's backed by the lush "My Fire Than Flame". "Simple Pleasures" is just a pure delight to behold, and then both "My Cruel Ways" and the brilliant "The Prayer Of A Happy Housewife" round out the original album. Included on this first disc also are the Bonus Track Single Versions of "Drunk On Love (Radio Edit)", "Third Time Lucky (Radio Edit)" and then finally "Yearning (edit)".
1. Half a Minute (Remix)
2. Angels Blush
3. Waters of March
4. Clear Horizon
5. Go for You
6. Drunk on Love (Instrumental)
7. Third Time Lucky (Instrumental)
8. Yearning (Instrumental)
9. She Deserves It (Instrumental)
10. An Olive Tree (Instrumental)
11. The Sweetest Illusion (Instrumental)
12. Perfect Mother (Instrumental)
13. More Fire Than Flame (Instrumental)
14. Simple Pleasures (Instrumental)
15. My Cruel Ways (Instrumental)
16. The Prayer of a Happy Housewife (Instrumental)
17. Angels Blush (Instrumental)
18. Go for You (Instrumental)
The second disc brings us a slew of Instrumentals, which tend to, after about the halfway mark, quietly blend into one another. But that's ok, for as much as it's Basia's unique vocals that guide us through each song she brings us, when these same tracks come at us unaccompanied by her, well, they transform into some very delightful background music to whatever you are doing in your life at that time.
That said, the second disc actually kicks off with several Bonus Track Additional Recordings, such as "Half A Minute", a freeflowing jazz ensemble mood swing that is beyond fantastic to hear. If you are not familiar with the song, well, allow me to enlighten you to one of the best songs released in the mid'80s. Basia was part of a jazz-pop trio (who originally performed as Bronze) Matt Bianco and sang on their debut album Whose Side Are You On? Released in 1984 the album was a BIG hit across Europe, selling more than 1.5 million copies and brought forth two top 30 hits on the UK Singles Chart: "Get Out of Your Lazy Bed" and "Half a Minute".
Moving on and we next get "Angels Blush", a stunningly beautiful Christmas track and that is followed by the lyrically fast and poetic "Waters Of March", the stoic "Clear Horizon", and then the delicate styling of "Go For You". Then comes the blast of Instrumentals, which has been detailed above, and begin with "Drunk On Love" and end with "Go For You".
1. Drunk on Love (Extended Dance Mix)
2. Third Time Lucky (New Version)
3. Drunk on Love (Downtown Radio Edit)
4. Drunk on Love (Roger's Ultimate Anthem Mix)
5. Drunk on Love (Downtown Club Mix)
6. Drunk on Love (40 Oz of Love Dub)
7. Drunk on Love (Hands in the Air Dub)
8. Third Time Lucky (Vokal Mix)
9. Third Time Lucky (Bad Luck Mix)
10. Third Time Lucky (Instrumental Mix)
Deluxe editions of both her previous two titles were released on the Cherry Pop label and continue to be strong sellers and it's now shock as to why. They are not only GREAT albums, but in these wonderful deluxe and expanded editions they showcase so much more depth to each track, and the remixes and B-sides that accompanied them at the time, that you know you're getting as much of Basia as they can possibly squeeze!
That said, and here on the third disc, we only get two (2) songs, but they are two of the stand out tracks, at that. You will need patience and belief in where the extended and remixes tracks are headed sometimes, but each version of both "Drunk On Love" and "Third Time Lucky" are solid, enjoyable and importantly, relevant to what Basia was sounding like, and recording like at the time the album came out in 1994.
Chock full of Bonus Tracks revealing both Remixes and Alternative Versions of both song, I mean, wow, who knew she had recorded so many versions of each song back then in the first place? I'm a BIG fan and even I didn't know. I even went upstairs, went through all my Basia 12" Singles (yes, that's vinyl to you kids!) and could only find a couple of these on the singles she released from The sweetest Illusion. No worries though, for they are all here and more on this third disc (tracklisting noted above), and it wraps up a stunning 3CD collection that, for my money, slightly outshines the previous two in her Cherry Red Records Deluxe Edition arsenal.
This 3 disc set comes with a beautifully designed, carefully researched, and spectaculary detailed 24-page full color booklet that contains brand new liner notes, lyrics, photos, an illustrated discography, comprehensive credits, and written contributions from producer Dave Bascombe, plus track annotations from Basia and Danny White.
'The Sweetest Illusion: 3CD Deluxe Edition' CD Purchase Link